Times 28465 – Overegging the omelette?

This is a crossword that stands out for me by using the same ‘dash+this+?’ device twice, when perhaps once might have been more than sufficient. Apart from that quibble, I enjoyed this – as I enjoy most puzzles (must be easy to please) – and came home in 18:16.

How went ye?


1 Bear left, with New York to the west — this part? (8)
BROOKLYN – BROOK (bear) L NY reversed
6 Holiday abroad perhaps is cure when restless (6)
CRUISE – anagram* of IS CURE
9 Expert, long-serving royal polisher (6)
BUFFER – BUFF (expert) ER (our dear departed queen)
10 Main network housed in room at the top (8)
11 Posh car emerging from pronounced gloom (4)
MERC – sounds like ‘murk’; in the parts the German taxi is known as a Benz (more accurately, ‘Benzie’)
12 Dodgy French boarding house is freezing! (10)
SUSPENSION – SUS (dodgy – SUS, or SUSS, can mean suspicious/dodgy, while SUS (n) can mean suspicion) PENSION (French boarding house, non?); you can freeze the sale of weapons to Ukraine (if you are crazy enough), and you can use the -ing form if you want to make it a rather ugly noun
14 Blue, having cut short dive — lacking this? (8)
AQUALUNG – AQUA (blue) LUNG[e] (dive)
16 Bone found in vegan lunch sent back (4)
ULNA – reverse hidden in [veg]AN LU[nch]
18 Charity event possibly demanding payment: about time! (4)
FETE – T in FEE; ‘demanding’ here links the literal with the wordplay
19 School’s staff mostly blunt about a head (8)
TEACHERS – EACH (a head, as in 20 pounds each/a head) in TERS[e] (blunt)
21 Dancing nude foxtrot, finished up exposed (10)
UNDEFENDED – NUDE* F (Foxtrot in NATO alphabet) ENDED (finished up)
22 Complain when area’s width is cut (4)
MOWN – MOAN with A (area) changed to W (width) -‘when Area is Width’
24 Very fine polymath finally getting BA? (8)
26 Unacceptable to pinch one’s idea (6)
27 Extra Times edition’s first for so long (3-3)
BYE-BYE – BYE (extra – cricket item du jour) BY (times) E[dition]
28 Betting caller will bring spaniel (8)
SPRINGER – SP (betting/starting prices) RINGER (caller)


2 About to adopt unfashionable course (5)
3 Sour old company porter’s English language dull and verbose? (11)
OFFICIALESE – OFF (sour) ICI (old British company that went the way of most manufacturing industry in the UK) ALE’S (porter’s) E (English)
4 Prank with egg is bloomer (8)
LARKSPUR – LARK (prank) SPUR (as in ‘egg on’); I had ‘larkovum’ for a while, which I thought was creative, if a bit sad
5 A nightdress seen poorly with this? (4-11)
6 Charlie, going further back, becoming more distant (6)
COLDER – C (Charlie in NATO alphabet) OLDER; talking of NATO again, a big call-out to the USA for their leading role in keeping Ukraine a sovereign, independent country
7 Vase you might pick up to bring home (3)
URN – sounds like ‘earn’ (bring home)
8 War captive sporting black eye? Victory could have been his? (9)
SHIPOWNER – POW in SHINER; a reference to HMS Victory, of Nelson fame. Nice clue
13 Card player before noon quiet — not up for port (11)
SOUTHAMPTON – SOUTH (card player in bridge) AM (before noon) P (quiet) NOT reversed
15 Old monarch’s new name in doubt (5,4)
QUEEN MARY – NAME* in QUERY; bloody Mary, elder sis of Elizabeth I
17 Forgiving person for telling tale? (8)
PARDONER – a reference to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, in which one of the raconteurs was a pardoner (nice money if you can get it)
20 Civil engineer on climb becoming bright red (6)
23 Wife with mechanical routine got down (5)
WROTE – W ROTE; nice literal
25 Wind up  a piece of knitting (3)
RIB – double definition


81 comments on “Times 28465 – Overegging the omelette?”

  1. I’ll kick things off by owning up to being probably the only DNF today – a “rub” for RIB at 25d. Not a good day as I missed the parsing of SPRINGER and URN (sad but true) as well.

    Partly compensated for by having what would count as a theme, for me anyway.

