Times 28479 – Nutwood revisited.

This was a lot of fun, taking me 25 minutes with no difficult parsing, although I do have a question mark over the definition at 9a. The unknown star at 11a was easy enough to get from wordplay and led me to read more about the name and origins. It’s just as well the A in 22d was a checked letter, else we’d have had a fifty fifty chance (or more) of a pink square.

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

1 Doctor prescribed after damage seen in monkey (8)
MARMOSET – MAR (damage) MO (doctor) SET (prescribed).
6 Devil concealing tail goes around performing musical form (6)
SONATA – SATA(N) = devil without tail, insert ON = performing.
9 I dread setting poorly, having lost judgment (13)
DISINTEGRATED – (I DREAD SETTING)*.  I don’t really see how ‘disintegrate’ and ‘lose judgement’ are synonyms, I thought it means ‘come apart’, and I can’t see it in Collins, but perhaps you can. EDIT Guy du Sable can, see below.
10 A Rupert Bear broadcast? (6)
BROOKE – as in Rupert Brooke the poet, and Brooke sounds like brook which is a synonym for ‘bear’. I used to like Rupert, the annuals were a regular Christmas present. They are still published, and those like mine from the 1950s are collectors items. I see I could buy a complete set (1936-2000) for only £7,500.
11 Star in wooded valley left strangled by snake (8)
DENEBOLA – I thought I knew my stars, but this was a new one to me. I knew of DENEB which is in Cygnus, but DENEBOLA is apparently in LEO and the word derives from Arabic, meaning tail of the lion. I put it in from the wordplay; DENE a wooded valley, BOA a snake, with L inserted.
13 Shakespearean lieutenant with a pie ordered for queen (10)
CASSIOPEIA – another clue with an astronomical link which gave me the answer. CASSIO is a soldier in Othello, and (A PIE)* is added. Cassiopeia was a queen in Greek legend, mother of Andromeda, and  both were far too vain.
15 Know about Porter finally finding musical contemporary? (4)
KERN – KEN = know, insert R being the end of Porter. Jerome Kern, songwriter of the time.
16 Powerful god still meeting resistance (4)
THOR – THO an abbr. for though = still, R for resistance.
18 Patient men on following carriage (10)
FORBEARING – F (following) OR (men) BEARING (carriage).
21 Way to communicate in period without company (8)
INTERCOM – IN, TERM (period), insert CO for company.
22 Metal, extremely thick, insulating uranium (6)
SODIUM – SO DIM = extremely thick, insert U the chemical symbol of uranium.
23 This chap a rock, might we presume? (7,6)
DIAMOND GEEZER – cryptic definition, meaning a good lad, in Cockney circles, and a rock can mean a good chap. Go down a snake if you entered GEYSER.
25 CIA for example means business (6)
AGENCY – double definition.
26 Letters with italic form, perhaps reading through? (8)
LEARNING – in italic form could be LEANING, insert the R for reading as in the three Rs. A man of letters, a man of learning.
2 Gossip surrounds party on Republican right in state (7)
ANDORRA – ANA being a collection of anecdotes, gossip perhaps; insert DO = party, and R R for Republican right. I’ve been to Andorra a few times, once was by accident crossing the Pyrenees in thick fog,  then going round the first roundabout 100 metres into Andorra and driving straight out again before being stopped by a French douanier as a possible smuggler.
3 Fail to see accurately (with swindle involved)? (11)
MISCONSTRUE – MISS (fail to see) TRUE (accurately) with CON (swindle) inserted; I think this could be a semi-&lit but I never am quite sure when &lits are concerned.
4 Stray from path, brought to church thereafter (5)
SINCE – SIN (stray from path, in a religious sense) CE (church).
5 Old sewer’s part altered having collapsed (7)
TREADLE – It’s sewer as in sewing, not as in pipe for sewage. I knew this because I remember my grandad had a bespoke tailoring workshop in the 1950s with several foot operated / treadle sewing machines, before electrified ones came along. (ALTERED)*.
6 Period under psychotherapist is withering experience (9)
SHRINKAGE – SHRINK = psychotherapist, AGE = period.
7 Catch insects here and there (3)
NET – alternate letters as above.
8 Little child left in stranger’s care after time (7)
TODDLER – T (time) ODDER (stranger) with L inserted.
12 Thirteen break out: criminals at last practise Buddhism? (6,5)
BAKERS DOZEN – (BREAK)* > BAKER, S (last of criminals) DO ZEN = practise Buddhism.
14 One should exit refinery? It’s related to the smell (9)
OLFACTORY – OIL FACTORY being the refinery, remove the I = one.
17 Suspend setter for example, guilty in manner (7)
HANGDOG – HANG = suspend, DOG could be a setter. Apparently in use since 1687.
19 Coming into dance, rocker’s rival shows style again (7)
REMODEL – REEL = dance, insert a MOD, the rival to a rocker in the 1960s. Mods, I remember, had thin ties, and Lambrettas with fur seats and numerous aerials.
20 Particle beginning to trigger inside nerve cell (7)
NEUTRON – T (first of trigger) inside NEURON.
22 We should put up a standing stone! (5)
STELA – LET’S = we should, reversed (put up); A; I knew of a STELE being an upright stone and guessed this was an alternative spelling (or Latin).
24 Bristle now with anger initially, flipping (3)
AWN – first letters of Now With Anger, reversed.


