Times 28485 – follow the instructions to assemble.

A puzzle with good wordplay, I thought, some of it seemed a little cumbersome but in every case led you to the answer. I particularly liked “passing examination” for post mortem, and “one’s O” once I’d stopped trying to include that into the anagrist. I had a MER at the GEE part of 11a but I can’t see another explanation. 24 minutes and a few more to get fully parsed.

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

1 Staggered out of Belfast bar drunk around midnight with journalist (13)
FLABBERGASTED – (BELFAST BAR)* with G (mid-niGht) inserted and ED added. The etymology of the word is vague, AGHAST perhaps forming a part, but it dates back to 1772.
9 Men on bunk, one turning round (5)
ROTOR – ROT = bunk, rubbish; OR = men, ordinary ranks.
10 See mischievous kids cut adolescent’s cloth (9)
VELVETEEN – V (vide, see) ELVE(S) = mischievous kids, cut, TEEN = adolescent.
11 Brother in film industry visited by a brother who supports the family? (4,6)
WAGE EARNER -WARNER (as in Warner Brothers movies) with A and GEE! (an exclamation, as brother! could be) inserted.
12 Unscrupulous dealer of dope meeting two Roman couples? (4)
SPIV – SP (dope, info) IV (four, two by two in Roman).
14 Note manned satellite oddly used for launch again (7)
REISSUE – RE (note as in do re mi) ISS (international space station) U E (odd letters of used).
16 One winding up thread’s beginning with cylinder (7)
TROLLER – T(hread), ROLLER = cylinder.
17 Threatens, perhaps, with ECT, or sending to shrink (7)
HECTORS – hidden as above.
19 Plant, such a fine one, ruined (7)
20 After passing examination at college, back for quiz? (4)
PUMP -all reversed; PM (post mortem, “passing” examination) UP (at college).
21 Rated by female, with assistance secured (10)
HANDBAGGED – HAND (assistance) BAGGED (secured). “Rated” here in the sense of berated, I think.
24 Revelation from you when probing English batsman (3-6)
EYE-OPENER – E(nglish) OPENER as in cricket, insert YE = you.
25 Appreciate stylish invitation from dinner host? (3,2)
DIG IN – DIG = appreciate, IN = stylish; a host having served food may say “dig in” meaning start eating.
26 Craftsman after camping equipment cornering small boy scout (6-7)
TALENT-SPOTTER – TENTS with Al a small boy inserted, POTTER a craftsman.
1 Pagan using axe without resistance initially slays more with it (4-10)
FIRE-WORSHIPPER – FIRE (axe, dismiss) WO (without) R(esistance) S(lays) HIPPER = more “with it”.
2 Against sudden speeding up of a new children’s game (4-1)
ANTI-G – A, N(ew), TIG a children’s game;  Anti-G meaning against force of acceleration.
3 Singing with US composer’s hard work! (10)
BARBERSHOP – Samuel BARBER’S, H(ard) OP = work.
4 Faraway state, one toured by US patriot (7)
REVERIE – Paul REVERE with I inserted.
5 Complaint from porter maybe intended to be picked up (7)
AILMENT – sounds like ALE (porter maybe) MEANT (intended).
6 Bank on relations turning up (4)
TIER – all reversed, RE (on) IT (sexual relations).
7 Peddles old, mainly forged, legal documents (4,5)
DEED POLLS – (PEDDLES OL)*, OL being mainly old.
8 One’s O so unloved, a Romeo in awful despair, ultimately! (9,5)
UNIVERSAL DONOR – (SO UNLOVED A R IN)* then add R the end of despair. Blood Group O being able to donate to all.
13 Critical of hint accompanying repair (5-3-2)
TOUCH-AND-GO – TOUCH (hint, as in add a touch of..) AND (accompanying) GO (repair, as in repair to another room).
15 Serving minister lying (9)
INCUMBENT -triple definition; 1. in office, 2. holder of an ecclesiastical benefice 3. lying down, same as recumbent.
18 Water flowing from pipe down bottom of drain stopping soon (7)
SHANNON – SH! (pipe down!) ANON (soon) with N (end of drain) inserted. River in Ireland.
19 Hats passed round by artists (7)
FEDORAS – FED (passed) O (round) RAS (artists).
22 To perform, raised leg on the table? (5)
GIGOT – reversed, TO GIG = to perform; a leg of e.g. lamb could be a gigot, served as a dish on the table.
23 Stone ring seen north of China (4)
OPAL – O (ring) PAL (China).


