Times 28407 – diary of a nobody knows.

No major problems here, finishing in 20 minutes, although I can’t quite see how 11a works.


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

1 Diamonds appropriate for waterproof container? (3,3)
ICE BAG – ICE = diamonds, BAG = appropriate, take.
5 Lead bloke who presents weather forecast? (5,3)
FRONT MAN – double definition, one tongue in cheek referring to a man discussing “fronts” on a synoptic weather chart.
9 Rabble repeated phrase by gunmen very loudly (8)
RIFFRAFF – RIFF a repeated phrase in jazz for example; RA for gunmen, FF = very loudly. I’d have expected a hyphen.
10 Top males welcomed by clubs, say (6)
SUMMIT – M M inside SUIT as in cards.
11 What’s covered by up-to-date diaries occasionally (3,3,4)
NOW AND THEN – Well, what’s the word play here? I can see NOW = up-to-date, and EH = what, reversed in there, but what have diaries got to do with it? If a diary were up-to-date, then maybe it would include things that happen NOW AND things that happened THEN?
13 Open University’s accepting piano piece (4)
OPUS – P inside O.U.’S.
14 Initially dampen excitement that runs round room (4)
DADO – D(ampen), ADO (excitement). A dado rail runs around a room at around waist height, at least it does in our living room.
15 Bear expert around noon giving tacit assent (10)
SUFFERANCE – SUFFER (bear) ACE (expert) with N for noon inserted.
18 We’re spoiled with wealth that kept mill going (5,5)
20 Coach trip’s beginning with no money (4)
BUST – BUS (coach) T(rip).
21 Maybe Rosemary‘s wrapped in feather boa (4)
HERB -slightly hidden as above.
23 Staff on the road primarily sell drinks on behalf of church (5,5)
SALES FORCE – S(ell), ALES (drinks) FOR (on behalf of) CE (Church of England).
25 What some do when all but first of harvest fails? (6)
STARVE – (ARVEST)*, the dropped H being “all but first of”).
26 One who talks about exercising person in exchange (8)
OPERATOR – ORATOR (one who talks) with PE (exercising) inserted. When did we last see a live operator in a telephone exchange? Do we still have exchanges?
28 Old American stands in for one in household very well (D8)
FAMOUSLY – FAMILY = household, replace the I by O US).
29 Stand up to soak sibling coming in (6)
RESIST – RET  + soak, insert SIS(ter).
2 Sausage and cool drink passed round volunteers (9)
CHIPOLATA -HIP (cool) with COLA around and TA inserted.
3 Polish aluminium ring — for its nose? (7)
BUFFALO -BUFF (polish) AL (Al, aluminium), O (ring). My American Word Press spell-checker doesn’t approve of the I in aluminium, but I see from Wiki that both spellings have co-existed since the time of Humphrey Davy in 1811.
4 State aim inconclusively (3)
GOA -aim = GOAL, lose the end letter.
5 Female stops suitable husband in interval in bar (5)
FIFTH – FIT (suitable) insert F for female, add H for husband.
6 Blair admitting issue with tablets for film-maker (5,6)
ORSON WELLES -Eric Blair was the real name of George ORWELL; insert SON (issue) gives ORSONWELL: add E’S (ecstasy tablets).
7 Vault over large area’s fair game (7)
TOMBOLA – TOMB (vault for burial) O(ver) L(arge) A(rea).
8 A drive out every so often can be so long (5)
ADIEU – A then alternate letters of D r I v E o U t.
12 Course used to be owned by female cleaners (11)
DISHWASHERS – DISH (food course) WAS (used to be) HERS (owned by female).
16 Pay for each experience at the start (3)
FEE – initial letters of For Each Experience.
17 Farm produce can cut credit in outlets (4,5)
CASH CROPS – CA(N) = can cut, SHOPS = outlets, insert CR for credit.
19 Ban doctor boarding English ship in the past (7)
EMBARGO – E, MB (doctor) ARGO (Jason’s ship).
20 Isle of Man swimmer’s collecting organic fuel (7)
BIOMASS – IOM (Isle of Man) inserted into BASS a fish / swimmer.
22 More wide possibly (5)
EXTRA – Double definition. What would setters do if cricket hadn’t been invented?
24 Stupid place to go with pony not performing (5)
LOOPY – LOO (place to “go”), PY (pony loses the ON = performing).
27 Royal couple put their foot in it (3)
ERR -ER (Elizabeth Regina) R (Rex).