74 comments on “Times 28479 – Nutwood revisited.”

  1. DNF
    I had no idea what was going on with 10ac, although I think I knew of Rupert Bear. NHO DIAMOND GEEZER (had DIAMOND CUTTER for a while). NHO DENEBOLA, but did know Deneb, so was looking for some kind of snake not some kind of star. An MER over DISINTEGRATED.

  2. Mostly straightforward, until the last 3 long ones each with all crossers in. Alphabet trawl gave geezer and remembered diamond geezer from somewhere. With APIE* on the end recognised CASSIOPEIA though I would have said a star rather than a queen – and I don’t know stars e.g. Denebola was NHO. And finally FORBEARING when I sorted out the cryptic.
    Nice puzzle, liked TODDLER and BAKER’s DOZEN. I had agency as a triple definition, MEANS being the third. Forgot to parse MISCONSTRUE, but full &lit?

  3. Found it! DISINTEGRATE in Collins, British English: (intransitive) to lose judgment or control; deteriorate

    Never heard of, or didn’t remember, DIAMOND GEEZER, my LOI. I’d heard of the star DENEB but maybe not DENEBOLA.

    I can’t prise apart the wordplay from the definition for MISCONSTRUE, but nor can I quite see it as an &lit.

    Even if the A in STELA were not checked, the wordplay seems clear enough to deter a wrong answer by the attentive player.

  4. Never heard of DIAMOND GEEZER but I couldn’t think of anything else. Never heard of DENEBOLA but the wordplay was clear enough. No idea who CASSIO was, but certainly plausible enough as a Shakespearean lieutenant.

    I remembered AWN from my teenage days working on a farm and learning how to distinguish wheat (no awns) from barley (awns) from oats (very long awns).

  5. 26 minutes. NHO the term DIAMOND GEEZER but it seemed likely from the surface. DENEBOLA also an NHO and went in from wordplay; I wonder if it’s on Peter Biddlecombe’s “stars cryptic crossword solvers need to know” list. Just like Paul, I thought CASSIO sounded a likely ‘Shakespearean lieutenant’ for CASSIOPEIA, which came up as a ‘group of stars’ (is that a different list?) elsewhere only a few weeks ago.

    I can’t construe MISCONSTRUE either, specifically what the def is. The whole clue goes to make up the wordplay, but it doesn’t quite work for me as a cryptic def and so I can’t see it as a proper &lit. Maybe I’m just not looking at it in the right way.

    I agree with isla3 that AGENCY is a triple def and it was my favourite today.

  6. 28 minutes for all but 12ac, and after a further 12 minutes of racking my brains for a famous Rupert I gave up on it and looked up synonyms for ‘bear’. Of course I knew Rupert Brooke so I was annoyed with myself but bear/BROOK was never going to come to mind without some sort of additional prompting.

