Times 28375 – Ignorant, sentimental, metaphoric?

Time: 23 minutes

Music: Miles Davis, Birth of the Cool

This was almost a typical Monday puzzle, but I got stuck in the end.   I do know a fair number of English towns, but I am a little vague on their location.   For that matter, even in Connecticut, I recognize the name of the town but have to look on the map to see where it is.    But in the end, getting bludgeon gave me a breakthrough and enabled me to rapidly finish  with plutonic and Nairobi.

So this shouldn’t be too hard if you know the names of the Mitford sisters, and that sort of thing.   I wonder how long the Mitfords will even be remembered?

1 Typical daily deed relating to logical disputation (14)
CHARACTERISTIC –  CHAR + ACT + ERISTIC, from Eris, the goddess of arguing.
9 Napier’s power to record a beat for listeners? (9)
LOGARITHM – Sounds like LOG A RHYTHM,  a write-in for math nerds.
10 Remove light from some proscribed images (5)
BEDIM – Hidden in [proscri]BED IM[ages].
11 Educational institution originally training young Mitford sister (5)
UNITY – UNI + T[raining] Y[oung].
12 Spy crosses river, initially heading for animal shelter? (9)
13 It shows us the way to authorise mail (8)
15 Mountain range’s condition observed by scholar’s son (6)
17 Dismal amount of herbs? (6)
RUEFUL – Cryptic hint, perhaps requiring two or three question marks????
19 Like igneous rock in film about Beds town (8)
22 English males, old-fashioned, changed for the better (9)
23 Impecunious family in outskirts of Southport (5)
24 Leader of Opposition leaves district over in African state (5)
NIGER – REGI[o]N backwards, where O is the leader of OPPOSITION.
25 Novice’s ecofriendly producer of notes (9)
26 Agent about to stage musical from the East (14)
1 NCO’s firm scowl overwhelming cloth worker (6,8)
2 No good piercing a fish when doing this! (7)
ANGLING – A(N.G.)LING, the constructor’s favorite fish.
3 Cockney bloke adopting a rich apparel (5)
4 Clan member carries first of trophies across busy road (8)
TOTEMIST – TOTE(MI)S + T[rophies].
5 Commotion made by strange cat having tail docked (6)
RUMPUS – RUM PUS[s], a definite chestnut.
6 Lessee aunt sent out to secure book (9)
SUBTENANT – Anagram of AUNT SENT around B.
7 Men gatecrashing trendy parties within house (7)
INDOORS –  IN DO(OR)S.   The correct spelling of the plural of do is somewhat uncertain – maybe Microsoft knows?
8 Writers use it incomplete, feeling strain (9,5)
IMPERFECT TENSE –  IMPERFECT + TENSE, in entirely different senses.
14 Quiet chap doing washing, shaking off a robber (9)
16 Move forward bearing large club (8)
BLUDGEON – B(L)UDGE ON, a bit of life and separate.
18 Table ornament kept in centre by green bananas (7)
EPERGNE – [k]EP[t] + anagram of GREEN, an item sometimes found in auction catalogs.
20 Capital city VIP breathing in ozone on island (7)
NAIROBI – N(AIR)OB + I.   Does ozone = air?
21 Way advancing years finally progress, in steps (6)
STAGES –  ST + AGE + [progres]S.
23 Tropical plant Society woman raised (5)
SENNA – S + ANNE upside-down.

111 comments on “Times 28375 – Ignorant, sentimental, metaphoric?”

  1. 12:21
    Napier rang some sort of faint bell, but I needed a checker or two. DNK ERISTIC. DNK where LUTON is, but as usual it didn’t matter: ‘town’ would have been enough. ‘Ozone’ is sometimes used to mean ‘fresh air’.

  2. The A bit of a stroll in the park, marred by a diversion to Kenya. 23 minutes.

    LOI 18dn EPERGNE which I only knew as descriptive of the finest intaglio printing.
    COD 19ac PLUTONIC – Luton being Lorraine Chase’s Aiport, innit!?
    WOD 25ac SKINT -‘ brassic lint’ rCRS!

    At 20dn I initially went to Nairobi instead of Tripoli, before I even got to Luton!

    On edit: 1ac and 26ac are synonymous.

