Times 28439 – Some blog announcements, followed by a blog

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Greetings, all.

Verlaine has officially resigned from his position in the blog; I would like to thank him for his years of service.  Behind the scenes, I have been arranging for a new blogging rotation.   Plusjeremy and William_J_S will be stepping up as the new blogging team for the main Friday puzzle.   Johninterred with be handling the Monthly Club Special, and Jackkt will be taking over for the Jumbos ending in 4 and 9.    A big thank you to all of them.   The two Wednesday Quick Cryptic posts are now open – there is a separate featured announcement on how to apply.

Now for the  today’s puzzle.   As is typical for a Friday, this was a bit devious, but my real problem was that I just didn’t know the Italian football team and the UK-centric expression, but I still managed to finish using the skills I have honed in solving Mephistos.   If the cryptic points to it, then it must be the answer!

Time: 51 minutes.


1 The Tube one can take to Kew Gardens? (8)
HOSEPIPE – I believe this is cryptic definition, as I don’t see any wordplay.
5 Sailors would get this close to divers with the bends (6)
SCURVY – [diver]S + CURVY.
10 Lounge mainly before ten or eleven in Italy (5)
LAZIO – LAZ[e] + IO, which looks like 1o.   My LOI, NHO but it had to be.
11 To think well of something foul is very hard (4,5)
LIKE STINK – LIKE + STINK, a UK expression unknown to me.  Could have been like stick, but this seemed more likely.
12 Notice youth working toys with probe (6,3)
POSTER BOY – Anagram of TOYS and PROBE, with a very deceptive literal.
13 Unmarried son’s left old flames at home (5)
INGLE – [s]INGLE.  Nearly put INEXE until I had the G.
14 New Yorker’s to take out taxi, speeding around houses (4-3)
DEEP-SIX –  Backwards hidden in [ta]XI SPEED[ing].
16 Less intelligent one in a party of Americans? (6)
DOOFUS – DO OF US, where I  tried to put in I or ONE for the longest time.
18 What voter can contribute to the Far Right? (6)
ACROSS – A CROSS.  I wasn’t sure about this, since the across clues are on the left, but I think it is just a general directional indicator.   Discussion invited.
20 Mild Liberal getting stick all-round (7)
CLEMENT – C(L)EMENT, with stick and cement as verbs.
22 Language of African masseur as he periodically reflects (5)
HAUSA – Every other letter backwards of [m]A[s]S[e]U[r] A[s] H[e].
23 As the BBC initially unprepared for broadcast, they could land in hot water (9)
BATHCUBES – Anagram of AS THE BBC + U[nprepared].   Another clever literal.
25 Demo includes brief audition for leading lady (9)
26 One’s past the final stage (5)
27 One had two banks purchase paper for the tellers (6)
BIREME – Sounds like BUY REAM, with a clever homophone indicator.
28 Liqueur drunk neat: it’s taken with tablet (8)
ANISETTE – Anagram of NEAT IT’S + E, the setter’s favorite tablet.
1 Where choppers come down, the edge splitting skulls? (8)
2 With some energy deficiency, takes measures (5)
SIZES – S[e]IZES, with only one E removed.
3 Saints in poor semifinal surprisingly demonstrating skill (15)
PROFESSIONALISM – Anagram of POOR SEMIFINAL containing SS, the official abbreviation for saints.
4 Small defence under pressure, promise to fight? (7)
PILLBOX – P + I’LL BOX, where small may throw many solvers off.
6 Pass on the profits from one’s takeaway business? (4,2,4,5)
CASH IN ONES CHIPS – Double definition, the second a jocular cryptic hint.
7 Doctor arguing with A&E drops monitor (4,5)
RAIN GAUGE – Anagram of ARGUING + A and E.
8 Did jaw of large ruminant set on parasite? (6)
YAKKED – YAK + KED, two of the setter’s favorite creatures.
9 Passed girl going through dictionary (6)
OKAYED – O(KAY)ED, today’s random girl.
15 Match at Roland Garros in summer? (9)
17 I wish I could manage without small medical instrument! (8)
OTOSCOPE – O TO (S) COPE, where small is significant!
19 Revolutionary British football coach, one giving City its edge? (6)
SUBURB –  B. + R.U. + BUS, all upside-down.
20 Get big twig (5,2)
CATCH ON – Double definition, get big in the sense of go viral.
21 Organised criminals? Not us, old boy! (3,3)
24 What a great time Deb and Rob and Seb all have! (5)
BLAST – B LAST, of course.

