Times 28509 – earthly delights, or a form of torture?

I thought this was hard. But brilliant, once I’d eventually unravelled some of the more arcane clues, around 45 minutes and two coffees later. It took me an age to see 5d, 16d and 17d, the last of those being IMO brilliant once the penny dropped. I’m not 100% happy with the definition at 14a and the wordplay at 17a, maybe I haven’t quite seen the full story. How’s your Molière?

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

1 Restrain light blow (4)
CUFF – double definition.
3 Probes without warning place threats on board (4,6)
SPOT CHECKS – SPOT = place, CHECKS = threats on chess board.
10 Jump onto seat after ordering drink here (3,4)
TEA SHOP – (SEAT)*, HOP = jump.
11 Run a fiddle, taking a little off small cases of meat perhaps (7)
12 Painter in boys’ home tangled with urchins (10,5)
HIERONYMUS BOSCH – (BOYS HOME URCHINS)*.  I did know he was a Flemish painter who did The Garden of Earthly Delights among others. I couldn’t have told you when (died 1516).
13 I catch parent outside nurseries (6)
PINETA – I NET (I catch) inside PA (parent). Pineta are plantations of baby pine trees, plural of pinetum.
14 Criminal related to manager? (8)
OFFENDER – OF (related to) FENDER (manager). Def. 6 in Collins says  in American English,”a person or thing which wards something off”. A stretch, for me.
17 Showing pale irises we had planted round garden walk (8)
WALLEYED – another which took a while. I’d have hyphenated it, but Collins doesn’t. WE’D with ALLEY inside; is an alley a garden walk?
18 Weapon gives gunners massive support (6)
RAPIER – RA (Royal Artillery) PIER (support).
21 Consider very important what squirrel may do (3,5,5,2)
LAY GREAT STORE BY – double definition, one an idiom, one literal.
23 Where His Nibs used to take a dip? (7)
INKWELL – cryptic definition.
24 Admit ambition is an embarrassing mistake (3,4)
OWN GOAL – OWN = admit, GOAL = ambition.
25 Girl maintaining missive from school gives fake news (10)
26 Raise embankment in sound (4)
LEVY – sounds like levee. Raise as in raise / impose a tax.
1 Hastily seize the sauce (5,2)
CATCH UP – sounds like KETCHUP, which can be spelt CATCHUP or CATSUP.
2 Fair rental, I conceded, is different, not identical (9)
FRATERNAL – (FA R RENTAL)*, the I removed from FAIR. Fraternal twins are non-identical, developed from different ova.
4 Fruit pulp always first class (6)
PAPAYA – PAP (pulp) AY (always) A (first class).
5 Hypocrite begins meal, unpacked from cases (8)
TARTUFFE – Took me a while to see what was going on here, once I knew the answer; STARTS BUFFET being “beings meal”, then remove the “cases” of each word, (S)TART(S) (B)UFFE(T). Tartuffe being the main character in Molière’s play, about a hypocrite.
6 Once was joining a revolution, now am more sophisticated (4,4,6)
HAVE BEEN AROUND – (I) HAVE BEEN =  (I) once was, A ROUND = a revolution.
7 Pyramid builder short of energy food (5)
CHOPS – CHEOPS loses E for energy. The pharaoh Cheops is alleged to have commissioned the great pyramid at Giza. I’d vaguely heard of him.
8 Slide woman under narrow opening (7)
SLITHER – SLIT (narrow opening) HER (woman).
9 In the boozer these, drunk, chatter idly (5,3,6)
SHOOT THE BREEZE – (THE BOOZER THESE)*. Odd phrase that seems to originate in around 1919 in the SW USA.
15 Long access road at house? Stop being proud? (5,4)
DRIVE HOME – Well, a drive can be a long access road to a posh house or hotel, and home = house. DRIVE HOME in the sense of hammer in a peg or nail until it no longer sticks up and isn’t “proud”.
16 Vicious gaoler is in women’s wing (8)
SERAGLIO – (GAOLER IS)*. I had to toy with the anagram fodder to convince myself this was the answer, eventually. I thought a seraglio was a palace in the Ottoman Empire, but it can also refer to the large harem forming part of said palace.
17 Pleasure: I’m holding an ace and four kings (7)
WILLIAM – Even with all the checkers, this took me an age to see. WILL = pleasure, as in “free time at will” for example, then I’M with A for ace inside. Four English Kings; William I, (the Conqueror) William II (W. Rufus), William III (of Orange) and William IV. There was one in Scotland as well. Clever, headache-creating clue.
19 Changing sides in allegiance — to them? (7)
ROYALTY – LOYALTY (allegiance) changes its L to R.
20 Old car is something between Mercedes and Cortina (6)
ESCORT – well, I don’t remember seeing a hidden clue with “and” in between the parts before. I had a Ford Escort RS2000 for a short time, it went far too fast and sideways round corners.
22 Agreed to welcome fine couples (5)
YOKES – YES (agreed) with OK (fine) inside.


