Times 28455 – an eighty twenty thing?

Sitting down to this, I had most of it done, heading for a record time (for me); answers went in as fast as I could write (not as fast as some, admittedly). Then, with three or four left to complete, I took as long again to finish off those obstinate and trickier clues. Others may not have the same problems, I suspect, and a SNITCH around 100 would be my guess. We shall see. 4d was the best clue for me.

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

1 Accountant having chat about women’s modelling area (7)
CATWALK – CA (accountant) TALK (chat) with W for women inserted.
5 Garlic sausage originally sold in island west of Athens (7)
SALAMIS – Even if you’ve never been, or heard of the Battle of Salamis, the answer was pretty obvious from SALAMI sausage and S the first letter of sold. I’ve sailed past it a few times and been to Aegina next door, but not set foot on it.
9 State of equality a capital city is missing (3)
PAR – PARIS loses IS.
10 Alternative headgear used by British union members, perhaps? (11)
BROTHERHOOD – BR (British) OTHER HOOD = alternative headgear.
11 Ex-pupil’s girl endlessly digesting current form of rock (8)
OBSIDIAN – OB’S (ex-pupil’s), DIAN(A) = girl endlessly, insert I for current.  Obsidian is a volcanic glassy rock.
12 Bad jokes about quiet European capital (6)
SKOPJE – (JOKES)* with P for quiet inserted. I visited in student days not long after the earthquake of 1963 and was not impressed, I don’t expect it has improved much since then.
15 Throw out wine (4)
SACK – double definition. Sack was an old style fortified wine.
16 Press employee with glasses covering one key taxonomic group (10)
SUBSPECIES – SUB(editor), SPECS (glasses) insert I (one) E (key).
18 Golf club employee, one cutting into deal, perhaps (10)
WOODWORKER – WOOD (golf club, before ‘metals’ replaced proper woods) WORKER = employee.
19 The god of war’s spoils? (4)
MARS – double definition.
22 Masses of round containers outside back of house (6)
OCEANS – O (round) CANS (containers) with E (back of house) inserted. I took too long to see this, and toyed with a momble of OBEINS meaning some kind of obeisant Catholic Masses. But it’s masses as in lots of, oceans of.
23 Man may accommodate one, initially inviting obloquy (8)
ISLANDER – I (initially inviting) SLANDER (obloquy); someone who lives on the Isle of Man, as I did for nearly twenty years. If I’d lived there for another few generations the locals might have accepted me as Manx. If you didn’t know what obloquy meant, this needed the checkers to solve.
25 Sincerity of fellow crossing a loch (11)
EARNESTNESS – ERNEST (a chap) with A inserted then Loch NESS.
27 Left-winger picked up information on radio (3)
RED – sounds like READ.
28 Idyllic place where a painter captures Muslim judge (7)
ARCADIA – A RA (a painter) has CADI inserted. I vaguely remembered a Sharia judge was called a QADI, this must be an alternative anglicised spelling. Anyway the answer was pretty obvious.
29 Outburst showing so much of the French spirit! (7)
TANTRUM – TANT (so much, in French) RUM (spirit). Tant pis, if you didn’t know the French.
1 Bountiful police officer promises to pay (7)
COPIOUS – COP (police officer) IOUS (promises to pay).
2 Source of inspiration moving priest before tedious task (11)
TERPSICHORE – (PRIEST)*, CHORE = tedious task. Greek muse of dance.
3 Morning song of high class in an ill-chosen key? (6)
AUBADE – U (high class) inside A BAD E = an ill-chosen key. I remembered it once I had the checkers. Philip Larkin wrote one.
4 Prepare a town for a speaker? How he laughs! (10)
KOOKABURRA – sounds like COOK A BOROUGH, ha ha!
5 Short entertainment touring old part of London (4)
SOHO – SHO(W) = short entertainment, insert O for old.
6 Enjoy film about yellow parrot (8)
LORIKEET – LIKE = enjoy, insert OR (yellow in heraldry) add ET that film again.
7 Low state of mind daughter cast off (3)
MOO – MOOD with the D cast off.
8 Misery of George III’s condition, after initial change (7)
SADNESS – George III suffered from MADNESS, change the M to S. There is still much debate about whether he had porphyria or was bipolar. The dodgy medicines he was given no doubt made it worse.
13 Her dire plan shattered a womaniser (11)
14 Evaluation of beasts of burden soldiers found in street (10)
ASSESSMENT – ASSES those beasts, MEN = soldiers inside ST(reet).
17 Bird-tender keeping loose hen in grassy area (8)
SWANHERD – SWARD is a grassy area, insert (HEN)*. Not an everyday word, but seems reasonable for someone who tends swans.
18 Aerospace facility’s court meeting originally taking a long time (7)
WOOMERA – WOO (court) M (first of meeting) ERA (long time). Location in South Australia used for testing rockets, now a tourist space park.
20 Slavery deforms terribly (7)
21 Crazy upset over young relative’s fruit-tree (6)
DAMSON – MAD reversed over SON.
24 Flesh-eating mammal losing tail in colonnaded walk (4)
STOA – STOAT loses its tail.  Originally Greek architecture.
26 Gigantic bird dislodging kittiwakes primarily from crag (3)
ROC – ROCK = crag, dislodge the K of kittiwakes. Enormous bird of prey originally in Persian mythology.


