Times 28,391: Now NOBODY In A Times Crossword Is Still Living :(

I quite liked this overall: there were some weaker clues but also quite a few that I really loved. 6ac is really good, as were 4dn and 5dn. This was also a puzzle wherein a bit of trivia expertise could not go amiss, needing at least passing familiarity with 14th century revolts, very tall buildings in Asia, Greek mythology and so forth to solve in comfort; and I’m never going to downgrade the rating of a crossword for that. The surfaces were often quite nice too. Thanks setter!

A shame not to see any use of ER [leading lady] in the crossword today; but maybe that’s it for that device. After 70 years of having it easy, are cryptics even going to be able to function any more? Time will tell. I guess words with CR in will be easier to clue now at least…

Definitions underlined in italics, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, {} deletions and [] other indicators.

1 Event in which police backed soldiers spontaneously (9)
EXTEMPORE – EXPO [event] in which MET [police] is reversed + R(oyal) E(ngineers)
6 Poll tax protester rival to Thatcher mentioned? (5)
TYLER – Wat TYLER , leader of the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt against a poll tax; homophone of TILER [an alternative to a thatcher, for covering one’s roof]
9 Dishonest activity cloak and dagger in the end (5)
CAPER – CAPE + {dagge}R
10 Taken in by absorbing Resistance story (4,5)
HARD TIMES – HAD [taken in] + BY [times] “absorbing” R(esistance)
11 Sales do badly — stock so restricted? (7)
LASSOED – (SALES DO*). Livestock can be restricted by lassoing them
12 Short skirt put into carrier: one from our line? (7)
13 Fuel running short as tugs perhaps crossing N Asian landmark (8,6)
PETRONAS TOWERS – PETRO{l} AS TOWERS [the job of a tugboat is to tow things], “crossing” N
17 Leander literally the man keeping quiet in dispute over killer (4-10)
HERO-WORSHIPPER – HE [the man] + SH! [quiet!] in reversed ROW [dispute] + O(ver) + RIPPER [killer, as in Jolly Jack]. In Greek mythology, Leander was rather fond of Hero, going so far as to swim the Hellespont every night to spend time with her
21 Prehistoric Scots concerned with rounding cape and island (7)
ANCIENT – ANENT [concerned with; a word at least as old as Beowulf, not much seen except north of Hadrian’s wall these days] “rounding” C(ape) + I(sland)
23 Sat awkwardly in a wine store, choose not to partake? (7)
25 Blatant imposture girl and boy must defend (9)
UNASHAMED – SHAM “defended” by UNA and ED
26 Tory holding Liberal ultimately responsible for hacked phone (5)
CLONE – CON “holding” L(iberal) + {responsibl}E
27 Conservative departing America’s heart to submit (5)
ENTER – {c}ENTER [American spelling of centre]
28 Fruit come to ground creates public interest (9)
LIMELIGHT – LIME [fruit] + LIGHT [come to ground]
1 English about to tuck into lean boneless meat (8)
ESCALOPE – E(nglish) + C(irc)A “tucking into” SLOPE [lean]
2 Milk served over arsenic in snacks before meal (5)
TAPAS – TAP [milk, as in exploit] over AS [chemical symbol for arsenic]
3 Traveller from Venice has bow in hair — old look (5,4)
MARCO POLO – ARC [bow] in MOP [hair] + O(ld) + LO!
4 Reptiles, concealed in topiary, go outside no longer (7)
OPHIDIA – HID [concealed] in {t}OPIA{ry}, which is TOPIARY minus the TRY [go] on its outside
5 Cereal crop parts burning in distance we hear? (7)
EARSHOT – EARS [cereal crop parts] + HOT [burning]. “We hear” is not a homophone indicator for once – very clever!
6 Symbol the Egyptians originally found in cat? (5)
TOTEM -T{he} E{gyptians} found in TOM [cat]
7 Something disappointing — relegation? That has sour taste? (5,4)
LEMON DROP – LEMON [something disappointing] + DROP [relegation]
8 Uncontrolled desire to have a place? (6)
14 Cutting fish, worker grasps flounder’s tail (9)
TRENCHANT – TENCH + ANT “grasping” {flounde}R
15 Mischievous wife rubbished his claim (9)
16 Time passed: some 30 days in cathedral wing (8)
TRANSEPT – T(ime) RAN [passed] + SEPT [30 days hath September…]
18 Best work men? (7)
OPTIMAL – OP [work] + TIM and AL [two men]
19 Defence ministry traitors elevated in 28? (7)
STARDOM – reversed M(inistry) O(f) D(efence) RATS
20 Bad painting to include north European flower (6)
DANUBE – DAUB “including” N, + E. Flower as in something which flows
22 Volatile chemical bonds without shell (5)
24 Introduction to Alceste not short in accompaniment (5)
ALONG – A{lceste} + LONG [not short]

