Times 28451 – what even-handed justice commends


Difficult enough for me, but not the dreaded Friday beast that Verlaine so often seemed to brush off with delight. There was so much that I just didn’t know, but all my guesses came good in the end.

Anyway, it is a great pleasure to be sipping from the grown-ups’ cup, after over 8 years of blogging the QC. I used to save the Friday puzzle for a relaxed, no-pressure solve in the pub; what will I do with my weekend now?

P.S. I have always declined to give my times on the QC blogs, initially out of embarrassment, and later to avoid any risk of putting people off. As I’m likely to be on the slower end of the scale in this place, I will commit to owning up each fortnight…

Definitions underlined.

1 Article in class: you look briefly (4,2,3)
CAST AN EYE – AN (article) in CASTE (class), then YE (you).
6 Drink with university publishers and secretary (5)
CUPPA – CUP (Cambridge University Press, publishers) and PA (Personal Assistant, secretary). I tried OUP immediately, but had to leave and return before realising there is another crossword university.
9 Cricket team, we hear, securing amateur’s contract? (15)
NOTTINGHAMSHIRE – homophone of (we hear) “knotting” (securing), then HAM’S (amateur’s) and HIRE (contract?).
10 Bird taps branch, removing tip (6)
CHOUGH – C and H (cold and hot, taps) with bOUGH (branch) removing first letter (tip). The most easily forgotten of the 8 British corvids.
11 Come again following setback: perhaps again cross some cattle (8)
HEREFORD – EH? (come again) reversed (following setback), then RE-FORD (perhaps again cross).
13 Very tiny rodents consuming Carl’s old nuts (10)
MICROSCALE – MICE (rodents) containing (consuming) an anagram of (nuts) CARL’S + O (old)
14 Here you might catch top dog (4)
PEKE – homophone of (you might catch) “peak” (top)
16 Barrier of course due to party lines (4)
DOLL – DO (party) and LL (lines). Unknown to me, this is a barrier fence used on horse racing tracks to direct riders.
17 Pity uncovered pancreas wound is pussy (7,3)
PERSIAN CAT – anagram of (wound) pITy (uncovered) + PANCREAS.
19 Loaded p-pipe into brigantines, amidships? (8)
AFFLUENT – F-FLUE (p-pipe) contained by the middle letters of (amidships) brigANTines.
20 Tom introducing European goddess (6)
HECATE – HE-CAT (tom) then E (European). NHO again – Greek goddess of witchcraft etc. My LOI.
23 Article covering allusion made about film (6,3,6)
THELMA AND LOUISE – THE (article) covering an anagram of (about) ALLUSION MADE.
24 Clause clear with executor, extremely so (5)
RIDER – RID (clear) and ExecutoR (extremely so).
25 Hack food? (9)
HORSEMEAT – food for a horse (a hack), or food made from a horse.
1 For whom fancy nicety is too much? (5)
CYNIC – hidden in fanCY NICety, and a semi-&lit.
2 If consulted, told to develop town (6,9)
SUTTON COLDFIELD – anagram of (to develop) IF CONSULTED TOLD.
3 Search engine and exhaust in an Oxfordshire town (8)
ABINGDON – BING (search engine) and DO (exhaust), all in AN.
4 Urge to cross island, small one (4)
EIGG – EGG (urge) containing I (one). Known to me only by solving these puzzles.
5 Artist celebrity cutting veal evenly, with roll (10)
ENAMELLIST – NAME (celebrity) in the even letters of vEaL, then LIST (roll).
6 Spoil function, getting formal (6)
COSSET – COS (cosine, function) then SET (formal, as in intentional/established). I originally had ‘coshed’ but remembered to try again at the end.
7 Unwanted acquisition, wrong iPod chosen by girl (8,7)
POISONED CHALICE – anagram of (wrong) IPOD CHOSEN, then ALICE (girl).
8 Correction — approval by millions in depression (9)
AMENDMENT – AMEN (approval) with M (millions) in DENT (depression).
12 With rapid progress on the way, could it improve transparency? (10)
SCREENWASH – cryptic definition. If driving quickly on the road, this could help clean your windscreen.
13 Count having had unexpectedly included host of party (3,6)
MAD HATTER – MATTER (count) containing an anagram of (unexpectedly) HAD.
15 Playful and willing? Not all (8)
GAMESOME – GAME (willing) and SOME (not all). I reasonable guess from me.
18 Drink repeatedly over cardiac glitch (6)
MURMUR – RUM RUM (drink repeatedly) reversed.
21 Turn inside out, always on time (5)
EVERT – EVER (always) on T (time).
22 One month in paediatry, off and on (4)
ADAR – alternate letters from (off and on) pAeDiAtRy. Another guess, as I have NHO this month from the Jewish calendar.