76 comments on “Times 28455 – an eighty twenty thing?”

  1. I just whizzed through this and didn’t really get held up on the last few, as so often happens. OCEANS was my LOI, and I had run through the three letter containers TIN, CAN, URN, PAN but rejected CAN since it obviously wasn’t a word. Took a moment before I realized my error. There was an Australian feel to this one with WOOMERA, KOOKABURRA, and LORIKEET.

  2. Greek? I wondered if the setter was Australian

    Anyway 10m but despite doing a typo check I had BROYHERHOOD

  3. 13:25. Nice for us colonials to be given a few crumbs now and then, with WOOMERA and KOOKABURRA being write-ins.

    The etymology of WOOMERA as a place name is quite nice, referencing the device used by Indigenous Australians for launching a spear from the hand. If only the same committee had been in charge of naming our states and capitals. Oh well.

    Thanks Pip and setter.

  4. 17:15
    I bunged in WOODCARVER at 18ac, wondering how CARVER worked, but typically of me not taking it out; that cost me around 3 minutes or so wasted trying to think of a bird-tender. WORKER & SWANHERD finally came to me almost simultaneously.

  5. My comment for now is that fair cluing for some barely remembered or unknown words was, as pip said, mixed with some very easy stuff.

    But mostly I’m coming back later to see what Astro_nowt makes of today’s bird-fodder, and I’m expecting wonders. He’ll be pleased to know that I tried like the devil to make it Woodpecker to add to the aviary.

    1. KOOKABURRA alongside LORIKEET
      ROC and SWANHERD; my SADNESS complete
      There are COPIOUS birds
      My ASSESSMENT in words….
      We’re surrounded by things that go tweet

      The RED planet MARS – a nice clue
      And WOOMERA’s quite “spacey” too
      But this excess of feather
      Makes me wonder whether
      If I were a cow I’d say MOO

  6. Raced through three-quarters of it, then interrupted by a phone call which seemed to put me off, struggled through the NE. Salamis seemed unlikely, mistyped OHILANDERER making Skopje impossible, didn’t know of GRIII’s condition but had heard “The madness of King George”. Ultimately a fail guessing high-class was A1 and entering AIBADE, for the now-I’ve-seen-it-I-think-it-might-have-come-up-before AUBADE. Oh well. BTW I don’t know French, thought tant was aunt. Interesting puzzle, lots of arcane words but (mostly!) well-clued.

    1. I too was trying to remember porphyria.
      La plume de ma tante est dans le bureau de mon oncle.
      It has an extra e

  7. 27 minutes. Like many others I didn’t find this too hard but tied myself up in knots with the NHO ‘island’ of SALAMIS, trying to make the wordplay more complicated than it turned out to be. I managed to remember AUBADE which has come up in a few places lately, but needed to rely on the def for the forgotten ‘Muslim judge’.

  8. LOI WOOMERA (“really?!”). SW was last to fall. Didn’t see OCEANS for a while either.
    Very nice one. But KOOK doesn’t sound like “cook” to me.
    Wow, and LORIKEET too (I knew it couldn’t be PARAKEET, as the checkers seemed to insist… ha).

    1. I’d always thought it was koo-ka, but for some reason looked it up some time ago and found that it’s [kUk] not [kuk]. With the initial K given, the bird came to mind fairly quickly.

