Times 28535 – heaven’s breath


I found this quite tricky, failing to get a solid hold anywhere, and having to rely on wordplay to guess some answers (5dn, 15ac, 4dn with the nasty ‘e’). My LOI was 3dn since it took me ages to see what was going on. With only Verlaine’s score to go by, maybe it’s not that hard and I’m just tired, but I suspect the SNITCH will creep up from an early 80.

Has a touch of the Don about it, no?

Definitions underlined.

1 I rebel after pussy is put in a box? (10)
CATEGORISE – EGO (I) + RISE (rebel) after CAT (pussy).
6 Fat female leading team of scientists? (4)
FLAB – F (female) + LAB (team of scientists).
9 Endless hell with weed in area of land (7)
HECTARE – HECk (hell) + TARE (an annual weed that features in a biblical parable).
10 Relationship established with talk and drink? (7)
RAPPORT – RAP (talk) + PORT (drink).
12 Place limited by damage? It’s open to debate (10)
DISPUTABLE – PUT (place) in (limited by) DISABLE (damage).
13 Gentleman back in prison (3)
SIR – reverse hidden (back in) in pRISon.
15 Son of gardener, one with a shrub (6)
ABELIA – ABEL (son of Adam, the original gardener) + I (one) + A.
16 Old folk can be canniest, surprisingly (8)
ANCIENTS – anagram of (surprisingly) CANNIEST.
18 People who cast nets, say, hang around on board ship (8)
SLINGERS – LINGER (hang around) inside SS (on board ship).
20 In short, hurry up to get the fellow something to eat (6)
QUICHE – QUICk (hurry) short + HE (the fellow).
23 A record height (3)
ALP – A + LP (record).
24 Bad feeling about sob stuff putting one off (10)
RESENTMENT – RE (about) + SENTiMENT (sob stuff) missing ‘i’ (putting one off).
26 One may have a right to gain estate, first and last (7)
ALIENEE – semi &lit, A + LIEN (right to gain) + EstatE (first and last).
27 Actually one gets several holy books before a particular one (2,5)
IN TRUTH – I (one) + NT (several holy books) + RUTH (a particular one).
28 Artificial lass, from what we hear (4)
MADE – sounds like “maid” (lass).
29 Extraordinary time with adults getting stirred up (10)
STIMULATED – anagram of (extraordinary) TIME with ADULTS.
1 Firm stocking my salmon (4)
COHO – CO (firm) containing (stocking) OH (my).
2 Touching performance in bit of board game? (7)
TACTILE – ACT (performance) in TILE (bit of board game?).
3 Fair one is holding device (9,4)
GRAPPLING IRON – faIR ONe is (i.e. containing ‘iron’).
4 Eggy mass — it’s flipped over in dish (6)
ROESTI – ROE (eggy mass) + reversal of (flipped over) IT’S.
5 Artist embraced by sailor in smooth dance (8)
SARABAND – RA (artist) in AB (sailor), all in SAND (smooth).
7 Briefly visits small room with son among relatives (5,2)
LOOKS IN – LOO (small room) + S (son) in (among) KIN (relatives).
8 Sweet vessel that’s capsized must be made stronger (10)
BUTTRESSED – DESSERT (sweet) + TUB (vessel) all reversed (capsized).
11 Unusually for time capsule, there’s no fine material of value (8,5)
PRECIOUS METAL – anagram of (unusually) fOR TIME CAPSULE, missing the ‘f’ (no fine).
14 Water has flooded everything in rural community? Don’t let it worry you! (5,5)
FALSE ALARM – SEA (water) in ALL (everything), all in FARM (rural community).
17 Fastest footballer George seizing chance (8)
BRISKEST – BEST (footballer George) containing RISK (chance).
19 One politician told porkies, it’s suggested (7)
IMPLIED – I (One) + MP (politician) + LIED (told porkies).
21 Lead pipe prisoner sits on (7)
CONDUCT – CON (prisoner) on DUCT (pipe).
22 Trendy business does poorly (6)
INFIRM – IN (trendy) + FIRM (business).
25 Country hotel baddie being kept outside (4)
CHAD – H (hotel) in CAD (baddie).

57 comments on “Times 28535 – heaven’s breath”

  1. 25:42, but a typo (BRISKETT). (Speaking of typos, William, you’ve got EGI at 1ac.)
    DNK ABELIA. I had no idea, or so I thought, who ‘footballer George’ was in 17d, but having put in EST, I was surprised to think of Best. Demi-biffed BUTTRESSED from BUT, didn’t notice the TRESSED part until after submitting. No idea how GRAPPLING IRON worked. I’ll make that my COD.
    Rösti has always been rosti here, hasn’t it? as Dürer has always been Durer.