71 comments on “Times 28439 – Some blog announcements, followed by a blog”

    1. Yes, you can but District Line doesn’t help solve the clue. I thought it was a poor clue anyway.

  1. Really enjoyed that, love all those left-field literals like notice youth, eleven in Italy (Lazio is a soccer club, vinyl), small defence, they could land in hot water, drops monitor. LOI suburb was superb, COD.

    1. Lazio of course is a region of Italy, not just the name of a football team, tho maybe better known as the latter

      1. Indeed. But in the context of the clue it’s a football team, not a region of Italy. I spent a year working in Pescara (Abbruzzo); nearest (and easiest) Serie A team to watch was Lazio – Signori, Casiraghi, Boksic, Aaron Winter, Marchesani, a young Nesta, and to kick and spit on people and score free kicks: Sinisa Mihailovic. Hugely entertaining. With the Eagle flying a lap of the ground before each game … nothing to do with Hitler’s nazi iconography, of course. Highlight probably 8-2 over Fiorentina early 1996 – 4 for Il Bisontino, Batistuta scored but also missed a penalty.

  2. I am jetlagged so did this at some ungodly hour. Really enjoyed it especially those that isla3 mentions. I also like HOSEPIPE but COD to SCURVY for the surface. Plus a big thank you to Verlaine for his excellent contributions.

  3. Thanks, Vinyl, for stepping in for this blog and for all your arranging of bloggers. And many thanks to Verlaine for all his generous contributions over many years!

    On 18A, I took it to mean that voters place an X on the far right of a ballot paper. So, it’s semi &lit, perhaps. I took the definition to be, as you have underlined it, “to the far right” as a possible meaning for “across”.

  4. 30 minutes on the dot, which pleased me as there were several things here I didn’t quite understand, but I trusted to wordplay and moved on.

    NHO LAZIO so had no idea what ‘eleven’ referred to nor what the definition was.

    No definition identified for DEEP SIX as NHO that either.

    HAUSA made the hat trick.

    I was hoping for a more interesting answer at 1ac as I lived in Kew Gardens as an infant and had close associations with it for years after I moved away. No actual tube trains serve the station but the term ‘Tube’ can be applied more generally to the wider rail system.

      1. I know that and wasn’t disputing the clue, just adding a point of information that possibly got lost in the making, but I’d hoped I had chosen my words carefully.

        1. I’m not sure I understand your point then. The District is a tube line and its trains tube trains.

          1. For purists, the District Line is not a tube line. Like the Circle, Metropolitan, and Hammersmith & City, it was built by cut and cover, not by boring a tube, and these lines are known as the sub-surface lines. The tube lines (Central, Jubilee etc) have smaller rolling stock and you couldn’t fit a District Line train into their tunnels.

            Jim R

            1. Many thanks for your contribution, Jim, and that was exactly my point. I grew up in the outer suburbs of north London where Metropolitan and (then) Bakerloo lines ran through the same stations and it was a part of every day life to distinguish between tube trains and the other sort.

            2. Interesting, thanks, now I understand jackkt’s point. To anyone other than a purist ‘tube’ is synonymous with the London Underground these days: people (and indeed LU itself) don’t distinguish between the tunnel/train types any more and I’ve never heard anyone say ‘let’s take the sub-surface’! ‘Underground’ is itself something of a misnomer, because most of the stations aren’t, but language is like that.

