Times 28433


Solving time: 1 hour


Bunged together in haste. Apologies for any errors and explanations not as full as I would have liked given more time.

As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions and substitutions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]. I usually omit all reference to positional indicators unless there is a specific point that requires clarification.

1 Brilliant episode for one cast? (5,5)
MAGIC (brilliant), SPELL (episode)
6 Colours in stone (4)
Two meanings
10 Speaker less loud — whisperer of sweet nothings? (5)
WOO{f}ER (type of loud speaker) [less loud – f ]
11 Blundering Uncle Pat I blame (9)
Anagram [blundering] of UNCLE PAT I
12 Cosmetic: not the best for much longer? (9,5)
Definition and cryptic hint
14 Cambridge college deprived of ale backing enquiry initially — where check expected? (7)
MAGD{ale}NE (Cambridge college) [deprived of ale]reversed [backing], then  E{nquiry} [initially] 
15 Break back of missal somewhere in church (7)
CHANCE (break), {missa}L [back]
17 Tighten muff (5,2)
Two meanings
19 Young swimmer first when racing, bit ahead (7)
TAD (bit), POLE (first when racing)
20 One’s tried and tried again with this (6,8)
23 Seller returning titled works, first of sketches included (9)
NAMED (titled) + ART (works) [returning], containing [included] S{ketches} [first]
24 King with little character in final call (5)
K (King), NELL (little character – Dickens)
25 Chain that’s loose if back to front? (4)
REEF would become  FREE (loose) if the back letter moved to the front
26 American crossword constructor repulsed by that man, guiding ladies (10)
US (American),  HE (that man),  then SETTER (crossword constructor) reversed [repulsed]
1 Cry: cross by the sound of it? (4)
Sounds like [by the sound of it]  “mule” (cross breed)
2 Look to catch duck, large duck (9)
GANDER (look) containing [to catch] O (duck) + OS (large)
3 He attempted to get marriage annulled, sardonically we suspect (8,6)
Anagram [suspect] of SARDONICALLY WE
4 Renovate the pier, please! (7)
Anagram [renovate ] of THE PIER
5 Concise note coming to the point? (7)
LA (note), CONIC (coming to the point)
7 Forget holiday (5)
Two meanings
8 School member in style of pensioner? (4,6)
Definition and cryptic hint re old hair style
9 Lifter   defending techniques? (5,3,6)
Two meanings
13 Weasel word seen to cover it for journalist (4,6)
Anagram [weasel] of WORD SEEN containing [to cover] IT
16 Regularly cold and stormy outside — most unlikely to see the sun? (9)
C{o}L{d} [regularly], anagram [stormy] of OUTSIDE
18 Late night party dress extremely pretty, Chanel’s never without one (7)
P{rett}Y [extremely], JAMA{i}S [Chanel’s never] [without one]. Fortunately I had seen ‘Chanel’ used to indicate a French word very recently.
19 Stuff in case emptied out after gold turned up in container (7)
OR (gold) reversed [turned up] in TUN (container), C{as}E [emptied out]. Beat soundly at sport for instance.
21 Management skimming it off meat product (5)
{sa}USAGE (meat product) [skimming ‘it’  = Sex Appeal – off]
22 A little upset, altruism lacking in charity (4)
Hidden and reversed [a little upset in] {altrui}SM LA{acking}

50 comments on “Times 28433”

  1. Well I could see that this was, on its face, harder than yesterday’s… yet bizarrely I romped through it faster. 45 mins, with only ALMS unparsed, but guessed – faute de mieux.
    Liked MEWL, WOOER and GREY MULLET. LOI USAGE, which defied me for 15 mins of the total time.

  2. INCULPATE the setter I must
    GOOSANDER’s a SCREW UP, a bust,
    Just LEAVE out the birds
    PRITHEE use other words
    Or forever be harangued and cussed

  3. Thanks for the emergency blog.
    Tricky bits all through, but got there reasonably expeditiously. Troubled at the end not seeing the hidden alms or the parsing for reef, and loath to write in the obvious answers until I did. Did a double-take, asking myself do pensioners have mullets? Is there such a person as Cardinal Wesley? Luckily I checked the anagram fodder.
    Liked block & tackle and endgame, COD to CLOUDIEST.

  4. 31:41. FOI 10ac WOOER, LOI 11ac INCULPATE. I didn’t think we would be allowed to say USHERETTES nowadays. USHERS? COD GREY MULLET

  5. Well I found this hard.
    Never saw saUSAGE and mis-biffed UKASE for no good reason. Never spotted reverse ALMS, didn’t recognize Weasel as anagrind so biffed NEWS EDITOR. Pretty poor really.
    Thanks (emergency) blogger and setter.

  6. 26.05 with a long time spent on alms before an alphabet trawl finally yielded the answer. Lots of good clues I thought and always nice to finish a Friday with a decent time.
    Thx setter and blogger.

