Times 28420 – not built for speed

Time taken: 15:03.  I struggled with this one, and so did several of the early solvers, it seems. There’s some well-hidden definitions and tricky wordplay, and I hope I have unraveled everything for the blog.

Post solve, I had to look up more definitions than wordplay, so I suspect I am missing some general knowledge that might help.

How did you do?

1 Sign seen at hen party? (4)
OMEN – there would be O(zero) MEN at a hen party
3 British sailors possessing deficiency, still getting stick (10)
BLACKTHORN – B(British), RN(sailors) containing LACK(deficiency) and THO’ (still). This was my last in, pieced together from wordplay. It is a walking stick.
9 Withdrawing coat, one dropped embarrassingly short material (7)
CAMBRIC –  the coat is a MAC, reversed, then you might drop a BRICK minus the last letter. Another one I had to put together from wordplay.
11 Misses Damien’s manoeuvres (7)
MAIDENS – anagram of DAMIEN’S
12 Wishes friend to get hold of incredible hit song (4,4,5)
LONG TALL SALLY – LONGS(wishes), ALLY(friend) containing TALL(incredible). A hit for Little Richard in 1957
14 Discrimination, not all from the Right, gets attention (5)
TASTE – hidden reversed in gETS ATtention
15 Setter’s cornered daughter in lane, it’s claimed (9)
ALLEGEDLY – GEL(setter) containing D(daughter) inside ALLEY(lane)
17 Things to observe after resorting to an alibi (9)
19 Nothing, presumably, from Matthew on Grant (5)
ALLOT – if something was ALL OT, there would be nothing from the Book of Matthew- and as pointed out in comments, nothing beyond as Matthew is the first book of the NT
21 One declining to follow vehicle — preferred one to go on foot (6,7)
CARPET SLIPPER – SLIPPER(one declining) after CAR(vehicle) and PET(preferred).  Some have commented on slipper = one declining. I think it works if you think of ageing – slipping into retirement.
24 One used to make yoghurt treat for consuming last month (7)
CULTURE – CURE(treat for) containing ULT(last month)
25 Ready for Asian broadcast again: HF (7)
AFGHANI – anagram of AGAIN,HF
26 Laughter and harsh cries as leaders swap personal flaws (10)
BIRTHMARKS – MIRTH(laughter) and BARKS(harsh cries) swapping the first letters
27 Eat little mushroom that’s turned darkish at the centre (4)
PECK – CEP(mushroom) reversed then the middle letter of darKish. Thanks to commenters that pointed out little is part of the definition and not part of the mushroom
1 Very large copper can put in convict for bussing (10)
OSCULATING – OS(very large), CU(copper), then TIN(can) inside LAG(convict).  Bussing meaning kissing here.
2 These little mammals are I hesitate to say the pits! (7)
ERMINES – ER(I hesitate to say), MINES(the pits)
4 Maybe healthy competition at first: everyone getting a buzz in the neighbourhood! (5,4)
LOCAL CALL – LO-CAL(maybe healthy), then the first letter in Competition and ALL(everyone)
5 Parties not exactly required by politicians (5)
CAMPS – CA(circa, not exactly) and MPS(politicians)
6 Journey on, taking it easy, finding protection from the elements etc (6,7)
TRIPLE GLAZING – TRIP(journey), LEG(the on side in cricket), LAZING(taking it easy)
7 So Nelson had the Victory, I had heard (3-4)
ONE-EYED – sounds like WON(had the victory), I’D(I had)
8 Issues with hotel food (4)
NOSH – NOS(numbers, editions, issues), H(hotel)
10 Men probing underlying cause of fallen cradle? Dodgy old seat (6,7)
ROTTEN BOROUGH – OR(men) inside ROTTEN BOUGH(cause of fallen cradle)
13 Colour of sky pointer to storm (6,4)
16 One taking inappropriate interest in single nurse we’re told (4,5)
LOAN SHARK – sounds like LONE(single), and a NURSE shark
18 Problem caused by stream with river further down (7)
TICKLER – TRICKLE(stream) with the R moved lower
20 French mathematician’s friend upset doctor (7)
LAPLACE – PAL(friend) reversed, then LACE(doctor a drink)
22 Unknown number removed from opposite side by a clear-out (5)
ENEMA – remove Y(unknown number) from ENEMY(opposite side) then A
23 That is muscle one would work on defiantly? (4)
SCAB – SC(scilicet, that is), AB(muscle)

74 comments on “Times 28420 – not built for speed”

  1. I had no idea about ALLOT but I just put it in with a shrug. Also got held up by biffing OSCULATION for my FOI without checking the wordplay in enough detail so it was some time before I checked more carefully after I couldn’t really fit the letters in NOTABILIA starting with an O. BIRTHMARKS and then ENEMA were my last two in. I knew who LAPLACE was although I expect there will be many who do not. Also ROTTEN BOROUGH.