      1. Oops! Thank you! Lorraine indeed! And l worked with her partner John Knight ar WCRS for three years! Doh! She used to pop into the bar, ‘The Bridge’ on a Friday evening.
        Meldrew the Memory Man!

  3. This was a fairly easy puzzle, but once again I failed to finish. I couldn’t guess between EPERGNE and EPENGRE, BASSIF and MASSIF, so needed to check the dictionary. And RUEFUL was my guess but couldn’t convince myself 10 minutes later… RUE is some kind of herb or plant? Sort of sounds like saying a ROSEFUL would be an amount of flowers.

    I don’t enjoy this anti-streak I’m on.

    But I am a math nerd so I got LOGARITHM as soon as I saw half of Napier’s name.

    1. Ophelia hands out rue among others: There’s rue for you, and here’s some for me; we may call it “herb of grace” o’ Sundays. You may wear your rue with a difference.

    2. I too, did not know 18, and couldn’t decide like you. EPENGRE didn’t look right, but checked Chambers, and found EPERGNE. Guessed RUEFUL.
      Other clues seemed pretty solid and straightforward.

      1. GN is a pretty reliable letter combination for a foreign word. I mean, I did have the right guesses for all the words involved, but had no confidence.

        This is sort of why I am uninterested in games like Wordle. I don’t see what’s fun about looking at _REAK and seeing if the computer and I have the same guess about what the first letter should be.

        The difference in this case is that MASSIF is actually a word and BASSIF is not. But still, I prefer a puzzle where I have a chance at figuring out those rarer words without pure guesswork.

        1. A lot of it is just being older and having seen more things in your life. And, of course, remembering them 🙂 As an aficionado of the Tour de France since 20 or 30 years ago, I’ve seen that every year it goes over the Massif Central. One more word I have learned.
          Though some like epergne are only ever seen in crosswords, and you need to vaguely remember having seen the word before, even if you don’t remember what it means. Or maybe read Georgette Heyer novels, as Olivia mentions.

          1. I suppose. I don’t know how I know 90% of the things I know, but my arcane knowledge is why I am as good at crossword puzzles as I am.

            I would like to believe that getting older would give me more experience with these words but I somehow doubt I will come across any EPERGNEs in the wild.

            Fortunately I have a decent memory for random words so there is a chance I’ll remember these in the future!

        2. Whaaaaaat? No likee Wordle? I thought the point of all these intellectual pursuits was to put off the time every morning when one considers it’s time to start work? 😃 Wordle perfectly adds another 5 (ok sometimes 10) minutes and you have a nice little graph there showing you how you’re doing….

        3. No shame in taking a few seconds to check spelling that’s not indicated by wordplay via google or a dictionary of your choice. I’m constantly checking word endings: -ER vs -OR, -ANCE vs -ENCE etc. Life’s too short to suffer the vagaries of the English language

          Your wordle example is more complicated than you make it out to be. Given your example, assuming B,C,F, and W are possible then you could:
          1) as you say, guess until you get it right. Will take on average 2.5 guesses, but you could get it in one
          2) enter a word containing as many candidate letters as possible, e.g AWFUL. If it’s FREAK or WREAK, then you get there in 2 guesses, otherwise it’s 50/50. No chance of getting it in one guess, but will take on average 2.33 guesses. Odds would be even better if e.g CWAFF was a word

          As much a numbers as it is a word game

          1. Eh, what you describe does not sound like an enjoyable act of empathy (which is what I consider puzzle solving to be).

            Also, it’s not possible on hard mode.

            Again, that game just isn’t for me. It might as well be a game that asks you “what number am I thinking of?” and it tells you ‘higher’ or ‘lower’ until you get it right.

  4. 26 minutes. Not too hard but I didn’t know ERISTIC and was only able to get NAIROBI with all the crossers in place. I just remembered the name ‘Napier’ but wouldn’t have been able to link him to LOGARITHM without the wordplay.

    I thought we’d had EPERGNE recently but a site search here shows that its last appearance was in a Cryptic Jumbo in December 2018. Anyway, as before, thanks to “Bargain Hunt” for introducing me to the term. It’s usually in the auction catalogue after the never-opened, velvet-lined boxed set of six fish knives given as a wedding present 60 years ago.