71 comments on “Times 28,391: Now NOBODY In A Times Crossword Is Still Living :(”

  1. This was the type of crossword that mercilessly shows up my weaknesses compared to a Bletchleyite (I note even a Bletchley Reject found this something of a comfy ride). That despite the fact that I was helped by knowing the two long across clues. 17 was entered without reading beyond the first two words – which made me feel a bit Verlainish, albeit momentarily – while I faffed around with 13 for longer than I should, despite having been to KL several times, on account of not being able to lift and separate ‘N Asian’ – even after doing thousands of these things!

    Sadly, I wouldn’t even merit a rejection letter from GCHQ, methinks.

    Just under 40 minutes.

    1. GCHQ should really send out things that look like rejection letters but if carefully deciphered turn out to be acceptance letters. That’s what I would do if I was GCHQ.

  2. 24:47
    I didn’t know the name of the TOWERS, so I finally looked it up; which was really dumb of me, since I had everything but the N, and I knew the towers aren’t in the North. Bifffed EXTEMPORE, parsed post-submission. Biffed HERO-W, never parsed it. WHIMSICAL=mischievous? COD EARSHOT.

  3. Unusually a bottom up solve, after eyes were drawn to NHO Alceste in the final clue. Very speedy until the top left – the towers, ophidia, earshot – very clever – all held me up, as did not being able to spell or parse the guessed extempora and escallop. Still easily beaten by brand names eg Petronas, even having worked on a project for them 7 or so years back.
    Another who knew the answer of 17AC after 2 words of the clue, also feeling Verlainish.
    COD earshot.

  4. 38 minutes needing extra time to decipher the unknown PETRONAS and OPHIDIA during which I cursed the setter for having them intersect. I was delayed a while by the Leander reference but WORSHIPPER eventually emerged from the checkers and I remembered who Leander was in love with.

    Anybody reading this will not have been affected or will have made their own arrangements, but just to mention that for solving online both this puzzle and the Quick Cryptic are fine if accessed via the Crossword Club link. But both puzzles are defective for online solving via the newspaper. The print-outs are faulty whichever method of access is used, although for the QC this amounts only to one missing clue number in the grid.

    1. The grid online (I worked on paper) is intact, but those last three clues are grayed, I mean greyed out.
      The to-print version has been corrected!

      1. Interesting. I just checked everything again and nothing has changed since I wrote the above at 6 AM. Also cleared my cache to make sure I wasn’t looking at a former download. Maybe it varies with device or browser.

        1. No, you’re right!
          It’s that way here too now. Again.
          Still, I mean.
          I must have been hallucinating.

          1. It’s fixed now and Mike H has posted in the Club forum. I needed to clear my cache again for the repair to take effect.

            The smaller glitch on the QC was still there when I last looked so I mentioned it to him again.

            [14:00 edit. QC glitch fixed now]

  5. Didn’t get to this till late, but it didn’t hang me up long.
    I got some from the definition and a few crossers, parsed later, like MARCO POLO, LEMON DROP, EXTEMPORE, ESCALOPE, HERO-WORSHIPPER (convoluted)… Ha! Even forgot to parse WHIMSICAL.
    POI TYLER (didn’t remember this guy), and LOI the NHO PETRONAS TOWERS, which I had to check.

    It seems Charles can call himself by whatever name he likes as king. There have already been two Charleses. ER sure came in handy—hard to beat that.

    1. But now that she is no longer with us, she can be referred to as ‘ER’ in this crossword, can she not? Very sad to hear of her demise.

      1. There was a carve-out for her here as the one exception to the “no dead folks” rule anyway—Verlaine alludes to it in his hed.
        “Former” or some such might have to be added now. But I know we’ve had King George before.