      1. Aha, you’re right. I thought I checked that, but I somehow still came away with the wrong impression. Kooky!

      2. Not sure I’m following your pronunciatory abbreviations. Kevin. In British English, it is a perfect homonym for cook, is that what you meant? Try getting Collins to say it for you ..

        1. [u] is the vowel in e.g. ‘food’, ‘poop’, ‘stool’; [U] (properly [υ], but I didn’t have that available at the time; sorry about that) is the vowel in ‘cook’, ‘should’, etc. Guy and I mistakenly thought that the bird was a k[u]kaburra.

        1. The band “Men at Work” were successfully sued for plagiarising that children’s song in their big 1980 hit “Down Under”.

          1. I thought was an unfair judgment. The flautist merely quotes a momentary fragment jocularly and appropriately. It’s hardly as if they ripped of the whole thing.

            1. The band only has to pay 5% of the royalties to the original writer – I think that’s about fair as it is a prominent motif throughout the whole song.

  9. Good progress with a few short at 30 mins. Main problem was IRONWORKER which seemed a good shout, thought “deal” might be a type of iron ore. This messed up OCEANS and WOOMERA, which I knew through 1950s Sci Fi from the peerless Hugh Walters who wrote “Blast off from Woomera”, they are all out of print now.

    Also missed KOOKABURRA even though I guessed how it worked, I thought it might be an unknown panto character like Pierrot, Pantalon etc.

    But pleased to get TERPSICHORE, I was advised on this blog to learn the muses.


  10. I raced through this, all but one answer, in 25 minutes but after another 10 minutes I gave up trying to construct OBSIDIAN from wordplay and failing. I’m sure I have met the word before but I was unable to bring it to mind and although I’d got as far as OBS_D_A_ I the missing letters beat me. Of course an I for ‘current’ had to fit in somewhere but before or after the D (both as it turned out), and was the S clued by ‘S or could it be the first letter of the endless girl’s name? Eventually I got bored and resorted to aids.

    Elsewhere I didn’t know CADI as a Muslim judge but the answer to the clue was never in doubt.

  11. 20m 19s
    I thought this was a QC puzzle that had got lost. My only difficulty was with AUBADE. What seemed to be wanted was AIBADE.
    In 8d, my first thought was PORPHYRIA but that wasn’t going to fit.
    COD: KOOKABURRA. LORIKEETS are arrogant, strutting birds whom I’ve seen bossing bigger birds such as Rosellas.
    Thanks Pip.

  12. Daphnis was I amid the woods, known from here even to the stars …

    13 mins mid-brekker. Even easier if I hadn’t dallied over LOI, Aubade.
    Thanks setter and Pip.

  13. Easiest one for a very long time for me, 5:02 (and the submit button always adds a couple of seconds on so I’m claiming 5′ dead). After the first two acrosses I switched to the downs and got all of them on the top row at first look, and the rest of the puzzle continued in the same vein. I think the only one I had to go back to after getting more letters was ARCADIA.

  14. 8:45. No problems until the end, when my constructed-from-wordplay WOOTERA looked wrong and I realised that it (the wordplay) was ambiguous. I hesitated for a while before deciding that WOOMERA might be a place name in Australia (more likely-looking than WOOLLOOMOOLOO at least), tried to ignore the question ‘why would we be expected to know some obscure place name in Australia?’, crossed my fingers, bunged it in and expected to be righteously indignant about the pink square.
    I have a vivid memory of being woken by the unholy racket of KOOKABURRAs in Kangaroo Ground.

    1. WOOMERA came to my attention back in the 1960s and 1970s as the place from which the UK launched rockets when developing them for possible space exploration or military use, I forget which, but the name has stuck ever since.

        1. The Black Arrow rocket launched the Ariel-1 satellite from Woomera in October 1971. The US did an exoatmospheric nuclear test called Starfish Prime in July 1972 which massively enhanced the radiation belts and killed Ariel and all the other satellites in orbit at the time.

  15. AUBADE by Soft Machine is a short haunting piece of music. I played it at my wife’s funeral. It brought back lots of memories.

    No problems with the crossword. IRONWORKER flashed through my mind before I saw the WOOD from the trees.

  16. Gave up with the rock unanswered. NHO AUBADE or WOOMERA. Did not réalise til I came here that I had spelt TERPSICHORE wrong with the I and the S reversed, so no chance of getting OBSIDIAN.Oh well.

    Thanks Pip and setter.