  5. 9:52. No major hold-ups, although the crossing pair of RUEFUL and the unknown EPERGNE did require a bit of a leap of faith. No quantity of question marks can excuse ‘quantity of herbs’ IMO: it just doesn’t make sense. ERISTIC was also unknown but I just bunged in the obvious answer.

  6. A tough Monday for me and a big DNF.

    Not a maths nerd so LOGARITHM not a write-in

    NHO EPERGNE or EMENDATE or RUE (as a herb) or TOTEMIST

    Couldn’t fit any of the long ones together so altogether a bit beaten up – disappointing for a Monday.

    Thanks Vinyl for a very clear blog and setter too.

  7. I had similar problems as others, most of them already mentioned.

    DNK or had forgotten ERISTIC so I lost some time looking for an alternative to the rather obvious CHARACTERISTIC before deciding to go for it anyway.

    I knew I knew what Napier was famous for, but took a while to dredge it up. Until the checker from LOGARITHM was in place I was unable to come up with ARRAY.

    EPERGNE or EPEGNRE? It was almost a toss-up, but on balance I thought the former looked more likely.

    TOTEMIST was constructed from wordplay once all the checkers were in. I would never have got it from the definition ‘clan member’.

    PLUTONIC took longer than it should have considering LUTON is my postcode town and I’ve been told that this fact adds at least 10% to my car insurance premium. I’ve never been there other than enforced incarceration in its hospital which anyway is on its outskirts nearer Dunstable.

    As mentioned above by keriothe the clue ‘Dismal quantity of herbs?’ doesn’t make any sense. I knew RUE as a plant of some sort, so I guessed it might be a herb, but then I thought SUM (amount) which seemed reasonable and thinking of the sound ‘ruesum’ it almost seemed logical. As it was going to be my LOI I searched for that in an online dictionary which told me a) it didn’t exist, and b) suggested RUEFUL as an alternative, so I didn’t get another chance to think of an alternative for myself. It occurred to me afterwards that for my original thought to have been in the running as a word it would needed to be spelt ‘ruesome’.

    That makes this at least a technical DNF but allowing for that, my solving time was 35 minutes.

  8. Wavelength? I raced through this until the last two, RUEFUL and PLUNDERER, which took barely a few more seconds. Remembered RUE as herb but didn’t put in RUEFUL – definitely a dodgy clue – until PLUNDERER suddenly appeared. No problem with LOGARITHM, like BletchleyReject started writing it in as soon as I saw Napier. Only NHO was erisitic, but with char and act it had to be.

  9. No problem with LOGARITHM since (a) I’m a math nerd and (b) I lived in Edinburgh for years where we have a college/university named after him and where he lived. And the word was too long for “bones” his other invention. I didn’t know EPERGNE but my first attempt, EPENGER was clearly wrong once I got REPRESENTATIVE. I wouldn’t have been surprised if RUEFUL got a pink square since I’d never heard of RUE and the clue, as others have noted, didn’t really make sense even if you assumed RUE was a herb. I wasn’t entirely convinced by TOTEMIC either.

  10. 12:58. I got stuck in the NW corner with COLOUR SERGEANT, UNITY, LOGARITHM and ARRAY left. Eventually I thought of log for record, where I’d been struggling to get beyond tape. The rest then followed. Frustratingly ‘arry had been my first thought for Cockney bloke but I’d failed to put it with the rest of the clue. Now I’m off to find out who the Mitfords are/were. I’ve heard the name several times but never more than that. I have an inkling there was a Nancy.

    1. I have the Penguin Noblesse Oblige, edited by Nancy Mitford and including her essay The English Aristocracy on my “to read” shelf at the moment, specifically because it was responsible for popularising the “U” versus “non-U” arguments of the 1950s that are still referenced in crosswords today. Maybe I’ll bump it up to the front of the queue and read the essay this lunchtime…

        1. I am certainly very much non-U, but born of aspirational conservative parents who I’m sure followed the debates in the fifties. By the time I was growing up in Redbridge, though, it was all my parents could do to keep correcting the working-class pronunciations I was picking up from my friends at school, like shockingly pronouncing “garage” as “garridge” and saying “going over Tina’s” to communicate that I was visiting a female friend…

          They did their best but I came out as a basically Estuary English speaker who knew what a fish knife looked like and probably wouldn’t pass the port the wrong way if the chance ever came up (it did not.)