        Seems it’s official that Chuckles has decided to go with the moniker King Charles III.
        (And all he really wanted to be was a tampon!)
        CR does occur in a number of words.
        Wonder how long he’ll last, though? Who’s next?

  6. Re-assembling the broken grid was easy enough, but the clues proved tougher.
    Time 53 minutes. What was 3dn all about? A gimme at The London Evening Standard level! Innit!?

    FOI 4ac TYLER hardly a great clue IMHO
    COD 20dn DANUBE – daub was obvious, but l took the floral path and finally ran out of spacemen, according to my dumb spell checker!
    WOD 13ac PETRONAS TOWERS – in downtown Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
    Stunning at night when approaching by taxi from the airport what a lovely airport, with a delightful and easy internal train service. Back in the day, l used to stay at a hotel just over the road. Giddying prices!

    Have a weekend! Meldrew

    1. I’ll try Victor. Goddaughters birthday party all day tomorrow, said GD’s dad’s birthday all day Sunday. I can feel my liver trembling already ! Rosé weather, I think not.

  7. This all went in fairly easily. I’ve been to KL and even been on the tour of the towers where you get to go across the bridge between them pretty high up. I think ANENT was the only unknown (or forgotten).

  8. Did this on-line with the bottom three rows missing the grid which was less than satisfactory. HERO-WORSHIPPER and PETRONAS TOWERS went straight in. I remember the latter in Entrapment.

  9. 19:22. This felt quicker, I think because despite having to work hard I never got stuck for too long. HARD TIMES caused a little confusion – I’d thought that “taken in by” was “had”, and wondered where the TIMES was coming from. I was unsure about the definition for TAPAS as I think of it as a meal made up of small plates rather than an appetiser. My LOI was EXTEMPORE, for which I had to first undo my biffed ECHIDNA, which went in despite not being a reptile.
    Regarding living persons in the crossword, couldn’t ER and CR have always been used with reference to Elizabeth I and Charles I/II?

    1. Strained at trying to parse DANUBE as somehow involving BAD and NUDE (painting) anagramised but couldn’t make it work, never spotting the DAUB element. ESTER could as easily have fitted the clue as ETHER until I got the H checker.
      “Tapa” means lid or cover, and my Granadino suegro told me that time was when a tapa was a mere titbit offered gratis on a small dish on top of the drink, I never witnessed this in my time in Madrid (73-75), the dish being always at the side. The idea of tapas being a collection of dishes making up a larger meal is a much more recent one, and possibly invented in U.K. To this day it’s not common parlance in Spain in my experience. Such a meal is made up of ‘raciones’ which are larger portions – and you have to pay for them.

  10. After a false start when I got a few then noticed the bottom of the grid was SNAFU, I restarted via the link on the SNITCH page, and progressed at a respectable clip – Leander had to wait for enough crossers, but I’ve had vertigo on the glass bridge between those two towers. After 21m I was 4 clues away, with E-T-M—- begging me to enter ESTAMINET, ESTIMABLE, or similar.

    Paused for emergency Somali brekkie (and I’ll confess to solving HARD TIMES on the way), and afterwards finished it off including correction of EXTEMPORA – LOI OPHIDIA taking a good 5 mins of head-scratching. Typo-checking before filling the final square, I spotted multiple boobs…

    …but not “exRempore”. 35+m fail due to abysmal typing skills – thanks V and setter.

  11. Quite quick for a Friday, but some clever stuff as mentioned. My extensive collection of otherwise useless GK proved useful again … heard of Petronas, if only through their F1 sponsorship. Wat Tyler, a local lad made good. Or gone bad I suppose, depending on point of view. 17ac a write-in; always felt a bit sorry for Leander but couldn’t he have just moved to live somewhere a bit more convenient?
    Managed to do the extra work of filling in the blank squares OK, only by copying the online version 🙂

    1. Sure, Leander could have moved closer to Hero but that would have entailed changing continents, moving from Europe to Asia- not something to be undertaken lightly .
      After all , not everyone’s as intrepid as Horryd.

  12. I met a traveller from an Antique land,
    Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone…

    25 mins pre-brekker after filling in the black squares at the bottom of the grid – wrongly! What a mess.
    I liked it but thought Ophidia was a bit hard and Anent.
    Thanks setter and V.

