Times 28539 – thriving area, with no rats.

 I enjoyed this puzzle, finding little to slow down the horses except a rather obscure medical condition at 8d and a parsing pause at 15d until I saw the light. 21 minutes all told. I liked the long anagram at 6d.

Best wishes to all of a Welsh persuasion, on this, St. David’s Day.

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

1 African nation importing fifth of sugar beet (5)
CHARD – CHAD has the last letter of sugaR inserted.
4 Rash little rascal with naughty books (9)
IMPRUDENT – IMP (little rascal) RUDE (naughty) NT (New Testament).
9 Difficulty moving head after small contretemps (9)
STIFFNESS – S (small) TIFF (contretemps) NESS (head).
10 Daughters break bank (5)
DRIFT – D (daughters) RIFT (break). Drift as in e.g. a bank of snow.
11 Boyfriend with case of non-vintage wine (6)
BEAUNE – BEAU (boyfriend) N[on-vintag]E.
12 Help to preserve mass transport in thriving area (4,4)
BOOM TOWN – BOON (help), insert M (mass) TOW (transport).
14 Public commotion behind hospital is upsetting (12)
OVERTHROWING – OVERT (public) H (hospital) ROWING (commotion).
17 A stickler for hard work, Mrs Keats sits fulminating (12)
20 Missive about variable architectural feature (8)
EPISTYLE – EPISTLE with Y a variable inserted. We’ve seen epistyle before; its an architrave, if that helps.
21 One who fought J. Frazier with extremely combative hostility (6)
MALICE – J. Frazier fought M. ALI, then C E outer letters of combative.
23 Forecasting tax increases, conservatively at first (5)
VATIC – VAT (value added tax) I C (initial letters of increases conservatively). Vatic simply means related to prophecy or forecasting.
24 Four brave guards gad about (9)
GALLIVANT – GALLANT (brave) with IV (four) inserted.
25 Wind battering ten rowers (9)
26 Quits the day before exhausted nurses (5)
EVENS – EVE (day before) N S (outer part of nurses).
1 Spooner’s contemptible chef collected records (8)
CASEBOOK – Dr. Spooner could have said BASE COOK.
2 Vibrant diamante pants (8)
3 The exact thing (8,7)
DEFINITE ARTICLE – THE, and cryptic definition.
4 The same doctor briefly turned up (4)
IDEM – MEDI(C) reversed. Latin, meaning “the same as mentioned before”.
5 Attack with gun whilst I pop out (6-4)
6 Dispassionate representation of Monteverdi’s aunt (15)
7 Inventive American journalist beginning to interview boy (6)
EDISON – ED (journalist) I(nterview) SON (boy).
8 Regularly treat one unspecified condition (6)
TETANY – T E T (alternate letters of TREAT) ANY (one unspecified). Tetany is a nasty condition of spasms caused by a calcium imbalance.
13 Degenerate dons curse sign of slowing down (5,5)
BRAKE LIGHT – RAKE (degenerate) has BLIGHT (curse) surrounding.
15 Legacy media at the start is not in retreat (8)
HERITAGE – retreat = HERMITAGE, take away the M (start of media) and you get HERITAGE. As in heritage carrots, in the drivel I see these days on menus.
16 A distress call about most dangerous material (8)
ASBESTOS – A, SOS, insert BEST = most as in “do the best / most you can” perhaps.
18 Holiday on far side of Moon? It makes a change (6)
LEAVEN – LEAVE = holiday, N the “far side” of moon. Leaven being a substance such as yeast or baking powder that “makes a change” by creating CO2.
19 Teetotaller entering place for stiff drink (6)
BITTER – BIER (where you’d put a corpse or “stiff”) has TT inserted.
22 Slight speech problem (4)
SLUR – double definition.


66 comments on “Times 28539 – thriving area, with no rats.”

  1. Entertaining puzzle, very witty. Like the ‘place for stiff’ best. Easy, about as fast as I can go.

  2. 13:46
    Surprisingly easy, although I wasted some time by biffing IMPETUOUS at 4ac, though pretty sure it couldn’t be right; and by trying, in vain, to recall ‘morgue’ for the place for a stiff. Luckily I didn’t need it, as I never did recall it until just now. Is a rake degenerate?

    1. Yes, I think a RAKE can be ‘degenerate’ (adj) or a ‘degenerate’ (n) so it seemed OK to me.

      1. Can be, sure (and I suppose Hogarth’s Rake is; he winds up in Bedlam). But ‘degenerate’ is hardly a defining term for RAKE.