97 comments on “Times 28509 – earthly delights, or a form of torture?”

  1. 22:22
    This felt harder than my time suggests; and indeed there were a couple of clues that I couldn’t parse: 14ac OFFENDER (I don’t see ‘fender’ meaning ‘manager’ even under the Collins definition), 15d DRIVE HOME (LOI). I didn’t know the appropriate definition for WALLEYED, so ‘pale irises’ puzzled me. Biffed 12ac HIERONYMUS BOSCH, trusting that the anagrist was there. I also biffed 5d TARTUFFE, only parsing post-submission. A clever clue, and my COD; I also liked 17d WILLIAM & 2d FRATERNAL.

    1. I think “fender” here is a bit of a pun on “fend,” as in “fend for yourself,” rather than a term that would commonly be used that way.

      1. You’re probably right as far as the intention of the setter is concerned but it’s too much of a stretch for me.

  2. Pretty close, but WIDE-EYED gave me an impossible LOI ( FRATERNAL). NHO WALLEYED, and not convinced that an Alley is a walk in the garden.

    I SET great store by, rather than LAY. A backtrack needed there, but still my COD. And I confess to looking up PIGETA for the NHO PINETA, with catch=get. And likewise TARTUPPE, where I went for meal = {s}uppe{r}

    When is Ketchup ever spelt CATCHUP? Is there a missing homophone indicator here?

    1. ODE sv ‘catchup’: ‘old-fashioned term for KETCHUP.’ (surprised me, too)
      ODE sv ‘alley’: ‘a path lined with trees, bushes, or stones’, which is close; but I’m sure I’ve seen it used as a garden path.

      1. I notice it is def. 4 in British English, but def. 1 in US English. What with shooting the breeze etc., wondering if we have an American setter. Catsup/catchup is mainly US as well..

  3. I was thinking this was quite easy for a short while—and a good portion of the puzzle—having gotten the 15- and 14-letters ones (or thinking I did…) pretty early. (HIERONYMUS BOSCH was my second one in.) But eventually I ran into several that took more deliberation.
    The definition for DRIVE HOME was very elusive, until I thought of a nail standing up too tall.
    After fearing that “His Nibs” was some Brit pop-culture reference beyond my ken, I finally saw INKWELL materialize among the E and terminal L crossers (ah, my old nemesis, the CD!).
    That gave me YOKES, which forced the realization that the squirrelly idiom is LAY (not SET) GREAT STORE BY. Which gave me WILLIAM and LOI WALLEYED.

  4. 48 minutes. My old ESCORT was much more like its ‘Cortina’ cousin than a ‘Mercedes’; it went slowly and had trouble negotiating corners because its front end was gone (so I was told). I had trouble negotiating this puzzle too, with WALLEYED and TARTUFFE unknown and I’d only come across the spelling of the ‘sauce’ at 1d as one word. Same MER at FENDER for ‘manager?’, even with the question mark. ALLEY as a ‘garden walk’ is in at least one of the usual references.

    I thought HAVE BEEN AROUND let the side down a bit for what was otherwise a v. good puzzle. Favourites were WILLIAM (helped by having seen a similar def elsewhere) and the DRIVE HOME def.