  13. 52m 12s
    I liked this. That is my average time for a cryptic.
    One query: In what dictionary in a far-off land does ‘mischievous’ equate to WHIMSICAL?
    I seem to remember my godson, when he was quite young, playing some game which involved shouting MARCO POLO a lot. I’ve no idea what that was all about.
    COD candidates: DANUBE; EARSHOT, HERO WORSHIPPER, ANCIENT. With ANCIENT I was trying to work Pict in there somewhere.

    1. In the Rhinebeck town pool Martin MARCO POLO involves little tykes taking a running jump then hugging their legs and shouting the words as they create a huge splosh engulfing all the grown-ups in the water or sitting too close to it. It’s popular.

      1. One can see why. My only occasion to witness ‘Marco Polo’ involved no jumping and splashing, just a couple of kids shouting, I have no idea why.

        1. The version of the pool game that we play in Australia is that one child closes their eyes and calls out “Marco”, after which all the other kids have to answer “Polo”. The one with their eyes closed has to catch the others by sound alone. The call is repeated often as all of them move around the pool. The person first touched is then “in”and they have to close their eyes and start calling “Marco”. It involves lots of splashing around as the kids try to dodge the person who’s in.

      2. Yes, that’s it, Olivia! I remember now that it involved my godson jumping into a swimming pool. Thanks.

  14. 13:02. Quite tricky, very enjoyable. No unknowns – even OPHIDIA rang a bell – but I still needed the wordplay most of the time. Not for 17ac though.

  15. 18:43 and no pink squares.

    A faultless solving record for me so far during the third Caroline era. Not sure if that’s a correct description of the era we have just entered or not ? If so, our unofficial new National Anthem, “Sweet Caroline”, now maybe works?

    COD: Hard Times. Written by another Charles.

    1. Isn’t it Carolingian?
      On edit: Sorry, that refers to Charlemagne, and Caroline is good. Or if you prefer Carolean.

      1. My understanding is that in this country ‘Caroline’ relates to Charles I whose reign ended unfortunately (at least for him) and not something our new King would wish to be associated with. ‘Carolean’ on the other hand refers to Charles II, “The Merry Monarch” which is something for him better to aspire to.

        1. Not sure about distinguishing between the British Charles I & II (and III) but Collins says
          Caroline or Carolean
          1. Also called: Carolinian
          characteristic of or relating to Charles I or Charles II, kings of England, Scotland, and Ireland, the society over which they ruled, or their government
          2. of or relating to any other king called Charles
          Not sure if you know this but Charles II was fairly hard on the “regicides” after the restoration, which to me makes the moniker “Merry” rather sad.

          1. As to the treatment of the regicides Andy it’s a bit more complicated than that. The post-Restoration parliament passed the Indemnity and Oblivion Act but many of the surviving regicides were excepted from lenience. Charles himself was more inclined to clemency but did not stand in the way of the expressed wishes of parliament. In the context of the times the pretty horrible punishment dished out was within the prevailing norms. I believe the “merry” part has to do with the revival of music, theatre, entertainment and general pleasure-seeking in reaction to the preceding Puritanism.

    2. Like the idea of faultless solving in the latest era, whatever we decide it’s called- I have no doubt that the era will be around long after my run of correct solutions comes to an ignoble end. OPHIDIA LOI when I finally saw the HID in OPIA idea and had to ignore that other crossword favourite echidna!
      Thanks setter and blogger

  16. About 50 mins with a couple of interruptions. Enjoyable I thought. Got the two long ones quickly and finished slowly in the SW. Took ages to see OPTIMAL.

    I liked the TOWERS, TRENCHANT and the LIMELIGHT/STARDOM confection.

    Thanks V and setter. PS no probs on my printed version from the Times on-line site today.

  17. Liked OPTIMAL, EARSHOT – v clever – and TYLER. Slow but steady solve, in 45 mins. Only STARDOM held me up for any time, for why I know not.

  18. Easier than a usual Friday, I thought, 20 minutes. When I have TAPAS I’m not ready for a meal afterwards, they do for a meal. Biffed HERO-WORSHIPPER from Leander without ass embling the wordplay. Didn’t know ANENT but the answer was clear. Feeling sad today, but don’t think I can keep that up for 10 days.