        1. I agree, maybe not a defining term for RAKE, but for what it’s worth, in my Chambers Thesaurus ‘degenerate’ is the first synonym listed for RAKE followed by debauchee, playboy, roué etc. As a model of puritanical rectitude myself I’m probably not qualified to comment, but I still think it’s OK.

        2. Rake = degenerate (noun) is about as close a synonym as you can get

        3. Collins and Chambers variously use the words ‘dissolute’’debauched’ and ‘lecherous’ in their definitions of RAKE, which seems pretty on the money to me.

  3. 8:52 Glad to see Ali’s greatest rival, Joe Frazier, get a mention. As someone said, they fought their 3 fights in the end “for the heavyweight championship of each other”.

    1. Your mention of Joe Frazier brought Howard Cosell’s excited “Down goes Frazier, down goes Frazier!” to mind. To my surprise I see that was from a fight with George Foreman, not Ali as I had thought.

  4. 28 minutes. Judging by the NW corner I had thought this was going to be very easy but there also was a sprinkling of less than familiar, or unknown words that slowed things down a bit, with three of them concentrated in the SW.

    EPISTYLE was on its first outing in the TfTT era although it was indirectly referenced in a clue to EPISTLE last November. VATIC was an answer in January last year and part of the wordplay to VATICAN in 2010. TETANY appears for the first time today.

    I biffed HERITAGE as my LOI after a struggle trying to come up with a synonym for ‘legacy’ and that got me over the finishing line 2 minutes within my target, but the clever parsing took a while longer to work out.

    Just for once I was able to solve a Spoonerism clue with only one checker in place as the B provided by BEAUNE had immediately suggested BOOK / cook / chef which gave me a head start with C???BOOK to work with.

  5. 27 minutes. No excuse, but I was put off by ‘Daughters’, in the plural rather than the singular, at 10a so was wondering how to include two D’s in the word. The singular only is given as a sense for lower case D in the sources I looked at, but I have a vague memory of this having been discussed before and it was felt that either the singular or plural of ‘daughter’ in the wordplay was acceptable for D in the answer.

    Glad I resisted the temptation to put in “exits” at 26a as I needed all the crossers for HERITAGE, my LOI. Favourites were the not unrelated ‘Difficulty moving’ def at 9a and the ‘place for stiff’ wordplay at 19d.

      1. I noticed it whilst solving but had no misgivings about daughters = d at the time. However, since the query has been raised I have looked into it and found no support for the plural anywhere. Indeed for other D abbreviations, Collins specifies the plural where applicable e.g. dollar(s), drachma(s) etc, but doesn’t do so for daughter. I can’t make up my mind about this one.

        1. I think it’s fairly common usage in genealogy to refer to someone as having (eg) “1s 2d”. There are quite a few abbreviations in common use that aren’t in the dictionaries including W(on), D(rawn), L(ost).

          1. Yes, but The Times doesn’t employ the full range of single-letter abbreviations, even the ones that are in dictionaries. There’s alleged to be a list of the permitted ones but so far we’ve never tracked down anyone who admits to having seen it.

            1. John Grimshaw’s a name you might know
              I worked with him some years ago
              He showed me that list
              So it sure does exist
              He is an intriguing fellow

  6. Wow, that was a breeze!
    TETANY was a guess. POI was VATIC and LOI LEAVEN.

  7. A bit jet-lagged this morning but still managed my usual time. Liked the ‘place for stiff’ and ‘whilst I pop out’. Thanks all.

  8. 10:53. I doubted a couple of answers when I submitted so was pleased when everything proved correct. As others have mentioned the plural “Daughters” was a little unnerving and I wasn’t quite sure about DRIFT for “bank”. My bigger doubt was EPISTYLE which was an unlikely looking word, and I’d wanted to put EPISTOLE but trusted to the cryptic. I see now that several words related to epistle begin epistol- so that’s probably what i was thinking of.

  9. Beaten by EPISTYLE and TETANY. Otherwise I had made relatively solid progress throughout although I simply could not parse BRAKE LIGHT so thanks Piquet for that and now that you have I see no issue with rake as degenerate.

    I had TETNUS as T.E.T.N worked from the mechanics and I assumed US was ‘unspecified’ in short form. Of course I now see that would be TETANUS anyway, but that stopped progress on BOOM TOWN too.


    Thanks setter and Piquet

    1. I failed on the same two where I could only come up with TETINA and EPISTILE. Should have taken more care over both.
      Apart from that I enjoyed the ride.