  2. 28:34
    This was a toughie. I didn’t help matters by biffing HASH at 8d, intending and of course forgetting to come back and think about it; making BLACK? difficult to complete. Biffed LONG TALL SALLY, LOCAL CALL, ROTTEN BOROUGH, ALLEGEDLY, parsed post-submission. DNK OYSTER PINK; pink’s not a color I’d associate with oysters.

  3. Lacking lots of the GK, but excellent wordplay saved the day e.g. unknown BLACKTHORN entered with only the L in place. LOI ENEMA needed an alphabet trawl, no other problems in this tricky puzzle.
    I parsed PECK with the definition “eat little”, and just mushroom for cep.

  4. 36 minutes. Had the wrong def for 21a, wondering what a CARPET SLIPPER had to do with ‘One declining to follow’. I thought RN by itself would do for ‘British sailors’ at 3a, so needed the crossers to work out that an extra B was needed.

    I couldn’t have told you what colour OYSTER PINK was before just looking it up now; belongs to the Pastel Red colour family apparently. Just scuttlebutt, but back in the 50’s-60’s our local switchboard operator (based at the Post Office of course) was said to have listened in to all the LOCAL CALL(s), so you had to be careful what you said. It’s reassuring that all of our personal information is so much more secure these days.

      1. Thanks. Very funny and bought back some happy memories from as far back as “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In”. I think our small country town operator was more subtle about her eavesdropping and kept in the background a bit more!

  5. Sadly I forgot to note my starting time but this certainly took me longer than previous puzzles this week, perhaps up to 50 minutes.

    Actually it was a technical DNF as I didn’t know the mathematician and although LAP was obvious I was unable to think of a suitable synonym for ‘doctor’ so I consulted my thesaurus. I then checked to see if LAPLACE had come up before and found two occasions in 15×15 puzzles, most recently in July last year when I also didn’t know him. More annoying for me was that I blogged him in 2018 when I wrote:

    Mathematician to overtake doctor (7)
    LAPLACELAP (overtake), LACE (doctor). Collins: Pierre Simon Marquis de Laplace. 1749–1827, French mathematician, physicist, and astronomer. He formulated the nebular hypothesis (1796). He also developed the theory of probability. Sorry, Jim, but I’ve never heard of him and it’s his very first appearance in a 15×15 since TftT started. I cheated on this one , but I got the LAP bit. The end of my solve was finally in sight but I was in no mood for a lengthy alphabet trawl on ?A?E = ‘doctor’ so I looked him up.

    One writes all this stuff in the hope that it will help it to stick in one’s brain but sadly it was to no avail on this occasion.

    I knew CAMBRIC from the lyric to Scarborough Fair:
    Tell her to make me a cambric shirt (in the deep forest green)
    Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.

    NHO OYSTER PINK nor of BLACKTHORN as a stick, but I knew the shrub.

    LOCAL CALL took some parsing.

    1. ‘Tell her to make me a cambric shirt, and sew it all up with no needlework” is the version I know.

  6. “if something was ALL OT, there would be nothing from the Book of Matthew”

    – nothing from Matthew ON

  7. 21 minutes, so on wavelength today. Must be the fifties rock and the mathematician. LOI ALLOT. Unlike LAPLACE, I had need of a hypothesis to solve that one. I also had to assemble CAMBRIC. COD has to go to LONG TALL SALLY though. Great puzzle.Thank you George and setter

  8. A very satisfying puzzle, though I had Blackjacks for a while which almost works but doesn’t account for the ‘still’.
    Thanks for the blog

    1. Me Too! ( I looked up Blackjack and verified that it was a stick of sorts, too! ). Thereafter could not find a word J?I?L? so was unable to get 6d; then followed the domino effect…

  9. Just on the hour, so pretty tricky. A number of words unknown, BLACKTHORN, OSCULATING and the mathematician, all worked out from wp. I have heard of OYSTER PINK though.

    I liked LOCAL CALL and CARPET SLIPPER best. A hard but enjoyable challenge.

    Thanks glh and setter

  10. 45m 31s For quite a while everything seemed to be on my wavelength but the last 4 or 5 clues took 17 minutes. Still, I liked the puzzle a lot, particularly CARPET SLIPPER, ALLOT , LOAN SHARK and LOCAL CALLS.
    Thanks, George for ALLEGEDLY and NOSH.
    COD: BIRTHMARKS. A Spoonerism without the Reverend’s name being invoked!
    I seem to remember The Beatles had a hit with LONG TALL SALLY as well.