89 comments on “Times 28407 – diary of a nobody knows.”

  1. No problems here although I was equally bemused by NOW AND THEN, assuming it would become clear when I went back after solving. But I still don’t see anything.

  2. Re NOW AND THEN:I think the last line of your explanation covers it best. Diaries are usually a record of your past. If it’s an up-to-date one it’s covering the present too.

  3. 19:32
    Nothing to scare the proverbials. I biffed DISHWASHERS, parsed post-submission. I was so happy to finally recall CHIPOLATA that I forgot to parse it. No problem with NOW AND THEN, which I interpreted as curryowen did.

  4. 27 minutes. I initially wondered what NOW AND THEN was all about, but agree that reading the wordplay as a whole makes sense of it. CASH CROPS and BIOMASS gave a bit of trouble and wordplay was needed for the almost forgotten DADO. Good to have learnt the definition for SUFFERANCE.

  5. This all went swimmingly but for the wretched bass from the Isle of Man did for me. I had all the letters but failed to ‘meld’ them! I’m really not up on biofuels. Thus after a leisurely 40 minutes slung in the towel.

    FOI 13ac OPUS
    (LOI) 20ac BUST. Doh! Simples!
    COD 26ac OPERATOR that sort of exchange and nowt to do with hostages.
    WOD 9ac RIFF-RAFF – the hoi-poli , ‘A basket of deplorables.’

    7dn TOMBOLA also caught my attention, as it derives from the Italian word – tombolare – to tumble and a slightly different game to that which we Brits have encountered at Church Fetes over the years. So it has no connection to one Count Thomaz Bola, the Italian impresario from Bolzano, who introduced the ‘coco-nut shy’ to the UK. He was affectionately known as ‘Cocobola’.

    1. I have a pedantic friend who always moans at “the hoi polloi”, even though it is very common English usage. His point is that since hoi means the in Greek the term should just be simply “hoi polloi”.

      1. Duly noted, Sir: Thank you! I have a similar pedantic point on the expression ‘PDF file, where the F of the acronym denotes the word file! So he it should be simply ’PDF’ but often isn’t. Meldrew

        1. Ah, good to know. I’m sure I will insert that fact into a conversation someday soon and will remember to duly credit you!

        2. Shock horror, Sir.

          PDF is not an acronym any more than is BBC for instance. Acronyms are words or terms such as Radar, AIDS and PIN.

  6. 27 minutes with the last 5 spent on the unknown BIOMASS. I also looked more than once at NOW AND THEN before realising how it worked.

    I still don’t know what BUFFALO has to do with ‘nose’. The animals have noses and they are distinctive but I haven’t found a lexical term or a saying that links the two words.

    I can’t say I’ve met ICE BAG before but the clue was easy to solve and to check out.

    1. I was puzzled by the nose, too. I figured it was that at least some (water) buffalo used in agriculture would have a ring through their nose.

      1. A couple do show up in a Google image search for “buffalo nose ring” but it certainly seems unusual. Perhaps the question mark covers that.

    2. Me too. I solved late, and mostly came here to learn what I didn’t know about Buffalo.

  7. Seventeen minutes; I might’ve been faster if I’d worked out CHIPOLATA sooner—as it turned out it was LOI despite it being the last style of sausage I actually ate. D’oh. I also took quite a while to parse it as I was expecting the “cool” to be “chill”. Apart from that everything went in pretty smoothly, with a mostly-clockwise filling in of the grid from ICE BAG onwards.