    1. Nil desperandum BR! Another fail here – biffed MEWL for 22a (because one of the very few bits of Shakespeare I can remember is the infant “mewling and puking in its mother’s arms”). Mind you, dunno if the meaning of “mewl” is sufficiently tangential with “complain”…

      Wasn’t on song to start with, finding this pretty tough, so took a break for breakfast about 31m. After that, I was able to get through methodically, only to find that the earlier biff was my undoing. 38:47 fail – thanks U and setter.

      1. Thanks Denise. Looking at the Club results, at least I’m not Robinson Crusoe, but starting off with a DNF is never a good way to start the week; in fact, almost enough to make a solver mewl.

  2. 24:37
    Tough for a Monday, or I was just dimmer than usual. I didn’t understand the wordplay in SPRINGER, and just trusted ‘spaniel’ and the checkers. I knew MERC–heard it once–but it took the checkers to bring it to mind (in the US, a Merc is–or I suppose was–a Mercury, not a particularly posh car). I liked MOWN.

  3. Easy for a Monday? Sailed through at high speed, all parsed. No quibbles, I kinda like “- this?” clues, semi-&lits where the rest of the clue describes the answer.
    I would have spelled Southampton wrongly, joining south- and -hampton, with no instructions and one extra space.
    COD the shipowner, in front of the red engineer.

  4. My first impression was that this was pretty easy, and I still think I probably just got lazy further in. It took me, sitting here on Montague Street, an unaccountably long time to see BROOKLYN, of all things, and RIB was my LOI. I particularly liked SHIPOWNER and wrote “Ha!” at SUSPENSION.

    1. Montague Street! One of the more significant locations in rock history! Don’t tell me; you’re in a basement down the stairs?😀

      1. I’m on the penultimate floor of a walkup. I don’t think there are any basement apartments on this street (below the sidewalk level of my building is the little hardware store operated by my landlord), and I’ve harbored some doubt that Dylan was singing about this particular Montague Street, though there does seem to be a story substantiating his brief presence here in the early sixties. I moved in on December 12, 1991, and there hasn’t been much music in the cafés (or restos) here, let alone “revolution in the air,” in the past 30 years. The local chamber of commerce has put up a sign quoting the song, as well as one pointing out that the street was named after Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (no terminal E) (née Pierrepont; 15 May 1689 – 21 August 1762), the first mother in England to have a child vaccinated against smallpox—presumably the first in Europe outside the Ottoman Empire. Pierrepont Street runs parallel to Montague.

  5. I’m betting Shipowner and Hairline get a lot of votes today, they are nice clues and I didn’t purse my lips at the product placement in the cluing (BA) quite the same way I did when it was in the answer (Merc). I’m familiar with SP as a noun describing a particular bet, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered it as a verb or as a gerund.

    1. Not sure what a gerund is, but ‘What’s the SP?’ is a common phrase synonymous with ‘What’s the betting?’.

        1. definition wasn’t the issue, jack, it was that sp refers to a specific set of odds, and I was thinking of betting as a verb.

      1. Thanks, Rob. I’d not heard that phrase used that way – and eI hadn’t thought of betting in that sense. I equate ‘what’s the sp’ with ‘what are the final odds’ or ‘what can I get at the window right now’, and I couldn’t get ‘odds’ or ‘going price’ to synch with ‘betting’ – your example does. (a gerund is, in rough terms, a noun which is made out of a verb by adding ‘ing’)

  6. Completed. A bit slow, though, with LOI RIB (never heard of that as knitting).


  7. 19 minutes, so I was in PB territory with this one – not that I know exactly what my PB is.

    I had no problem finding the answers HAIRLINE and TEACHERS, but with the first I struggled for a moment to reconcile the definition and with the second I couldn’t see the wordplay. Eventually I thought of ‘hairline fracture’ so that one was sorted, but the best I could do with the other was ‘head = ACHE’ as a person subject to regular headaches might say ‘I’ve got one of my heads’ – but that would have left a hanging ‘a’ in the clue.

  8. 18 minutes with LOI LARKSPUR. COD to MERC, also liking SHIPOWNER and HAIRLINE. I thought BA had become more of a pension fund manager though. I only knew the ‘wind-up’ definition of RIB but that was enough without a competitor. Nice puzzle. Thank you U and setter.