  10. 18 minutes with LOI DRIFT after I’d constructed TETANY. Maybe my better time is because I did the puzzle in the kitchen. I first biffed EPISTOLE which I’m sure I’ve seen somewhere but I knew the o had to be x, y or z and only one of them was possible. COD to BITTER for the pun. Thank you Pip and setter.

  11. 37m 53s That was entertaining but, goodness, TETANY, EPISTYLE and VATIC! I needed a glass of something from the 11ac general area after solving those three! A Fleurie would be nice!
    Having seen ‘Daughters’ in the plural clue D in the singular before, I was on my guard.
    COD has to be BITTER: ‘place for stiff’; lovely!

  12. St. Agnes’ Eve—Ah, Bitter chill it was!
    The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;

    20 mins mid-brekker. I enjoyed it. Lots of fun and nicely phrased clues. I thought we were going to get too many anagrams – but no.
    Nice one setter and Pip.

  13. 30 minutes or so. TETANY, BEAUNE, EPISTYLE and VATIC were unknown but gettable from wordplay. For 4d I wanted to put ‘ibid’ (remembered from my unconvincing attempts at referencing university essays) until I finally figured out where to lift and separate the clever STIFFNESS and realised it had to be IDEM. For some reason the “J. Frazier” in 21a had me thinking of Dad’s Army, even though Private Frazer’s name didn’t have an I in it, and only once the checkers were in place did I get the M Ali reference.

    All told a tricky but enjoyable solve. Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Evens
    LOI Casebook
    CODs Stiffness / Bitter

  14. 12:12. DNK TETANY and was unsure about VATIC. But it was LEAVEN which held me up for a minute or two at the end, needing an alphabet trawl to get there. Lots of lovely surfaces. BITTER, MALICE and BRAKE LIGHT my favourites. Thank-you Pip and setter.

  15. Thought this was going to be tough on first pass, but then the answers started to come quite quickly. DNK VATIC and TETANY, but wordplay was helpful. Liked BITTER and BEAUNE. 24 mins.

  16. Nice crossword, with some deft touches I thought. Liked the far side of the moon, expecially.
    Struggled a bit to find heritage, since _E_I_A_E has an awfy lot of words that fit!

  17. 13:22. I took a while to get going on this, then sped up, then slowed down again. A few tricky ones held me up at the end: EPISTYLE, VATIC, LEAVEN (‘it makes a change’ is very vague), HERITAGE and my last in, the DRIFT/TETANY crossing pair.
    I didn’t know CHARD was a beet.

  18. Well I fell into every trap. Tetnus. Epistole. Was going to complain that Bitter is not a stiff drink. Thought Legacy must begin with M and trying Aint for Is Not.
    I fixed them all, but still couldn’t parse Heitage. Give me a call and I will transfer my life savings immediately. Nice puzzle and blog.

  19. 25.38. I made hard work of this and didn’t really enjoy it. I thought that the clue for ‘leaven’, in particular, was a bit tenuous.

  20. 28 minutes but with CASHBOOK / BASH COOK instead of CASEBOOK / BASE COOK, stupid mistake.
    Except for that LOI was HERITAGE which took me several minutes of going through the alphabet.
    Not my day!

  21. Rather feeble this morning, 39 minutes with a small amount of help. I didn’t know TETANY or PISTOL-WHIP and entered a rather silly cashbook at 1dn, hoping that bash = contemptible, which of course is wrong. HERITAGE was entered without knowing why and the parsing only came to me later. For a while I was for some reason expecting the stickler for hard work to be something Soviet.

  22. Re. heritage carrots. Actually a legitimate term – it refers to carrots of different shapes and colours that resemble the originals , before the Dutch centuries back decided to produce a uniform orange colour to reflect their national flag.

    1. I’ve just read the Wikipedia article on carrots. I knew there were other colours, like purple, which occasionally appear on pretentious menus as ‘heritage’. The story about carrots being bred to be orange to celebrate the then Dutch flag and William of Orange does seem to be lacking in verification. As you say, “apparently”.

  23. Largely easy, but very enjoyable puzzle Lots of deft clueing, such as the previously mentioned ‘place for stiff drink’. Thanks to the setter.
    25 minutes.

  24. 19:31
    A very waggish puzzle that was a pleasure to do. EPISTYLE and TETANY were new to me. Needed Pip to explain HERMITAGE. BITTER was COD but these days I prefer BEAUNE.

    Thanks to Pip and the setter.

  25. 13:43 with one wrong. Tatone for tetany. As soon as the pink squares appeared so did the correct answer, in my head.


