Times 28547 – a kind of burr, but only just


After much faffing about at the end, and a couple that went in with a shrug, I was a couple of minutes away from waving the white flag at this tricky little number. My main hold-up was not knowing the phrase at 3dn (opting for the quite unjustifiable ‘certain culture’), then trying for a while to justify CORtupE at 17ac. Penny in its correct resting place, I had several to guess and/or figure out later, and I still need help with 5dn.

Slight MERs at “ager” and “elect”, but that was the least of my problems! Quite a few impressive surfaces, especially the anagrams – the naughty 20ac is my COD.

Definitions underlined.

1 With second new hip (8-2)
SWITCHED-ON – anagram of (new) WITH SECOND.
6 Sign of kiss inside collar after this? (4)
NEXT – X (sign of kiss) in NET (collar).
10 Exhausted caretaker carries mirror to skip (5)
CAPER – CapeR (empty, exhausted) containing APE (mirror).
11 Last panto abandoned after little one pulled out (9)
POSTNATAL – anagram of (abandoned) LAST PANTO.
12 Unstable state of gran surrounded by naked people (6,8)
BANANA REPUBLIC – NANA (gran) in BARE (naked), then PUBLIC (people).
14 Improve husband during atonement, not initially (7)
ENHANCE – pENANCE (atonement) containing H (husband).
15 Goes on tablets, repeatedly consuming drink (7)
ELAPSES – ES (tablets) repeatedly containing LAP (drink).
17 Train is something essential for carrying sheep (7)
CORTEGE – CORE (something essential) containing TEG (sheep).
19 Taking off hat having dropped one pin (7)
SKITTLE – SKIT (taking off) and TiLE (hat).
20 Saucy girl’s wanting pert bust with this? (7,7)
PLASTIC SURGERY – anagram of (bust) SAUCY GIRL’S and PERT.
23 Itching in middle of fleas: one getting on head (9)
EAGERNESS – flEas, AGER (one getting on), NESS (head).
24 Wicked thing with fire in grates, not initially working (5)
ARSON – bARS (grates) and ON (working).
25 Son remains in band (4)
SASH – S (son) and ASH (remains).
26 Book seats: fan travelling with English parties (10)
BEANFEASTS – anagram (travelling) of B (book) + SEATS + FAN + E (English).
1 Discharge rifle (4)
SACK – double definition.
2 One criticising current beauty queen hugging male (9)
IMPEACHER – I (current) + PEACH (beauty) + ER (queen) containing M (male).
3 Private rebuke? Conservative article untrue when reviewed (7,7)
CURTAIN LECTURE – anagram of (when reviewed) C (Conservative) + ARTICLE + UNTRUE.
4 Length cut from wood on smooth board (7)
EMPLANE – E{L}M (i.e. take the Length out of the wood) + PLANE (smooth).
5 Dirty profession, Jack going on location (7)
OBSCENE – OB + SCENE (location). How does OB = profession, Jack? I get it now, but it has kept me awake, so a pyrrhic victory.
jOB (profession) with J (Jack) going, plus SCENE (location). Phew!
7 Celebrate as old lover upset group (5)
EXTOL – EX (old lover) + reversal of LOT.
8 Presenter in preview bored by endless choice (10)
TELECASTER – TASTER (preview) containing ELECt (choice).
9 This might cover lead actor’s head in rude video (10,4)
INSULATING TAPE – first letter from Actor in INSULTING (rude) and TAPE (video). Think electrical lead.
13 Magistrates hurry to train with the bar (5-5)
BENCH-PRESS – BENCH (Magistrates) and PRESS (hurry).
16 Sends up flowers: did settle up front (9)
SATIRISES – SAT (did settle) + IRISES (flowers).
18 Pass direct from island (7)
EXCRETE – EX-CRETE (direct from the island of Crete).
19 Locks up small cabin: what trespasser might do? (5,2)
SHUTS IN – S (small) + HUT (cabin) + SIN (what a trespasser needs forgiveness for).
21 Tips from Amazon US holding good type of stock (5)
ANGUS – tips of AmazoN + US, containing G (good).
22 Load of oxygen: setter coming round (4)
ONUS – O (oxygen) + reversal of SUN (setter).