69 comments on “Times 28485 – follow the instructions to assemble.”

  1. DNF
    I didn’t know HANDBAG in the relevant sense, and took ‘female’ to be F, but FANDBAGGED was a non-starter. So I put in SANDBAGGED. I also didn’t know TIG, so wondered about ANTI-G; the more so because I couldn’t for the longest time account for A GEE. And I didn’t know ISS, or that INcumbent could mean REcumbent.
    It’s rather anachronistic to call Paul Revere a US patriot, although I suppose he may have done patriotic stuff after the United States was formed.

  2. A real toughie, but I am celebrating finishing now with my nightcap. HANDBAGGED was nearly my LOI. I’d seen TIG before for “tag,” but took a while to remember that. And ISS for the space station (no longer MIR)—this hasn’t been used much! The definition for TOUCH-AND-GO seemed a bit of a stretch. HANDBAG is not found as a verb in Collins or Dictionary.com, and the definition I found said it means persuading by a woman, not “rating.” FED as “passed” also gave me pause. I didn’t quite finish parsing PUMP, which I filled in late and slightly impatiently. NHO DEED POLLS. LOI, I think, was GIGOT.

    1. Handbag as a verb is in SOED along with this historical note which may be of interest.

      verb trans. [coined by the Brit. Conservative MP Julian Critchley with reference to Margaret Thatcher’s ministerial style in cabinet meetings] Of a woman: verbally attack (a person) ruthlessly and forcefully. L20.

      Independent: She’s on top form—I saw her last week and got handbagged for 15 minutes.

      1. That sense certainly makes more sense than “persuading.” Like getting hit with a handbag, of course.

      2. And Macmillan has:
        “if a woman handbags someone, she argues with them forcefully and gets them to do what she wants
        I met Mrs Thatcher at the ambassador’s residence and she handbagged me.
        It’s always Maggie!
        (Magic! I copied this on my laptop and then pasted it in, from the ether, on my desktop.)

  3. DNF Beaten by three:

    HANDBAGGED I didn’t know ‘rated’ could work the same as ‘berated’
    UNIVERSAL DONOR ‘One’s O’ as the cryptic is very clever but the rest of the clue had to work a bit too hard to be of any use to me.
    GIGOT could possibly have been parsed but not a word that comes naturally if you don’t know it. I didn’t, so it wasn’t.

    TALENT SPOTTER is definitely also elsewhere today.

    Re 6D How is IT related to (sexual) relations? I can see ‘it’ as ‘sex appeal’ but no more, and yet it (!) seems to appear frequently in this crossword as more than that.

    1. SOED: it – 8 Sexual intercourse. Cf. do it (a) s.v. do verb. Now colloq. E17.

      Cole Porter wrote a humorous song full of rather daring innuendo for its time called Let’s Do It. The last line of the refrain enabled him to get away with it.

      1. Thanks for doing the leg work. Makes sense. I know the song – “even educated fleas do it!” But I never seem able to make the connection in crossword clues…strongly worded note to self for the future!

  4. Like MangoMan I was also beaten by HANDBAGGED although I knew both the word and its meaning very well. My solving time was just coming up to an hour when I decided that enough was enough and resorted to aids.

    Elsewhere I didn’t understand PM in 20ac (very devious!) or SP for dope, which I have since found in a dictionary (latest information) but not its origin. It may help to stick in my brain if someone can please explain what it’s short for.

    I was off to a very good start with FLABBERGASTED coming immediately to mind but it was a while before I was able to take advantage on build on it (never having heard of ANTI-G, for example). I soon turned my attentions to the RH side and made better progress there.

      1. It is. “What’s the SP?” is a colloquial way of asking for the latest information regarding any given situation.

    1. SP has come up here a couple of times; doesn’t it have to do with the odds in a horse race?
      from Wikipedia sv Starting Price: In horse racing, the starting price (SP) is the odds prevailing on a particular horse in the on-course fixed-odds betting market at the time a race begins.

      1. Yes, I’m familiar with SP /Starting Price which must have come up hundreds of times over the years, but it seems a bit of a leap from that to ‘dope’. It’s especially confusing as ‘dope’ opened up the possibility of slang associated with drug use (much or most of it unknown to me) although I now understand that was not the case here today.

