Times 28489 – Lots to talk about

This puzzle features a couple of those otiose indefinite articles so unbeloved of our resident setter, as well as an example of an ‘a’ being gainfully employed. We have another example of a punctuation clue (a type which seems to be all the rage at the moment), as well as another visit to Ilium, much frequented by the over-wintering compiler. At 13 across, we also have a clue I can’t fully get my head round. But it seems ingenious and I loves me a bit of ingenuity.

But far be it from me to suggest this is in any way an inferior offering. As always, I enjoyed the challenge – the irritating bits, the quirky bits and all. It stands as a metaphor of the marital state.


1 Next to sex we French like wine (6)
VINOUS – VI (six in Latin, AKA ‘sex’) NOUS (‘we’ in French); a nice one to kick off with
5 Robbers finally caught and punished (8)
STRAPPED – [robber]S TRAPPED (caught)
9 Senior officers nearly all perished in rebellion (10)
LEADERSHIP – anagram* of AL[l] PERISHED; ‘in rebellion’ is the anagram indicator, while the deletion of the final letter in the target word is indicated by ‘nearly’. This seems a bit odd to me, but maybe I am now finding oddness everywhere…
10 Politician in city of Paris making right move (4)
TORY – TROY with the letter R moving towards Galatia and Pontus
11 Bloody duck — its neck’s all pink! (8)
FLAMINGO – FLAMING (bloody, as in Till Death Us Do Part Alf Garnett speak: ‘flaming [immigrants]’) O (score of nought, or duck, in cricket)
12 What unites neoMarxists? (6)
HYPHEN – our punctuation clue du jour
13 On way back deliver £1000 weapon (4)
DIRKokay, deep breath…GO! I think what we have here is a road (RD) being reversed (‘way back’), to which one brings 1 K (‘a thousand pounds’ in modern jargon). What I fail to see is how you put the one (I) in the [reversed] road, while the K stays outside it. On the other hand, of course, it could be rendered – correctly – thus: RID (deliver) reversed followed by K.
15 Cockney gets too hot and goes on binge (8)
OVEREATS – sounds pretty much like ‘overheats’ as spoken by a stage Cockney, and many a real one, I would hazard
18 Sailor straying? That’s peculiar (8)
ABERRANT – AB (able seaman) ERRANT (straying)
19 Heartless modern flirts (4)
TOYS – TO[da]YS; as in ‘today’s kids don’t know how lucky they are’
21 Medic on track nursing rebel fighter (6)
CONTRA – hidden in [Medi]C ON TRA[ck]
23 Better to expose indecent act? (8)
OUTSTRIP – OUT (expose) STRIP (indecent act – rather depends who’s doing it, I’d have thought)
25 Player at Lord’s knocking back the lager? (4)
SLIP – PILS reversed; slip is a cricketing fielding position next to gully
26 This will wound a greedy person’s heart (10)
PIGSTICKER – PIG (a greedy person – another errant ‘a’, no?) TICKER (heart)
27 In court historic charge causes apprehension (4,4)
COLD FEET – OLD (historic) FEE (charge) in CT (court)
28 Tax inherited property (6)
STRAIN – double definition (DD), the second genetic
2 Romantic declaration of a pusher? (5)
IDEAL – a drug dealer (pusher) might say I DEAL, but not to the police, presumably
3 Occasional builder holding second job at bookies (9)
ODDSMAKER – S (second) in ODD (occasional as in ‘I have the odd cigar’) MAKER (builder)
4 Analyst finding quiet place to skate (6)
5 Plato’s Academy perhaps providing a particular perspective (6,2,7)
SCHOOL OF THOUGHT – pretty much a DD (complete with dangling article)
6 Crooked husband peers at list of his convictions? (3,5)
RAP SHEET – H (husband) PEERS AT*
7 Host running one way and another (3,2)
PUT UP – the letters read the same from the top and the bottom; unaccountably I had ‘put on’ (NOT UP when reversed) for too long
8 Seriously premature to enter hideout? On the contrary (9)
EARNESTLY – not EARLY in NEST, but NEST in EARLY; I’m not a huge fan of this type of clue
14 Corrupt oil rig mob in a dilemma (9)
IMBROGLIO – OIL RIG MOB* (plus a dangler)
16 Hurry back to collect official vehicle (6,3)
ESTATE CAR – STATE (as in ‘state funeral’) in RACE reversed
17 Disturbing letters in papal bed: a malign influence? (3,5)
BAD APPLE – PAPAL BED* (with dangler)
20 Importance of figures executor initially concealed (6)
STATUS – STATU[e]S (STATUES with no initial letter of E[xecutor])
22 Drank too much in station, keeling over (5)
TOPED – reversal (keeling over) of DEPOT
24 Rebellious Brits get rid of National Insurance (5)
ICENI – ICE (get rid of) NI; the tribe based in modern-day Norfolk led by Boudica (AKA Boudicca and Boadicea)

58 comments on “Times 28489 – Lots to talk about”

  1. Didn’t notice the dangling As so much. I parsed DIRK as RID = deliver “on the way back” then the K. Really struggled on HYPHEN – almost gave up on the alphabet trawl before the penny finally dropped. As you say, nice puzzle. Liked SCHOOL OF THOUGHT and the simple CONTRA.