  9. 14:28. This certainly seemed harder than the average Monday to me. Several clues proved not to be as they first appeared, not least RIB where “wind up” had me looking for a reversed word for wind.
    I think the clue for MOWN is excellent – lovely surface and very concise. This was another clue that took some sorting out, because although I knew quickly it was playing on “moan” and “mown” I then spent time looking for the homophone indicator.

    1. I was also hung up on MOWN as my last – I simply couldn’t see the parsing at all, though when I did twig I really wondered why it had confused me so much. I wouldn’t have worried about it except that, like Denise, I had considered the possibility of MEWL instead.

    2. 10.34. I don’t think this was harder than the average Monday. Sometimes one sees the answers quickly and sometimes, for whatever reason, it takes a bit longer. At 14:28 you obviously didn’t struggle unduly.

  10. 29m 57s
    Like ulaca, I enjoyed this.
    I felt pleased with myself for solving 22ac – MOWN- quite quickly. I usually take ages to see those letter replacement clues.
    With 28ac SPRINGER, I thought this must be some arcane term used by the betting fraternity for a ‘betting caller’, whatever one of those might be. I once went to a race meeting at Newmarket and the language used by the bookies might just as well have been Greek.
    I wondered why I couldn’t find that definition in any online dictionary, so thanks, ulaca, for the explanation.
    LOI: BROOKLYN and HAIRLINE; the latter was also my COD.

  11. “Lordynges,” quod he, “in chirches whan I preche, …

    30 mins mid-brekker. I really enjoyed this. Great clueing, especially: Brooklyn, SusPension, Aqualung, Teachers, Hairline, Queen Mary.
    Brilliant. Thanks setter and U.

  12. 17:26 – like others got a bit stuck on RIB by looking for a reversed word, and biffed a couple (e.g. SPRINGER) – thanks ulaca for sorting me out on that! COD to 8d, very clever.

  13. Longer than usual for a Monday, 17’34”, after fast start. BROOKLYN LOI, unaccountably, and NEAR-SIGHTEDNESS took far too long. Did not parse SPRINGER, just bifd.

    Thanks ulaca and setter.

  14. Having failed on the quickie I was delighted with a rare finish and even rarer sub 30 for this 26:36.

    Entered LOI RIB with fingers crossed for correct vowel selection.


    Couldn’t parse TEACHERS

    Thanks Ulaca and setter

  15. 19.20
    21ac. I’d expect any Nato alphabet word (Foxtrot) to be capitalised, but I see Chambers allows a lower-case alternative.

    1. I’d thought that too, about the capitals. The other sticky one is Whisky or Whiskey.

  16. 22:51 a personal best by 2 minutes! I whizzed through this one until I was stuck on 22ac MOWN at the end. I spent ages on it, and never did see it. I considered MEWL, but in the end went for “cut” as the definition and wrote in MOWN. Ha! they all count. I liked lots, COD to SHIPOWNER

    Correction: not a PB. I have just checked the Snitch. Their record-keeping is so much better than mine. I wasn’t even close

  17. 10:43. Another who got stuck looking for “wind up” to indicate the reversal of a wind. COD to SHIPOWNER. Thankk-you Ulaca and setter.

  18. 25 minutes, with LARKSPUR the only unknown. Took a long time to see BROOKLYN and NEAR-SIGHTEDNESS, and eventually figured out what was going on with MOWN.

    FOI Merc
    LOI Mown
    COD Hairline/suspension

  19. 6.43 – no real idea why but think that’s my best performance to-date in terms of position on the leaderboard.

    All went very smoothly, spotting BROOKLYN straight away and having seen the HAIRLINE idea before. Having struggled with the likes of LEGALESE and JOURNALESE before, was pleased to see OFFICIALESE pretty quickly this time.

    Slowed down only marginally wondering what SHINPOWER had to do with Victory but sorted that out quickly enough.

    Thanks ulaca and setter

    1. I had exactly the same problem (with ‘shinpower’ for a while before seeing the light – good clue!)

  20. Somewhat held up by trying to convince myself that parsing of COOLER worked, but once I’d realised it was COLDER it all fell into place quite quickly. 25 mins, with only OFFICIALESE and BUFFER putting up any real resistance. COD LARKSPUR.