    1. I think ‘rosti’ is accepted now through usage on menus etc and is supported in Collins as an alternative to ‘rösti’ whilst Chambers and the Oxfords don’t like it. The ‘e’ in ‘roesti’ is of course standard in German words if an umlaut is omitted and as such I wouldn’t expect to find it in English dictionaries although in this example Chambers online (unpaid) and SOED have it.

  2. Excellent puzzle, very tricky. Another who missed GRAPPLING IRON, but it had to be. Didn’t know the ALIENEE, I was thinking alien as foreigner rather that the word being a legal term, so was dubious. Was going to say NHO tare, but the biblical mention above reminds me it came up recently. Liked FALSE ALARM, BUTTRESSED for the good spot by the setter (or is it a chestnut?) and CATEGORISE.

  3. I saw William’s opening before I started, so I expected a harder fight!
    But I started cautiously, working in each corner just a three- or four-letter answer, then a crosser, and then a crosser to that. That went smoothly enough, so I decided to fill out the edges with the long ones remaining there (none of which I had yet). CATEGORISE was the last of the four that I got, and it brought a smile!
    Steady progress continued, though I did have to correct the hastily biffed HOOK to IRON.
    And a couple took a bit more time at the end. ABELIA was POI, strictly from wordplay, and LOI was ROESTI, likewise, and which I don’t think I’ve seen before in this spelling.
    Easy Friday, overall.

    1. HOOK was the first thing I thought of too, and had pencilled it in, but luckily thought of IRON, as I never did manage to parse it! This made much more sense of the crossers for RESENTMENT and ALIENEE – a K looked very unlikely for the latter.

  4. 30 minutes, but with several unparsed answers that I had intended to revisit this morning but then forgot and read the blog thus missing the opportunity to redeem myself. These were FALSE ALARM, GRAPPLING IRON and the word at 20ac, which was another matter altogether. There I had written in ASIGNEE, clearly a misspelling that I like to think I would have noticed had I reviewed my unparsed answers as intended and given myself another go at the correct answer.

    I was going to claim that I never heard of ALIENEE but a quick google reveals that it came up here in 2016 clued as One receiving property, having right to enter a vacated estate which I managed to solve without comment despite having problems with various other clues that day. Isn’t the whole of the clue the definition?

    I had a MER at LAB(oratory) as a ‘team of scientists’ and although I can see how it might mean that I was interested to find on checking that it’s not listed in any of the usual dictionaries.

    ABELIA was unknown but I followed the wordplay instructions. It has appeared once before in the TfTT era in a Sunday Times puzzle in 2010, and once in a Mephisto.

    I suppose ‘does’ in 22dn is intended as a link word but it was the source of another MER here.

    1. In 22dn, I also thought the definition and answer didn’t match part-of-speech-wise, until I accepted that the clue leans on a link word.

    2. I took LAB to be a metonym (or is it synecdoche? I always confound the two) for the people in the lab (“Our lab has been working on this problem”), and as such I wouldn’t expect it to be in a dictionary.

      1. It’s a good point and was actually my own explanation (not that I had mind either of the words you mention), but this surely can’t be the first time the device has been used yet I don’t recall seeing it before.

    3. Hi jackkt, Please could I ask, when you or other solvers refer to previous occurrences of words that appear in the crosswords, is there a database or website somewhere that one can refer to? I have often wondered. Thank you.

  5. 39 mins in a post skiing early morning stupor. Aside from forgetting the u->q edict, and my doubts about ROES being an eggy mess, not too hard. In any case, ROESTI are Austrian, and I’m in France.

      1. I think ROeSTI is unusual. Obv it is a Swiss dish, and I guess a lot of Swiss speak/write German, but I had a MER at the spelling as I have never seen it before. OK, I need a better dictionary. A bit grumpy here as I also feel that “eggy mass” isn’t very close to roe as roe includes the soft roe which is sperm/semen.
        OK, I’m just grumpy as defeated this time.

          1. I had it a few times when I was in Austria last week. Not skiing though, because I fell and knackered my knee on the first morning.

          2. It started out in Switzerland but has spread, which is something I’m not sure you can do with roesti itself!

        1. When I first came across the word several years ago it was spelled roesti but the oe spelling I’ve found is quite common when dealing with words with o-umlaut in them.

  6. 37 minutes. I had no idea about GRAPPLING IRON – thanks for the explanation- and had NHO ABELIA. I just recognised ALIENEE as a word but wouldn’t have been able to tell you what it meant. I did remember TARE for ‘weed’ from a recent appearance.

    Good Friday puzzle; difficult enough to be satisfying to solve but still enjoyable.