  2. I think 13 across is easier as ‘rid’ (deliver) back with ‘k’ (£1000). Agree with you about the superfluous ‘a’ in several clues. Enjoyable blog as always! Many thanks.

  3. 18:51
    For once I was ready for sex and punctuation, and VINOUS and HYPHEN went in immediately. On the other hand, it took me a long time to give up on caught=C, which helped make 5ac STRAPPED my LOI. I also misread 24d, thinking ‘get rid of Natl. Insurance’ meant deleting NI, and thought ‘figures’ were STATS, ignoring the U problem; didn’t notice that until after submitting. Isla has DIRK right. Liked 1ac for its lovely surface.

  4. 33 minutes. I saw VINOUS straight away, but most other answers needed some thought, especially my LOI PIGSTICKER (yuk). IMBROGLIO as a ‘dilemma’, rather than a “mess” was new but plausible. DIRK parsed in same way as isla3 et al.

    I thought there were a few dangling question marks too. The ‘indecent act?’ at 23a was OK to indicate that to STRIP may be, but isn’t always, an ‘indecent act’ but I couldn’t see the function of the question mark at 12a ‘neo-Marxists?’ (possibly just to mislead) or at 6d ‘list of his convictions?’.

    A query arising from grammatical ignorance: shouldn’t it be ‘bookie’s’ at 3d?

    A happy New Year to all.

    1. Interesting question. I think the use of the preposition ‘at’ (with its strong sense of location) leans towards job at bookie’s (or bookies’). One might compare job at accountant’s / accountants’. (Using the preposition ‘with’ would be a different matter.)

  5. I unfortunately put in embroglio without checking the anagram, causing trouble at the end. It was only when an alphabet trawl failed to provide a suitable weapon that I examined the crossers. That, and the hyphen, cost me a good ten minutes. The rest was pretty straightforward.

    Time: 34 minutes

  6. Would the rebellious Brits in 24d be better off getting rid of Northern Ireland instead of National Insurance?

  7. I forgot to note my time but I doubt it was over my half-hour target by very much.

    I lost time at 8dn trying to come up with an answer based on DEN being the hideout. I also lost time trying and failing to parse TOYS, thinking that only one letter needed removing from the heart of a word meaning ‘modern’.

  8. 41m 22s
    I found that pleasant. Thank you, ulaca, for TOYS, COLD FEET, STRAIN and STATUS.
    Like you I started with PUT ON instead of PUT UP.
    COD to HYPHEN as I often fail to see that type of clue.
    I don’t mind the reverse containment type of clue as in 8d.

  9. I was all correct in about 40 minutes. I didn’t see the RID version of DIRK so I too thought it was RD back with 1K in it, which gave a weapon. So I didn’t think about it too much and bunged it in for my LOI. I don’t think I noticed or had a problem with any of the quibbles.

    I think anyone who knows where gully is as a fielding position will know where the slips are! The other way around, maybe not.

  10. Cry ‘Havoc,’ and let Slip the dogs of war;
    That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
    With carrion men, groaning for burial.

    20 mins pre-brekker. I really liked it – such neat, clever surfaces. 1ac is a gem.
    A few ticks, no crosses, no MERs.
    Ta setter and U.

  11. 24 minutes with LOI and COD to HYPHEN, which I saw after only a couple of minutes as I remembered recent punctuation mark clues. The trouble now is that every piece of punctuation is going to hold me up on other types of clue. So can we now put a stop to this? Thank you U and setter.

  12. 18:21, but with 1 error. I found this a good challenge but everything started clicking eventually – however I had STRIPPED for 5a. I think my mistake is just about justifiable…?

  13. Saw NOUS quickly, but VI took longer to arrive. SHRINK dropped in nicely but the rest of the NW came along much later in the proceedings. I spent a while trying to add a letter into LOI, TOYS, before realising it needed two. HYPHEN just pipped STRAIN into the antepenultimate slot. Some tricky stuff there! 19:52. Thanks setter and U.