80 comments on “Times 28451 – what even-handed justice commends”

  1. 49:03, the longest I’ve ever spent on a Friday puzzle. FOI 8d!
    DNKs abounding: DOLL, SUTTON COLDFIELD (I tried to make something out of LITTLE__ at first), ABINGDON, BING, EIGG, SCREENWASH. Biffed NOTTINGHAMSHIRE, figuring there was a cricket team of that name–the punctuation (we hear comma) suggests that the team sounds like NOTTING, but–parsed post-submission. Ditto for LOI THELMA AND LOUISE. Not my finest hour.

  2. A fine blog for a difficult puzzle. I put in SCREENWASH and HORSEMEAT with a shrug to be done with it. Fortunately there is an ABINGDON in Virginia and I could work out the other town backwards from FIELD. I did like HEREFORD.

  3. I had heard of SUTTON COLDFIELD but for some reason I thought it was COLEFIELD and didn’t check the anagrist. Never heard of CHOUGH or ADAR or DOLL (in that sense). Otherwise a steady solve. No time since I did it in 3 sittings while having dinner and packing my suitcase, but it seemed harder than earlier in the week but not a true “Friday” puzzle.

  4. Seemed worthy of a Friday to me! Put in DOLL strictly from wordplay, which was frustrating, and finally was really losing patience with this puzzle when, after SUTTON COLDFIELD (15-letter place name clued by anagram) and NOTTINGHAMSHIRE (15-letter place name charade), I was confronted with “Oxfordshire town” for my LOI. POI was CHOUGH, which I was chuffed to get, but I’d had enough…

  5. That was a Friday beast for me, same unknowns as everyone else outside UK, but all guessed correctly in the end. Might have heard of EIGG before… in conjunction with another island? Google, google… EIGG and RHUM. All parsed except the cricketers, wrongly adding the silent H to NOTTING and used AM as amateur… oops. In truth so many unknowns needing guesses make it a less pleasurable solve.
    Oh and welcome and thanks to the new blogger, a scintillating time.

    1. I was sure I’d heard eigg before in this forum, but a simple search says I’m mistaken. Goodness knows where I knew it from if not here.

      1. Found it 3 times in the blog using Search, above:
        25936 in 2014, where it was in the clue not a solution.
        24157 in 2009, where it was “Hebridean island” in the clue and supplied the letters eigg spelled out backwards in DRUGGIE.
        ST 4238 in 2007, where the blogger listed islands it might be useful to know.

    2. My Scottish mother in law used to say:”Born in Eigg, lived on Rhum and died in Muck”.

  6. The Hatter and the March Hare were hosting a ‘Mad Tea Party’. The ‘Mad Hatter’ did not exist in tbe original: this is an allusion to the pre-existing expressions: ‘mad as a hatter’ and ‘mad as a March hare’, for the pedants amongst us!

      1. There’s nothing in the clue that references the original book, and the character in question is billed as Mad Hatter in the Disney film, at least.

    1. An interesting point, Rob, well made, and I think I was vaguely aware of it, but I don’t think it invalidates the clue in any way. ‘The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party’ is part of the common experience whatever its origins.

      1. I agree, about the Hatter not being “mad” in Alice, and have ranted before in these pages on that theme (being a LC fan). Disney got it wrong, in my view, but the point is well made.

