Times 28449 – a curate’s egg?

I found this a curious mix of excellent clues and (IMO) rather unsatisfactory ones. There were five anagrams, but it felt like more as I was solving. It was nice to see a mix of cultural references, from Shakespeare to poets to  Albert Square, E20. My favourite clue was 1a and my least favourite was 2d.

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

1 Disabled, and one is excused from voting (8)
IMPAIRED – if an MP said “I’m paired” it would mean he/she and a member of the opposition party were paired off and excused from voting in a Parliamentary vote.
6 March up and down a row of shops (6)
PARADE – double definition.
9 Polish river, or German (4)
ODER – double definition; the Oder is a large river mostly in Poland (although it is called the Odra in Polish) and ODER translates from German as OR.
10 Huge fuss about king being a control freak (3,7)
BIG BROTHER – a BIG BOTHER being a huge fuss, insert R for rex / king.
11 Chelsea net billowing? That’s this gone (5,5)
CLEAN SHEET – (CHELSEA NET)*; the clean sheet would be gone if the net of the Chelsea goal were “billowing” from receiving the ball. Preferably from an Arsenal forward.
13 Tie finally put on to twist and knot (4)
NODE – E (tie finally) goes on the end of NOD; I assume nod is here at blackjack / vingt-et-un when you nod at the dealer to signify twist, deal me another card. EDIT  this was less obscure than I thought, being E DON (put on) reversed, see first comment below.
14 Shortly officially approve introducing freezing cold transport (8)
BICYCLES – BLES(S) = shortly approve; insert ICY and C for cold.
16 Each day, sent in to cut one of these? (6)
MEADOW – MOW = cut, inset EA(ch) D(ay). One man went to mow, went to mow a meadow…
18 Prove wrong to get out of bed? (6)
DEBUNK – well if you DE-BUNK, you could be getting out of a bunk bed.
20 Blend of fragrances around garden regularly advanced (4,4)
EARL GREY – insert G R E (alternate letters of garden) into EARLY = advanced. I suppose tea flavoured with oil of bergamot could be so described, at a stretch.
22 Cut made in Christmas liturgy (4)
SLIT – hidden as above.
24 Burst of train speed unexciting (10)
26 Employ Greek and old Arab outside sporting estate (6,4)
GROUSE MOOR – GR (Greek) O(old) MOOR (Arab) “outside” USE = employ.
28 Much to dish out to audience (1,3)
A LOT – sounds like ALLOT = dish out.
29 A creation of Dumas on page that arouses pity (6)
PATHOS – P (page) ATHOS (one of the three musketeers).
30 Bumbling constable has fruit on stalk (8)
DOGBERRY – DOG (stalk) BERRY (fruit). Even I knew he is a character in Much Ado About Nothing who often comes out with amusing malapropisms.
2 Girl composed verse full of ecstasy (9)
MADELEINE – MADE (composed) LINE (verse) with E for ecstasy inserted. I didn’t think much of this clue; line for verse? and ecstasy yet again? Or am I missing a subtlety? EDIT as pointed out below, “line” can mean verse; my ignorance of poetry and such matters is well established (and deliberate).
3 About to visit a girl grown up by this time (7)
ALREADY – RE (about) inside A LADY.
4 Puzzle of extremely reliable boat capsizing (5)
REBUS – R E (ends of reliable) SUB (boat) reversed.
5 Turned up in canoe, but missing out (3)
DUG – a dugout being a sort of canoe, remove the OUT. For me, dug up means turned up, dug on its own doesn’t really.
6 Break watch: one’s not always working (4-5)
PART-TIMER – PART (break, as in part in two), TIMER = watch.
7 Decay beneath said building (7)
ROTUNDA – ROT (decay) UNDA sounds like UNDER i.e. “beneath, said”.
8 Large number Hun eliminated, inspiring a terror (5)
DREAD – HUNDRED has the HUN removed and A inserted.
12 Not entirely straightforward to look after soap setting (4,3)
EAST END – EAS(Y) = not entirely straightforward, TEND = to look after. Where the UK TV soap EastEnders takes place, although I’ve avoided watching it so far, in spite of there having been over 6000 episodes apparently (excluding repeats) since 1985. I could catch up on YouTube if the need arose.
15 Romantic group seek a plot for development (4,5)
17 One patronising royal house perhaps as poor — agree to differ (9)
OPERAGOER – (POOR AGREE)*; a patron of the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.
19 Fantasy husband off to look for pity once (7)
UNTRUTH – (H)UNT, RUTH an old word for pity.
21 Two sorts of European closely related (7)
GERMANE – GERMAN and E(uropean), or E for Espana if you prefer.
23 Grub puts a lot of fat on Virginia (5)
LARVA – LAR(D) = a lot of fat, VA for Virginia.
25 Show indifference right through small embrace (5)
SHRUG – S (small) R (right) HUG (embrace).
27 Not paired off, daughters need love first of all (3)
ODD – O (zero, love) D D (daughters).