          1. Matt, You were allowed female friends?! Wharrever next!
            Fish knives were jewellery to most. We were so posh we had fruit in bowl on the dresser, which we ate!

          2. You’ve just made me think of my primary school in nearby Chadwell Heath, remembering a teacher stopping hymn practice because we were all singing in our finest Estuary English “He’s got the whole weld in his hands”!

            1. Funnily enough, my stepmother used to be a primary school headteacher in Chadwell Heath! I couldn’t tell you which one, though…

              1. I was at Grove Primary. The only teachers I can remember are Mrs Mead and Mrs Warlock. I’m sure the latter wasn’t her real name so apologies if that’s your stepmother!

      1. Really only through her friendship with Hitler and her attempted suicide but they were all interesting, except, perhaps for Pamela. Diana married Oswald Mosley but on the other hand Jessica was a communist.

        1. Not colourful herself Martin but Pamela married quite an interesting guy called Derek Jackson who was a successful jockey and also a respected physicist. I was recently reminded of Unity from reading a biography of Barbara Pym who, to my surprise, was also a Nazi fancier (she later recanted and kept it pretty quiet).

          1. A fascinating family indeed that hobnobbed with the highest society throughout their lives – the Kennedys, Harold Macmillan, Churchill, Duchess of Windsor – well worth reading youngest sister Debo’s book ‘Wait For Me!’ which gives a well-rounded view of the whole family through the years, though I have also twice enjoyed Jessica’s ‘Hons and Rebels’.

            If you’re bored and have half an hour to spare, Diana’s interview with Mavis Nicholson is well worth watching on Youtube

            1. There’s a wonderful scene in Hons and Rebels where a Royal Navy ship puts in at a Spanish port to try and lure Jessica on board with the promise of a fine meal. The plan was to capture her and spirit her back to England and family. She and left-wing boyfriend Esmond Romilly had gone to Spain during the Civil War. They saw through the scheme however and refused the invitation!

          2. Thanks, Olivia. I’ve recently read “Looking for Trouble” by the American war correspondent, Virginia Cowles. She describes meeting Unity in Nuremburg at a dinner where Hitler was present. Cowles was also a friend of the sisters’ sole brother, Tom.
            Sue and I lived in The Cotswolds, of course, and I’ve visited the graves of the four sisters who are buried in the village churchyard in Swinbrook

          3. James Lees-Milne’s slightly scurrilous diaries are an interesting read. He had a thing for Debo and spent a lot of time at Chatsworth

            1. Didn’t one of her sister’s call Debo “8” or a similar number as that was what she thought her mental age was?

  11. PLUTONIC was my last one in
    For me, I guess that’s a sin
    Not a planet today
    (It’s too small, so they say)
    But their logic’s remarkably thin

  12. 19:48
    Quite a few unknown words, but the wordplay was okay. Rueful = dodgy clue.
    Thanks, v.

  13. This seemed speedier than the 36 minutes it took, so I must have been plodding a bit even though I never got held up for too long. At least EPERGNE looked significantly more likely than EPENGRE to me. A few words at or beyond the edges of my ken, but all very doable nonetheless.

    Anyway, I’m off to listen to The Indelicates’ song Unity Mitford (Spotify), probably the best song about falling in love with a nazi ever written…

  14. 21 minutes with LOI TOTEMIST. Fortunately, LUTON was the first town I thought of in Bedfordshire and you can’t make many words with that in the middle. COD to RUEFUL. Pleasant Monday fare. Thank you V and setter.

  15. Tentative FOI CHARACTERISTIC took a couple of minutes of head-scratching, but provided me with plenty of traction. Kept up a decent pace for the most part, with a sprinkling of guesswork along the way (couldn’t parse MASSIF or NAIROBI), until the final RUEFUL and EPENGRE crossing…
    … where I successfully guessed unknown herb RUE, but plumped for the wrong choice of GREEN anagram

    21:55 fail – and another week where I certainly won’t be achieving my medium-term goal of five correct completions. Grrr!

