Times 28480 – anyone else feeling the cold?

Time taken: 20:15.  After 10 minutes I had all but 18 across and 15 down, and it took an alphabet trawl and a few false starts until I got 15 sorted out, and that left only one possibility for 18 across. I think I have an explanation now, but I’m open to other interpretations.  The tricky week of puzzles continues!

How did you do?

1 Spray cap with inner spring (9)
BESPATTER – BETTER(cap) containing SPA(spring)
6 Take to the saddle on escaping from hurricane (5)
CYCLE – remove ON from CYCLONE(hurricane).  I thought that cyclones and hurricanes were different, but they have the same definition in Collins.  I guess it depends on what hemisphere you live in
9 Benefits at university rallies (5,2)
PERKS UP – PERKS(benefits), UP(at university)
10 Outlaw still short of one really good meal (7)
BANQUET – BAN(outlaw) then QUIET(still) minus I(one)
11 Condescend, broadcasting Hans Andersen perhaps (5)
DEIGN – sounds like DANE(Hans Christian Andersen, perhaps) – the online version originally had “Anderson” which was the cause for some early comments
12 Desert hero ultimately stopping return of non-British rule? (4,3,2)
WALK OUT ON – last letter of herO inside a reversal of NOT UK(non-British), LAW(rule)
13 Complex chapter framing current statistician’s plan (3,5)
PIE CHART – anagram of CHAPTER containing I(current)
14 Examination of country’s past dropped (4)
ORAL – PASTORAL(of country) minus PAST
17 Blade for piercing tip of darning needle (4)
DIRK – first letter of Darning, then IRK(needle)
18 Fragmented particle the lecturer’s introduced (8)
SHIVERED – SHRED(particle) containing I’VE(the lecturer’s… or at least the setter’s)
21 Captain Ahab initially runs in from vessel, gaping (9)
CAVERNOUS – first letters of Captain, Ahab, then R(runs) inside VENOUS(from the veins or vessel)
22 Land beginning to erode in northern China (5)
NEPAL – first letter of Erode inside N(northern), PAL(china)
24 Old British soldier died, breaking cover again (7)
REDCOAT – D(died) inside RECOAT(cover again)
25 Sleep as criminal goes by (7)
ELAPSES – anagram of SLEEP,AS
26 Salacious verse an essential in education for the first time (5)
DIRTY – DITTY(verse) with one of the three R’S(essentials in education) replacing the first T(time)
27 Disparage director on board, an Irish manufacturer? (9)
DISTILLER – DIS(disparage), TILLER(director on board a boat)
1 E.g. man‘s attempt to keep record up (5)
BIPED – BID(attempt) containing EP(record) reversed
2 Maintain unfinished saw I’d installed for IT company (7,8)
SERVICE PROVIDER – SERVICE(maintain) then PROVERB(saw) minus the last letter containing I’D
3 Alcohol confined to labs, in theory (8)
ABSINTHE – hidden inside lABS IN THEory
4 Primate in two remote marshes primarily an invasive species? (8)
TAPEWORM – APE(primate) inside TWO, then the first letters of Remote Marshes
5 Rouen’s top priest there holding large riotous mass (6)
RABBLE – first letter of Rouen, then ABBE(top priest in France) containing L(large)
6 High-flying American working party in credit (6)
CONDOR –  ON(working), DO(party) inside CR(credit)
7 Another offer from tipsy soprano couple disheartened tenor (15)
COUNTERPROPOSAL – anagram of SOPRANO,COUPLE,T(eno)R. I usually see this hyphenated, however Collins has it as a single word
8 Third of total fish within boundary caught (9)
ENTANGLED – third letter of toTal, ANGLE(fish) inside END(boundary)
13 Treated members with sole, changing dud recipe (9)
15 Insinuates that man’s a saint, supporting wife (8)
WHISPERS – HIS(that man’s), PER(a), S(saint) underneath W(wife)
16 Mesmeric character close to tears leaving ground (8)
SVENGALI – last letter in tearS, then an anagram of LEAVING
19 Sullen and cross in past (6)
BROODY – ROOD(cross) inside BY(past)
20 Adversary bound to disregard English rank (6)
FOETID – FOE(adversary) then TIED(bound) minus E(english)
23 Concrete mounts securing small, light device (5)
LASER – REAL(concrete) reversed, containing S(small)

63 comments on “Times 28480 – anyone else feeling the cold?”

  1. Thanks, George. I also took ages to finish 15d and 18a and parsed them (eventually) as you did. Although it took a long time, I enjoyed this puzzle. 21a was my COD.