        1. I never, ever throw anything away. Ever. It is more often a curse than a blessing.
          Charity shop donation, the nearest I get.
          I still have all my sixties singles, eps and lps. I did lose a few, mainly at drunken student parties, which I regret.. most of my Cream lps for example

          1. Ah! Cream LPs! After I had bought an expensive hi-fi system, including a CD player, when I worked in Saudi, I sold my vinyl records when I returned to the UK.
            I sold them to a Frank Zappa lookalike who lived near Cambridge in a beautiful thatched cottage with uneven whitewashed walls. Those were covered not with paintings or posters but LP and EP covers. He even had an EP by The Dakotas, Billy J Kramer’s backing group. I thought I was the only person in the world to have owned that EP!

  11. Laplace came up with the Spherical Harmonics which is the solution to the angular equation of hydrogen… which is the key to understanding the electron orbitals in atoms… ok, ok, I know nobody else is interested in quantum mechanics… but just saying!

  12. 35 mins for an enjoyable solve Several biffs which helped (3a, 12a, 4d, 6d)
    Struggled a bit in SW corner as I keep forgetting ult and didn’t know sc
    NHO of Cambridge

  13. Haven’t posted here for a while but I always read the blog and comments. Thought this was a very fine crossword, done and dusted in 34.55 but unsure still about ‘slipper’ equating to ‘one declining’. Thanks George and setter.

  14. Helpfully I remembered LAPLACE Transforms from university, but I didn’t know LONG TALL SALLY or CAMBRIC, had no idea what was going on with ALLOT and took longer than I should to come up with simpler ones like TRIPLE GLAZING. Maybe it’s because I only have single glazing, so even DOUBLE GLAZING would seem the height of luxury… Anyway. A little tricky, but I didn’t get stuck on anything for too long, and finished in 29 mins.

  15. 22:01. I struggled with this one and failed to parse NOSH, ALLOT and ENEMA. I DNK BLACKTHORN as a stick, was slow to see LOCAL and befuddled by the “etc” in 6D. Apart from the elements, from what else does TRIPLE GLAZING protect you? I liked the “underlying cause of fallen cradle”. Thanks George and setter.

    1. It’s a great help if a helicopter lands on your lawn when you’re trying to drop feathers in peace.

    2. A friend of mine one Guy Fawkes night lit a fancy Chinese rocket that tipped over just before take-off. His triple glazing did not protect the house from it, and the entire kitchen had to be redecorated.

    3. Protection against noise? Pollution? Agree the ‘etc’ really redundant. Perhaps it just serves as a red herring.

  16. Coped all right even though some of the clues were rather tricky, except that I couldn’t see what declining had to do with a slipper, and wasn’t really sure what the definition was. Could a carpet slipper be something one reclines/declines in? 35 minutes. Elegant way to avoid ‘Spooner’ in 26ac.

  17. Seem to be flying this week, 18’07”. Knew ROTTEN BOROUGH from ‘O’ level History; OSCULATING from John Fowles’s The Magus; CAMBRIC as noted by jack from ‘Scarborough Fair/Canticle’; and LAPLACE from my career.

    Thanks george and setter.

  18. 42:13 with most of the necessary GK known, but not all easy to extract from the depths. An enjoyable puzzle. LOI the delightful OMEN which must be a chestnut but I enjoyed it

  19. 28:33
    A fine puzzle.

    Some very ingenious cluing I thought, particularly ROTTEN BOROUGHS,LOCAL CALL and LOAN SHARK, Needed George for the full parsing of ENEMA and ALLOT.

    I saw a single CARPET SLIPPER lying in the street the other day. Still trying to come up with a rational explanation.

    Thanks to George and the setter

    1. Watch the brilliant episode of ‘Behind Number Nine’, when a man finds a single shoe outside his home one morning, in Oxford. It is the scariest thing, as it unusually all set in daylight! I don’t think I could bear to watch it again! Meldrew

        1. I will seek out the Number Nine episode but I don’t get the Lantana reference.
          For my part I’ve been trying to envsage a sort of of geriatric version of Cinderella.

          1. Lantana was an (acceptable) Australian film about 20 years ago. Probably didn’t travel beyond Australia’s borders.

          2. Be quick! That particular episode of Inside No. 9 (Diddle Diddle Dumpling) is removed from the iPlayer at 9:00am this Sunday.