        1. I had the advantage of not really knowing what SP stands for, just a vague sense that it was to do with horse-racing odds, so ‘dope’ (info) seemed OK

  5. All green but I was crossing my fingers with several I was not totally sure about. No problem with HANDBAGGED since Thatcher was described as doing that to the EU (or something like that). I am impressed with anyone who got FLABBERGASTED immediately. I saw how the clue worked but the long anagram was hard with no crossers (it’s 1A so the first clue I looked at). Was a little uncertain about INCUMBENT since I knew recumbent but was unsure that this word had the same meaning.

    1. FLABBERGASTED immediately, here – (Belfast bar, G)* ending ED, must mean ‘staggered’; it just leapt out. Also a word I like misusing: “My flabber was totally gasted!”

  6. Tricky to finish, but no real problems. 2LOI HANDBAGS vaguely rang a bell re Thatcher when I saw it fit, though for me HANDBAGS is 2 male sportsmen fighting ineffectually. LOI UNIVERSAL DONOR when I finally noticed the enumeration and stopped looking for a 15-letter word. Still took a few minutes thought for the penny to drop and to realise what the O was. Perhaps COD.
    I did like the “after passing, examination”.

  7. A 69 minute DNF. After all the hard work at the end in getting HANDBAGGED and GIGOT, I didn’t check carefully enough before submitting and missed a typo in INCUMBENT. Still, didn’t deserve a pass, as a few went in unparsed or not really understood.

  8. 55m 13s
    I thought that was a splendid puzzle. My LOI was HANDBAGGED but I nearly spoiled it by putting sandbagged; then the image of Mrs Thatcher handbagging poor M Miterrand at EEC/EU meetings came to mind.
    Thanks you, Pip, for WAGE EARNER (Never thought of Jack Warner), INCUMBENT and PUMP. I missed the meaning of “passing examination”. Very good!
    Many great clues today: HANDBAGGED, UNIVERSAL DONOR, TOUCH AND GO and GIGOT all get my COD gong.
    Regarding RE ISS UE, while following the progress of the Vendée Globe yacht race a couple of years ago, I came across “Point Nemo” on an online race graphic. I discovered that this dot in the Pacific Ocean represents the Oceanic Pole of Inaccessibility: the point on the earth’s surface furthest from any land. Apparently, the closest humans can sometimes be astronauts on the ISS passing overhead!
    Thanks again, Pip!

  9. Shed no Tier! Oh, shed no Tier!
    The flower will bloom another year.

    Well this one done me up like a kipper. I loved the two brothers in Wage Earner and the PM (after passing exam) – but after 35 mins I just could not see the Reverie/Velveteen, nor the Handbagged/Gigot.
    Should have got Revere, but not sure I would ever have got Gigot.
    Thanks setter and Pip.

    (A clue I did not have to guess)
    It’s a big satellite
    And I hope that we might
    See more of them rather than less

  11. I forgot to ask if anyone can confirm or otherwise that the cluing of G as ‘midnight’ in FLABBERGASTED is something new, or at least unusual in The Times? Of course we’ve had ‘middle of night’ before but I am under the impression that we don’t normally have one syllable of a word indicating wordplay affecting another syllable. Since I recently started doing The Guardian cryptic I seem to see it almost every day there, and yet it still often catches me out. This suggests that it’s not something I have become used to in all my years of solving and blogging Times puzzles

    1. I put the « g » in with a shrug thinking ; I’ve not seen it clued that way before.

    2. I was going to say yes, midnight clues G often, as it makes my antennae twitch, but… not as recently as I would have guessed. Most recent one I found was 11 June 2016 #26436 – 7 down – then I stopped looking.

      1. Many thanks for researching this. I think we can take it that Times setters tend to avoid this sort of thing whereas at The Guardian they revel in it.

    3. I’m not going to be a lot of help because I really can’t be bothered to hunt through Ximenes’s book, where he raises this question. My memory of it all is a bit vague: I may have seen a discussion elsewhere, and Gateshead comes into it, but so far as I remember the conclusion from someone was that in some cases it’s OK, in some cases not. It seems that setters are generally as incapable of understanding the arguments as I am, and err on the cautious side and don’t use it, which was why I was surprised to see it in The Times.

    4. I thought I remembered several discussions of that – midday for A, midnight for G, interogation for ATI, and one or two I can’t remember for “end” composites giving the letter before “end”. My recollection was we all thought it Guardian-like, and then a split over whether we liked the scheme and thought it clever or didn’t like it and saw the barbarians coming toward the citadel walls whenever it popped up.