  2. 21:58
    I biffed 2d SERVICE PROVIDER, 4d TAPEWORM, 7d COUNTERPROPOSAL, parsed post-submission. 12ac WALK OUT ON was my LOI; I needed the W. I actually had WHISPERS at 15d fairly early on, but couldn’t see how it worked; it took me a long time–as usual–to see ‘a’=PER. For what it’s worth, 11ac should read ‘…Andersen’. I liked DIRTY.

    1. Oh, dear. I didn’t notice the misspelling (surely not just a typo!) on Andersen. That’s embarrassing, Times!

  3. Thanks for explaining SHIVERED. Couldn’t see the parsing at the time, but nothing else appeared to fit. Nice puzzle – I thought 12 might end in OF for a while (on the basis that anything non-British must be FOREIGN).

  4. Must have been on the wavelength, solved quickly and all parsed except the I’VE in shivered and the definition in DISTILLERY… is there a tacit “whiskey” in “Irish manufacturer”? Or am I missing something? Immediate guess for 15d was whimpers, but cavernous came equally quickly to give whispers, which fits the definition, unlike whimpers.
    Liked the working party in condor and the clue for cavernous, cut COD to NEPAL.

  5. 50m 18s but got CYCLE wrong. I became fixated on horse riding. I ended up with CACHE for want of anything better. D’oh!
    In a crossword “I’ve” for “the lecturer’s”? Mmm.
    Thanks, George, for the blog as a whole and for “walk out on”.
    COD: CONDOR. “working party” was very nice. It reminded me a little of one of my favourite Dean Mayer clues: “Joined Labour Party”. A: chain gang.

    1. “The lecturer” here must be the (virtual) “speaker”—i.e, the setter; “the setter has” (“the setter’s”) is thus equivalent to “I have,” “I’ve.”

      I don’t think this is the first time I’ve seen “lecturer” used to indicate the first person pronoun, but I wouldn’t swear to that.

  6. I had 34 minutes on the clock when I finished but the last 5 of those were spent looking for a better alternative to SHIVERED at 18ac in which the wordplay made sense. I still have no idea why the setter would refer to himself as ‘the lecturer’ in a clue unless he actually is one and forgot that solvers wouldn’t know that. Apart from this lapse I enjoyed the puzzle free of all obscurity.

      1. But alternatively in the above, you wouldn’t say ‘The lecturer suggests “the lecturer” is the one “speaking”. . .’, would you?

  7. I was distracted and lazy, and each clue was entirely reasonable once I’d fathomed it, so I wouldn’t have been surprised to learn that others found it easier than I had. But no… Fortunately, I hadn’t bunged in USHERED before finally seeing WHISPERS. Nicely tricky without, as Jackkt remarks, any unusual vocabulary.

  8. 49 minutes. A long time at the end trying to work out what ‘lecturer’s’ was doing at 18a. Guy’s “virtual speaker” explanation is probably what was intended, but I still can’t say I’m entirely convinced. Bunged in DISTILLER without seeing that ‘Irish’ was short for Irish whiskey as discussed above. Enjoyed working out the parsing for WALK OUT ON, ENTANGLED and WHISPERS.

  9. Like others, things went smoothly until I got to WHISPERS and SHIVERED. I could see SHIVERED immediately but it didn’t really seem to fit the clue well enough so I wasted a lot of time looking for some other word. And with WHISPERS I’d forgotten for ages the “a” being “per” thing. Got all green in the end though. No time since I went out for dinner in the middle.

  10. 43 minutes with 15d and LOI 18a taking an age. I finished the puzzle deflated and I still don’t care for the use of LECTURER to mean SETTER. The puzzle was fine up until that point with COD CONDOR. Thank you George and setter.

  11. An idle word is now their glory,
    By the stammering schoolboy said,
    Reading some Entangled story:
    The kings of the old time are dead;

    30 mins pre-brekker. Last two in were Whispers and the dodgy Shivered.
    Thanks setter and G.

  12. Our setters will never relent
    It is clearly their malign intent
    From and ad, long ago
    For a brand tobacco
    I’m having a CONDOR moment

  13. 13:35. I failed to parse SHIVERED so that was a biff. WHISPERS and DIRTY were my other last ones in. COD to CYCLE for the thought of trying to get away from a hurricane on a bike. Thanks George and setter.

  14. DNF – didn’t know DIRK, so just put ‘dart’. Didn’t understand how DIRTY worked either, so thanks for the explanation.

    COD Walk out on

  15. It was the definition I couldn’t see in SHIVERED, but I suppose ‘shiver me timbers’ means something like that. I entered it anyway with a shrug, as I could see the cryptic – a very unusual experience, as it’s always the other way around for me, parsing after the answer appears in my brain for no known reason!