    Thanks to William and setter

  7. 9:44 Didn’t know roesti, alienee or abelia but thankfully the clueing was clear enough.

  8. ANCIENT, So INFIRM, cannot run
    IN TRUTH, not the BRISKEST old one
    MADE a mess of 3 Down
    When I twigged – massive frown
    STIMULATED, I still found this fun

  9. 12:38. ALIENEE and GRAPPLING IRON both went in with fingers crossed. I felt fairly sure about ALIENEE but couldn’t quite see the definition. The cryptic for GRAPPLING IRON, “Fair one is” feels slightly odd to me, and I was nowhere near seeing it.
    I finished with QUICHE which required an alphabet trawl, in which I got to Q and realised I’d forgotten the old rule – if you see a U try a Q in front of it.

  10. I made steady progress with this and completed in 29 minutes. 3dn and 26ac held me up till all the crossers were in, and I still could not parse GRAPPLING IRON, even though it was clearly right, so thanks for the enlightenment. Some very clever clueing here, and an enjoyable Friday breakfast.
    COD – QUICHE, but several proxime accessits (accesserunt?).
    Thanks to William and other contributors.

  11. 15:35. Tricky. I didn’t get particularly stuck anywhere although GRAPPLING IRON and ALIENEE took a bit of time at the end. I had put in ASIGNEE for the latter, so I had two answers that seemed right but which I couldn’t parse. The usual rule is ‘if you can’t parse it, it’s probably wrong’, so I applied that to 26ac and got there after a while, but the rule was no help with 3dn and in the end I just gave up and bunged it in. I can’t say I think much of the clue now that I understand it.
    It’s a personal taste thing but I dislike the use of OE in German words that take an umlaut. We just ignore accents in other cases and I think we should be consistent.

    1. Fair point re umlauts, but if you write Koln for the city it just looks wrong. In real life and crosswords.

      1. By the same token if you write ‘deja vu’ without any accents it looks wrong but it would go into the grid as DEJA VU.

        1. Depends on your background – I gather you used to live in France? No doubt fluent. Me, and all my compatriots: no. Deja vu is fine, it’s even in the “official” Australian Macquarie dictionary: deja vu has no accents. Not because they don’t include them – three entries down is déjeuner with the accent.

          1. Interesting! But I’m sure I wouldn’t have to look for very long to find another example of a French word as an answer where an accent is ignored.

    2. Isn’t a roentgen a unit of something which is named after the scientist Rontgen (with an umlaut)?
      I have seen roesti and rosti (umlauted) on menus.

    3. I prefer the “oe”to just”o” because the former spelling helps you better approximate the correct pronunciation of the word. The umlaut on A’s, O’s and U’s in German produces a different vowel sound.

      1. For the avoidance of doubt I would never write ‘rosti’, which is a spelling mistake AFAIC. My preferred spelling would be ‘rösti’ and if the umlaut wasn’t available I would default to ‘roesti’. The OE spellings are there to account for situations where the umlaut character isn’t available. But in crossword grids accents are necessarily always ignored (‘Señor’ becomes SENOR) so there’s no need to adjust to ROESTI and therefore I would prefer not to.
        This is entirely a personal preference – I freely admit that I can’t legitimately object to OE spellings!

  12. Pretty tough but managed to finish within the hour. Can comment today as no power outages today here in SA!

    No idea about Grappling Iron either, so thanks William.

  13. A good time today (30:23) but a silly typo with FALSS ALARM. LOIs ALIENEE (from the wordplay) and GRAPPLING IRON (from crossers and definition). COD QUICHE.

    You don’t just get tares in the Bible. They are a useful weed on an allotment. They protect the beds over winter then get dug in as a green manure in the spring

  14. Solved from behind the packing box mountain in about 35 minutes.Good puzzle. I’ve never seen rosti with an E in before but I have lived a sheltered life. I don’t think I’ve ever had any ABELIAs in the garden either but I’m making that COD. Thank you William and setter.

  15. I was right on the wavelength with this one, oddly, and everything went in v quickly. I would have finished in 15 mins, but for ALIENEE. Which I didn’t understand when I wrote it in with crossed fingers after an alphabet trawl, and I’m not much more enlightened now. Didn’t parse GRAPPLING IRON, but nothing else could possibly fit. I thought EGO for ‘I’ without anything to clue the derivation was a bit iffy, but saw CATEGORISE anyway. 23 mins.

  16. 40 minutes with no great problems, but never understood GRAPPLING IRON although it had to be. At first I had thought it was some sort of CD to do with amusement arcade – fair. Never thought about ROESTI when I entered it, but now I agree that to add the E is wrong probably. ‘does’ as a link-word strikes me as a bit doubtful. At 1dn I had coo round h, with h for hard = firm, although perhaps that is straying a bit near indirect anagram territory.