  17. 28 mins for a steady solve
    NHO aubade
    Like some others I took far too long on 22a my last one in

  18. 14.41. Getting near to my PB. Confidently expect a humiliating collapse before long.

  19. 19:07. Enjoyed that a lot, especially as I worked out WOOMERA and AUBADE from wordplay having NHO either. Quite straightforward apart from that. Thanks setter and piquet!

  20. Strange mix of very easy and, for me, impossible: NHO LORIKEET or AUBADE, and couldn’t get them from wordplay. The rest I sped through with indecent haste.

  21. Quick and easy today. Woomera appeared recently in another crossword, defined as a weapon. In the days when I had to get up indecently early each morning, Radio 3 had a programme called “Aubade” around 6am daily. May still, for all I know. (on edit: apparently not, it’s called “Breakfast” now. Dumbing down!)

    1. Yes, there are lots of pieces of music called AUBADE, not so many as ‘serenade’ or ‘nocturne’ but along similar lines. Kreisler wrote a very famous one.

  22. Failed with my LOI, Ambide! Didn’t know AUBADE but I guess I could have got it from the cryptic if I had thought harder about it.
    On the other hand I was pleased to get LORIKEET, unknown to me, and looking it up post solve thought it resembled the sort of bird a child might have coloured in.

  23. I found this pretty easy, finishing in 20 minutes. All the answers were familiar, and ‘tedious task’ in 2d was a giveaway for TERPSICHORE, as was ‘ex-pupil’s (almost certainly OB) for OBSIDIAN. Minor hold-ups were LORIKEET as the first thought was PARAKEET, and my LOI, SUBSPECIES. I thought ‘glasses’ was going to be that old chestnut, ‘OO’. I did have an initially incorrect entry of BADNESS for 8d, which caused problems for 5 across.

  24. 13’56”, no real issues. Perhaps oddly, SALAMIS POI, then LORIKEET LOI.

    OBSIDIAN is a key feature of Game of Thrones, where it is known as dragonglass. Had heard of WOOMERA long before I knew where it was.

    Thanks Pip and setter.

  25. No real problems with this (26 minutes), although I toyed with ‘parakeet’ and ‘ironworker’ for a while. I noticed that the setter had ‘key’ twice (it was E each time). Once is arguably a bit of a cop-out, but twice?? I’d always thought the pronunciation was cooh- kaburra and that this homophone was a sop to those who tend to complain that homophone clues use ‘received pronunciation’ or some such.

  26. 9:51. Done sat in my local library in the warm out of the rain and with a free cup of coffee. I enjoyed the ornithology and geography. I’ll try and remember CADI for future crosswords – that was today’s new word for me. Thanks Pip and setter.

  27. Nothing to frighten the horses – indeed an AUBADE might soothe them.

    TIME 6:52

  28. An enjoyable ramble from COPIOUS to OCEANS. SALAMIS wasn’t familiar, but AUBADE and WOOMERA were, so no real problems. 15:19. Thanks setter and Pip.

  29. 20:30

    NHO AUBADE my LOI. Didn’t know of the Greek island either but both gettable from parsing.

    WOOMERA remembered from childhood interest in space exploration.

    Nice collection of longer words overall.

  30. 12:15. No problems even with the unknown elements – CADI, the Greek island and the unspellable east European capital. I think Daktari is right and the BR in 10ac represents British rather than brothers.

  31. Beaten by WOOMERA AUBADE OCEANS and WOODWORKER (was foolishly happy with ‘ironworker’) No complaints as NHO the first two and only myself to blame for the second pair.

    Thanks setter and Piquet

  32. A pretty steady solve for me finishing in 30.45. Quite happy with that considering the distraction of a major hail storm followed by thunder and lightning whilst sitting in my conservatory.
    Come across OBSIDIAN before so no problems there, but AUBADE gave me the most problems.

  33. Most of this went in very quickly. Held up by the KOOKABURRA a little bit (I saw plenty in my 12 months in Australia), but came a cropper with the rock and the song. Tried to make ANBAUD and OBSUSIAN work, but the checkers just weren’t there. Picked the wrong girl’s name again!

  34. Like one or two others above, a mix of easy clues and pretty obscure ones (for me at least). WOOMERA and TERPSICHORE were complete unknowns put together from wordplay, SWANHERD took an age to come, and I didn’t know the cadi judge, which held up ARCADIA. Had to resist ‘parakeet’ before figuring out LORIKEET, needed all the checkers to get ISLANDER (put me down as someone who didn’t know what obloquy is), and AUBADE was only very vaguely remembered.