  8. Didn’t exactly rip through this, after glacial speed on the quickie – but no really serious hold-ups, no unknowns and a steady pace towards completion. Finishing in the SE, unlocked by BIOMASS, with outlier CHIPOLATA LOI immediately after I went back to it, ignoring the cryptic and looking at the crossers.

    27:01 enjoyable solve and 8th success in a row, well into uncharted territory for me – thanks P and setter

  9. … Life is but a day;
    A fragile dewdrop on its perilous way
    From a tree’s summit

    20 mins mid-brekker. Standard fare, but gentle and some nice touches.
    Thanks setter and Pip.

  10. 16:53
    Nothing too tricky here. Yes, I think you’re right in your second explanation of the diary clue, pip.

  11. AC/DC’s FIFTH disc, Powerage
    Contains RIFF RAFF: it’s great on stage
    Their FRONT MAN, Bon Scott
    FAMOUSLY was a sot
    And died at a sadly young age

    1. Are you in Perth? Did you go to “Highway to Hell” 2 years back, celebrating the 40th anniversary of his death?

  12. Now and then there’s a fool such as I, held up by this clever clue. 24 minutes. COD to DISHWASHERS. Thank you Pip and setter.

  13. I struggled with this, eventually limping over the line unscathed in 30:17. BUST and CASH CROPS were the last to yield.


  14. 42 mins, struggled with now and then, chipolata, chic and trying to get tea in, LOI dado.
    COD loopy.

  15. 51m 18s but I fell at the last hurdle, 14ac, where I put CAPO. I don’t recall ever having heard of a DADO rail before and although it seemed obvious the word started with a D, I couldn’t make any sense of it. My only thought was that a CAPO on a guitar might also dampen the sound.
    I’m as puzzled as the next man about NOW AND THEN.
    However I did like FAMOUSLY and DISHWASHERS; and I enjoyed the Orwellian misdirection in ORSON WELLES.

  16. Although I was enjoying it, my mind wandered a bit and I took a break. On my return, once I finally figured out CHIPOLATA, everything else became clear. FAMOUSLY is fab.

  17. I had “Now and then” as “NOW I’ll be in this meeting AND THEN I’ll be in that one”. Maybe that’s just the logician in me. Agreed the past tense fits as well, and is probably closer to what the setter had in mind.

    Otherwise reasonably straightforward – 6:57 – with a few biffs along the way – CHIPOLATA, CASH CROPS among that list.

    1. I really like the simple logic of your NOW AND THEN parsing and will now go with that over the alternatives.

  18. 24 minutes, mostly straightforward. FOI RIFFRAFF, most time spent on DISHWASHERS and CASH CROPS. I remember way back helping my Dad with the decorating: one of our jobs was to remove the DADO rails. COD FRONT MAN

  19. Nobody seems to have commented on ERR, which I found a bit odd and tricky. OK it was fairly obvious but the royal couple idea seemed a bit vague. Perhaps not. 21 minutes for a puzzle that was easier I thought than yesterday’s, although the SNITCH doesn’t support this. The ICE bag was new to me, but the wordplay helped.

  20. BUFFALO was my FOI, constructed from the bottom up and followed by the DADO rail. BIOMASS brought up the rear. No eyebrows were raised, not even NOW AND THEN. Didn’t manage to parse APOI, CASH CROPS, but it allowed BUST and then BIOMASS to be inserted. Liked DISHWAHERS. 16:40. Thanks setter and Pip.

  21. 9:28. Another steady solve. Not sure I’ve come across ICE BAG before. What is it?
    As I encounter it most frequently the word ‘diary’ refers to my calendar, so at first I thought THEN must be a reference to the future and wondered what ‘up to date’ had to do with it. Then I remembered the other, more conventional, meaning of the word.
    DADO originally referred to a sort of very high skirting board made of wood. These days instead of wood it’s usually just painted a different colour, or wallpapered, or sometimes not even that, in which case the rail is all that’s left.

    1. ICE BAG. I was puzzled too and looked it up. “a bag filled with ice and applied to the body to reduce swelling or lower temperature.”, which is what I thought it was, but why is it defined in the crossword as a”waterproof container”. Furthermore, I don’t understand the surface reading. What does it mean?