    Elsewhere I was pleased to work out the unknown DENEBOLA from wordplay and dragged up STELA as a standing stone from the back of mind. I struck lucky with CASSIOPEIA as I had seen it as a constellation elsewhere only yesterday and learnt it was named after the queen of Ethiopia, and the wordplay handed it to me on a plate. Like others I looked twice at the definition of DISINTEGRATED but assumed it would be lurking in one of the usual dictionaries. I took the definition of MISCONSTRUE as ‘fail to see accurately’ making the clue semi&lit I think.

    After yesterday’s puzzle this seemed a very fair challenge and I blame myself entirely for falling at the last jump.

    1. Glossary definition of a semi-&lit: “the whole of the clue still forms the definition, but only part of the clue is wordplay.” This clue is all wordplay, but the definition is only, as Pip underlined, the first four words. I call these “wannabe &lit”s. The fact that we don’t have a better name for them may indicate that they really should be out of bounds. However, in this case, more generously, one could take the question mark as an indication of a certain admitted looseness, a defining by example, remember that persons might on occasion MISCONSTRUE for the sake of a “swindle,” and somewhat magnanimously, I think, dub the whole thing an &lit. But semi-&lit by our Glossary’s definition it is not.

      1. Okay I knew it was foolish of me to venture into this territory as I inevitably get it wrong which is why I avoid terms like &lit and semi&lit in my blogs. Anyway the fact that apparently nobody has come up with a name for this type of clue doesn’t seem any reason for it to be out of bounds as I can’t see any problem with it, so perhaps somebody should think of one?

        1. I went out of my way to justify it as an &lit, because I do believe that no part of a clue should do double duty as merely an element of the wordplay but the whole of the definition. In a semi-&lit, there is really no part that is doing double duty; the surface has a part, usually underlined as the “definition,” that points back (or forward) to the wordplay and says, “There’s your answer”—it’s an &lit that has that bit tacked on. I think this was probably conceived of as an &lit, adding a hypothetical “it could be for a swindle” to the definition but really just to complete the wordplay, which makes this none too tight. Oh, well.

          1. I expressed a similar line of thought in my comment below. Sorry. I should have replied in this thread.

          2. As Jack says, who cares ? You’ve got your wordplay, you’ve got a definition, what more do you want?

            1. Simple adherence to rules of the game. A certain Ximenean elegance is also nice.
              But if you have to ask, you’ll never understand.

                1. A flabbergasting statement.
                  What fun is a game without rules?
                  Crosswords are all about rules. General grammatical and spelling rules, along with those that are crossword-specific, are the only tools one has for decrypting, aside from just happening to know the answer—when you don’t even have to figure it out. And what fun is that?
                  Have you ever heard of Oulipo?

                  1. Rules are essential. But discussing them is a slow death. They should be as simple as possible, so as to avoid ever having an argument as tedious as this.

                    And I don’t think crosswords have a hard and fast set of rules, any more than the English language does. You say the clue’s over the line, and yet – everyone managed to figure it out. I do agree that it’s not a very elegant clue, but it does work

                    1. I actually allowed this clue to slip just inside the line.
                      The consensus seems to be that “it’s not a very elegant clue” (who said that?). I merely explained why. This kind of analysis is surely not very “tedious” to those interested in the art of constructing good clues.

  7. Christmas just came early round here
    Didn’t think we would get a
    Cosmological setter
    So glad tidings and very good cheer

    1. Astro-nowt ‘ll open the Champoo,
      As clue after clue after clue,
      Fell into his lap,
      He’s a delirious chap,
      As for me, I’m feeling quite blue.


      1. 21 March 2023 is World Poetry Day

        Perhaps all our comments could be in rhyme that day?

        What do you think?

        1. Astro_Nowt for Poet Laureate!
          Said that about a week ago after reading the awful doggerel from the poetaster Betjeman, a recent Poet Laureate:
          The sort of girl I like to see
          Smiles down from her great height at me.
          She stands in strong, athletic pose
          And wrinkles her retroussé nose.

  8. 18:57, with most things going in easily. I too was a little unsure of DISINTEGRATED and couldn’t really parse MISCONSTRUE. Enjoyable solve, and thanks piquet for explaining!