  14. 35 minutes. Didn’t understand the ‘sex’ part of VINOUS at all – sex=six is one I should try to remember. I didn’t help myself by putting in ‘bidsmaker’ for 3d, as I thought it was the odd letters from ‘builder’ containing s + make (which I somehow thought could mean job). It took me a while to realise that ODDSMAKER was much more likely. Like Vinyl1, I held myself up by putting ’embroglio’ instead of IMBROGLIO, but even once I corrected it I stared at the _I_K at 13a for a long time before getting DIRK. Having been defeated by punctuation clues before, I was pleased to get HYPHEN.

    FOI Tory
    LOI Vinous
    COD Rap sheet

  15. 14:52. About half of that spent on my last few. I couldn’t parse TOYS but eventually put it in and took ages to see HYPHEN and STRAIN. Thinking “figures” at 20D was STATS made me wonder why the answer was STATUS for a while… doh! Thanks setter and U.

  16. About 18′, but with a careless STRAIT instead of STRAIN, having been relieved at finally twigging HYPHEN. We had DIRK the other day, which helped. Didn’t parse TOYS.

    Thanks ulaca and setter.

  17. My SCHOOL OF THOUGHT, as you know,
    Birds have ABERRANT STATUS. Although,
    I appeal EARNESTLY,
    They don’t listen to me,
    But do wish they would FLAMING gO

  18. A fine crossword this, look at those surface readings! Much enjoyed.
    Failed to spot the genetic element of STRAIN but wrote it in anyway
    And another fine limerick from our resident bard, just above .. 🙂

  19. Well, a pretty poor start to the week and the year. I just could not see the last two, STRAIN and ICENI. I had STRESS but that didn’t help.

    I liked HYPHEN.

    Thanks u and a Happy New Year to all.

  20. 10:23, WOE. 20dn was obviously STATS (figures) concealing Executor, but ‘importance’ seemed to suggest STATUS. When in doubt always go with wordplay over definition, right? This is a good rule except when it isn’t.
    I liked this one, dangling As don’t bother me.

  21. 36 minutes, with several spent on the LOI, STRAIN: it looked to me like a triple definition and although I was eventually happy with tax = strain, I was slow to see the rest, and then when I put the last two words together couldn’t shake off the legal inheritance sense. Very nice crossword, nothing dreadfully taxing, and some lovely surfaces. Dangling articles don’t worry me. Somewhere I read, or was told, that you can perfectly acceptably just let ‘a, an, the’ vanish. A vague association with the late Michael Macdonald-Cooper?

  22. Finally saw the HYPHEN 12a this time.
    Had to use aids to parse 19a TOdaYS. TONYS didn’t have anything to do with modern, so added another blank. Only needed the 2 goes, so good.

  23. 27 mins with STRAIT instead of STRAIN like RobR. No problems with DIRK or HYPHEN but couldn’t see the VI for sex till I came here – will not get thrown the next time!

    Thanks ulaca and setter and happy new year

  24. Same problem as Keriothe above… I tried to justify STATES as importance, failed, but kept it in anyway, having parsed it as he did. Otherwise all correct, with the NHO ODDSMAKER going in directly after I found that ODDSMASTER didn’t fit! Pleased to get – (eventually), which enabled correction of PUT ON to PUT UP. I think 13A would have been better as ‘deliver grand weapon’. I have a problem with the specification of £1000 – to me that indicates IK, not K, which meant it was last one in, as I struggled to justify I in DR, followed by K. I can see that RID means ‘deliver’, but there was still the ‘I’ to account for. Maybe I’m being picky?

  25. 09:10, feeling a bit tougher than many Mondays, but this is a bank holiday, after all. The HYPHEN was cleverly misleading, but all the talk of punctuation last week, or whenever it was that the COLON turned up in a puzzle, meant it leapt straight to mind. My main delay was thinking that the “figures” in 20dn were STATS, which then needed the rest of the wordplay to give me a U, which I couldn’t see anywhere, just the E to make STATES, which didn’t fit the definition. As so often, I trusted the maxim that if you can’t parse it, you’re on the wrong track and should probably think again…

    Happyn New Year, one and all

  26. 29 mins. Most done within 15, but the NHO PIGSTICKER was a major hold up. Had to come here to understand STRAIN, another duh moment.

  27. A pleasant puzzle, which took me 28 minutes, without too much head-scratching. LOI was DIRK as it took a little while to identify the weapon. I had never come across an ODDSMAKER before, but I have led a sheltered life. 14dn was a clear anagram but I don’t think IMBROGLIO and dilemma are quite the same.
    FOI – OVEREATS. I had thought of VINOUS for 1ac on first reading but it took a while for the Latin and the Roman numeral to twig.
    COD – VINOUS, but also enjoyed RAP SHEET and ICENI.
    Thanks to setter and commentators.