  20. Quite difficult this one. Thanks for the parse on NOSH George – I hesitated between hash, mash and nosh and had to wait for BLACKTHORN to get the answer. Georgette (of course!) Heyer’s characters often have CAMBRIC handkerchiefs and petticoats. I’m in the midst of re-reading Trollope’s Ralph The Heir which has a sub-plot involving a ROTTEN BOROUGH. Good clue that and in fact there was a lot of good stuff here. 23.36

  21. ERMINE and OMEN were first ones in. CAMBRIC sprang straight to mind as I’ve been singing Scarborough Fair quite a bit this week. A postulated LOCAL, as first part of 4d, quickly led to BLACKTHORN. I still have The Beatles EP, LONG TALL SALLY, so no trouble with that. In fact, the top half dropped nicely into place, but then I hit the wall for a while. LOAN SHARK got things moving again. LACE took a while to follow LAP. Liked BIRTHMARKS. Spotting the anagram for OYSTER PINK was a big help and led to PECK and LAPLACE, leaving ALLOT and LOCAL CALL to bring up the rear. Both of those were parsed post solve. 25:44. Thanks setter and George.

  22. As Olivia says, a lot of good stuff, and for me a slow steady solve. Knew about Laplace (and his transformations) and all was understood except ALLOT so thanks George for the biblical explanation. I liked BIRTHMARK. 40 minutes of fun.

  23. 23 mins. Yes just the level of difficulty I like. Was left with a few queries coming here, including the missed hidden in TASTE, but nothing that wasn’t totally obvious to anyone except me. Liked ROTTEN BOROUGH and of course OMEN.

  24. 21.45. I didn’t see the reverse hidden for TASTE or the (now obvious) “spike a drink” meaning of LACE. I had heard of LAPLACE but not being able to parse the cryptic had me wondering if there might be another one closer to the mark. Fortunately, I couldn’t think of one.

  25. A good, tough puzzle. I saw “eat little” rather than “eat” as the definition in 27a.

  26. 08:45, another nice solve to continue a good week. NHO the shade of pink, but didn’t really need to have done, as it turned out; and it is, as usual in these cases, a testament to the subtlety of 14ac that it was my last in. Fortunately I knew about LAPLACE (“knowing” in the sense that I reliably confuse him with Lagrange in every quiz where one / both of them make an appearance).

  27. 11:17. I liked this one a lot: a wordplay puzzle. I missed the excellent subtlety of ALLOT.

  28. Liked this crossword muchly. A slow solve, still recovering from covid jab, but satisfying
    The only word I had trouble dredging up was “bussing.” It reminds me of those two redoubtable headmistresses, Miss Beale and Mis Buss.

    Miss Buss and Miss Beale, Cupids darts do not feel.
    How different from us, Miss Beale and Miss Buss

  29. 38:53 but…

    …cheated with LAPLACE of whom I have never heard.

    Otherwise OK – completed in two sittings, work being the filling of the sandwich.

  30. Nothing from Myrtilus today? I need you to nudge my poetry interests into new pastures. Surely there’s a poem somewhere with ‘cambric’ in it? Thanks for past poem prompts, anyway. Also of course to setter and blogger.

  31. The bottom half, which I finished this morning, seemed hard. POI ALLOT. LOI OYSTER PINK, which I would have gotten much earlier if I had realized it was an anagram.

  32. Dipped in and out of this all day. Beaten by ENEMA, but everything else in (if not fully parsed – thanks for explanations. Had no clue about ALLOT). Thank God for the long clues ROTTEN BOROUGH, CARPET SLIPPER and SALLY – without them I’d never have got anywhere near this one. V tough.

  33. I was very slow but avoided a DNF.

    FOI 8dn NOSH
    LOI 24ac CULTURE

    The CRS ‘Gregory’ – denotes one’s neck, as per 27ac! ‘Mind me Gregory, John!’

  34. Three minutes short of an hour, but a very enjoyable puzzle in which nothing really gave me trouble (but everything took a while to think through). ERMINE and then OMEN were my FOI, and I actually did manage to parse it. Unlike LOCAL CALL, which I assumed must be the answer without ever seeing what was healthy about the LOCAL.

  35. 21’39” Great puzzle. Especially liked the fallen cradle. Narrowly avoided putting in SALMON PINK.

  36. Thought my grey cells were losing their power
    But this took me not quite half an hour
    (Is half an hour a “Ho”
    Or an “Ur”? I don’t know)
    So I’m happy today and not sour

  37. Thought I was on a roll when the first half went in with no problem ( except of course that I was certain that 3a was BLACKJACKS , since I had confirmed it was a stick of sorts!) Going got tough and indeed undoable in the lower half, with the excellent ALLOT and the long-forgotten ROTTEN BOROUGH, not to mention an inability to equate “declining” with “slipping” . So all-in-all a too-clever puzzle for me!
    (Only knew of Laplace as friend had written a book about him.)

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