  7. 35 minutes

    I needed a full 5 minutes before entering my first answer because I was scanning through the clues looking for easy pickings and didn’t find any. Having abandoned that method I decided to concentrate on the ‘Oxfordshire town’ as I surely know them all, and ABINGDON soon gave me my way into the grid.

    After that it was not too bad as I knew all the UK place names. Many years ago I did the ferry crossing from Skye to Mallaig on the mainland and as it was a clear day I was able to see the isles of Rum and Eigg in the distance.

    I had the same unknowns as others, DOLL and ADAR.

    Many congrats on your first 15×15 blog, Will. This was certainly something of a test which you came through with colours flying high.

  8. 73m 11s
    I found that very hard so thank you, Will, particularly for NOTTINGHAMSHIRE, HEREFORD, PEKE and DOLL. In ABINGDON, is DO really a synonym of exhaust? NHO DOLL as a barrier. I can’t find it in Collins Online, Chambers Online or dictionary.com
    In 12d, with all the checkers in place, it had to be SCREENWASH but I didn’t particularly like the clue.
    COD to THELMA AND LOUISE, POISONED CHALICE, AFFLUENT and CHOUGH so, overall, an enjoyable puzzle.

        1. My ODE is one of dozens of reference works in my electronic dictionary or whatever one calls it; the 2d edition, 2005 (Casio was evidently too cheap to pay for Lexico).

      1. I must be doing something wrong but I have chambers.co.uk and I can’t find that meaning there.

        1. I guess chambers.co.uk is different from the Chambers Mac/iOS apps; they have:

          doll 2 /dol/ (horse-racing)
          A hurdle used as a barrier on a racecourse to exclude certain areas from use by riders
          doll off or doll out
          To mark off by means of dolls

    1. DOLL is in my Chambers app, second definition, where I found it before completing the puzzle, having never heard that use myself.

    2. I can’t see the link between “Do” and “Exhaust” either – can someone enlighten me?
      Otherwise, I went through this fairly quickly for a Friday but failed to see “Cosset” so I’m a DNF.
      NHO of “Doll” nor “Adar” but the wordplay was straightforward.

  9. With hindsight, UK residence a big help. I live in SUTTON COLDFIELD, have been to the Abbey Theatre in ABINGDON many times, have seen CHOUGHs (the ones with the red legs) on Anglesey, I follow cricket and for other reasons annually visit NOTTINGHAM, I used to sell books and once applied to Cambridge……
    Nho ADAR or DOLL, MER at inaccuracy of MAD HATTER, liked HEREFORD.

    27’49” well spent.

    And well done Will! Thanks to you and setter.

  10. Somewhat surprised to be done in 48 minutes. I got off to a good start, including getting SUTTON COLDFIELD quickly as my second one in, but slowed down to a snail’s pace toward the end, especially in the eastern parts. Helpfully I knew HECATE from my classical studies at the university of, er, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, otherwise I might never have got either that one or my LOI GAMESOME. If I’d seen EIGG or ADAR before I hadn’t remembered them…

  11. 37 minutes. In the end the only unknowns were GAMESOME and the unlikely looking DOLL for ‘Barrier of course’ (it’s in the paid-for Chambers app) but I had to bung in quite a few others before working out the parsing, eg NOTTINGHAMSHIRE. I remembered ADAR, mainly from “ADAR Sheni” having come up before.

    The SCREENWASH cryptic def was my favourite.

    Thanks and congrats to our brand new Friday blogger and to setter

  12. I’ve repeatedly grumbled and huffed
    The setters’ response is “Get stuffed”
    Just in case you’ve not heard
    I am quite anti-bird
    And today I am clearly not CHOUGHed

  13. Thanks to Wadham I assume for a very enjoyable tour of the country. If I didn’t live here I’m sure I would have struggled even more than I did to finish it.

  14. 18:06. Held up at the end by GAMESOME, which needed an alphabet trawl. DNK that meaning of DOLL or ADAR, but wordplay and checkers gave the answers. I enjoyed the tour of Britain, POISONED CHALICE and THELMA AND LOUISE. Well done William. Thanks to you and our setter.