        1. I know that. What I meant was, what does “Diamonds appropriate for waterproof container? ” mean?

      1. Thanks. I agree the definition seems a bit odd: I mean sure one of these is probably waterproof but it’s not exactly the main point.

    2. ICE BAGs are a staple of US hospitals and medical cabinets – kind of the opposite of a hot water bottle (which I’m clutching at the moment thanks to a feverish reaction to a covid booster shot). HWBs are more like a bag than a bottle anyway and when I went looking for a new one recently in the local branch of a national chain pharmacy I was directed to the shelves with the sports water bottles – not what I wanted.

  22. 34 mins. Nothing much more to say. I liked DISHWASHERS and WATER WHEEL.

    Thanks Pip and setter.

  23. 21:20. Couldn’t/didn’t parse NOW AND THEN, CHIPOLATA, DISHWASHERS. Still unsure about the first. NHO of an ICE BAG and wondered vaguely if being waterproof – though evidently essential- would be the first thing you’d normally associate with a container designed to keep its contents cool (though I see Chambers doesn’t have any such misgivings).

  24. 12:55. A couple of double takes for me… see comment above in reply to keriothe on ICE BAG. I was also puzzled by the BUFFALO nose ring, so I looked it up here for the explanation. I liked STARVE and LOOPY most. Thank-you Pip and setter.

  25. This seemed like a stroll in the park until I read some of the comments here challenging several clues. Maybe I’m just under thinking them, but I had no issue with any of them today. 18’12”, which is fast for me, even for a pretty straightforward puzzle.

  26. 06:23, no dramas. The definitions in 1ac and 11ac were somewhat oblique, but this is why it’s called a cryptic crossword, after all. Serious athletes keep lots of bags of frozen peas on hand for occasions when they strain something; I do the same, but mainly because they are nutritious, tasty and relatively cheap.

  27. A very slow 37 mins, bogged down in the SE. Didn’t help that I had an unparsed CORN CROPS, nor that I saw LOOPY but couldn’t parse it. Not sure that LOOPY is stupid anyway, more deranged or mad?

  28. I found this pretty easy apart from a brief holdup in the SE corner. I was slow to get BUST, LOOPY and CASH CROPS, but finished comfortably in 20 minutes. I was another solver puzzled by 11a.

  29. All but three finished in about 20 minutes and then took another 8 to complete. Finished in 28.08 with CASHCROPS and BIOMASS delaying me, and I now discover my LOI LOONY was incorrect. I did think of LOOPY as an possible alternative, but the parsing of the clue defeated me. Given a choice I almost inevitably pick the wrong option.

  30. Although he was a first rate actor and director in his time, during the 1970s ORSON WELLES became chiefly known for performing in ads for inexpensive California wine (occasionally under the influence of the product). He found himself obliged to do this because he’d run out of money and work. Good clue. 14.12

    1. Your comment reminded me that he did an ad here many years ago. Looking it up now, it was for Nashua copiers, I would think in the late 70’s or early 80’s. I’m glad to say he was perfectly sober. Maybe a long way from the Prater but he still had a presence.

    2. Was it Welles who said, “This may be the finest wine you’ve tasted” with just a bit too much stress on the “you”? Somehow I thought it was Ustinov. but I remember thinking how obtuse the director was.

      1. That was a new one on me Kevin. Could have been either but somehow it sounds more Ustinovian.

  31. 19:40

    Just the SE plus 28a left to do after thirteen mins – took three or four mins to get the next answer LOOPY and the rest simply fell into place – LOI CASH CROPS – liked FAMOUSLY

  32. 13’09”, with FRONT MAN LOI.

    I once smashed my hand on a DADO rail playing baseball on the Wi-fit.

    Thanks Pip and setter.

  33. I won’t argue with any of the clues since I got them all in 50 mins. Anything under an hour is good for me. May even have been quicker if Mr C weren’t giving me up to the minute figures on the tumbling £ at the same time. Very nearly a dnf but suddenly saw the ‘runs round room’ definition.