  5. 53 minutes with LOI SUBURB. I’m an association football man even if I did play rugby at grammar school. LAZIO was no problem. I’ve never heard of DEEP-SIX so it’s as well it was a hidden. THE MOB and OTOSCOPE were very clever but COD to SCURVY. A fair Friday challenge. Thank you V and setter.

  6. 40 minutes, getting myself very tangled up at the end by putting BRAVO in at 24d and not having heard of ANISETTE. Other NHOs along the way included Roland Garros and LAZIO, which didn’t help. (I see that HAUSA, which I thought was unknown, has been in my Big List of Crosswordy Words since early 2019.) Enjoyed DOOFUS and OTOSCOPE.

    Thanks to V for all the entertaining blogging over the years, and welcome to our new bloggers!

  7. 59m 53s so just squeezed in in under the hour.
    I didn’t particularly like 1ac HOSEPIPE but there were some entertaining clues such as PILL BOX, OTOSCOPE and BLAST. I also liked DEEP SIX. That was well hidden.
    Football fans may well remember that LAZIO was Paul Gascoigne’s club when he played in Italy.
    Thanks for explaining the ‘saints’ in PROFESSIONALISM, vinyl.

  8. 12:58. Moderately tricky. All the words were familiar, although DEEP SIX and HAUSA only vaguely so.
    You move towards the far right as you solve ACROSS clues, but 18ac could equally just be a definition by example (indicated by the question mark), since if you are moving ACROSS you are moving either to the far left or to the far right.

  9. 23:26. This came in fits and starts as I waited for pennies to drop. NHO DEEP SIX. I see now, having looked it up, it is related to the more familiar (to me) term Six Feet Under. I hesitated at the end for a while before putting in ENCOUNTER and ACROSS as I couldn’t parse either. I liked PILLBOX, RAIN GAUGE and BLAST best. Thanks V and setter, and thanks to Verlaine for all the great blogs. See you at the Championships next year, I hope.

  10. Thanks witty setter for a fun Friday with the standouts for me already listed by isla3. Thanks also to Matthew for the years of enlightenment; I hope we’ll still see him here from time to time – and to Vinyl for the tireless work in managing this invaluable blog.

    I lived opposite Kew Gardens for years, just yards from the wonderful Maids of Honour café, where the eponymous custard tarts are an interpretation dating back to Catherine of Aragon of the exquisite pastel de Nata from Belem near Lisbon, and the steak and salmon pies are to die for. Mouth is watering as I write!

    1. I passed The Maids of Honour many a time but never used it. It seems to have become something of a tourist trap. I hope standards have been maintained.

      How much was entrance to the gardens in your day? I remember it being 2d almost for ever, but after decimalisation the prices took off and it costs a fortune now.

      1. It was the 80s when I lived there Jack. I have a feeling it was a pound – certainly a lot more than 2d! I dropped by MoH a few years ago when in the area and the food was as good as ever.

        1. Good to know!

          Full price entry for an adult now on the gate is around £20 but there are deals for booking in advance, 65+, local residents etc etc.

          It was a lovely place to live.

  11. Thou wast my clarion’s Blast —thou wast my steed
    My goblet full of wine—my topmost deed

    30 ish mins mid-brekker. I really liked it, mostly Scurvy and Cash in one’s chips.
    Thanks setter and Vinyl.

  12. 47 mins for a tricky but pleasant offering with some great clues
    NHO 14a or 16a
    LOI 18a and 19d

  13. 13:34

    Top notch puzzle (with the possible exception of HOSEPIPE) with, as had been said, some of the lovely left-field definitions that characterise The Times. “Drops monitor” reminded me of “Use shower for cleaning, washing etc. (5,5)”.

    NHO DEEP SIX or the language but the wordplay was clear.

    Gazza played for Lazio so I thought that would be pretty well known.