    A fine workout. COD to the high flying American for me. Thanks setter and George.

  16. 11:49, with quite a lot of time trying to justify the wordplay for what seemed the most likely answers: SHIVERED, DIRTY, WHISPERS. ‘Lecturer’ to indicate the setter is dodgy if you ask me but my main problem was putting in WHISTLES, realising immediately that it was wrong but then not removing it properly, leaving me with LLAPSES and an impossible set of checkers for 15dn.

  17. Curate’s egg .. some lovely clues (CONDOR, CAVERNOUS, WALK OUT ON) and some distinctly dodgy ones (AndersEn, lecturer = I’ve).

    Still, a steady solve otherwise.

  18. A DIRK was carried by wet navy midshipmen.

    It is not well-known that the PIE CHART was invented and used to great effect by Florence Nightingale.

    SHIVERED and DIRTY were entered unparsed, the second doubtfully. Bifd SERVICE PROVIDER and COUNTERPROPOSAL.

    17’15”, thanks george and lecturer.

  19. Another DNF as I did not know DIRK so looked it up. Also cheated on FOETID as I just couldn’t see what was going on. All my grumbles are noted above.

    Didn’t really enjoy this one, though I did like SVENGALI.

    Thanks George and setter.

  20. Parsing of WHISPERS and SHIVERED defeated me, too, but couldn’t see anything else more likely for either space. Like others, not wild about the ‘I’ve’ clueing. Really liked FOETID, BESPATTER and WALK OUT ON. Pleased to finish this in 35 mins (and pleased in fact to finish at all).

  21. All done although I couldn’t parse DIRTY when solving. Took a while but very enjoyable. Thanks to blogger and setter.

  22. Another who was uncomfortable with I’ve = the lecturer, although it can more or less be justified. For a crossword that was so straightforward in its parsing this seemed a bit weak, as did dis = disparage in 27ac. I was surprised that Myrtilus didn’t say that this was the single letter setter, as at least half the clues required the solver to add or subtract one. But otherwise 45 minutes enjoyably spent. My digital copy (from The Times app) has always had Andersen not Anderson. Perhaps I just get up too late.

    1. Dis is both hell to us, and the separate hell of under-30s speak for ‘disrespect’. If only we listened to more hip-hop, rap, and drill we’d be down with that.

  23. 37:20. LOI SHIVERED where I would have been happier with “I’ve” if I’d had more confidence in the definition; shivered and fragmented didn’t seem the same to me. did not parse CAVERNOUS until afterwards. I liked CYCLE, and CONDOR for the working party

  24. Expletives cascaded from my lips when I discovered that my keyboard hadn’t noticed one of the Ss I typed into 15d, leaving me with 3 pink squares in WHIPERSS. *&$%^”£! also leaving me with RLAPSES and CAVERNOUP. Drat and double drat! 23:30 but. Thanks setter and George. That’ll teach me to skimp on proof reading!

  25. 33:44 a decent time for me, did allow myself to look up the definition for SHIVERED although what else was I going to biff? Nice puzzle, lots of small smiles. FOETID maybe a favourite as I was totally misdirected until I had all the checkers.

    I can see “lecturer’s” if I squint – as others have mentioned, I don’t think it’s intended as “lecturer = setter”, it’s intended as “lecturer = person speaking”.

    I thought it was naughty (for the Times) to include TR in the anagram for COUNTERPROPOSAL – am I being over-sticklerish?

    Thanks S&G.

    1. I understand your concern over the TR in the COUNTERPROSAL but I don’t think it’s justified as the clue contains all the letters of the anagrist – thirteen of them consecutive (SOPRANO COUPLE), and a clear instruction how to obtain the two remaining – T{eno}R [disheartened].

      This isn’t another example of the creeping influx of partially indirect anagrams that I have been drawing attention to recently – something I expect in The Guardian but not in The Times.

  26. 35:33. Most of the difficulties in the NE. ENTANGLED and ORAL LOIs, with SHIVERED unparsed until coming here. Lots of good stuff to chew on.

  27. 37 mins. I biffed PIE CHART because I completely missed the anagram, not something I usually do. SHIVERED had to be but both the cryptic and the literal were decidedly cryptic. Took a while to get WALK OUT ON as I assumed non British meant no B or BR, lovely clue when I got it.

  28. 14:44, and had to think quite a bit along the way, but that is, in a very real sense, why we do cryptic puzzles.

  29. Shivered was my only general knowledge failure today but I it seems to fit this second meaning just as well as the first, and with an entirely different derivation apparently. I didn’t much like “lecturer” but otherwise I have no complaints at all. I particularly liked “members with sole”. Thanks for the blog.