  26. A swift time for me at 26.40, but undone by putting TETANI at 8dn for my latest visit to the OWL Club. I had in my mind tetanus, and in Latin the plural of a word ending
    -us is usually -i; that was my half witted logic at least. Other than that, never heard of the wine in question, but especially liked the ‘stiff’ misdirection in 19dn.

  27. I enjoyed this one. I got the NHO TETANY from the parsing without difficulty, while I biffed HERITAGE and admired the cleverness of the surface afterwards.

    LOI CASEBOOK (I had to talk myself out of disastrously trying “cashbook”)
    TIME 8:27

  28. 25 mins. Main difficulty was HERITAGE, I seem to have a blind spot when given only vowels as help, and of course I was trying to fit an M in there. Fortunately TETANY and EPISTYLE, both unknown, were correct.

  29. 20:50. LOI in HERITAGE. TETANY was unknown and the vaguely recalled VATIC tentatively entered – not helped by LEAVEN which I knew only as a verb rather than a noun. Still seems rather feeble as a definition.

  30. Pink square for TETANY, I had TETINA hoping that NA for unspecified was what the setter had in mind. LOI was LEAVEN.

  31. TETANY and VATIC had to be constructed from wordplay, the tenuous LEAVEN providing some confidence in the latter. CHARD and CASEBOOK were first 2 in ad HERITAGE last. Only managed to parse BOOM TOWN during proof reading. 15:43. Thanks setter and Pip.

  32. 17:40
    NHO – TETANY/VATIC (or BEAUNE to be frank, but I think I’ve seen it before in a crossword so should have known it).

    Some clever clues like the two long downs, and overall it wasn’t too bad.

  33. I think I was feeling particularly dull this morning, as I made heavy weather of this, finishing after lunch, when things suddenly fell into place. Once I’d finally decided on the unknown VATIC, LEAVEN came quite quickly. EPISTYLE was vaguely remembered, probably from here, but it still took a long time to work out. TETANY also not heard of, but eventually guessed at. I wanted to put in MEDITATE for 15D, thinking of retreats – I was still obsessed with the M until after solving, when the penny dropped. As Jerry W says, there are plenty of candidates for the missing letters! The rest were not difficult – I feel I should have been much quicker.

    1. Lots of unusual vocabulary for me: VATIC, the BIER needed for BITTER were new words for me. I put CASHBOOK at 1d and MEDITATE at 15d.
      A bad week for me

  34. The clue for BITTER was a laugh out loud moment. One of the best. 22 minutes

  35. Completed but DNK TETANY, EPISTYLE or VATIC. Well clued, though, so they could be worked out. Thanks for the definitions.

  36. Enjoyable, easy(ish), only one that slowed me down was parsing HERITAGE. 16 minutes, best time in quite a while.

  37. On hol in Ventnor: 15’14” no prob. Once I’d eliminated TROGO and MARLI.

  38. 15:23 early this evening. One of these days where crosswords had to take a back seat. An enjoyable puzzle with some clever clues. Gaps in my GK caused me a few problems, especially 8 d “tetany” where I wasn’t totally confident in my interpretation of the wordplay. However, assuming it could be right, I re-tackled my LOI 10 ac “drift” and the answer became readily apparent.
    Thanks to Pip and setter

  39. Finished very quickly by my standards, but a couple of errors.
    Glad to find that I was not the only one to put CASHBOOK. Also found LEAVEN difficult to parse.
    NHO TETANY but biffed it.
    Very enjoyable

  40. DNF in 52 minutes, with two mistakes: TETHER for 8dn (a condition does place a tether on things, doesn’t it, and HER would be a female person not more closely specified) crossing BOOM ZONE at 12 ac, for which, of course, I could not parse the wordplay. Never heard of TETANY, and although BOOM TOWN does fit the word play, I simply didn’t think of it. Like others, I liked “place for stiff”. That’s about all I liked.

  41. About half an hour, but with a hasty HEAVEN at 18dn, thinking the clue was &-littish somehow

  42. 16.35 but failed with tetany. NHO so put in a rather lame tetone. Enjoyed the rest of the puzzle, pleased to remember epistyle from Ancient History A level. Liked the long anagrams which provided a pleasant interlude.
    All in all very enjoyable. Thx setter and blogger.

  43. Same problems as others: TETANY, VATIC, EPISTYLE, and BEAUNE (only vaguely remembered), loved BITTER ( which did cause a titter). Never did get BOOM TOWN. Not too bad an effort for me, with my limited time allowance, and enjoyed the surfaces from a seasoned setter.

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