44 comments on “Times 28449 – a curate’s egg?”

  1. Wikipedia: ” A verse is formally a single metrical line in a poetic composition. However verse has come to represent any grouping of lines in a poetic composition, with groupings traditionally having been referred to as stanzas.”

  2. Hi Pip, thanks for the excellent blog. I took 13a to be E + DON (“put on”) all reversed.

  3. 28m 03s
    Nothing very tricky. Thanks for MADELEINE, Pip. I think curryowen is right about LINE/verse.
    In readers’ comments in The Times recently I’ve had to say a couple of times that the conspiracy theory film “2000 Mules” has been thoroughly 18ac’d.
    Thanks again, Pip.

  4. My only MER was EARL GREY’s weird definition. I was, presumably as intended, trying to find a word like SCENT to go around some alternate letters, which didn’t work, of course. I found some of the anagrams quite tricky. I also took NODE to be E-DON all back.

  5. Some things I didn’t know, but I finished. Checked later: sense of PAIRED in Parliament, LOI GROUSE MOOR. I still had to look up CLEAN SHEET after reading the blog (apparently, there’s also a quite different US sense to the phrase). Had the same MER as Pip over the definition for DUG.

  6. 45 minutes. Very slow on the anagrams in particular today. I also wondered about NOD for ‘twist’ at 13a, but ‘twist’ as a reversal indicator for ‘put on’ and E as explained by starstruck_au makes better sense. I was happy enough to eventually get EARL GREY that I didn’t give much further thought to the def.

    I don’t know if the ODER is regarded as being a German river as well (looking it up, it forms part of the border between Poland and Germany), but if so, 9a is a sort of double def cum cryptic def.

  7. 32:10
    I had thought that pairing was a form of voting, so IMPAIRED took me a while. CLEAN SHEET took another while; I’d say ‘clean slate’. Another MER at ‘blend of fragrances’. I biffed NODE, and only after submitting came up with starstruck’s reading. Funny to see PATHOS a day after the QC had BATHOS.

    1. Clean sheet is a football (aka soccer over there) term that’s frequently used as a performance metric, especially for goalkeepers. I don’t expect England to accumulate too many in the next couple of weeks with our array of defensive talent.

  8. 23 minutes. I wondered about DUG on its own but swiftly moved on as it was clear what the answer was.

    I don’t see a problem with EARL GREY. All tea has its fragrance so when you add oil of bergamot to the mixture you have a blend of fragrances.

  9. 14:48. I progressed quite quickly through much of this but struggled to finish with IMPAIRED, ALREADY, DUG and NODE. I’d thought that a knot could be a NODE some time before I saw the parsing but wasn’t confident enough to biff it. Tricky little clue. I particularly liked the surface for CLEAN SHEET, something which my team, Tottenham, have failed to keep for some time, probably to Pip’s enjoyment.

    1. My team, Chelsea, who feature in the clue, have been similarly deficient recently, which probably pleases both Pootle and Pip!

  10. Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
    Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

    It took me 30 mins. Nothing too tricky but I seemed to struggle today deciphering the anagrams.
    I quite liked De-Bunk.
    Thanks setter and Pip.