      1. One thing that catches me out in the Guardian is when the split between wordplay and literal is in the middle of a word. So the first few letters of the word are the definition and then the rest is the first part of the wordplay. I can’t think of an example now, but if you do the Guardian regularly you will have seen it. I have never seen that in The Times.

  12. 70 minutes with LOI GIGOT. It’s a good job I’d nothing better to do. Or perhaps I did have. I biffed BARBERSHOP and PUMP, not thinking of PM for post mortem or the American composer. I did eventually semi-parse WAGE EARNER, seeing WARNER, but GEE has long since left my vocabulary. I wondered if it related to the Brothers Gibb but then Barry is still living. A hard puzzle. Thank you Pip and setter.

    1. I parsed 11A straight away as a reference to Warner Bros and the Bee Gees. Surely the convention of not referring to living individuals is observed, given that Barry Gibb is the only surviving brother?

      1. From memory, I think it’s long established that names of groups are not covered by the living person rule.

  13. Just over the hour due to interruptions when I didn’t stop the clock. Another deep sigh over the loose definitions and convoluted surfaces.

    1. I know. And I needed a bookmark to remind myself where I’d got to in some of the surfaces.

  14. 35 minutes, but not entirely understood. I didn’t see how ‘midnight’ in 1a gave the G in FLABBERGASTED, and like jackkt above I wonder if we’ve had that device here before. Didn’t know that rated can mean berated, so HANDBAGGED went in with a shrug, helped by just about parsing the unknown GIGOT. Also didn’t know the ‘Revere’ reference in REVERIE or the post mortem=PM part of PUMP. A tough one for me, but enjoyable nonetheless. Thanks to setter and blogger.

    FOI Tier
    LOI Handbagged
    COD Shannon

  15. Well, I struggled to finish here, well over the hour and HANDBAGGED eventually looked up. The hidden also threw me for a long time so REISSUE (NHO ISS) and INCUMBENT took an age.

    I’m another one who often says « my flabber has never been so gasted », oddly enough.

    Similar problems as others mentioned above. Not fun in my mind.

    Thanks pip and setter.

    1. I think your ‘flabber’ line came from Frankie Howerd many years ago, possibly written for him by Muir & Norden.

      1. Not sure where I heard it first, but Frankie Howerd sounds very possible. I’m the wrong age and wrong country to know about him, but remember seeing Up Pompeii on TV as a child, and maybe one or two others.

  16. Tough, but fair and fun. Just over 40 minutes albeit with several unexplained – thanks Piquet for explaining them all, especially the PM in PUMP. A puzzle that improves with time.

    LOI was the Thatcher reference, which immediately brought to mind the famous Spitting Image sketch where her cabinet are about to dine.
    Mrs T: “I’ll have the steak.”
    Waiter: “What about the vegetables?”
    Mrs T: “They’ll have the same.”

    Thanks wily setter.

  17. 28′, but once again impatient at the last and failed on VELVETEEN, despite having a 22-year-old cat named Velvet.

    UNIVERSAL DONOR also very late, despite being group O – incidentally I think it’s only O negative which is the universal donor.

    Thanks Pip and setter.

  18. I vaguely recalled discussions about whether Margaret Thatcher’s statue should include a handbag and also speculation about dueling handbags when she met the late Queen for the weekly audience. Very tricky one this but with some QC raisins in it (OPAL, ROTOR). 28.21

  19. Failed to parse 20a PUMP, but now it has been explained, brilliant.
    WRT 26a I begin to worry when something I did half an hour ago I clearly recall as having happened the day before yesterday!

  20. 38:20. I was worried I was making heavy weather of this, but it was apparently objectively a toughie. Took forever to get BARBERSHOP and didn’t understand the UNIVERSAL DONOR until coming here. Lots of clues hovering on the edge of being too clever for me but none the worse for that.

  21. This started by looking really difficult, then some answers came steadily, but by the end I was becoming slow again and I never got HANDBAGGED, so 70 minutes or so DNF. As I’ve already said in a reply to Jack, I was surprised to see midnight = G. I never knew what a UNIVERSAL DONOR was, so found that one difficult, and there were several things I just didn’t know — INCUMBENT = recumbent, ANTI-G, elves = mischievous kids.

  22. A rather pedestrian 46 mins here, finishing with the rather unknown GIGOT, esp as I’m a veggie. It sounds more like an old carriage, or perhaps a rakish person? Anyway, got there in the end. Very happy with the UNIVERSAL DONOR once I’d worked out why there were too many O’s in the anagram.