  15. 55 mins for a major struggle
    Several unknown words
    Didn’t like 12d and 25a In the end I just put them in and hoped for the best

  16. I found this very hard, and gave up on the hour with SCREENWASH and HORSEMEAT unentered. Several unknowns (all mentioned above) and some convoluted clues which had in me in knots for a good while.

    I liked the cat.

    Well done on your first, and not easy, blog, Will.

  17. 31 minutes. Similar unknowns to others (DOLL, ADAR, CHOUGH, EIGG), and I’m not sure I’ve come across EVERT in any context other than the tennis player before. I eventually put SCREENWASH in with a shrug, not realising it was a cryptic definition, and I didn’t parse THELMA AND LOUISE. Thanks to setter and blogger.

    FOI Cuppa
    LOI Screenwash
    COD Microscale

  18. This felt like a Sunday, with at least two “guess what word I’m thinking of” clues and a couple of NHOs. I got bored long before I finished.

  19. It can be embarrassing not solving relevant clues, so as a retired Scottish GP interested in bird watching, it was very satisfying to quickly spot the ornithological, medical and island answers.

  20. 16:12 and a WITCH of 87 so I seem to have been on wavelength and where I didn’t possess the required knowledge (DOLL, ADAR) the wordplay was helpful enough.

    3d reminded me of a letter I once read in a newspaper relating the tale of a foreign visitor to the UK who got out of his car on a roundabout in Oxfordshire and was approaching other drivers shouting “I’ve been done! I’ve been done!”. The writer of the letter calmed the visitor down enough to establish that he was just wanting directions to Abingdon.

    Thanks to William for the blog.

  21. Gave up with CHOUGH and HECATE missing – and glad I did, having seen them, because I could have looked at the clues all day and not got them. Was just chuffed (geddit?) to get unknowns ADAR and EVERT from wordplay.

    I biffed SCREENWASH from crossers, but it’s a crap clue.

  22. DNF.
    I learnt some time ago that if it mentions a month and I’m stuck, it’s probably in the Jewish calendar ,so ADAR was no problem. Unfortunately I came to grief at that notorious accident blackspot, the ABINGDON CHOUGH intersection. Didn’t know DOLL either and needed William to fully explain HEREFORD so not the best of days for me. No complaints though, I thought this was an excellent puzzle, apart, maybe, from SCREENWASH.

    Thanks to William and the setter.

  23. Completed in a reasonable time, but I regret to say that I found this puzzle, once again, wearisome rather than pleasurable.

  24. I’d always thought that Sutton Coldfield was part of Birmingham: no doubt it was separate from it once. Like MichelinPoitiers I have now learnt that if the wordplay leads to something I’ve never heard of it’s probably a Jewish month, so wasn’t bothered with ADAR. Disney got it wrong as well, and I was pleased to see that people have pointed out the dodginess of MAD HATTER. Never very comfortable with HORSEMEAT and SCREENWASH, and I had to check these out although they work I suppose. Otherwise 43 minutes. Wasn’t aware of DOLL in that sense but I thought it was a good candidate and that I probably just didn’t know the sense. MICROSCALE a word that was new to me.

    1. Controversial – the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield was once a separate borough, in Warwickshire. (I was born and went to school there.) Locals have complained about its absorption into Brum since the 1970s.

  25. 63 minutes, but aids used to confirm some of the unknowns. I was born in Nottingham, so that gave me a good start in the north. LOI CHOUGH, and I got HEREFORD without fully parsing it. Many thanks, and congrats on your elevation and time to our blogger.

  26. Took ages to get moving. For a good five minutes, all I had in the grid was CH at the start of 10a. I think HEREFORD went in next. Like Jack I looked for easy pickings around the grid but didn’t find any. Eventually SUTTON COLDFIELD emerged from the anagrist and I began to make progress. ADAR, DOLL and GAMESOME were unknown and derived from wordplay. LOI was HECATE. 40:23. Thanks setter and well done Will!

  27. Far too many indirect definitions and surplus verbiage for me (plus obscure definitions such as that for DOLL), making this a very unsatisfying solve. The worst was 12d, SCREENWASH. I finished in 56 minutes, but like MrChumley above I got bored long before that. I almost abandoned it out of lack of interest and irritation.