    1. The “sauce” is always spelled as only one word. Broken into two words, one relatively rare spelling of the sauce is our answer. The “sauce” bit is not really a definition but a cryptic hint.

  5. ‘Interesting’ rather than ‘brilliant’ would be my verdict on this one as it relied on rather too many obscurities for my taste. I was going to agree with vinyl1 about green paint at 6dn but I just looked up around in SOED and found: ‘have been around’ colloq. ‘have gained worldly experience’, which I think translates quite easily to ‘now has more experience’.

    I know the play Tartuffe well and might have brought the name to mind if the wordplay or definition had been just a tad more helpful. That’s surely a clue that few will understand fully without getting the answer and then reverse engineering.

    I found the left side of the grid easier than the right, my only concern there being whether the painter’s first name began Heir- or Hier-. Others that gave me trouble on the right were OFFENDER as discussed by others, LEVY (that sort of raise!) and ROYALTY where I had no idea what the clue was telling me to do or what the definition would be – and even on solving ‘loyalty’ is only changing one of its sides.

    50 minutes with a little help from aids at the end to get the puzzle over and done with as I was fed up with it by then.

    1. Sorry, I don’t understand what you & vinyl mean by “green paint”. Please can you enlighten me?

          1. I think it may be the most recent addition to the Glossary, added only a few weeks ago although we’ve been using the term for a while. I can’t recall if it was coined by somebody here or imported as an example from elsewhere. V may know.

            1. I’m pretty sure I introduced it here, having learned the term from Jon Delfin (Jon88 that was) on the club forum a few months ago.

        1. One of these days, this will make it into dictionaries as “cruciverbalist’s term for a phrase not found in a dictionary,” and then what will we do?

    2. I take your point about ‘changing sides’ when only one ‘side’ is changed, but my impression from similar clues in the Times and elsewhere is that it is pretty standard practice. If somebody changes sides, they may go from left to right, or from team X to team Y. So the expression does accurately describe what is happening in the clue.

  6. Quite liked it. No real problems till the last 2, TARTUFFE then OFFENDER. Also first thought of Tartuppe but that immediately suggested the right answer.
    Yet a different squirrel here, one who put great store in, making 3 of the downs harder. Fortunately YOKES and ROYALTY quickly suggested themselves and things were repaired.
    Have heard of wall-eyed without knowing what it meant. Didn’t know catchup the sauce, but deduced it.
    COD drive home, for its definition.

  7. Bagnio yesterday,seraglio today. Did Tartuffe at A level, and guessed alley was a garden walk.

    1. Bagnio etc…yes, that’s what I thought, too, Tom. What will we get tomorrow, I wonder?! 😉

  8. 43 minutes for me, with quite a bit spent at the end on TARTUFFE (which I confess I’ve never heard of) and OFFENDER, not entirely satisfactory since, like everyone else, FENDER doesn’t seem right for manager. Never heard of WALLEYED either, and was also unconvinced that an ALLEY is a garden path.

    1. Moliere’s play has stood the test of time and seems to be revived every few years.

  9. 34m 55s so one where I was on the right wavelength.
    I agree with you, Pip, about OFFENDER. That was my LOI as, by then, it couldn’t have been anything else.
    Regarding WALLEYED, I, too am unconvinced, as was Paul, that an ALLEY is a garden path. An ALLÉE, though definitely is.
    CODs and pats on the back to the setter for TARTUFFE, RAVIOLI and, particularly, WILLIAM.
    It’s little known that 12ac invented the dishwasher……

  10. 23:07. I was with Pip in finding this tough – indeed only one person has found it harder than me thus far according to the SNITCH.
    I started off well, seeing TARTUFFE early and surprising myself at knowing how to spell HIERONYMUS. However I gradually slowed until eventually crawling over the line with WILLIAM, WALLEYED and FRATERNAL. Like others I was sceptical about alley, but Chambers has as its fourth definition “A walk in a garden or shrubbery”.