  17. I found this to be a game of two halves as most football managers say, with the right hand side going in a good deal more easily than the left. I was quite pleased with my time of 36.09 as our blogger suggested it was tough, although others dispute this suggestion. In the final analysis I ended up displeased, when I found that I had once more found a way to enter the OWL Club, by entering CEHO instead of COHO at 1dn. It’s particularly annoying as my ‘eh’ is a pathetic interpretation of ‘my’.

  18. I found this easier than expected. I was off to a good start, getting 1a immediately. The only ones that gave me a bit of trouble were ROESTI, QUICHE and FALSE ALARM, where I wasn’t sure of the M because I had doubts about MADE, meaning artificial.
    28 minutes.

  19. 16:10 with struggles in the expected places. I like a ROESTI but obviously don’t usually see it with that spelling; I started with GRAPPLING HOOK and changed it to IRON to fit with the crossing answers with no more idea why it was any more correct; and I’ve never knowingly encountered ABELIA (strong emphasis on the word “knowingly”, as usual).

  20. Just registered here, but long time (years) lurker, so saying hello.
    37 minutes on this one, I can only gasp in admiration at these people who solve in under 10 minutes!
    And imo Roesti is definitely correct not Rosti 🙂

    1. Oh! Interesting as I have exactly the reverse opinion on ROSTI. I guess it’s just what you have seen before, but I thought the setter was just being difficult using German/Austrian spelling whereas I knew a swiss emigree from England who definitely didn’t use the E.

      1. Hi Andy, o-umlaut is always oe for me, Roesti rhymes with thirsty, it just looks totally wrong (and actually for me horrible!!!) as Rosti which would be an o as in, I don’t know, costly.
        (a umlaut and u umlaut I feel are more ambiguous how they need to be spelled)
        I was in Zurich a couple of days ago by the way but didn’t eat any Roesti
        Anyway nice to be here in the group at last 🙂

  21. Another member of the OWL club here: I put ‘alignee’ instead of the unknown ALIENEE, thinking of align=right (as a verb). I also initially put ‘grappling hook’ rather than GRAPPLING IRON, and even when I corrected the second word (having figured out RESENTMENT) I didn’t understand the cluing at all – thanks for the explanation. And I took ages to see QUICHE, forgetting the ‘If there’s a U, try a Q’ advice.

    COD Precious metal

  22. I felt on the wavelength with this one, finishing in a fairly quick time. I personally would never type ROESTI even if I couldn’t access an umlaut – it looks much ‘wronger’ than Rosti! Only unknowns were ABELIA, generously clued and ALIENEE, and everything parsed except 3D, so thanks to William and to the setter for a not-too-Fridayish workout.

  23. 23:28. ALIENEE was a reasonably confident stab in the dark but the others slotted in without too much trouble (apart from putting HOOK in 3d until the pesky K made me think again).

  24. 21.39. Pleased with that as there were a few tripwires. Same parsing failures as others, but I don’t mind too much so long as the answers are correct. I remember a competitor at a Times Crossword Championship Regional Heat telling me that he never bothered with parsing once he was convinced of the solution.

    1. I do that a lot. Sometimes, you just know. Is it a “sixth sense” or just a lucky guess? Whatever, it works, move on to the next clue 😉

  25. Speed is not everything (I’m an ex-driving instructor). I find it much more satisfying, and enjoyable, when I can parse a clue..

  26. 58:26

    Bad day for me – reached about 80% in 40 mins but the last few BRISKEST (could see BEST all the way through), FALSE ALARM, MAID all took ages to come, leaving me with the uninspiring ALIENEE (had to look this up to be sure cos though I could see LIEN from my business course law module 40 years ago, the answer made no sense) and ROESTI built from cryptic only. I’ve heard of the dish without the E but no idea what it is.

  27. DNF: ARIGNEE is what I invented ☹️
    Learnt some new words worked out from the definitions eg ABELIA, COHO and SARABAND. Couldn’t parse GRAPPLING IRON but I appear to be in good company.

  28. About 30 mins. Forgot to put my timer on. Not too fiendish for a Friday but difficult enough. My LOI was quiche which I also nominate for COD.

  29. Didn’t know this was a Friday puzzle (doing it in Oz a month later), so pleased to have found it more accessible than the usual Friday offering. Fell at all the above-mentioned hurdles: GRAPPLING IRON (not even attempted, as I didn’t get 1a yet), and like others forgot the U after Q rule for QUICHE. Did however know ABELIA, SARABAND and BEST. So all up a better-than-usual effort from me for a Friday; I’m getting there!

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