66 comments on “Times 28547 – a kind of burr, but only just”

    1. 34:14 – very slow – and ENPLANEd as well. Enjoyed the challenge though, and some lovely clues in there.

  1. The Friday chewy challenge is back! Quite a workout. I was happy to finish under the hour.
    Like our blogger I first considered CERTAIN CULTURE for the nho CURTAIN LECTURE. Clue of the day for me was POSTNATAL. Clearly it was going to be an anagram of ‘last panto’ but I didn’t see the cleverly disguised definition until very late. Special mention must also go to the saucy girl’s plastic surgery.

  2. Absolutely brilliant puzzle. Took a long time to get on the setter’s wavelength, but well worth it. Another seeing CERTAIN CULTURE fit and not knowing the correct phrase, but got it in the end – it and cortege last two in. All parsed, all enjoyed, only MER was elect for choice but the dictionaries pass it. Had a different sort of grates in ARSON – I used JARS, as I see DavidH did as well, but either work. Thanks setter and blogger.

  3. At 68 minutes I was 2 minutes slower than our blogger.

    NHO (or had forgotten) CURTAIN LECTURE and BENCH PRESS but worked them out, and I completely missed the parsing of OB in OBSCENE, which on reflection seems so straightforward now. CAPER was still fresh in my mind from Tuesday.

    This was a good example of a puzzle that I found very difficult but thoroughly enjoyable throughout.

  4. 62 minutes. Like our blogger (and Jack) I couldn’t parse OBSCENE and I was held up by a few others that took a while to come. CURTAIN LECTURE new to me too.

    A bit of frustration along the way but more than made up for by BANANA REPUBLIC and especially the surface for PLASTIC SURGERY.

    Thanks to William and setter

  5. I appreciated the toughness, though I thought I might have to put it aside till tomorrow. But here I am. Yay!
    NHO of CURTAIN LECTURE. Should’ve seen BANANA REPUBLIC earlier than I did. POI INSULATING TAPE and LOI—believe it or not—ELAPSES (not a hard one). I should’ve just stopped watching the TV. It took me too long to see a couple wrong answers in the NE.

  6. Yet can I ope thy window-Sash to find
    The meadow thou hast tramped o’er and o’er,
    Yet can I think of thee till thought is blind, …

    40 mins mid-and-post brekker, struggling to convince myself a Teg was a Sheep. I’m sure it is a crosswordland staple, but my brain must be shrinking.
    COD to Insul(a)ting Tape.
    Nice one setter and WJS.

    1. Hi

      I love your poetry stuff, have been enjoying it for years, which is why it’s odd I’ve never thought of this before – would you maybe be able to attribute the source? I often get tempted to look it up but somehow never do…


  7. 17:01, with a minute or two at the end scratching my head over the wordplay for OBSCENE, reluctant to biff it. Tricky stuff, most enjoyable.
    Technically the procedure referred at 20ac is cosmetic surgery. Plastic surgery is a more specialised discipline, but they named their professional association BAAPS so it’s hard to take them seriously.

  8. Wow that was tough. 1’20’’. Spent the final twenty or so mins staring at the last four in the NE until a PDM with NEXT. After that, TELECASTER (The go-to guitar for the late Jeff Beck), POSTNATAL and EXTOL all went in together.

    I liked BEANFEASTS and SWITCHED-ON best.

    Thanks William and setter for a real Friday work out.

    1. Jeff Beck usually played a Stratocaster. The person you’re most likely to see playing a TELECASTER is probably Bruce Springsteen.

      1. You’re right of course. I’m getting my Strats ant Teles all muddled up. I must have been having a mental aberration, probably bought on by 2 hours of torture in the dentists chair yesterday, and the subsequent large doses of paracetamol I’m taking today!