  11. 41 minutes. LOI WALL-EYED, POI WILLIAM. I hadn’t seen Sally, pride of our alley, as strolling round the garden. Fortunately, I saw HIERONYMUS quickly. I’ve never said SHOOT THE BREEZE in my life and am not going to start now. I have heard of a levee in Don McLean, the New Orleans floods and an obscure Dylan song so I’ll let that go. The only food I could think of to fit the crossers was CHOPS but have never heard of CHEOPS. I thought OFFENDER was a bit weak. I had heard of SERAGLIO but for some strange reason thought it was a tomb. It solved the anagram. COD to TARTUFFE because I knew him. This was tough, but I finished without aids so it was a good thing.

    1. Mozart wrote of an abduction from the seraglio which is how I knew it. (Although I’ve never heard it.)

    2. ‘Levee’ pronounced ‘levy’ features prominently in the song Waiting for the Robert E Lee as recorded by countless American artists since it was composed in 1912. Al Jolson recorded it many times although he wasn’t the first.

      Watch them shuffling along,
      See them shuffling along!
      Go take your best gal, real pal
      Go down to the levee, I said to the levee,
      And join that shuffling throng
      Hear that music and song!
      It’s simply great, mate, waiting on the levee
      Waiting for the Robert E. Lee!

    3. “Drove my chevvy to the levee but the levee was dry”, Don McLean, was my intro.
      On edit – Sorry for the 2nd ref to Don.

  12. I go all clear headed when I am poorly, and thus it was today, with me finishing in 11’30”. I knew ketchup is sometimes catsup, so not much of a further stretch. TARTUFFE LOI , not parsed until afterwards.

    The phrase from the past ‘at Her Majesty’s pleasure’ came to mind, meaning being locked up by will of the monarch.

    Thanks Pip and setter.

  13. 50 mins, pretty tough with several unknowns that have already been mentioned. Finished with last two, DRIVE HOME and LEVY.

    SERAGLIO guessed correctly from the jumble of letters. I’ll admit that I bunged in TARTUFFE (initially with and I at the end) after the white truffle from Italy, not knowing the Molière play. Lucky again. Had to wait for a couple of crossers before I remembered how to spell HIERONYMUS.

    Thanks pip and setter.

  14. 14:29

    Like Tom I “did” Tartuffe for French A level so I put that in based on def and what checkers I had but took a while to confirm with the wordplay. Some of the stretchy definitions slowed me down (manager, hastily seize etc.) but my main hold-up was the squirrely idiom where I’m never quite sure if the first word is LAY, SET or PUT or if the last word is BY, IN or ON.

    I’ve gazed up at the Great Pyramid of Cheops and have one of Hieronymus Bosch’s drills, so no problems there.

  15. I forgot to ask above, why is PIER ‘massive support’, or have I misunderstood something?

      1. Thanks. Yes, I’m familiar with the concept of piers as wharves and landing stages and seaside promenades and entertainment venues, but I still wouldn’t think of the word ‘massive’ as necessary to any definition. However, working on the assumption that setters don’t usually pick words at random and insert them into clues, additional research has found this in Chambers (print edition): pier : a mass of stonework, ironwork, or woodwork projecting into the sea or other water, as a breakwater, landing stage, or promenade, a jetty or a wharf. So there’s some connection with the clue, but does ‘mass’ in a dictionary definition really justify ‘massive support’ as the crossword definition?

  16. 27:48

    Some seat-of-the-pants biffing turned a grinding halt into a reasonable time, when I bunged in OFFENDER (FENDER = manager?) then TARTUFFE (heard of but only a vague idea of its provenance, but it fit!) which gave RAVIOLI and SLITHER.

    Not convinced by LAY GREAT STORE BY but it did at least help eliminate one of the jumble of letters for SERAGLIO – again, wouldn’t have known what this was.

    Which left WALLEYED. I’d already figured it was probably WE’D around something, and for a while couldn’t see beyond WILDEYED which obvs didn’t parse. Can’t say I’ve heard of WALLEYED with or without the hyphen so submitting felt a little anti-climactical…

    1. I was surprised to see so many NHOs for ‘walleyed’. As I said, I didn’t know its iris-related meaning, but I assumed that everyone knew its opposite-of-crosseyed meaning. Like Sartre, for instance.