  16. 38 mins with LOI RUEFUL about which all has been said. Woeful, I would say. Wasn’t sure about Napier but I had log early on so LOGARITHM wasn’t much of a leap. DNK EPERGNE but jumbled the letters around correctly as it turned out.

    Serendipity had me sitting in a pub near here in the village where the Mitfords once lived, looking at an old photo of the family with all their names on. A friend who was with me was fairly up on their history.

    I liked MOUSEHOLE.

    Thanks v and setter.

    1. That pub will undoubtedly be The Swan at Swinbrook. One of my very favourite pubs although the last time I was there (2013) it had become far more of a gastropub than it had been before. It was a favourite because I could take my pint, stand on the stone bridge over the Windrush, look down at the trout and across at a cricket match in the field opposite.

      1. Correct. Definitely more of a foodie pub today Martin but you could still buy a pint and stand on the bridge.

  17. Whistled through this today. NHO plutonic but Pluto being the god of the Roman underworld, it seemed plausible. I smiled at the rueful clue, as much because of its likely reception here as anything. I note that we (mostly) solved the clue OK..
    My paternal grandparents always had an epergne on the dining table. I remember my suggestion that it was ideal for holding sweeties went down like a lead balloon. Instead it had something completely useless in it, marbles or glass beads or something.

    1. Pluto actually derives from Greek originally. The Ancient Greeks often used euphemisms for certain deities, for fear of offending them. Thus we have “the kindly ones” for the Furies, and similarly Night was sometimes called “the kindly/beneficial (time)”. Hades was often described as Ploutos/Plouton, effectively meaning “god of riches”, possibly a reference to the rich ores found in his domain, the underworld.

  18. 6:07. My second fastest time ever. I didn’t much care for RUEFUL, but with the checkers it had to be. LOI MOUSEHOLE. Thanks Vinyl and setter.

  19. 31m 05s
    No problems but I missed the parsing of NIGER.
    NHO ERISTIC, RUE (the herb), that meaning of ARRAY and EPERGNE
    I still find it slightly odd that UNITY Mitford’s middle name was Valkyrie.
    To answer Vinyl’s question, I think the Mitford sisters are likely to be remembered for some time for their literary output as well as the exploits of Unity and the marriage of Diana to the British fascist leader, Oswald Mosley. They have an enduring fascination. Also, as Rosédeprovence has pointed out, there is a pub in the Cotswolds whose walls are adorned with photos of the family.

    1. Talk about “coming events casting their shadows before”, as a young man the Mitford father (Lord Redesdale) staked a claim to a gold mine in a place with the unlikely name of Swastika, Ontario.

      1. Which is where Unity was born. But a reversed Swastika was a lucky Buddhist image in the early part of the last century and was adopted by native Indians and even Harvard sports teams, from memories of Hanfstaengl who was a good friend of Unity once upon a time.

        1. You see reversed swastikas all over the place in Singapore, too. Not sure which natives introduced them, but have the vague idea it was Indians rather than Malays or Chinese.

          1. That is indeed vague. In The US it was Native American Indians who had adopted the ‘gammadion’ as a symbol of good luck. It was definitively a Buddhist symbol in the Far East, from Ceylon, as was, to Shanghai, down to Hong Kong and wherever the Chinese Diaspora had spread. My wife has an inscribed Buddha, which my mother found quite horrific. It was adopted by Hitler & Co, because of/due to the influence of on one Ernst ‘Putzi’ Hanfstaengl, who was at Harvard.

          2. The Swastika laundry in Dublin was still going in the 80’s, with its chimney sporting a splendid example.

        2. Yes, I’ve recently read A Supernatural War: Magic, Divination, and Faith during the First World War and there was at least one picture in there of a “lucky swastika” carried into battle by a British soldier. The 1908 edition of Algernon Blackwood’s John Silence: Physician Extraordinary I was perusing on abebooks last week also had a swastika proudly displayed on the front. I imagine that there was quite a dwindling in the use of them as fun decoration by publishing houses fairly soon afterward!

      2. And according to Wikipedia, Unity “was conceived in Swastika when her parents were there to investigate a gold claim investment in 1913.”
        During WWII, for patriotic reasons ,the Ontario government renamed the town Winston. Locals however were unimpressed, took down all the Winston signs and re-erected the Swastika ones. To one they attached the message -“The hell with Hitler we came up with our name first”.