  21. 24 mins. Held up by assuming the dive was PLUNGE rather than LUNGE, thereby getting my underwear twisted. Was completely stuck halfway through, and it took getting the 5d anagram to get me going again. As most, LOI RIB.

  22. In betting the SP is the starting price – i.e. the final odds on a horse as the race starts.

  23. A minor quibble on SHIPOWNER. The cryptic part is top-notch. But do Royal Navy vessels have ‘owners’ as such? Perhaps the owner of ‘HMS Victory’ was King George (the whichever). Is His Majesty therefore the ‘his’ of the definition part? And shouldn’t there have been a nod by the setter in that direction? For me, there’s something slightly amiss with this.

    1. ‘Victory could have been [NB: not ‘was’] his’. If ‘he’, whoever he was, had the ‘Victory’, and whether or not the king in fact did own the RN, it would have been his; so he could have been the SHIPOWNER.

    2. Yes, I’m with you on this. Sure, you can argue that any ship has an owner, so the clue must work…. but surely naval ships are (and always were) owned by the state, not the monarch? I don’t know the precise legal position, but given that they were and are funded by UK Plc, they can’t fairly be said to belong to any individual, as suggested by the word ‘his’ (even if they are/were known as ‘king’s ships’). I wrote it in with a shrug, but it’s a bit iffy IMHO.

      1. Sounds a bit picky to me. I just thought that HMS is HIS majesty’s ship, (or hers) so in a way s/he is the “owner”, so fair enough.

  24. 21:30 – might be a PB? I kind of agree with blogger’s quibble about the dash device but also I quite liked AQUALUNG, and of course SHIPOWNER was great. Thanks all!

  25. My daughter has just had her MERC written off by some clown rear-ending her at around 40 mph, while she was in a stationary queue of traffic, and pushing her into the Porsche in front of her. She’s ok, but suffering from whiplash. As it happens that was my FOI. I romped steadily through the rest of the puzzle. Liked BROOKLYN, AQUALUNG and QUEEN MARY. Missed the parsing of SPRINGER. OFFICIALESE was LOI. 20:32. Thanks setter and U.

  26. Seemed an average Monday puzzle with quite a few easy ones, plus a few that were a bit tricky to parse. I was one of those who wondered how ACHE could be indicated by ‘head’, and I didn’t see the wordplay for SPRINGER, though the answer was not in doubt. LOI was RIB.
    I wasn’t really bothered by the two instances of ‘dash…?’ More than two might be excessive.
    25 minutes.

  27. 18:10. Tricky enough for a Monday but fair enough too. I killed off my monstrous invention OFFOCOALESE(!) just before submitting with the right answer.


  28. That just shows me. I can’t do these crosswords like some of the speed solvers on this site who solve it while watching the FA Cup Final or waiting for a plane or some such: I had the radio on and was listening with bated breath to the Pakistan cricket and as a result took over an hour. It was quite tricky I thought but nothing like this, as people’s times and the SNITCH show.

    I didn’t like the PARDONER clue: ‘Forgiving person’ = pardoner, ‘person for telling tale’ = Pardoner, so there is an overlap between definition and wordplay, which is unsatisfactory it seems. Or am I missing something? Is it really some sort of CD?

    1. FWIW, I’d have had this as a cryptic definition. I think ulaca came to the same conclusion as he’s underlined the whole clue as definition.

    2. Whilst solving I had PARDONER as a DD but from what you say I now see it doesn’t work. I’d assume like you suggest it’s a CD.

  29. 13:47. Had LARKSPIT for a while at 4d, surely it’s a flower and surely a pit can be an egg. But apparently not, it’s some sort of medieval toast rack. Cleared up thanks to AQUALUNG.

  30. 13:12, struggling to justify a number of biffed answers which seemed very obvious once I saw the correct parsing, such as TEACHERS, SPRINGER etc., but I shall blame a) myself for my desire these days to at least try to justify my biffs before I submit, and b) Ben Stokes, who distracted me, long may he continue to do so.

  31. 7m 39s, and never really getting into a rhythm on this one. MOWN was my LOI after strongly considering MEWL for a while.

  32. On the ATLANTIC CRUISE ROUTE from SOUTHAMPTON to BROOKLYN on the QUEEN MARY the SHIPOWNER would have been Cunard-White Star.

    1. Hooray, finally someone has cottoned on to the theme! Maybe no big deal, but a theme is quite a rare beast in the world of The Times cryptics.