    Thanks setter and blogger

  34. Definite proof that lightning can strike twice as I finish a 15×15 two days in a row for the first time ever! 27 minutes today which is heartening. Not all parsed though – Now and then went in with crossed fingers and I did not see how Cash crops worked, or Resist (NHO ret = wet).

    Blog very much appreciated as I try to come to grips with the larger crossword – many thanks Pip.

  35. This was like a tasty casserole but with bits of gristle. I think most physios etc would use an ‘ice pack’ . I can’t find SALES FORCE in my old Collins ED.
    Liked 12d and 5a.
    Thanks for a nod to cricket at 22d. We are approaching October , when ( to paraphrase Denis Norden ) ‘ it’s the month when keen cricket fans discover that their spouse left them in May ‘…
    Thanks as always to setter, blogger and contributors.

  36. Reasonably quick, the only double take on the diary, parsed as everyone else did after a bit of thought. Water buffaloes used as farm animals to till rice paddies etc. in wide swathes of the world, of course they’d have nose rings. NHO ice bag as such, but have one in the freezer – I’d call it an ice pack. Standard (= high quality) puzzle.

  37. Straightforward today. Slightly astonished at folks who have never heard of DADO or BIOMASS. All done in 24 minutes.

    Useless fact = George Orwell (Eric Blair) wrote 1984 on the Scottish isle of Jura – no doubt sustained by local usquebaugh!

  38. About 18 mins. Held up by dado at the end for no very good reason but at least I got there. Nothing too obscure in the rest. I didn’t bother agonising over now and then as it seemed pretty literal and the crossers worked.
    COD to famously.
    Thx setter and blogger.

  39. Hooray – a rare completion of the biggie for me, made rarer for being entirely aid-free. A hugely satisfying, albeit slow (hours not minutes, albeit with breaks) yet steady, completion in which all were correctly parsed (although NOW AND THEN was entered nervously) earning a big pat on back, which was of course, self delivered.

    DADO was LOI
    BUST was FOI
    DISHWASHERS and SALES FORCE were my joint CODs.
    RET was NHO

    Thanks so much for the blog Piquet.

  40. 15:10 this afternoon. I found this a rather frustrating puzzle, really no more difficult than yesterday’s but nearly double the time taken.
    Kept getting the wrong end of the stick with several clues, which I guess is another way of saying “off wavelength”. I reckon the best solvers have the ability to reject quickly their initial analysis of a clue if it doesn’t look promising and try a new approach, whereas I can re-visit a clue and immediately adopt the same mindset as originally- the metaphor of a woodpecker repeatedly banging in vain against the same spot on a tree springs to mind!
    Whatever, some nice clues to be found such as 5 ac “front man” and 17 d “cash crops”.
    Interesting to read of Brenk1’s experience with 14 ac “dado” – I was exactly the same!
    Thanks to Pip and setter

  41. Another decent time, my new target is Snitch/(time in minutes) > 2. Which it was today, just.


  42. very straightforward 13’29” many thanks. Now for yesterday which snitch says is easier still.

  43. 24 mins
    FOI opus
    LOI cash crops
    COD Orson Welles
    WOD loopy
    I just saw 11a as a(sort of) DD
    Thanks as always to the blogger & setter

  44. All correct, but I had trouble with the across clues. Last one in was DADO, which I didn’t know, although trusted the wordplay. OPERATOR and STARVE took an age to see.
    Two in a row all correct.
    Thanks Pip and setter

  45. 17.19

    Steady pleasant solve

    There was some twitching at ICE BAG but I didn’t worry too much about the parsing of NOW AND THEN.

    STARVE was good

    Thanks Pip and setter

  46. Just finished in about 45 mins which is probably a PB for me. Was hesitant about ICE BAG like some others and couldn’t see what was going on with ORSON WELLES, so thanks for the explanation.
    I notice that one of our fastish bloggers had FRONT MAN as his LOI; funny because it was my FOI. LOI for me was OPERATOR.

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