  20. Straightforward solve at 19 mins
    Never heard of epengre or totemism but both were easy to solve
    Didn’t know rue was a herb but rueful (LOI) was the only word I could think of

  21. I’m all for a bit, if not quite a lot (more), of cultural or literal references in Times puzzles, as I feel we’re really losing that in favour, perhaps, of an intermnational solving community, or sales list, which probably loves us more for our Englishness than even a Brexiter could imagine. BUT (and it’s a big but, as I’ve put it in capitals) there’s no excuse for that RUE-FUL joke. No excuse at all.

    Nice Monday fun though. Thanks Vinyl1.

  22. 27 minutes, although there were some tricky words — EPERGNE, eristic, PLUTONIC, TOTEMIST, EMENDATED (how on earth does such a word exist when there’s a perfectly good ’emended’? Lexico doesn’t seem to recognise the word, and rightly so?). In view of this I’d have expected the SNITCH to be higher. Agree with the many who dislike the clue to RUEFUL.

    The Mitfords were a fascinating bunch, and it would be a shame if they were eventually forgotten. The novelist Nancy Mitford’s ‘The Pursuit of Love’ has recently had a television version so for the time being anyway she has reached a wide audience. One sees in that how a quite extraordinary upbringing produced such people. Two of Jessica’s books were excellent: Hons and Rebels (which also showed the extraordinary upringing) and ‘The American Way of Death’ (which Evelyn Waugh must have used for ‘The Loved One’). Unity was Hitler’s lover and shot herself; Diana married Oswald Mosley; Deborah became Duchess of Devonshire.

    1. As far as I’m aware there have only been two TV adaptations of the books, 1980 and 2001, and both under the title Love in a Cold Climate. The first ran to 8 hours and the second to 2 hours. Both are available on DVDs (which I possess) and are fascinating not only for the stories they tell but the different treatments of the subject matter.

      1. I thought the 2001 one with Rosamund Pike as Fanny was much the best Jack. Both it and the 1980 one had top-notch casts. The more recent Pursuit Of Love adaptation I found disappointing.

        1. Good tip, both! I have just bought the 2001 series, having seen it was available on Prime Video for less than a fiver.

        2. Ah, I had forgotten the most recent adaptation, or expunged it from memory perhaps as it was very poor. The only thing to be said in its favour for me was that the disappointment sent me to my DVD collection where I dug out the two previous series and re-watched them.

    2. ‘The American Way of Death’ was published in 1963, ‘The Loved One’ in 1948.

    3. Will, She attempted to shoot herself, but failed! I have researched the whole affair, in Munich. Was she Hitler’s lover?
      Geli Raubal was still alive in May 1938, being photographed with Ian Fleming at the Worthersee, in Austria prior to the ‘Anschluss’. She was married in 1934 in Vienna.

      1. Yes I think you’re right; not sure; but she didn’t survive, did she? According to Jessica M in Hons and Rebels, Hitler took a fancy to her partly because she epitomised the Aryan type. As to whether or not they were lovers, I couldn’t possibly say.

  23. Mondayish, 12 minutes, NHO ERISTIC but the answer was obvious. Usual chemist’s moan at ozone = air; ozone is poisonous and doesn’t occur at sea level. The seaside ‘ozone’ was a Victorian mis-definition, although it has found its way into Chambers as a metaphor I see.
    I went into LUTON once, during a long lay-over at the airport; what a dump, with some dumpy people. Thanks Vinyl1.

    1. My dad used to go outside after a thunderstorm with lots of lightning to take in huge lungfuls of the invigorating ” ozone”.

  24. Made good progress after FOI, ANGLING. 1d was helpful, SERGEANT being a write in, and CO suggesting LOUR for scowl, which rang a vague bell in the depths. CHARACT….. then went in waiting for crossers to provide a clue to the unknown ERISTIC. The unknown PLUTONIC was easily constructed as I spent a couple of days in Luton being trained on maintaining BT’s Unisys mainframes which were used for Voicemail services. Was only there in the daytime though, as we were billeted in Milton Keynes near our own training centre. EPERGNE was LOI after REPRESENTATIVE put paid to EPENGER and the letters fell correctly after being thrown in the air. 16:05. Thanks setter and Vinyl.