  28. 14:54, so quite beastly if not impossible (though requiring a bit of guesswork to fill in the blanks in my knowledge). NHO the month, but worked out I just needed one of the crossers to tell me if it was ADAR or PEIT. And at the end, DOLL was very much an educated guess from the wordplay, though I know little about horseracing, and was wondering if it was a reference to something along the lines of Aunt Sally, a traditional game round my neck of the woods (including Abingdon) where you throw sticks at the titular target, sometimes also referred to as the “dolly”. Not a puzzle I’d have liked for my debut blog, so well done, W.

  29. A struggle that lasted well over 90 minutes, intriguingly Anglo-centric.

    FOI 2dn SUTTON COLDFIELD – as they say in the West Midlands, “If yow’s rich, yow comes from Sutton Cowldfield. If yow’s filthy rich, yow comes from Sowlihull!”
    LOI 16ac DOLL – I’ve watched an awful lot of horse racing in my time, from Huntingdon to Happy Valley, but this was new to me!
    COD 9ac NOTTINGHAMSHIRE – great scenes at Trent Bridge this year!
    WOD 25ac HORSEMEAT – there are some rather fancy specialist butchers shops in Turin, and back in the late seventies, l enjoyed horsemeat carpaccio at Agnelli’s splendid golf club ristorante!

    11ac HEREFORD makes lovely meat too. At 17ac l initially entered NAPIER’S CAT!

    1. Similar to you, Meldrew, but had an entered NAPIERY CAT ( mistakenly uncovering the word pancreas, and not pity… thought it may be something to do with holding table napkins!

  30. 9m exactly, and definitely a day where I was glad to be UK-based – although EIGG was unknown to me, and my LOI after I couldn’t think of anything else.

    Last time SUTTON COLDFIELD came up, I put COLEFIELD, so I was careful to check the anagrist this time.

    COD to CYNIC for a fresh spin on the hidden word clue.

  31. 28:38, with the same gettable unknowns as others – plus initially spelling the Brum suburb as COALFIELD until checking the anagram components more carefully. ENAMELLIST was the main hold-out.

  32. 45:18

    Very enjoyable to the last. Hard time getting started, with only CYNIC and a tentative CAT on first pass through the clues. AMENDMENT gave me a toehold but it was seeing NOTTINGHAMSHIRE early that really got the ball rolling.

    Nothing unknown apart from DOLL and ADAR – both easy from parsing though needed checkers for both before committing. Dragged HECATE from the back of my mind. HORSEMEAT started as MINCEMEAT until I saw SCREENWASH.

    LOI ENAMELLIST – trouble thinking of NAME for celebrity!! Fixated on STAR or ALIST

    Good job Will and setter

  33. 12:43. A bit of a mixed bag, this. Some excellent stuff but I thought HORSEMEAT and particularly SCREENWASH were weak. NHO ADAR or DOLL, but neither caused me a problem.
    Congratulations on the first 15×15 blog, W, as others have said not an easy one to start with!

  34. 60m. + For 12d. I had SCREENSAVE for ages assuming AVE was “the way” and somehow SCREENS came from “rapid progress”. Cheated and then got “Horsemeat”. Bit of a plod all the way through.

  35. Mombling here and mombling there … I stuttered over the completion line but had many of the NHO that other contributors had.
    FOI 17a (PERSIAN CAT) , LOI 14a (PEKE) ( …. but why, stupid ?)

    No one seems ( correct me if I’m wrong) to have had a MER at ‘paediatry’ , I’ve never heard it used .

    I liked 4d, one of my husbands partners in a South Wales practice left to be the GP on Eigg in the 1980s . He looked after folk on Rhum & Canna , travelling to those islands on a RIB. Not a job for the faint hearted.

    Always satisfying to see a completed grid, especially a Friday, so thank you and congratulations to William , was it a 7d ( POISONED CHALICE )to be given today as a start date? !

    Thanks to setter.

    1. IonaJ, sorry for this, but it would be helpful if you would add the answers to 17a, 14# and 7d. It would save everyone else the chore of having to scroll back ,in order to find out what they were! Thank-you.
      8d tequired!