    Thanks setter for a great puzzle, and Vinyl for the now & Verlaine for the then. I hope he’s OK.

    1. He’s OK, don’t worry. I’m connected with Matthew on Facebook (where his moniker is Mabuse Der Spieler) and he posted about something or other the next day. I commented, “Oh, so you’re still alive.” Verlaine replied that he had forgotten what day it was because he had to fly to Chicago in the morning. Busy, busy, busy.

  14. 45 mins, which is good for a Friday for me. Really enjoyed this – lots of clever literals already mentioned by others. NHO Deep Six, Hausa or Otoscope but the wordplay was generous for each. Stared at Doofus for ages. I think it is more of an American term, but Like Stink is very British, so fair enough!

  15. 52 minutes. Some good defs as pointed out. Like a few others, I had to rely on wordplay for the NHO DEEP-SIX and HAUSA. Only sort of understood ACROSS – keriothe’s explanation seems the most convincing. Spent a while at the end staring in vain at 16a, also trying to fit in an I for ‘one’, before DOOFUS eventually sprang to mind.

    Thanks to Verlaine for his contribution over the years.

  16. 50 mins but now I look at it, I’m not sure why it took me so long. The football team did take an age to dredge up, not helped by me being sure there must be an X in it! My last three in LIKE STINK, OKAYED and DOOFUS aren’t really that complicated.

    Two NHOs today. DEEP SIX, and HAUSA. I really liked YAKKED. PILLBOX and ENCOUNTERED. Some very clever surfaces and déceptions today.

    Thanks vinyl for stepping in and to Verlaine for all his work in the past.

  17. About 25 mins
    Tidy puzzle with a good level of challenge. Great stint there, Verlaine – thank you.
    Thanks also to you, v, for a top-class blog.

  18. End of an era to see Verlaine standing down – have always been in awe that you could finish a Friday puzzle faster than my QC times. Really enjoyed your humorous blogs over the years, thank you.

    Welcome to our brave new bloggers, you have a hard act to follow !

    Great puzzle today, thanks to V and setter.

    1. My sentiments exactly, Rookie (and I am one of those too): always have been in awe of such a brain in Verlaine – smacks of AstroNowt! – and looked forward to his humorous blogs every week, despite not being able to finish those dastardly crosswords!

  19. I must be one of the few who’ve heard of deep-six, albeit with a slightly different meaning, from working offshore. Back in the 1980s, in less salubrious parts of the world, if any equipment was damaged beyond repair it might be deep-sixed: thrown over the side never to be seen again. Not by me I hasten to add, always tried to avoid pollution.

    1. Yes, I’ve also heard of ideas, proposals or plans being deep-sixed, but I’m sure I first encountered it as American gangster-speak, possibly Nelson DeMille, but I’m not sure of that. Enjoyed the puzzle which didn’t seem quite as chewy as many Friday offerings, filling a pleasant forty minutes with Earl Grey and a chocolate digestive. Only disappointment was HOSEPIPE, but that’s all well covered above.

  20. A bit curate’s eggy; liked otoscope, scurvy, didn’t like hosepipe or deep six.
    Many thanks to Verlaine; I shall miss his blogs and comments

  21. 72:36 so, as feared after yesterday’s dreadful time, another slow one today but very satisfying to complete in the end despite all the NHOs – DEEP-SIX, HAUSA, Roland Garros and DOOFUS. Like others, I enjoyed the tricky definitions.
    Farewell Verlaine and thanks for all the blogs

  22. I think the question mark at the end of 1ac allows for some flexibility in the hosepipe (geddit?). 27m of enjoyment and many thanks to setter and Vinyl. Also of course to the mighty Verlaine whose coat-tails I am unworthy to follow behind.

  23. Wow, I found that really tricky. I got my foothold with ______ BOY, then HELIPADS allowed me to see POSTER. After that it was a slog, but a worth while one as I eventually arrived back in the NW to finish off with LAZIO and SIZES. A huge PDM when I realised what sort of eleven I was looking for. 45:26. Thanks setter and Vinyl, and many thanks to Verlaine for his excellent blogs over the years.