    2. Yes, indeed, but it would have docked in Manhattan, not in Brooklyn. I actually sailed on it (when I was 5 years old!), so that’s how I know.

      1. I’m impressed you sailed on the original Queen Mary. It’s sad to hear what is happening to it in Long Beach now. Apparently the Queen Mary 2 uses the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in New York.

  33. 19:48

    Like to believe I’d have been a minute or two quicker on keyboard – ever slow on phone while walking. no real issues – did like MOWN

  34. As it’s Monday I decided to time this online.
    Just finished in 34:13 with several minutes needed for my last two: RIB and SUSPENSION. I knew there was a word for a French boarding house-should have got there sooner.
    Did not fully parse BROOKLYN .
    I liked HAIRLINE and AQUALUNG -the latter may send me (and Phil) back to the Jethro Tull collection.
    “On Preston platform … ”

  35. Most of this went in quickly- 45 minutes of solving- but I got stuck in the SE, and left it over lunch. A walk and a cup of tea, and it’s finished.
    It took a while to parse SPRINGER, and I failed to see how TEACHERS worked- I always miss that EACH or PER or A HEAD when it’s clued.
    Nice long anagram at 5d
    Thanks for the blog, and thank you Setter for a nice start to the week!

  36. Never quite at the races with this one. Painfully slow start with only three across and five down clues going in. I thought I’d pick up on the second pass, but I didn’t. I took way too long to spot what should have been reasonably easy answers, such as BUFFER and COLDER. Tougher than an average Monday, but I should still have been inside 10 minutes.

    TIME 12:14

  37. Haven’t finished many recently so was pleased to do so even if I did spend an age getting my last two, SPRINGER and then PARDONER. I was able to parse the former but not the latter, so thanks for the explanation.

  38. It’s not a great idea to try solving a crossword at the same time as watching a World Cup match, so my finishing time of 58 minutes is rather meaningless. I’m guessing 40 minutes if it had my undivided attention. MERC presented no problems as I used to own one, but I didn’t get the parsing of SPRINGER even though the answer was obvious.

  39. LOI COLDER, after PDM with SUSPENSION (had forgot the pension required knowledge) and very pleased I didn’t go with offOCOalese thinking old company = OCO, just didn’t look right and I remembered missing ICI before. Very clever pleasant puzzle- why I enjoy doing them so much.
    Many thanks to the setter and of course blogger.

  40. Forgot to start my timer, but it must have been around 35 minutes. I enjoyed this and thought the surfaces were very good. COD for me was SUSPENSION. LOI the excellent SHIPOWNER, which initially I was pronouncing SHI-POW-NER and wondering if it was a word I didn’t know…

  41. A slow solve, even by my poor standards. In fact, I think I was quicker doing last Friday’s than today’s. Just like the QC, my last two or three ( Officialese, Suspension and Hairline in that order) took forever, but at least no complaints about the loi with this one. Invariant

  42. I like the theme, which I certainly didn’t see! There were some great clues here, and some taxing work was required to unravel OFFICIALESE and SUSPENSION. Luckily SPRINGER was a write-in, as I failed to remember the SP from previous occasions. And as mentioned above, I agonised for ages over MOWN. Liked AQUALUNG, QUEEN MARY, BROOKLYN and ATLANTIC. COD goes to SOUTHAMPTON, my nearest large city, which I parsed straight down from top to bottom.

  43. 38 minutes. Nice puzzle with a number of clues I couldn’t quite parse but did biff correctly (SPRINGER, for example). The only car I could think of that might be called a MERC might not have been so posh when you could actually buy them (a Mercury, of course), but considering their venerable age any one still running might be posh now. The German luxury car has a C in the name, but it’s pronounced S or in German TS, so I didn’t think of that.

    1. The one time I ever heard ‘Merc’ (‘murk’) used it was said by a German, although he was speaking English. He had to explain to me what it meant.

  44. If you could see in my heart
    You would know it’s true
    There is none, Cérise, except for you

    18’02” with a special mention for MOWN which I thought was excellent. I could so easily have gone for MEWL like Denise.

  45. Late entry with a green grid in a little over 25

    Thought SHIPOWNER and OFFICIALESE were excellent. Like others struggled to begin with but it eventually opened up

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