  25. Knew EPERGNE from Georgette Heyer (of course). You’d definitely need the sort of dining arrangement where the ladies leave the men to the port and smutty stories while they powder their noses. No further comment needed on RUEFUL although dimsum popped into my head. 12.27

    1. Dickens for me: ‘a corpulent straddling epergne’ on the Podsnaps’ dining table. (OMF)

  26. Nice start to the week, with TOTEMIST LOI, but with fingers crossed for the spelling of LOGARITHM! Didn’t understand the herb reference in rueful so thanks for the enlightenment today
    Thanks to blogger and setter

  27. 17:59 (Britain’s Annus Mirabilis thanks to various victories in the Seven Years War)

    Was hoping for a PB at one point but RUEFUL (meh!) and EPERGNE put paid to that. Still there is solace in coming her and learning Unity Mitford’s middle name.

    The nearest thing we have to an epergne in our house is a breakfast cluster of butter, marmalade, peanut butter, Marmite, and Gentlemen’s relish. Most definitely non-U I should think.

    Thanks to vinly and the setter.

  28. Eyebrows were at least half way to hairline at RUEFUL, which was my LOI. EPERGNE was unjumbled correctly. TOTEMIST assembled from wordplay. About the same as everyone else really!


  29. 14 mins. I’m actually related to the Mitford’s on my mother’s side, but it still took a moment to get Unity, especially as I had put APRON in for 3D, wondering how a PRO could be rich. I’d forgotten about LUTON and thought our esteemed blogger was talking about MOUSEHOLE. (There’s a Limerick in there somewhere)
    Yes MER for ozone = air.

  30. I was suddenly taken back 30 years or so, visiting my parents-in-law for the first time and asking what the thing on the table was, and being told it was an EPERGNE. Knew that would come in handy one day.

    Usual amount of biffing (thankfully all correct) but done in a stunning 50 minutes, approx. I know, extraordinary. Thanks to Vinyl and setter.

  31. I went back and forth between EPENGRE and EPERGNE, neither of them looking like real words, and eventually plumped for the wrong one.

    Anyway, I would describe myself as a maths nerd, but foolishly I chucked in ALGORITHM without thinking properly – then, when I realised the error of my ways, only changed the first two letters. More haste, less speed.

  32. 12.40 with LOI rueful which didn’t entirely convince with the amount part but at least I wasn’t made miserable by discovering I’d got it wrong. Epergne was a DNK but the cluing was very fair.
    Aside from that, as has already been noted a nice typically Mondayish puzzle to start the week. Thx setter and blogger.

  33. A red letter day for me finishing in 14.05, just under 20 seconds inside my previous best. I am so pleased I went back to 18dn where I had initially put in EPENGRE, with the clock at 13 minutes exactly. The extra minute was enough for me to recall a very distant memory of a reference to the word on one of those antique shows on tv.
    Didn’t have the foggiest concerning ERISTIC, but the answer was obvious.
    Best time, and Newport County winning at home for the first time in eight games, who cares if it’s raining! 😀

  34. My initial scan suggested this was going to be difficult/impossible, the first trawl through giving only SKINT and BEDIM. Shied like a startled horse as usual at the sight of 4 14 letter clues. However, more considered study gave me a steady solve from right to left, with only REPRESENTATIVE showing on the left-hand side initially. Luckily, each added letter led on to the next clue. From the crossers, I’d already bunged in -ISTIC as a likely ending, so CHAR, ACT was not a difficult step leaving only the second part of the word, which I took on trust. With the R in place I deduced RUEFUL was the correct answer, rue being the only R herb I could think of to fit, though a poor clue, I agree. However, it gave me both PLUNDERER and EPERGNE, which immediately rang a bell; quite likely, as Olivia says, from Georgette Heyer or other period writer. A nice Monday challenge.

  35. A toss-up between the unknown EPERGNE and the non-existent epengre. Unfortunately I chose the latter after an otherwise okay-ish 17:45.