  17. DNF
    Quite a puuzle to come back to after a week away in London – my only souvenir being a shocking head cold.

    My fate was sealed with CLIP instead of CUFF and SET rather than LAY GREAT STORE BY. Some excellent clues and some that, to me, seemed slightly overstretched – HAVE BEEN AROUND in particular.

    Thanks to Pip and the setter

    1. Another CLIP. Made 2d FRATERNAL impossible
      Thought of LAY, SET and PUT GREAT STORE BY, so was looking (66% T to Y) for TOKES

      1. I have no complaints but, of your three options, I would say LAY is the least common.

  18. 06:45, a time which surprised me when I stopped the clock, but testifies to everything just dropping into place. This despite never knowingly encountering the PINETA before, and just following the wordplay while checking it definitely couldn’t be PINATA, which I have heard of). Likewise trusting that there had to be an acceptable case for FENDER, and my highbrow knowledge encompassed Mozart and Moliere, so no problem there. However, to prove that I’m not really very highbrow, SLITHER made me think of mostly long-forgotten 80s comedian Roy Jay. Spook!

    1. I was surprised you didn’t remember PINETA because I only know it from these things. However the last time it appeared (in 2021) you seem to have missed the puzzle, and the time before that was 2015 which is ancient history.

      1. I was surprised you didn’t remember…

        Normally that sentence continues “because you said exactly the same thing in 2021…and 2018…and 2016” so I’m quite pleased that turned out not to be the case (this time) 😀

  19. Got off to a good start with FRATERNAL and TEA SHOP. Didn’t know anything about the play, but TARTUFFE rang a bell and with T_R_U___ already in place (s)TART(S) (l)UNC(h) didn’t fit, so it was a short hop to the (b)UFFE(t). Mr BOSCH put in an early appearance after SLITHER. I had a Mk2 Escort 1600 Sport which blew a hole in a piston because of a porous block allowing steam from the cooling system into a cylinder after 13000 miles. I spent the night on the verge of the A19 near Sunderland under a bridge, and somehow got the engine restarted to limp home next morning after replacing the associated spark plug which had had its end blown off. There was a lot of smoke! Later that day I took the block to an engine rebuilder who put a sleeve in the cylinder, re-bored the block and fitted oversize pistons. Anyway WALLEYED preceded LOI, SERAGLIO, in this morning’s battle with cruciverbalism. 25:33. Thanks setter and Pip.

  20. 32 minutes, but that was after putting in WALLEYED without even knowing that it was a word, and never understanding TARTUFFE, which after explanation is a very good clue I think. I’d have pronounced levée very differently from levy, but unlike some I’m very relaxed about homophones. But not so relaxed about answers like 19dn, which if it obeyed the instructions would be ‘royarty’.

  21. A steady start, but I had to scan for easily solved clues, with RAVIOLI and TARTUFFE being FOI’s. The painter was easy once I had the S from CHOPS and the H from SLITHER. The one that gave me most trouble was 6d. I don’t agree that it’s a ‘green paint’ clue as the exact phrase is in Chambers, but I question ‘more’. Chambers gives ‘to be experienced or sophisticated’. No comparative there.
    I also didn’t like the definition for WILLIAM. That’s one of four kings, not four kings.

    I did like the clues to the painter and to SERAGLIO.
    38 minutes

  22. Nail be not proud – I thought this was a meh clue until I came here and had it properly explained. I also thought OFFENDER was meh and so, it appears, did everyone else. Yes, I got held up by putting and setting great store by 21a before sorting it out. En Francais an allee (avec accent) is a garden walk or some sort of green and verdant ride so “alley” seemed fine by way of translation. Had to recite the kings and queens briefly to be sure of WILLIAM (Willy Willy Harry Ste). 21.26

  23. 11:17. Another enjoyably chewy one.
    Like others I thought ‘manager’ for FENDER was dodgy: ‘fend for oneself’ sort of means ‘manage’ but ‘fend’ on its own doesn’t.
    I don’t think I’ve ever seen the phrase LAY GREAT STORE BY (as opposed to SET).
    I don’t think CATCH UP is either a homophone or a DD. CATCH UP qualifies as wordplay, since the sauce is just one word so it can’t be a definition.
    ‘The Hypocrite’ was the original subtitle of TARTUFFE, changed to ‘The Imposter’ after the original draft was banned and Molière had to rewrite it. He was the master of mercilessly satirising the social mores of his time while doing just enough to make it look like he wasn’t. I spent a term writing a paper on the subject at university.