  28. 12:41. Rather pleased – and a bit surprised- at my time. It seemed tougher while solving, but in the end took about the same time as today’s QC. ICENI fished from somewhere deep, but otherwise no particular quibbles, unknowns or pauses.

  29. 30:12 today, faster than normal for me. I really like the punctuation clues, and was slow to spot this one. I thought this was an excellent crossword, with good surfaces throughout, although I agree Northern Ireland in 24dn would have been good. Until coming here, I hadn’t fully understood VINOUS, TOYS and STATUS, so I appreciated the blog, and thank you also to setter. Belated HNY to all.

  30. 39:17, a few minutes of which was making sure DIRK was right. I wasn’t fully convinced by “deliver” = RID as you wouldn’t use them the same way in speech – “rid X of Y” vs “deliver X from Y” – but perhaps that’s not important.

    Enjoyable puzzle with some neat tricks I’ll try (and fail) to remember. More punctuation that took me an alphabet trawl to get… I don’t usually think much about surfaces but there are a lot of nice ones – with quite an emphasis on illegal or disreputable behaviour! Thanks ulaca & S.

    1. Doesn’t ‘Will no-one rid me of this turbulent priest?’ get close to the mark? Feels fine to me. An enjoyable and pretty straightforward solve today, with no time owing to an interruption from the telephone.

  31. 32.19

    A pleasant start to the year.
    I’m another who had PUT ON for some time making the Neo-Marxists very tricky. Dilemma seems a stretch for IMBROGLIO. Clues of the “On the contrary ” type are my least favourite but then I love Spoonerisms which some others can’t stand, so each to their own. I liked PIGSTICKER and SCHOOL OF THOUGHT.

    Thanks to Ulaca and the setter

  32. A bit ho-hum, and I failed to parse VINOUS.

    TIME 7:55

  33. DNF in the time I allowed myself- couldn’t see 23a and 5d, and bunged in STATES at 20d. On the other hand, I got HYPHEN. DIRK and ICENI entered without really knowing those definitions of ‘rid’.

  34. I saw Ulaca’s opening remarks late last night and decided not to tackle this until I’d had a good sleep. Happily finished in time to be only the 42nd commenter! (Considering the light traffic here on the holiday, I could still be the last.) And I liked it very much. Removing two letters from the “center” of a word gave me some slight pause, and my memory got a workout from a few of the answers (ICENI, say), but this was just what I needed to start a lovely day off work. Temperature in the mid-50s (Fahrenheit, bien sûr).

  35. A bit late in the day but 1ac reminded me of one of my favourite clues from a few years ago:
    “Roman sex position daughters came to see (7)” VISITED.
    Sorry, I thought I had made a note of the date and puzzle number but I hadn’t.
    It may not be Twelfth Night yet but Christmas is officially over: I’ve now finished off the panettone and the stollen.

  36. Seeing I am not alone with STATES, I don’t feel quite so bad (and am very tired, anyway). When I saw the pink square, I knew right away what I should have entered and why. 33 minutes with only the one error. Hard to rate this puzzle (very tired, as I said).

  37. 22’09” but with a mistake. Back after two weeks away from the laptop, I must be getting lax. Saw figures as STATS, so put in an ‘e’ for STATES. Don’t ask how I managed to square it. The eager mind will grasp at anything. Lesson learned. Otherwise does sex not need some qualifier like Latin for it to mean six? Thanks all

  38. 26 minutes, late in the day after golf competition on a nice day. Not problems, all parsed, good puzzle. I’m not a fan of “ice” for getting rid of people, especially without a us reference. VINOUS was neat.

  39. 16.20. Recognised vinous for 1 ac but to my shame didn’t get the reference to Latin. Almost messed up earnestly by inserting den for hideout . A lucky escape.

    LOI status. COD Iceni, though pig sticker was pretty good too.

    Thx setter and blogger. Happy New Year everyone, hope it’s better than the last.

  40. Maybe i misunderstood reading the blog for 1ac…
    but isnt VI=Sex, the slightly crude Vaginal Intercourse?

    1. Yep, you misunderstood the blog. Six in Latin is “sex” (e.g. as in sextet) and VI is of course Roman for 6.

      1. Fabulous, thanks for clarifying.
        It restores my faith in the more erudite nature of the clues.

  41. Solved on treeware without aids, for the first time in a month. Presumably our month-long delay in publication in Australia has enabled revival of little grey cells after midwinter and lunar new year revels.
    Thanks setter, and blogger. CoD earnestly.

  42. Enjoyed, but should have done better: NHO PIGSTICKER, was looking for an exotic duck in 11a (!), and left the DIRK indrawn. Didn’t spot the hidden at 21a, to my shame, and left 28a blank (didn’t think of that meaning of tax).
    But started of with a triumphant SCHOOL OF THOUGHT – great surface as were most of the others .

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