    FOI Soho
    LOI Aubade
    COD Womaniser

  35. A steady solve today. Failed to parse lorikeet, however. Spent a minute or 2 toying with porphyria. I saw the play: “The madness of King George 111”. When the film came out it was just “The madness of King George”, apparently so the audience across the pond would not think it was the third film in the series – or so I read.

  36. 14.03 but I took 3 dn too literally , inventing ambade. Not much bothered, NHO aubade so a reasonable answer in the circumstances. Interesting to see Woomera in the solutions, I think that featured quite often in defence discussions in the sixties. Liked Kookaburra and Lorikeet. Is today’s setter Austrine?

    Enjoyed a good puzzle and I’ll remember aubade for the next time, no larkin about.
    Thx setter and blogger.

  37. Thanks piquet for your usual informative and expert analysis on de-constructing this crossword.
    One small thing, though, if I may. My wife and I visited Skopje in North Macedonia about four years ago and were both enchanted by its history, buildings and ambience. So, I would say that it is now definitely worth a visit. We enjoyed it, anyway.

    The crossword was fun and completed in about 30 minutes.

    Many thanks as usual. Jovan

  38. I looked at the snitch first, and at 73 I hoped for something I’d find easy. But it took me 42:54. Most others here seemed to find it easy, so I don’t know why I found it harder. Poor general knowledge often my weakness though – TERPSICHORE, SALAMIS, WOOMERA, OBSIDIAN, SKOPJE all things that lurk towards the back of my brain, if there at all. Thanks setter & blogger.

  39. I had a very similar experience: most of this went in quickly, with lots of clues being the obvious idea or even chestnuts, but then the last couple caused problems. AUBADE I got from the wordplay, but 18d could equally have been WOOMERA or WOOTERA, and I plumped for the latter, having never heard of it. Just over 7 mins with that error.

  40. 30 minutes, so not too hard, despite a few somewhat obscure answers. The “morning” song suggested AMBADE, but fortunately I corrected that to AUBADE before submitting, which certainly fit the wordplay bettter. LOI was ISLANDER, once I understood which MAN was being referred to. COD perhaps to OCEANS.

  41. Hmm, got there in the end, but hard to believe that this was supposedly the easiest of the week so far – I certainly won’t be recommending it to my fellow QC improvers. The NW nhos, aka the Terpsichore/Obsidian/Aubade cluster, was quite a struggle, and I put the odds of remembering any of them at no better than 50:50. Having said that, Stoa has at least registered at the 4th, 5th ? time of asking, so there is hope. CoD to 10ac, Brotherhood for the pdm. Invariant

  42. Like the blogger says, this was one for a record time … until it suddenly wasn’t. And it was AUBADE that pushed me too over the 10 minutes. Andrew Roberts is definitive in his biography that porphyria was NOT the problem with the king. He says the evidence for porphyria as presented by a couple of researchers in the 70s was tendentious and misleading. King all round goody, acc. to Roberts. Spent a night on an open-air basketball court in Skopje in August 1979. Interrailing back from Greek island. 10’49”. Many thanks.

  43. Pleased to see progress- remembering TERPSICHORE and AUBADE from previous appearances. Did consider changing my spelling of KOOKABURRA to kooc…. But avoided that pitfall. WOOMERA LOI when deciding it had to be. Guessed at ARCADIA without knowing the judge, TANTRUM without the required French knowledge and ISLANDER, NHO obloquy! So lots to like and enough luck to finish correctly. Thanks setter and blogger.

  44. DNF. Foiled by the SW corner.
    NHO WOOMERA or STOA, and did not see that OCEANS=masses
    NHO of AUBADE, but managed to get that from the wordplay with all the checkers in place.

    Thanks for the explanations of these clues.

  45. Illegal immigrant from QCland here, enticed by the Snitch. To my astonishment rattled through all bar two in 15 mins. Then had to scratch my head for 8 mins over SOHO and LOI BROTHERHOOD (which I biffed and needed the blog to explain). Great fun. Going back to the green runs now.


  46. 17.40

    Knew SALAMIS (very famous battle there) but still my LOI as I had a sloppy PARAKEET

    Quite liked this. A number of odd words but gettable from the w/p.

    Thanks all

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