  30. 26:51 with 1 error – typed ANSINTHE as if I’d been drinking some. WHISPERS/SHIVERED my last ones in, with no idea why they worked.

  31. Just under 26’ for my first finish of the week – no idea why I’ve struggled with the earlier puzzles, but it’s been the same with The Guardian so, I suppose, just ‘one of those weeks’. I spent an inordinate amount of time on my LOI ENTANGLED, and, like others here, had a MER with our setter styling himself as a lecturer: definitely not one I’ve seen before and, while accepting Guy du Sable’s idea that the lecturer is one who is ‘speaking’, I’m afraid it’s a stretch for me to accept without a mild grunt. Enjoyable stuff though, and I particularly liked WALK OUT ON.

  32. 47:58. After a couple of DNF’s I was really pleased to get this all correct, as it also felt like a tricky one. I liked 12ac for the clever use of NOT UK LAW reversed (how on earth do setters notice these things??). Overall, I thought it was a fine crossword, although admittedly that could be because I finished it. Thanks s & b.

  33. Got bogged down on this and parked it for a while, then forgot for 6 or 7 hours. Upon returning I managed to make my way through to the end, deeply unsure about some of the solutions, and finished at 50m…

    ….only to find another simple typo in the grid – something I vowed yesterday not to let happen again. Oh well, this time i *really* mean it – thanks G and setter

  34. 28:43

    Another toughie. The 15/18 intersection was almost my undoing. CYCLE also took a long time to sort out thought it shouldn’t have really. Dithered about the IVE in SHIVERED but in the end I think it’s fair enough. Good cluing throughout.

    Thanks to Geoge and the setter

  35. 28.02

    Nothing to add. Lots of good stuff but if so many good solvers are scratching their heads on a clue it’s probably not hit the mark. I put SHIVERED with absolutely no idea whether it would be right but then again that’s not that unusual for me

    Thanks all

  36. Solved this while under the weather. Glacial slowness, even by my standards, but got there in the end. Needed the blog to understand the parsing of Shivered (dnk the fragmented connection) and Dirty, but OK apart from those two. I thought Walk Out On was the star of the show today. Invariant

  37. Finished this in two sessions interrupted by Christmas food shopping in M&S. What a nightmare, the shopping I mean not the crossword!
    I returned bruised but intact and polished off the crossword in 44.45, a whisker inside target. My pleasure at finishing what I thought was a tricky crossword was somewhat diminished when I discovered that I had a spelling malfunction by putting in DURK for 17ac. I am properly urked, sorry irked at this as I am once again back to my old habit of completing a crossword with one wrong letter

  38. Finished in 1hr but with “Dart” instead of “Dirk”, for which no excuse.
    I didn’t see what was going on with “Oral”, “Whispers” and “Dirty” but got them anyway. I don’t think I’ve seen S for saint before, only ST – is that a continental abbreviation?
    Being a cyclist myself, I took far too long to see “Cycle” (I needed all the crossers) being fixated on horse riding.
    Nice puzzle, my error and shortcuts notwithstanding.

  39. I found this a slow but satisfying solve with the exception of shivered for all the reasons given. I thought 26 ac was fantastic. Is this the first time that “for the first time” has been used? First time I have seen it but I loved it.

  40. DNF. Defeated by SHIVERED, WHISPERS and CAVERNOUS, BROODY. Pleased to get and appreciate the CONFOR and CYCLE clues.
    Thanks G and Setter

  41. This was hard work. Thanks for explaining the various things I’d biffed and was relieved to see were correct.

  42. I was surprised to finish after a very slow start, and certain that my LOI SHIVERED was going to be wrong.

  43. I feel that solvers’ dissatisfaction with ‘lecturer’s’ for ‘I’ve’ has less ro do with the objective quality or fairness of the clue, and more to do with the overuse of ‘setter’s’.

  44. Out with old friends yesterday so in no fit state to attempt the puzzle. Marginally human today so a late entry.
    24.13 lots of challenges with my LOI also shivered. I worked it out but still not completely convinced by the cluing.
    Now for today’s effort.

  45. Felt at the starting gate that I was never going to finish this, but persevered, and – Lo and Behold! – practically finished it within the hour, albeit with an erroneous CHIVERED. Used a lot of biffing, have to admit, but proud that I worked out my CODs: CONDOR and WALK OUT ON. Oh, and needed help with PERKS in 9a, for no good reason. Good workout, thanks “lecturer” and George.

  46. Got about 2/3 done then looked up BESPATTER which provided a second run. Ground to a halt with 4 gaps (PERKS UP, ORAL, BIPED,BROODY) and 3 biffs. I’m more used to calling them idgee-bidgees from IGIBIDGI (I got it but I don’t get it.)

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