  19. An enjoyable puzzle. Like Jerry, I came to the TOWERS via F1. TAPAS was FOI. Liked TYLER. I even remembered Leander’s predilection once I had a few crossers! 20:51. Thanks setter and V.

  20. “When I heard that she was gone I felt a shadow cross my heart” (Rush : “Nobody’s HERO”)

    I found this more straightforward than many Friday puzzles (fortunately I missed the glitch) and my penultimate EXTEMPORE enabled me to correct the illogically biffed ‘echidna’.

    TIME 9:45

  21. 48 minutes, which I thought was quite good until coming here and seeing that most people were quicker. Never knew about ‘anent’ being a Scots word — I just thought it was rare. And to call HARD TIMES a story misled me a bit: I suppose it is a story, but would have expected ‘novel’. Slow on the two towers, of which I am a bit ignorant, although I realised that it wouldn’t be a North Asian landmark, but possibly it was going to be just a landmark? Also slow on the LASSOED anagram, and I couldn’t think how tap = milk.

  22. 20:35. Couldn’t parse EXTEMPORE and doubt I would have done no matter how long I stared at it post-solve. Quite a lumpy puzzle, with some quick cryptic level and others very knotty. Had similar misgivings as others about the “mischievous” definition of WHIMSICAL, though Chambers Thesaurus gives it as a synonym – but then it does have some rather strange ideas at times.

  23. 37:25

    Blasted off quickly. Long pause a third of the way through. Bits and pieces and then a grand finish.

    Not being a chemist, needed all three checkers to nail down ETHER – had no idea what a volatile chemical is.



  24. Thought 6a TYLER was super clever, did Wat at school and remembered, recalled Maggie’s downfall very well, so super easy. So why did I enter TILER????
    Have come across Hero & L in mythology, but made totally unforgettable by Flanders and Swann’s song denying an affair in which “said Hero and Leander, ’tis nobbut slander” (with short “a”s) but can’t remember the song title.

      1. I thought it would be nice to remind myself of this, but the link doesn’t seem to work.

      2. Thank you!
        The link doesn’t work but “flanders and swann friendly duet” on youtube brings it up.

  25. 35 minutes. Not going to get me a job at GCHQ in any capacity but I was reasonably happy. I went down the “Pict” path at 21a too before checkers and a vague recall of a previous appearance of ANENT helped.

    I liked the misleading ‘we hear?’ bit of the def for EARSHOT.

  26. Late to the crossword today, but worth the wait, very enjoyable. Certainly on song today finishing 6 minutes inside target at 39 minutes dead. Would probably have been tempted to spell the twin towers of 13ac with a u instead of an a, but the cryptic was clear. All others clues parsed with the exception of ANCIENT, although I assumed ANENT had the meaning stated.

  27. Slowed down by defective grid. But still managed to solve it in 40 minutes. Didn’t we have TOTEM as an answer a few days back?

  28. 13’16”

    Well, I actually received a rejection letter (or was it?) from GCHQ many years ago. Just as well really: I’m not sure I would have liked all the paranoia and suspicion that must surround the place, and the money was awful.

    Enjoyed this puzzle. A proper Friday treat to draw one away from the tsunami of self-indulgent, vicarious grief that has once again enveloped the country. They’re even cancelling the footie this weekend: is nothing sacred?

  29. 47 minutes, but a DNF because with only OPHIDIA and PETRO?AS TOWERS left to go, the phone rang and when I hung up after nearly an hour PETROLAS TOWERS seemed quite reasonable, although I knew they weren’t called that. Otherwise an enjoyable puzzle with many clever clues. I rather liked OPHIDIA. For 19dn I tried to biff STADIUM, but the correct answer worked much better.

  30. Coming late to Friday’s grid, dare I suggest parsing 17 ac differently? ROW isn’t reversed. It’s HE + SH in ROW-O-RIPPER

  31. Enjoyed this immensely, especially as 17a went straight in (and parsed thereafter) and much to do with the level of misdirection in the clues: 6a being a perfect example. However not knowing OPHIDIA , PETRO(G)AS TOWERS or ANENT held me up somewhat- although what else could 22a be? DNF due to gap at 4d, and, ashamedly, at 25a.

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