  24. 28 mins. Was expecting the usual Verlaine response to a relatively easy Friday puzzle, but not to be. We’ll miss you!
    3 awkward holes at the end – ACROSS, DOOFUS and BIREME. I didn’t get that last one, does a boat have 2 banks?

    1. A bireme has two banks of oars. A trireme has three banks; a quadrireme has four. While a monotreme is a platypus or echidna.

  25. Many thanks to Verlaine who over the years, despite the ease with which he always coped, managed to convey the elegant things in the crosswords he blogged. Always a source of amazement, and a further source of amazement to realise that there are people who are even quicker. As Penfold says, I hope he’s OK.

    49 minutes for this but it didn’t really count because I eventually gave up and used electronic aid for SUBURB, which had utterly stitched me up. Was a bit less than delighted with the repetition of ‘one’s’ in both the clue and the answer to 6dn. In ACROSS my thinking about the far right was that the place on the voting paper where you enter your cross is the far right column.

    Some very good clues I thought. I approved of the ‘some’ in 2dn — some setters don’t bother.

  26. Still a regular reader, if occasional poster, but I feel the need to add to the tributes to Verlaine for all his contributions over the years. Friday will not be quite the same in future.
    17.23 for this very enjoyable offering. I do like an off-the-wall definition. Slightly surprised by the number of comments about Lazio given that it is not only a football club but also one of the largest Italian administrative regions with Rome at its centre.

  27. 19:24, which probably qualifies it as a Friday Beast – as it happens, I was lucky to think twice about BEAST at 24dn, but fortunately I couldn’t quite persuade myself that you could, in fact, have a beast of a time and that be in any way a good thing. Some nice touches, and thought required.

    1. So glad I wasn’t the only one to think of BEAST! Unfortunately, I was so convinced by it, I didn’t think of the (slightly more) likely answer. Only finished middle of the night Saturday, as the last few days have been too busy, but I tend to read the blog anyway and you’ll see my reply!

  28. Lovely puzzle. Thanks to all bloggers past, present and future. “Deep Six” doesn’t feel American – brings to mind a cricketer smashing one out of the stadium and into Headingley Lane . . .

  29. DNF. I gave up on this after 30 mins with ENCOUNTER and ACROSS both blank. I didn’t particularly like this puzzle. I thought some of the clues as previously noted were quite loose or odd. I seem to be alone in my doubts about the clue for POSTER BOY which seems to comprise two cryptics and no definition – it can‘t really be defined as a youth on a notice, can it? HOSEPIPE and ACROSS just didn’t seem to me to work at all.

    1. Exactly the same reservations here.
      Except that I can’t spell 7d RAIN GUAGE/gauge so entered 16a DOODAD as unparsed but the only alternative to DOODAH which also fails. Doh!

    2. I had exactly the same thought about POSTER BOY, but the first Collins definition is ‘a person who appears on a poster’. I’ve only ever encountered it in its figurative sense and I don’t know why you’d use it literally like that but there it is!

      1. I see it’s also in the shorter Oxford. Chambers only gives the figurative definition, and I suspect the literal “boy in a poster” meaning is all but obsolete, but I suppose that is quite enough. Perhaps if I had finished the puzzle I would be less querulous!

  30. Twice in recent weeks bloggers have commented on the ‘UK-centric’ or ‘Anglo-centric’ usages. I would point out that this is The Times crossword and not the New York Times version. I would prefer not to see Americanisms such as today’s deep-six and doofus, but I know that is a battle already lost.
    Many thanks to all you bloggers, past and present, for your excellent work.

  31. 40 .17
    I wasn’t really concentrating and I struggled with this particuarly over ENCOUNTER and DEEP SIX. HOSE PIPE seemed a little under-developed to me. Much to enjoy elswhere however – LIKE STINK,BATH CUBES,OTOSCOPE and (COD) HELIPAD.