  36. Unnecessary comment: Skint in CRS comes from Boracic Lint, often pronounced ‘brassic’.
    Reminiscent of:
    Q: Who led the Pedants’ Revolt?
    A: Which Tyler.

    1. Think you might have got that a bit backwards. Brassic comes from boracic lint, right enough, which is CRS for skint. Which is Glaswegian for ‘skinned’, ie broke. Which a lot of Scottish folk were (and are). Sorry, pal, that’s you telt.

  37. 25:30

    NHO: ERISTIC, EPERGNE (guessed correctly), RUE as a herb but what else could it be.

    Didn’t know who Napier was.

  38. 9:53 this afternoon, for what was an enjoyable and fairly straightforward puzzle.
    FOI 9 ac “logarithm” (another maths nerd) and then a pretty steady solve. Although NHO the “eris” in 1 ac, it didn’t really hold me up and neither did 18 d “epergne” which I was only vaguely aware of as a word (possibly from another crossword) and had no idea what it looked like (I don’t think our local IKEA stocks them).
    I’ve seen 15 ac several times in puzzles recently, so it didn’t come as a massif surprise.
    Another MER at 17 ac “rueful” – I too, like Kevin, recalled Ophelia reeling off a few herbs to the Prince of Denmark at some stage, which helped.
    Quite liked 4 d “totemist”, possibly because I couldn’t see what was going on at all at first.
    Thanks to Vinyl and setter

  39. Found this enjoyably challenging – having been challenged by all the challenges mentioned by others so will not repeat. Time slow as I do the crossword whilst binge watching Netflix in the afternoon with my son whilst we are both on holiday. Finished Stranger Things yesterday and moved on to Umbrella Academy today, which needed a bit more attention at the start than my limited multitasking was up to!

  40. 17.05 but…

    …I was an EPENGRE. Didn’t even think of the correct answer tbh. I was rather hoping for more “obscurity clued as an anagram” but it seems I just need to read more Georgette Heyer 🙂

    Thanks all

  41. RUEFUL doesn’t seem right!!!
    But all easy enough for a possibly slightly hung-over Monday morn. I just didn’t worry about the Beds town.

  42. Apparently one of the few amongst us who actually owns a (silver plated) epergne. Nowadays only for Xmas Day. You can’t see the people opposite either round or over it but it can give you four more candles.
    Loved the crossword today, apart from the regrettable herb.
    Thanks setter and Vinyl

  43. I am very interested in the mechanics of things moving from “common knowledge” to “obscure historical fact”, and the similar process in literature – how at one point Dickens was just somebody you read because he was the greatest modern author, but in my lifetime he’s turned into classical literature, almost unreadably archaic to non-scholars. I think the Mitfords and indeed WW2 will soon feel to a lot of people as unimaginably distant as the Crimean and Boer wars do to me. Just another romantic chapter of history like the Six Wives of Henry VIII or the English Civil War. Time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears all its sons away.

  44. I only started doing the Times Cryptic about 5 or 6 years ago and am by no means an expert. PB of maybe 30 mins and average of 45-60 mins. Anyway I love the daily challenge and to improve myself I often do another one from years back (BC). I always print them out – hate the online version. So today I printed out No. 23375 from 23 August 2006. 9ac today – answer LOGARITHM. 11a in 23375 – answer NAPIERIAN – spooky or what!!

  45. 30 minutes or so for a fairly easy puzzle except for EPERGNE, from wordplay. Fortunately that spelling seemed more likely to be a proper French word than any other (EPENGRE not so much, so I guessed right). And nothing else really needed guessing. To me the Mitfords seem to be very interesting people with very poor judgment outweighing any other qualities they might have.

    1. Some of them, certainly. Redesdale himself was not the intellectual type. But Jessica and Nancy were sound enough, and becoming Duchess of Devonshire seems like a smart move …

  46. As usual, quite startled at the number of extremely literate bloggers here who confess to not knowing the herb rue! As a Shakespeare geek, I admit that part of the dreadful clue was pretty obvious to me – but “ful “?? Probably just sour grapes , as my first scan over the clues rendered me crestfallen , and things didn’t improve much thereafter…
    Like Piquet, I’ve been to Luton only once, and don’t intend to return.

  47. I did a search for RUEFUL on this page. 26 hits – most disliked clue of the year?

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