  9. 41m 40s
    I’m not a Spurs fan but I believe their ranks are full of DIAMOND GEEZERS.
    Nice intersection of rock and rockers in 23ac and 19d. I used to have a 150cc red Vespa but without the trimmings.
    Another ‘setter’ in 17d! I think we’ve seen a few of them recently.
    I was going to agree with you, Pip, about 9ac, but Guy seems to have found the answer.
    COD: BAKER’S DOZEN. I do like DO ZEN.

      1. Yes!
        Bob Hoskins was such a good actor, wasn’t he. In 1980 he played a very believable big-time crim in The Long Good Friday and six years later played an equally believable small-time crim in Mona Lisa.

  10. Stands the Church clock at ten to three? 19 minutes with LOI BROOKE. COD to FORBEARING bringing back memories of “a man with a military bearing which he tossed in the air and caught.” DENEBOLA was unknown and constructed with all crossers in place, once DELL was removed from the scene. I think I knew STELA, but it followed a similar process. Thank you Pip and setter.

    1. “Stands the Church clock at ten to three? And is there honey still for tea?”
      “Honey’s off, dear!” (Copyright Peter Sellers…”Bal-ham, Gateway to the South”).

  11. Missed two. “Bear” has a lot of potential meanings, then synonyms for those meanings, then homonyms for those synonyms of meanings makes it a tough final clue. I was on the track of the slang for Rupert=officer in the army.

    Should have got GEEZER with that Z sitting there.

    NHO AWN or ANA, they seem like handy building blocks for setters. Must try and remember them.


  12. Deep meadows yet, for to forget
    The lies, and truths, and pain?… oh! yet
    Stands the Church clock at ten to three?
    And is there honey still for tea?

    And lime marmalade for brekker?
    25 mins. I liked it. Like others, a MER at Disintegrated, but really liked Do Zen and several others.
    As a Yorkshireman, to me “We should” could easily be “E let’s”.
    Ta setter and Pip.

  13. 13:13. I hesitated over my LOI, DENEBOLA, as I didn’t know the star and wasn’t sure about the valley either. There is a suburb near me called Old Dean, which I thought could be named after a valley, and then I thought further that dene could be an alternative spelling. So I plumped for it on this basis.
    I’m convinced I’ve seen the Rupert Bear clue before, though I couldn’t find it via a search of this site.

  14. ‘I wonder who it is out there?
    It’s only me, said Rupert Bear.’

    Would have been a good time c16′ but no BROOKE, so gave up after five more minutes.

    DIAMOND GEEZER is a great phrase.

    When I read all the Billy Bunter books the Latin teacher was always saying ‘Construe’. Took me years to find out what it meant, as my Latin teacher never said it.

    Thanks pip and setter.

  15. Ahhhhh – the luxury of a lie-in until 8 o’clock and no need to rush this…
    …so why didn’t I bother to typo-check? A bad habit (I have many) developed whilst back in the world of gainful employment. Otherwise I was pleased to finish this, given my minimal Shakespeare knowledge and the NHO LOI DENEBOLA, which took several minutes. Fun solve – note to self: I will *definitely* check tomorrow, if I make it through.

    28:40 fail – thanks P and setter

  16. DNF and came here after 35 mins. Undone by BROOKE today. Bunged in KERN in hope. Have now added dene to my mental list of valleys. Enjoyable but not easy.

    Thanks setter and Pip

  17. 12:11

    I found the bottom half easier than the top half. LOI was DISINTEGRATED as I wasn’t too sure of the definition and was eventually forced to PIIWAS (put it in with a shrug).

    DENEBOLA was the only real unknown and would have been very difficult to piece together without the checked B.

  18. 12:13. I frowned at a couple – that definition for DISINTEGRATED and MISCONTRUE. I eventually decided the latter was an &lit, with the swindle being the cause of the bamboozlement, but it’s a bit unconvincing. Otherwise DNK the star, but I did know DIAMOND GEEZER which featured in one of Phil’s Weekend Quick Cryptics.. COD to my LOI, STELA. Thank-you Pip and setter.

  19. Enjoyed this one and was pleased/proud to finish it. NHO DENEBOLA, but constructed from wordplay. Liked BROOKE, and SODIUM raised a smile. Knew Cassio was Othello’s lieutenant, fortunately. The only one that gave me any real trouble was the not very difficult LEARNING, my LOI.