  11. 19:50. Stuck for over 2 minutes at the end by ALREADY, trying to find a girl’s name -A-Y that wasn’t MARY. I was also slow at seeing the anagrams. Like Paul, I was a bit surprised by the definition of EARL GREY. I liked DEBUNK and ROTUNDA. Thanks Pip and setter.

  12. 12:10. Mostly a steady solve but I slowed down markedly in the NW corner. MADELEINE and ALREADY took a while to see.
    MERs for ‘blend of fragrances’ and ‘turned up’. However one of the definitions of ‘dig’ in Chambers is ‘to turn up with a spade or otherwise’. Collins says ‘to cut into, break up, and turn over or remove (earth, soil, etc), esp with a spade’ which is pretty similar.

  13. Long delay in NW, but really enjoyed IMPAIRED when it clicked, and liked MADELEINE too. ODER LOI, not parsed.

    20’14”, thanks Pip and setter.

  14. Quick today, but I took a warmer view of the crossword than our esteemed blogger. No problem with Earl Grey, which is indeed a blend of two fragrances. An unpleasant one, in my opinion, but let that pass .. no connection with Earl Grey has ever been established, either. Knew the Oder from the Oder-Neisse line, used to decide the border between Poland and Germany and much discussed at various WW2 conferences such as Yalta, Tehran etc.

  15. 25:27

    Plenty went over my head while solving though then thought ‘I did know that’ while reading the blog, such as:

    IMPAIRED – from checkers, but realise that I have heard the parliamentary description.
    ODER – thought it was a German river and couldn’t work out what the Polish bit was all about.
    NODE – got as far as the E then bunged in from checkers.
    DOGBERRY – must be thirty years since I saw Much Ado, needed it confirm my suspicions about 17d though.

    On the plus side, CLEAN SHEET, my FOI – a rarity when the pride of Saaf Lahndan (Crystal Palace) play, often giving the oppo a goal headstart these days 🙁

  16. 38:15. This was either quite tricky or else I made heavy weather of it. I suspect both.

    It took me ages to spot the Lake Poets anagram. LOI the clever ALREADY.


  17. 42 minutes, after agonising for a while over DUG, where I suspected other senses of the word but couldn’t make them work. I suppose to dig earth is to turn it up. No problem with EARL GREY: it has to be a blend of fragrances of some sort, like them or not. Was pathetically slow to see the NODE clue: in fact I only saw it when coming here, having been sure that nod = twist in some way that I couldn’t think of.

  18. I agree with the blogger’s view that some clues were less than satisfying. The surface of the clue to MADELEINE was pretty unpolished, and the definition for MEADOW was a bit tenuous, even with the song in mind. The definition for EARL GREY, though indirect, is supported by Chambers. My main problem was that I carelessly overlooked the enumeration, so was looking for an eight-letter word. That oversight cost me several minutes.
    26 minutes, so easier than yesterday’s in my view.

  19. 39:14. mostly fairly steady, until a handful of obstinate ones at the end. LOIs LAKE POETS, ALREADY and BICYCLES where the BICYCLES needed the crossers from the other two. COD DEBUNK

  20. I liked it. I have no German so didn’t know about ODER = or, and had a ? against it until coming here.
    NW was last in and I liked ALREADY and MADELEINE (although never confident over ei or ie.)
    No MERs here. Andyf

  21. Thought I’d finished with a clean sheet only to discover I couldn’t spell MADELEINE, I decided an A after the L seemed about right. No wonder I couldn’t parse it. A little on the slow side anyway finishing in 53.58, and held up particularly in the NW corner, with ALREADY my LOI.

  22. 28 mins. Similarly I found this hodge-podge of quickie clues and quality ones. Nothing really held me up.

  23. 34.28. Failed to parse ‘Oder’ as I did not know that the word means ‘or’ in German. Will we need to know Serbo-Croat next ?

    1. Hi George,

      I would not mind too much if the odd Serbo-Croat word were to be thrown in to the cruciverbalist mix. My remarkable father hailed from ex-Yugoslavia, so any word from those parts would be right up my “ulica” (street).

  24. Straightforward today, quickest finish time in a while, about 19 minutes something. Perhaps tackling the crossword earlier in the day is easier than leaving until late arvo or evening.