        1. Or Albert Collins, come to that. And while we’re on the great guitar Alberts, King was a Flying V man. But for good or ill you’re much more likely to see the Boss than any of them!

          1. Ha, we had a discussion elsewhere once about guitar playing Alberts, I remember. I only thought of Mr Lee because he was featured in a programme about Dionne Warwick (worth watching) the other day… for a stage performer, he is painfully shy

            1. Yes fair point, although he does use other guitars. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Springsteen with anything else (acoustics aside).

              1. I’ll give you that and raise you a Vince Gill (accoustics notwithstanding as you have mentioned). 😊

  9. I hugely enjoyed this, a puzzle of style, substance and rich reward at almost every step. Finished a bit under the hour with regret that the fun was over. Lovely surfaces, challenging cryptics and some new vocabulary too: I wonder if anyone in the world has bed curtains today? Nice misdirection with setter for once not meaning I, ME or DOG. Many COD candidates but the superb surface of 20A has to take it. LOI BEANFEASTS where I spent too long trying to think of an Old Testamant book that fitted.

    Thanks brilliant setter, and William for the resolute blog.

  10. About 75 minutes with LOI the unknown CURTAIN LECTURE. There was plenty of botched wiring in my head so COD to INSULATING TAPE. It was a fine puzzle,maybe a bit too fine for me. Thank you WJS and setter.

  11. About half an hour, with ‘text’ belatedly corrected to NEXT in 6a (I initially thought ‘after this?’ was referring to putting an X at the end of a text message) once I twigged that ‘net’ was much more likely to fit ‘collar’ than ‘tet’ was.

    Add me to the club when it comes to not seeing how the ‘ob’ in OBSCENE worked – I think I got confused between OS and AB for ‘Jack’, combined them in my head and didn’t worry too much about what ‘profession’ was doing there as it had to be right. Only vaguely remembered the teg sheep for CORTEGE, and I hadn’t heard of a CURTAIN LECTURE or BEANFEASTS until today, though thankfully both were gettable anagrams.

    A really enjoyable challenge overall, so thanks to setter and blogger.

    FOI Switched-on
    LOI Next
    COD Plastic surgery / Postnatal

    1. I did exactly the same with the OB – clearly we need the term “ordinary bodied”. Biffed BANANA REPUBLIC and PLASTIC SURGERY but the rest needed to be carefully (slowly) worked out. I had FIRE for SACK at first until I saw the anagram at 1A.

      Liked ONUS.

      Thanks setter and William

  12. 25′, glad to finish correctly. Nho CURTAIN LECTURE. Pleased to solve NEXT. SKITTLE LOI. Liked the anagram for PLASTIC SURGERY.

    Thanks william and setter.

  13. Gave up at 30 mins with half done when I had to look up the NHO CURTAIN LECTURE. Realised it was going to be a toughie and I didn’t have time. Looking at the answers, glad I did: several I’d never have seen in a month of Sundays.

    1. Similar response here: after swiftly entering 1a, only filled in a pathetic few in the 40 mins I allowed myself and came here to be elucidated. Glad I did too! Never would have seen the well-hidden anagram indicators nor the ‘off-centre’ synonyms for the sometimes unheard-of (or forgotten) phrases. Setter 1, Jacaroo 0. Funnily enough, OBSCENE and ONUS went straight in…

  14. DNF
    Gave up after 45 minutes realising I was never likely to get on the setter wavelength. I had already entered ENPLANE so I was doomed anyway. I’m obviously in the minority but I thought some of these surfaces were rather laboured ( and we have quite recently had TILE for hat) I did like BANANA REPUBLIC and INSULATING TAPE. I’ll now go back to bed and attempt to get out on the right side.

    Thanks to William and the setter.

  15. Nearly gave up – but got there in the end. 45 mins with one error. ENPLANE.


  16. Hmm. Tricky this, and a dreaded pink square after about 20 minutes. My mistake was trying to convince myself that ‘collar’ could be ‘set’, as in, if you put a collar around something it could be fixed in place, in 6ac, giving you the answer SEXT, which I thought might be an amusing, nudge, nudge &lit definition. The actual answer makes much more sense. Oh well.