  20. 16:33 with KERN and less so BROOKE and DENEBOLA entered with fingers crossed. Lucky that CASSIOPEIA came up recently.
    That frees up some time later today to carry on my battle with yesterday’s, an engagement that looks likely to end in victory for the setter!

  21. All very astronomical today. Astro_nowt will be so pleased..
    Only had trouble with 10ac, as I thought the only Rupert I knew came from Hentzau. The other one did emerge eventually. Also the one who owns The Times …

  22. As the time approached 30 minutes I was left with D_N_B_L_ and I’d never heard of the star. Eventually I looked in a list, but it wasn’t there. Eventually it fell, but by then I was up to 32 minutes. A problem was that the only wooded valleys I could think of were dale and dell, and they misled me for too long. Otherwise this was the sort of crossword that makes me want to do them: no obscurities like yesterday (although the definition of DISINTEGRATED seemed odd at the time), just good sound efficient clueing.

  23. Far more enjoyable than yesterday’s puzzle, which had entries more appropriate to the Listener crossword. No holdups apart from assuming 5d referred to a drain, and entering TRAP (‘part altered’) initially.
    22 minutes.

    The best explanation of & lit and semi & lit is to be found in the Chambers Crossword Manual by Don Manley. 3d is most definitely neither since ‘swindle’ (even as a possibility) is no part of the meaning.

  24. I stupidly bunged in SANITY at 6 across without properly reading the clue.
    Otherwise not too taxing.

  25. 08:13, some tricky things here, though I happily remembered the crosswordy ones (i.e. the words which are unusual because you only ever see them in cryptic puzzles, such as AWN and STELA). Like others, I had to construct the unknown DENEBOLA from wordplay, and the fact that it sounded like DENEB, which I did already know. (Unhelpfully for Star Trek geeks, there is a prominent character in Enterprise who comes from the planet Denobula, which turns out to be fictional, though I’d hazard the scriptwriter who invented it was trying to choose something which sounded authentically close to a real star.)

  26. A pleasant solve, most done in less than 40 minutes, and then another half hour working out the star, metal, sewer attachment and stone.
    I liked 6d and 23a.
    Thank you for the blog- I also had a query about the definition at 9, and was looking to see if there was another anagram word there.
    Thank you setter for some astronomy today.

  27. Very good. And I like bears. And I’ve always been amused by the Army slang usage, as it always makes me think of the Nutwood character being really nice to the OR.

    MISCONSTRUE: didn’t Biddlecombe call such things ‘extended definitions’? ‘Fail to see accurately’ is bang on, but that CON needs to be found from somewhere. Maybe a swindle could add to whichever misdirection one is suffering from 🙂

    1. A quick search reveals that ‘extended definition’ was in very general use here at one time but I don’t recall seeing it recently. I’m not sure we can ever establish what was meant by this, but possibly bloggers and commenters were hedging their bets as I do with ‘cryptic hint’.

  28. An enjoyable puzzle with a couple of chuckles en route to the finishing line. Nothing leapt out in the NW corner but NET started a roll in the NE. I had to construct the star from wordplay and didn’t recognise it even then. Didn’t look too closely at MISCONSTRUE. Had the _OPEIA at the end of 13a early on, but needed the crossers from ANDORRA and 3d before I remembered CASSIO. Liked OLFACTORY but wasted time looking for a carriage starting with F at 18a. Liked BAKERS DOZEN and laughed at SODIUM. DIAMOND GEEZER was LOI, except that on proof reading I noticed that Rupert BROWNE had been MISCWNSTRUEd. Lucky escape, with BROOKE taking a moment’s more thought. 26:45. Thanks setter and Pip.

  29. On for a good time but no hope of BROOKE unfortunately – need to go memorise more dead people as yesterday’s divine George was another NHO. MISCONSTRUE seems pretty iffy as an &lit. but the wordplay and checking letters were generous enough to make me shrug rather than scowl. Thanks both.

  30. 22:23 This was good fun.

    Had to stumble blindly through both CASSIOPEIA and DENBOLA. I liked FORBEARING and MISCONSTRUE. I learned the word “construe” from Frank Richards. In his Billy Bunter books, “the fat owl” would always fail miserably when asked by Mr Quelch, his form master, to construe passages from Virgil.