    1. Moliere was a great actor/manager and playwright. He collapsed and died during a performance of “The Imaginary Invalid” in which he took the lead role.

  24. 30:28. I don’t understand 1D. No trouble with the alternative spelling of ketchup, but “hastily seize” for the definition of CATCH UP seems somewhat off the mark, though I have doubtless missed something.

    1. Sorry, I can only think of an example in the past tense. What about:
      “As he made his escape from the burning house, he rushed into the nursery and caught up the baby in his arms”.

      1. That was one of the definitions that didn’t seem to fit but I think BletchleyReject has called it correctly.

        1. Yes on reflection if you’re ‘seizing’ something in this sense you’re catching up on it.
          I see the first definition of ‘catch up’ in Collins is ‘to seize and take up (something) quickly)!

  25. 27 mins but absolutely no chance of getting TARTUFFE, NHO, and the cryptic was never going to help, so I had to use a little bit of help from my friends. Also OFFENDER wasn’t going to come without the F from TARTUFFE, because a FENDER isn’t a manager in my book.
    So very easy until the last 4. Not a happy bunny.

  26. Three clues left and went wrong with TARTUPPE instead of TARTUFFE. The anagram for the women’s wing was also an unknown. I got CHOPS without knowing the Pharaoh’s name.
    Some good clues here, but also some obscurities, so didn’t really enjoy it that much.

  27. Like many above, I found this tough going, and I needed two attempts to complete it. OFFENDER and CATCH UP went in with a shrug, and others have discussed whether or not they work. I figured out the unknown TARTUFFE from wordplay, had to hope that if you add an E to CHOPS somewhere you’d get a pharaoh, and only found out what a SERAGLIO is once I worked out the anagram. WALLEYED wasn’t familiar to me either. Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Own goal
    LOI Chops
    COD Inkwell

  28. 9m 10s
    Tough puzzle with plenty of unknowns, including Tartuffe and the two most obscure meanings of CATCHUP. Good stuff. Definition for 15d was the highlight for me.

  29. ‘ vicious’ as an anagram indicator in 16d. Really? It doesn’t work in any satisfactory way for me. Even more dodgy than FENDER and CATCH UP.

  30. Rather loose effort this, I thought, apperently by an American setter.. shooting breezes, fendering, walleyed, catchup =sauce, all Americanisms.

  31. 35 minutes, but with help from aids for TARTUFFE,WALL EYED and PINETA. I guessed at each of these but needed confirmation that they worked. Shared everyone else’s reservations about manager. Many thanks both.

  32. Delighted to finish this with all correct and parsed although my LOI 17ac WALLEYED went in with no confidence whatsoever. No time to report as it was done with three major interruptions but estimated at 45-50 minutes.
    INKWELL took me back to my early days in Primary School, where every day the inkwell was filled with Quink Inks finest to allow us to dip in our primitive nibbed pens and write out our times table. It seems like something from a Dickens novel nowadays!

    1. Doesn’t it age one? I too was immediately ‘ in ’ my old primary school classroom, and remember the boys (who else?) tearing off and balling up pieces of blotting paper, dipping them in the inkwell and, using rulers as slings, aiming them at the teacher’s back.

  33. 24:33. Stuck at the end for a while on the NHO TARTUFFE (which I eventually deduced and then looked up to check) and OFFENDER wondering how FENDER could mean MANAGER… and I still don’t get it. WILL for PLEASURE was another that had me scratching my head. Having SET at first for the start of 21A and an unparsed WIDEEYED for 17A didn’t help. COD to MISREPORTS for condoning the student claiming the school report was ‘fake news’. Thanks Pip and setter.