  23. TIER and DEED POLLS were my starters, and I worked my way hither and thither around the grid. FLABBERGASTED put in an appearance after the BARBERSHOP quartet. WAGE EARNER went in unparsed. GIGOT was a new one on me, but eventually went in from wordplay and assisted with LOI, HANDBAGGED. Liked SHANNON. A tricky puzzle I thought. 39:43. Thanks setter and Pip.

  24. Defeated by HANDBAGGED and GIGOT although might have got both on a better day, it must be the rain. Had not heard of Paul Revere or ANTI-G but both guessable from the wordplay. Slightly frowny faces for “fed”=”passed” and “incumbent”=”lying” I think. Thanks for the blog.

  25. DNF. A lot of clever clues that I was pleased to get, but I wasn’t close to most of the handful that defeated me. Always good to be put back in my place by a crossword once in a while. Thanks piquet for the explanations, and thanks setter for a good challenge.

  26. Over an hour today, with 1 error (SANDBAGGED). I thought there were lots of excellent tricks including “after passing examination”, brother = gee, and “one’s O”. Thanks b & s.

  27. I liked it – particularly the clever definitions which often needed careful L&S treatment before I could attack the definition itself. thanks setter, pip

  28. Can someone explain PAL for China? I understand Ring =O and north of China but can’t see where PAL for China comes from. Thanks

  29. 20.54

    Seems a good time but in my defence there were a good few where I had no idea what was going on. ANTI-G and UNIVERSAL DONOR were two such and I’ll draw a veil over my mombled thought processes.

    HANDBAGGED LOI after appearing like magic from the checkers.

    Plenty to like. Thanks Pip and Setter

  30. Worked hard to try and finish this after my grandchildren had departed after the Christmas break, but ultimately defeated by HANDBAGGED and UNIVERSAL DONOR. I always struggle with the spelling of FUCHSIA, but the solving of 13dn put the C in the right place for me. In spite of the DNF, enjoyed it.

  31. LOI “Tier”, which took me a while to understand.
    Some clever clues – particularly liked “Shannon”.

  32. The plural of Deed Poll is Deeds Poll, at least for lawyers, but no doubt the other way is in common use

  33. My covidious brain came up with all sorts of feverish creations for 21a — FANDRANKED, CARDMARKED, MANDRAIDED — but was never going to get HANDBAGGED. I suspected it might be GIGOT but had never heard of it, so that was no help. The rest I finished in between naps.

    VELVETEEN always reminds me of the young London girl in P.G.Wodehouse’s ‘Lord Emsworth and the Girlfriend’:

    ‘Her cheeks shone from recent soaping, and she was dressed in a velveteen frock which was obviously the pick of her wardrobe. Her hair, in defiance of the prevailing mode, she wore drawn tightly back in a short pigtail.’

    Such a charming story!

  34. DNF, defeated by HANDBAGGED, where I was determined that “assistance” was clueing AID and had several places to put it as NHO GIGOT so didn’t have that either. REVERIE/VELVETEEN also missing. COD UNIVERSAL DONOR.

  35. Just finished- was busy earlier. Guessed REVERIE as had NHO the patriot. BARBERSHOP LOI once I had seen the Warner bros bit to convince me WAGE EARNER was correct.
    Thanks setter and blogger.

  36. 41 mins of struggle but I enjoyed it. LOI was universal etc which I finally realised was a reference to blood groups and stopped me putting in diner.
    Lots of good cluing with fire worshiper being at the top.
    Thx setter and blogger.

  37. Struggle is the word that perfectly sums it up! Again a DNF from me, having got dispirited by 1a ( for no good reason, except I didn’t follow the cryptic as I should have done: had all the anagram fodder too!). Lot of biffing, like 11a , where I had the ‘Warner’ part, but failed to understand the GEE inclusion, and so on. Liked PDMs on EYE OPENER , FIRE WORSHIPPER and SHANNON especially.

  38. Yes a struggle though got 1a instantly so started out in good spirits. I might have to revert to just allowing 10 min per day on crossword and just missing a few crosswords if necessary.
    HANDBAGGED indeed. If two men were having a verbal altercation, they wouldn’t be described as toolkitting each other.

  39. Late entry from down-under.
    My wife and I also put SANDBAGGED, thinking George Sand as female!
    Perfectly good alternative in or humble opinion.
    Can someone please confirm HANDBAGGED as correct? We don’t have the pink square option here!

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