    Thanks, setter, for a good challenge, and William for the blog.

  17. This took me 75 minutes, with a little prodding from lists. Terribly hard but no complaints, apart from slight doubts about collar = net (6ac), ex = direct from (18dn) and load = onus (22dn). I thought INSULATING TAPE and PLASTIC SURGERY were excellent. Like others had nho CURTAIN LECTURE and never understood OBSCENE, although now it’s obvious.

  18. 38:48. I got the elusive OBSCENE but missed the mechanics of several others that now seem obvious. INSULATING TAPE excellent among many. A very good workout.

  19. I found this a very tough but ultimately satisfying challenge. Several of the anagrams were very clever. All done in 52 minutes but afraid I might have taken a lot longer until the NE corner fell into place. NHO CURTAIN LECTURE but could not find an alternative from the anagrist.
    FOI – SASH
    Thanks to william and other contributors.

  20. 19:46, also pleased about the return of Quite Chewy Friday. Never got entirely stuck, but needed to piece a lot of things together quite slowly, not least the CURTAIN LECTURE, which required me to basically have all the checkers in place before I was entirely sure about it. Nice work.

  21. Phew! Relieved to get through that unscathed. Got off to a good start with SACK, SWITCHED ON and IMPEACHER, but then started to get bogged down. Eventually the long haul came to an end as ELAPSES opened up the last few, TELECASTER, SATIRISES and finally SKITTLE. 43:17. Thanks setter and William.

  22. Oof – now, that’s a Friday puzzle. 18m 40s, and so many delights. Great wordplay and definitions abound: SWITCHED-ON, POSTNATAL, BANANA REPUBLIC, PLASTIC SURGERY, EAGERNESS were all brilliant.

  23. Hard work but struggled thru, unlike yesterday when I had 2 I couldn’t get even with aids, so came here to cheat.
    Liked the saucy girl wanting the pert bust of course!
    NHO Curtain Lecture, guessed curtain and the remaining letters gave few if any options.
    As others, even the blogger, never sussed OBSCENE.

  24. 77 minutes. I’m relieved not to be the only person who found this hard. I can’t really explain even to myself why it took so long.
    My LOI was ELAPSED just because it took me ages to think of lap for drink, I was going round echased and eseased and suchlike. EMPLANE also is a new word for me, but once I thought of plane then e(l)m had to be right. Yes the clue for POSTNATAL is clever though I found it one of the easier ones.
    Overall I got the longer clues fairly fast (except the INSULATING part of INSULATING TAPE) so I had a scaffolding but then filling it out just took ages and ages.

  25. Isn’t 8dn TASTER (preview) containing sELECt (choice)? Endless as in missing both ends.

    1. Excellent! It might be… probably better than ELECT. But having been uncertain and consulted the dictionaries, I think ELECT (my guess) works, too.

    2. Have to agree with you there Otter. Thoroughly enjoyed this, particularly not having bothered to time myself. It allowed me to correctly parse all the clues which I enjoyed. Thank you setter for so many good clues. The only thing I didn’t love was the ager part of the eagerness clue, but there were no random names in it, so I am a happy boy today.

  26. Snow prevented delivery of today’s Times to bleak East Riding, but, looking at the blog, I’m sure I’d have nailed it before my coffee even cooled.

  27. A veritable Friday stinker!

    Thanks to blogger & setter.

  28. Friday is back ! I found this quite devilish, but there were a couple of wonderful PDM’s along the way. Besides my COD, I must doff my cap to the setter for BANANA REPUBLIC, CORTEGE (I spent ages trying to fit something round “ram” !), PLASTIC SURGERY, INSULATING TAPE, and ARSON.

    TIME 22:51

  29. Thanks for the kind comments. I’ve just been informed that the same clue for PLASTIC SURGERY appeared in the Telegraph in 2004. Great minds.