  7. 48 minutes. Not too bad for a Friday, but despite not fitting the anagram fodder, I obstinately stuck to “writer” for the second part of 13d until I saw the obvious answer.

    I liked GREY MULLET, which I saw as a MULLET being a haircut or ‘style’ which a ‘pensioner’ might choose to have, in which case it would be GREY. I don’t know if it is an “old hair style”, witness Cameron Smith (but let’s forget LIV) and isla3 above.

  8. 32 mins. Several unfilled holes at the end held me up somewhat. In particular REEF didn’t jump out as a chain and I’d never heard of FEER except in Scrabble. I also couldn’t work out how it could be ALAS until the reverse hidden became unhidden. I particularly liked the GREY MULLET, there’s an aquarium full of them in Lyme Regis.

  9. I was held up by having BAWL at 1d. MAGIC SPELL finally conjured up MEWL. GREY MULLET arrived after I stuck a tentative L at the end of 15a 34:58. Thanks setter and Jack.
    If anyone’s going to the York S&B Event, I’ll see you there!

  10. This took me forever (I’m just about at the bottom of the SNITCH). NEWS EDITOR & REEF were my POI and LOI, the POI because I couldn’t figure out how to parse it, the LOI because I couldn’t figure it out until the end. No idea how GREY MULLET worked, and would never have come up with Magdalene, even though I knew it; ENDGAME just came to me from the E_A_E. I liked CARDINAL WOLSEY. Thanks for filling in, Jack; you’ve got a typo at TROUNCE.

    1. Thanks, Kevin. Now corrected. I wasn’t at all surprised as this was the fastest I’ve ever produced a blog in 15 years.

  11. Difficult, and a DNF for me, as I used aids. Though initially convinced 3 dn was an anagram, I just couldn’t see it. So I stared to doubt it was one, and tried to fit THORNTON WILDER into the clue, as I found he wrote a play about a matchmaker (which I don’t know) and assumed that was where the annulment might have come in. Rashly biffed it and that completely screwed me up!

  12. Resorted to my modus operandi. Rattled through seeing everything pretty quickly then stared at the last three with an empty brain. Was looking for a straight reversal in REEF which never came. There seemed like too many ‘little characters’ to single out NELL, including TYP(E), KIN(D) or SOR(T) not to mention eth and edh! I was not helped by reversing the wrong hidden in 22d coming up with ATES who seemed to be a suitably uncharitable TYP.
    I enjoyed the pace until I hit the wall.

    Thanks blogger and setter.

  13. 41 mins. Tricky in parts. NHO MEWL or GOOSEANDER , worked out finally.

    Jack you have ANNULLED as part of the anagrist for 3D, which it is not.

    I loved GREY MULLET.

    Thanks for standing in Jack. Well done setter.

    1. Thanks re 3dn, now corrected. My brain was racing against the clock at the time of writing.

  14. Excellent puzzle, 35 minutes ending with the (unseen at first) ALMS. Liked the GREY MULLET (I used to see shoals of them in my youth snorkelling in Dorset) and the ENDGAME. Thanks jackkt for filling in, where is Mr V?

    1. I’ve yet to see a grey mullet snorkelling! 🙂 Down here we have tons of their red brethren. Boney buggers.

  15. Thanks for stepping in again Jackct, and for explaining the pyjama parsing which my fuddled brain refused to spot.

  16. Had to look up a list of Cambridge colleges to find Magdalene and hence understand “Endgame” – feeling a bit foolish in retrospect but otherwise this took me about 1 hour.
    Thanks for the blog.

  17. Bah, Verlaine out ! I didn’t find this very Fridayish, although the final third of my solving time was spent on 4 or 5 clues. I was another who tried to parse ‘ukase’ before realising it was boloney….

    TIME 9:41

  18. 24:51

    Though I have walked past MAGDALENE college more than once, I completely forgot about it when trying to parse with all checkers in place. Consequently, had to wait for lightning to strike for LOI ENDGAME.

    Learned some new words in INCULPATE and GOOSANDER, but apart from ENDGAME, was also held up by BLOCK AND TACKLE/KNELL and USAGE/REEF. Many lots of scales fell from my eyes solving the more cryptic KNELL and USAGE.

    Thanks Jack for the hastily-compiled blog!

  19. What made me think TROINCE was a word?!!! I know why. It’s because every now and then, a new word to me does come along — like MESSUAGE the other day. But not TROINCE! Otherwise a neat 15’47”.

  20. Dismal failure today so thanks for the blog, very much needed. Couldn’t see past Wilson as the surname for the annulment guy, and needed aids for several others. Mewl must have been in my head somewhere (mewling puking schoolboy crawling unwillingly to school – ? Shakespeare) but not far enough to the fore to be dredged up. Better luck next week!