    Thanks to vinyl and the setter. and thanks to Verlaine for his always entertaining takes on the Friday puzzle.

  32. I enjoyed this greatly. I’ve obviously missed something from or about Verlaine but my thanks to him for the entertainment and explanations over the years

  33. Took an age to finish this with no time recorded due to multiple interruptions. After crossing the line I then find I have one wrong. Like others was trying to insert an I into DOOFUS, in my case successfully making DIOFUS (yes I know it doesn’t parse!).
    May I also add my thanks to Verlaine for his contributions over the years, which in terms of speed completed, have never ceased to amaze me.

  34. Excellent Friday puzzle, done in 21 minutes while waiting at SpaMedica for the YAG laser job on one eye (for post cataract opacification) and slowed down by being moved from one chair to another four times. Ending with the unknown DOOFUS which I had to com here to check, on return home. Scariest part was Mrs P driving me back up the A1.
    Thanks and best wishes Verlaine for whatever is going to fill your days from now on.

  35. Didn’t manage to finish this in my lunch hour but polished it off at tea. I cheated by googling Roland Garros though.

    I assumed the far right cross was a reference to the Ku Klux Klan. But maybe that’s a bit too sinister?

    Best of luck to the outgoing and incoming bloggers.

  36. I hope I’m not the only one who tried to fit Sir Bobby into 19d (I had the B and only the B to egg me on).
    Many thanks to verlaine, big welcome to Jeremy, thanks vinyl for organising.

  37. I don’t think I was ever going to get DOOFUS and BIREME but also failed on a couple of others.
    I have always enjoyed reading Verlaine’s comments so will miss his contributions but thanks to those who are prepared to step up to the plate.

  38. 31.21

    Enjoyed it a lot. “Drops monitor” was particularly good

    Fridays won’t be the same without Verlaine’s superb contributions. A v big thank you from me. But not being same doesn’t mean any worse so I’m v much looking forward to Jeremy and William’s blogs as well. Good luck the pair of you

    And thanks also to today’s setter and Vinyl

  39. Excellent puzzle with many solutions bringing a smile. Even remembered KED as a parasite. Helipad LOI. Fingers crossed for ANISETTE and my parsing of DEEP-SIX and HAUSA.
    Thanks to setter and bloggers present and past.

  40. Set my brain cells to maximum power
    And was done in point five of an hour
    For a DOOFUS, I think,
    That is going LIKE STINK
    Let’s DEEP SIX the birdies, they’re dour.

  41. Quite pleased to finish with several NHO: DEEP SIX, HAUSA, ANISETTE and BIREME (helped by knowing TRIREME); all clued fairly though. LAZIO was my COD.

  42. Really struggled with this one, and somewhat to my surprise finished it when I had another look early Saturday morning. Solving time must have been an hour plus, although hard to say as I was just glancing at it in idle moments. Really appreciate all the effort the bloggers put in, and the coordination of a rota behind the scenes.

  43. Interested in the debate about whether Kew Gardens is served by “tube” trains or not.
    Surely not really relevant to the authenticity of the clue, where it’s only a surface reading.
    The Times Crossword champions “lateral thinking” cryptic definition clues, free of awkward wordplay, and long may it continue to do so

  44. Thought this a terrific puzzle ( more so because I completed more of it than I normally do for a Friday puzzle); like YAKKED, SCURVY, RAIN GAUGE , DOOFUS and so many others. Pleased to have remembered ked! Unfortunately NHO DEEP SIX, nor it’s association with NY, but enjoyed lots of PDMs eg BATHCUBES, PILLBOX, OTOSCOPE and ANISETTE, but failed to reach SUBURB or BIREME ( even though it has been languishing in my ‘Words to remember’ list for a long time).
    Thank you Verlaine for your most enjoyable blogs, and Vinyl for stepping into the breach.

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