    1. Don’t beat yourself up about it,that’s the way it goes, certain words suggest obvious clues. Unless of course it was deliberate plagiarism, in which case : Boo, hiss!

      1. I would never plagiarise work. I wouldn’t know how to find Telegraph clues from 2004. I had written a clue in the Guardian today which used “dog whistle” as wordplay for TAILPIPE. I was pleased with that. Apparently, the editor told me another setter had used it recently so I changed it before publication.


    2. Seeing as an ‘insulting tape’ would be hard to justify as a real thing, I wonder if you might have considered a question-mark at the end of the clue? Many thanks.

      1. Nope. It is not required (and is actually faulty parsing) to connect as a unified phrase “insulting,” which is covered by one part of the clue, which inserts A in that word, with TAPE, which is covered by the separate word “video.”
        INSUL(A)TING + TAPE, and most emphatically not “insulting tape,” insert A.

  30. 54:01

    I thought this was an excellent puzzle, to the point where even though I didn’t parse absolutely everything, I still enjoyed every clue with no shrugging at disappointing answers.

    The following remained unparsed:
    SWITCHED-ON – from definition with all checkers – didn’t even notice there was an anagram
    BANANA REPUBLIC – from definition and three A checkers which narrowed down the options for the first word considerably

    And for the NHOs:
    CURTAIN LECTURE – three checkers for the second word and the N for the first helped to solve this unknown

    Oh, and I had grates = JARS rather than BARS.

    There are too many to list that I enjoyed – well done setter and well done to William for unravelling it all.

  31. 30:51. Phew! That took some cracking and, in the end, I was left with OBSCENE unparsed. I liked PLASTIC SURGERY and INSULATING TAPE best. NHO CURTAIN LECTURE, but after deducting the letters of LECTURE from the anagrist, it had to be CURTAIN. Thank-you Tramp and William.

  32. Phew. Very hard. DNF, with NHOs (3 dn, TEG) despite getting a lot of the ones others found tricky. Took far too long to spot 1 ac was an anagram. Resorted to aids early and still couldn’t parse some. But still more enjoyable than that easy one the other day. Oh, well…

  33. I don’t know how many times I was on the point of giving up, when one more answer would come to me and I persevered. I feel almost euphoric to have correctly solved this little beauty with only one not parsed. The clue in question was 5dn and like others I assumed the OB had to be another rank associated with an AB.
    My finishing time at 85.50 is I think the longest time I have devoted to successfully completing a grid, but well worth the effort!

  34. 67 minutes and felt like I’d got my money’s worth.

    I’d heard of a bunfight but not a beanfeast. I wonder if they differ much?

  35. Tricky but well worth the struggle.

    The surface for 9D reminded me of John Cooper Clarke’s “Readers’ Wives” who had
    “a six inch strip of insulating tape
    Strategically placed across their eyes”

  36. No time recorded as I was unable to attack this in one sitting, but it was certainly a very long one. Thoroughly tasty challenge. Like others, I had not heard of ‘curtain lecture’ but worked it out eventually.
    Thanks to setter and heroic blogger.

    1. You can use the ‘pause’ facility and the clock stops. It restarts when you resume.

  37. With less than half the puzzle completed by this evening, I threw in the towel, which is very rare for me. If I think I can finish, I will go on with it the following day until it’s complete. I think I was far too off the wavelength ever to have got through it, though I did manage the NHO CURTAIN LECTURE and the vile EMPLANE (no better than ENTRAIN). I would totally agree with Otter, in saying that 8D must be S(ELEC)T rather than ELEC(T). Chapeau to Tramp for beating me well and truly on this one!

  38. 1 hour 49 minutes, the sum of several sessions, but all green in the end. LOIs ELAPSES (having failed to see LAP before) and SATIRISES (where i had been stuck on ROSES instead of IRISES). It was tough throughout. Satisfying and enjoyable too, but I will still enjoy an easy Monday if we start next week that way. Thank you Setter and Blogger

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