    1. Lifted this from
      The poem “The Seven Ages of Man” is a part of the play “As You Like It”, where Jacques makes a dramatic speech in the presence of the Duke in Act II, Scene VII. Through the voice of Jacques, Shakespeare sends out a profound message about life and our role in it.

      All the world’s a stage,
      And all the men and women merely players,
      They have their exits and entrances,
      And one man in his time plays many parts,
      His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
      Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
      Then, the whining schoolboy with his satchel
      And shining morning face, creeping like snail
      Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
      Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
      Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
      Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
      Jealous in honour, sudden, and quick in quarrel,
      Seeking the bubble reputation
      Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice
      In fair round belly, with good capon lin’d,
      With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
      Full of wise saws, and modern instances,
      And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
      Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
      With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side,
      His youthful hose well sav’d, a world too wide,
      For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
      Turning again towards childish treble, pipes
      And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
      That ends this strange eventful history,
      Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
      Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.


      1. Thanks, enjoyed re-reading this after many years. Many parts struck memories but it was good to take it all in in one piece.

      2. Thanks Andy. I see I misremembered it somewhat! First met at school – a very long time ago.

  21. DNqF with 25ac REEF the culprit.

    FOI 10ac WOOER
    (LOI) 6ac FLAG
    COD 18dn PYJAMAS – l don’t ever remember having been to a ‘pyjama party’!
    WOD 1dn MEWL

    An anagram of M.Verlaine is ‘vermin ale’ – there may be others.

  22. Off the scale time wise with this, nearly giving up on a few occasions, but finally dredging GOOSANDER from the memory banks which gave me LOI 10ac WOOER.
    Confidently put in CLEAN AND SNATCH for 9dn thereby inventing an entirely new weightlifting technique, combining CLEAN AND JERK and SNATCH! Eventually realised the lifter did not relate to shoplifting!

  23. Disappointed not to find the blog when I hurried here last night on completion (and for many hours after), but that forced me to parse ENDGAME (LOI) on my own.

  24. Tricky, this. I thought yesterday’s synonyms were iffy while today’s were very precise, but requiring some thought before the right sense occurred to me. Mostly I was chuffed to construct the unknown to me Goosander off of only the “DER”. Mephisto here I come.

    Thanks, jack – now that you know how fast you can go constructing a high quality blog (which this was), I’m thinking you’ll carry the practice over to your real days and gain a half hour or more each time. Nice.

    1. Many thanks, Paul, but no. It turns an enjoyable experience into a chore. Also I had to go back after posting (but before anyone had commented) and correct a couple of howling errors.

  25. A surprising finish for me on a Friday.
    Various rabbit holes including Emmanuel at 14a ,the only college I could think of with ‘ale’, and spent a while underground with ‘ cloak and dagger ‘ at 9d. NHO 11a but schoolgirl Latin saved me with ‘culpa’ , although mea culpa would have done the job.

    I liked 24a and 26a.

    Thank you so much for the emergency blog , to setter as always and other contributors.

  26. Liked Cardinal Wolsey. Last one in was REEF, didnt understand why til I came here. 48 minutes today, not the quickest this week ☹️

  27. No time today for various reasons but I completed the puzzle with only one unparsed 22 d “alms” – not for the first time missing a hidden clue. LOI 25 ac “reef” where I eventually moved the letters around correctly.
    Thanks to Jack for stepping in and producing a fine blog and to setter for an enjoyable puzzle.

  28. For only the second time I can remember since graduating from learning via the quick cryptic that completes a whole week of correct solves. So thanks as ever to the setter and all the hard work from all of the bloggers from whom I have learnt so much.

  29. Thank you, Jackkt, for yet again stepping into the breach.

    This is a tiresome situation and although I greatly respect Verlaine’s abilities he really does need to improve his reliability. He is letting people down.

  30. I had MENS EDITOR, as weasel wording for a journalist covering sex (it) in the newspaper. Think ‘men’s magazine’. Oh well, wrong again. I didn’t see that it was an anagram.
    ……and rather loose chess terminology again in 14a. Check can be expected in any part of the game, though less in the opening than the middle and endgames.

  31. Well done, Jack! This is not exactly the first time you have had to step into the breach. Unfortunately, your blog wasn’t up by the time I went to bed here in NZ.

    1. Sorry about that, Martin, but until the clock passed 10:00 UK time I wasn’t aware there was a problem and even then I couldn’t be sure.

  32. Came here expecting to find other solvers times and experiences citing ease in solving! Even though I technically DNF ( no ALMS or REEF) , the rest went in quite smoothly, and for me, quickly ( approx 30 mins). 12a a fast biff to get me started, along with BLOCK &TACKLE and MEWL. Liked DOUBLE JEOPARDY, GREY MULLET and CARDINAL WOLSEY, and Jack’s brave “stepping up to the plate”.

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