    Can’t imagine any of his chums referring to Rupert BROOKE as a DIAMOND GEEZER.

    Thanks to Pip and the setter.

  31. 41 mins Curates egg, as usual. All done apart from BROOKE in 30 mins, but eventually I had to get a little help from my friends. Never did Eng Lit at school, does that make me a philistine?

    1. If it’s any consolation, I wrote it straight in having used brook/bear as synonyms in a clue about 5 or so years ago and being widely excoriated: “Large beast in brook (4)”. Further: I knew the name but thought Rupert Brooke was The White Rajah of Borneo, not some unknown poet.

      1. eniamretrauq, it does NOT make you a philistine, it means you were lucky; I had to do Eng Lit like it or not (I had picked a science path when you had to choose O-Levels.) However I scraped thru Eng Lit but knowing (slightly) only Julius Caesar, 12th Night, Henry V. Pretty small subset. Also Joan Of Arc, GBS.

  32. I zoomed through this with BROOKE and DENEBOLA sorted pretty quickly and only 17 minutes elapsed before my LOI 19ac. My lack of knowledge regarding the Classics and Shakespeare came back to bite me, and although I deduced the ending correctly, my memory trawl for Shakespearean characters did not come up with CASSIO. Annoyingly I did think of CASSIUS but immediately put it out of mind as it was seven letters. My sad effort was FAUSTOPEIA, so a DNF in 20.32.

  33. 23:27. A nice mid-week workout with just the right amount of NHOs and calls to the further reaches of memory.

  34. Trouble at t’ mill, one of the crossbeams has gone askew on t’ treadle.

    Unlike last couple of days no Spanish Inquisition needed from me today.

    Enjoyed COD Marmoset today, LOI stela.

    Thanks P and setter

  35. Rattled through this one again in spite of a pre-Christmas cold (or maybe because it’s cleared out the mental clutter). My general knowledge failures today were awn, Denebola, Kern and Cassio, but all were guessable from the wordplay. I also couldn’t remember if Rupert Brooke was a poet or an actor, thus doubly humiliating myself after my ignorance of Othello! Thanks for the blog.

  36. All done and dusted apart from the Rupert clue – a pity, because Brooke’s poem, “Heaven”, is one of my favourites: “And there (fish trust) there swimmeth One
    Who swam ere rivers were begun,
    Immense, of fishy form and mind,
    Squamous, omnipotent, and kind;”

  37. Didn’t get DENEBOLA because I didn’t know the obscure star or the obscure wood- otherwise a pretty fun grid

  38. DNF

    Came to a dead end after 25 minutes with BROOKE and STELA defeating me and chucked in the towel after another 5.

    Wasn’t sure about the former clue but on reflection it’s a good’un

    Didn’t know the latter and just couldn’t see the w/p

    Thanks all

  39. 30 mins for most of it, but was defeated by Rupert and the star. Strongly suspected the latter was going to be a double-obscurity and so it proved: I’ve never heard of either DENE or DENEBOLA. Bah.

  40. Another DNF, gave in after 35 minutes with BROOKE and DENEBOLA outstanding. I was pleased to find that I probably wouldn’t have got either anyway – Didn’t know the star or DENE, and wouldn’t have thought of the bear/brook connection. Thanks s & b

  41. Having started this with pitifully few going in on first pass, lost my confidence to solve it at all until SONATA and SHRINKAGE hove into view. Like (only some!) others I’m found wanting on names of stars, so 11 and 13a were never to reveal themselves without aids. Also, to my shame, did not know SODIUM was a metal; despite having NEUTRON and STELA in place did not reach it – good clue! But still don’t understand how the second word of 23a could be explained, unless you just happened to know the expression ( which I should, being half cockney). However, managed nearly all of this despite my early misgivings, and saw the wit in several of the clues: INTERCOM, AGENCY and TREADLE to name but a few. Thanks to Pip and setter.

  42. 4 gaps and one mistake.
    OK with the stars though might have got Cassiopeia more quickly if not clued as queen.
    All right with sodium – it’s in the 1st column of the periodic table so it has to be a metal.
    As a Buddhist myself, took way too long to get bakers dozen!
    NHO diamond geezer but a nice thing to learn

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