  36. I didn’t find this as hard as a 154 SNITCH suggests; all done in half an hour, with ADAR a guess (I have complained before about Jewish months being obscure foreign words unless you’re Jewish), DOLL not known in that sense but it had to be, and my MER at Mad Hatter as mentioned above. 1a, 1d and the towns went in quickly giving me a good start. Well blogged, william_j_s, keep up the good work.

  37. I lived in Sutton Coldfield between 1970-3 so that was a gimme. My main problems were the unknowns MICROSCALE and ADAR. My sympathies to the non-British contingent (though EIGG wasn’t exactly a sitter for many home based solvers I suspect). I was absolutely delighted to sneak inside the 10 minute barrier by the skin of my teeth.

    COD THELMA AND LOUISE (never seen it)
    TIME 9:59

  38. My first scan suggested it would be a DNF, but HECATE (FOI!) gave me the NHO EVERT and I was off the ground. Luckily, 23A and 7D were fairly early solves, giving me some useful crossers. Agree that it was very UK centric – knowing all the place names was a definite help. We’ve had ENAMELLIST before and helpful clueing sorted out the NHO MICROSCALE, DOLL and ADAR. Really enjoyed this workout, and chapeau to setter and William – a great time and a great blog!

  39. Started this very late today and had numerous interruptions so no recorded time. I would estimate about an hour. A slow steady solve, and obviously it helped to have a good knowledge of uk geography. A tough puzzle for those outside of the uk.
    LOI was HEREFORD when really I should have considered that it could be yet another place name a little sooner. No idea about the meanings of DOLL and ADAR, though they were generously clued.

  40. In some crosswords the parsing gives me the answer. In others the answer gives me the parsing. I prefer the former. This was the latter. I guess eventually I’ll be savvy enough to transform the latter into the former.

  41. Forgot to start my stopwatch, but either just under or just over an hour, so a tough one for me and an excellent blog & time for a first 15×15. LOI HEREFORD. NHO DOLL or ENAMELLIST.

    Does 25ac break Rotter’s First Law? (see QC blog, 16th Nov)

  42. Very nice blog. I knew all the place names bar Eieg, (and have many times had the pleasure of Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge), but the combination of unknown or forgottens or never would’ve thought ofs, added to some superfluous words in the cluing, made this an over-the-hour solve.

  43. Fairly happy with 36 minutes. Didn’t see why SCREENWASH was right, but put it in. Now I see why ‘way’ was in the clue. Had tried to make it end in ‘path’ earlier on. Nice trio of UK placenames in the first few down answers.

  44. 53:32. Late today. Felt pretty jammy to have finished all green with the half dozen or so dicey entries (as above). Many thanks for the fine blog. I still don’t like HORSEMEAT or SCREENWASH

  45. Very slow start, but then got going in the NW corner. However not for long. Eventually struggled to a finish with ENAMELLIST and SCREENWASH the LTI. Enjoyed the 15 letter solutions, having lived near SUTTON COLDFIELD and NOTTINGHAMSHIRE as a child.
    Thx Will for the blog

  46. Even later entry here

    DNF in 45 minutes

    Just couldn’t see HEREFORD and COSSET at the end even though had considered that sense of “come again” and had COS

    This was a bit slow slow fast fast as I got a lot quickly in one go after seeing SUTTON COLDFIELD but was also held up for a good 5 minutes by a very sloppy SIAMESE CAT.

    Same NHOs as others save for EIGG partly as we went thereabouts last year but mainly as it appeared in the classic board game Great Game of Britain played as a kid in the Seventies. Happy times.

    Excellent blog and I think same for the puzzle too

  47. Not beating myself up by having a DNF on this one, as a non-fan (?) of cricket I didn’t automatically get NOTTINGHAMSHIRE ( despite guessing it had to start with NOT), nor ABINGDON (despite being an ex-Pom), had forgotten HECATE (good definition), and was left floundering at SCREENWASH (DD?), Liked CUPPA (first in), HEREFORD and the classic film.

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