  25. REBUS went in first, but nothing else in the NW yielded, so 7d was next to fall, with TIMER preceding PART and PARADE following on. I proceeded in a clockwise direction with REFUTE (something to do with futon?) being corrected to DEBUNK by LAKE POETS. DOGBERRY was dredged up from somewhere prodded by the wordplay. Back in the NW, I liked BICYCLES and CLEAN SHEET. As I didn’t know the German for “or”, ODER was a bit of a guess, but seemed reasonable. IMPAIRED brought a smile and a MADELEINE. ALREADY, took a little thought before slotting in to round off the proceedings. 25:37. Thanks setter and Pip.

  26. 18:31 with no quibbles. EARL GREY leapt out from the crossers though perhaps the definition is cleverer than it first seemed – a blend of tea with fragrance rather than a blend of fragrances.

  27. Either the crosswords are getting easier or I am improving. A steady solve with LOI 3d. My aunt used to serve very strong 20a in cups that were stained from years of the brew. Thank you setter and piquet.

  28. 28:20
    I made heavy weather of this, mainly because of the NorthWest. Couldn’t get Ruhr out of my head for the river, thinking that polish” might mean “rub”. Also couldn’t work out how to spell MADELEINE properly. ALREADY was very neat and my LOI, but COD was IMPAIRED.

    Thaks to Pip and the setter.

    1. Go west,young man, they would say
      And the north star will guide your way
      But this guidance is duff
      If you’re solving this stuff
      As the north west was deadly today

  29. Took a while, this. I was also unconvinced by DUG and EARL GREY. Knew they must be right, but felt a little conned. ALREADY was my LOI, and delayed me absurdly. Liked PATHOS and MEADOW, but overall a little underwhelmed by this offering.

  30. 47:54 for me, and with the snitch currently nudging over 100 I’m happy enough with that. It wasn’t the hardest clue, but I enjoyed CLEAN SHEET. Last two in BICYCLES and finally ALREADY. Thanks setter & piquet.

  31. Pretty much as the above comments. Raced through half the puzzle, then ground to a halt. I also found the anagrams trickier than usual, particularly OPERAGOER, where I was struggling with fitting in P,R, G, E to make a word. Having done so, I couldn’t believe it wasn’t hyphenated or two separate words. Also a MER at BIG BROTHER = Control Freak. Not in the Orwellian sense – I can only suppose the dictionaries have decided differently. A less-than-satisfying solve.

  32. 09:41 from me – no particular hold-ups, indicating no gaps in the required knowledge, and nothing I really took exception to (admittedly, a MER at describing Big Brother as a “control freak”, which I agree seems to undersell him a bit…). And CLEAN SHEET was a nice self-contained clue, certainly.

  33. Slightly easier than normal I thought. EARL GREY took too long given how much of it I brew (but don’t like to drink). No problem with IMPAIRED. LOI UNTRUTH as didn’t know RUTH. COD was CLEAN SHEET, very clever.

  34. 26.10. This was a bit of a struggle. Took a while before my first entry went in. I didn’t know the voting connotations of being paired. Didn’t know the German for or but knew of the river. The put on to twist bit of node was too clever for me, just assumed that one of the definitions of nod in the dictionary would mean twist. I didn’t think I was ever going to unravel the operagoer anagram even with all of the checkers and the remaining anagrist to work with.

  35. Of course Athos is indeed a creation of Dumas – but like the others in the tale he was based on a real person, in his case one Armand d’Athos. I once visited his home village in the Béarn. There’s also a plaque on a house in Paris just off the Quai Voltaire commemorating the real-life d’Artagnan. All done in 23’08”. LOI for some stupid reason ALREADY – I just couldn’t see it.

  36. For me also a vaguely unsatisfactory “near-solve”, with ALREADY, BICYCLES, GROUSE MOOR and DOGBERRY holding out (despite AYLI being the very first Shakespeare I saw performed at Stratford-upon-Avon more decades ago than I care to remember). I blame slightly off-centre clueing, or more likely, my not being ‘up for it’. Found it much harder than yesterday’s, but liked PEDESTRIAN, ROTUNDA and CLEAN SHEET.

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