  34. Another DNF- didn’t know the Egyptian so it was a toss up between chops and crops- since crops end up as food! I chose unwisely. Hopefully I’ll be more successful next week!

  35. I started today with a slip
    I thought 1 across would be clip
    Set great store by was wrong
    WALLEYED took too long
    So I’m feeling a bit of a drip

  36. Ploughed through this in 37 mins but did not find it very exciting, perhaps because I was too cold. I share others’ reservations about 14ac., 21ac., 1dn., and 5dn. There is certainly a strong US vibe here.
    LOI – OFFENDER, which I had considered a possibility at the start but only regarded as certain after finding TARTUFFE.
    No COD for me today, I fear.

    Thanks to piquet and other contributors.

  37. Pleased to get this completed a few minutes before leaving for a boozy Burns lunch with friends. Last one in was TARTUFFE – (I was looking for something with M in it) – nice cryptic, but surely only parsable post-biff, which came from the F from OFFENDER, (POI), which I concur is rather weak. Never heard of WALLEYED, and PINETA vaguely remembered from previous occasions, possibly as singular Pinetum? Otherwise, all pretty familiar.

  38. I was quite pleased with myself completing this one while simultaneously watching the first half of Forest vs Man. Utd.

    I couldn’t see how 14a worked, and still don’t think that it does really, but I couldn’t see what else the answer could be, so I biffed it. As for 17a, yes, ‘alley’ absolutely can mean a garden walkway – that’s the prime meaning of ‘allée’ in French, which is where we borrowed the word from.

  39. A gallimaufry for me.
    Dodgy: OFFENDER
    NHO: 9d, 17a, both biffed
    DRIVE HOME most misleading def.
    Note: Dylan’s The Levee’s Gonna Break.
    Thanks to setter and blogger!

  40. 53 minutes, but technically a DNF because of a typo. I had a very slow start, INKWELL being my FOI, and later a lot of wrong starts (such as LAY GREAT STOCK IN) which prevented me from seeing a number of crossing clues. Once I did correct that, I understood why 19 dn would be ROYALTY, but unfortunately when I typed in I don’t remember which one of those two Ys the cursor must have been pointing at the end of PAPAYA, so I submitted PAPAYY instead. Oh well, at least I actually did know the correct answer. A very quirky puzzle, but with some very good clues (the WILLIAMs, for example. Why do you have to count them, as someone did above? The last one, not so long ago, was WILLIAM IV and I am assuming you haven’t counted anyone twice or missed anyone out). Not quite as quirky as yesterday’s.

  41. 33 mins with the LOI walleyed which was a complete guess.Added to the difficulty by putting set rather than lay at 21ac but eventually worked it out.
    Good puzzle and relieved to finish it correctly.

  42. DNF. I had 6 clues uncompleted. In each case, except Seraglio, I saw the answer but had no idea why it would be correct – Papaya, Tartuffe, Offender (ugh), Drive Home (ugh), Walleyed.
    Frustrating puzzle for me.

  43. As soon as CATCH UP reared it’s ugly head, I realised we were in for a ‘murcan-style’ setter; OFFENDER and SHOOT THE BREEZE verified that ( as most UK solvers – myself included) were not familiar with the term fender for manager, or the homonym for LEVEE. My biggest holdup however was holding on to the idea that T-R-U—- had to start with Torque something, and on seeing the answer was not much enlightened! Wall-eyed only known from horses, where the eyes look very strange with almost-white irises. I don’t have a veritable library of dictionaries, like some of the solvers here, so just rely on my ‘general’ knowledge and education to get me “over the line” – but they were insufficient this time. Did like YOKES and the artist, and OWN GOAL.

  44. Delayed by misapprehension of wall-eyed as meaning irises of different colours, but what else could the answer be? Bunged in with a shrug.
    After investigation I found the correct but not catchy term, possibly a challenge for setters….
    Scrolling down also revealed that, while not as rare as green eyes, hazel eyes are only found in about 5% of the world population. So, Hi to all the other hazel bloggers out there.

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