Times 28555 – Sign here!

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Time: 26 minutes

Music: Dvorak, Cello Concerto, Ma/Maazel/LSO

This one was just a little tricky, as the setter seems to like to rely on the secondary and tertiary senses of words.    I made slow progress at first, and then sped up a little, but it was still a bit of a slog.   There was also one expression I didn’t know that slowed me down just a bit.

I did think some of the clues were rather good without being ridiculously difficult, like we had on Friday.     Generally speaking, I was able to pick out the literal without much trouble, even if it took me a little time to come up with the answer.


1 Tearful wife, worried by half-cut Tory (6)
WATERY – W + ATE + [to]RY.
4 Exceptionally sweet pa, full of energy! (4-4)
10 Reactionaries behind a drug bust (9)
REARGUARD – REAR + anagram of A DRUG.
11 Penniless old folk reaching island refuge (5)
OASIS – OA[p]S + IS.
12 Absent-minded head of BBC came down after broadcast (14)
SCATTERBRAINED – SCATTER (B[bc} RAINED, although broadcast might suggest an anagram.
14 Cinema in the red a long time (5)
ODEON – Sounds like OWED + EON.   The only problem is that there’s no homophone indicator.   Any other suggestions?
16 Attacks wasted on criminal one’s arrested (5,4)
WADES INTO – Anagram of WASTED ON enclosing I.
18 Woman taken aback, coming across Tory leader’s four-letter word (9)
TETRAGRAM – MARGAR(T[ory])ET, all backwards.
20 British vessels in Scottish waters (5)
BURNS – B + URNS, a bit of a chestnut.
21 Visiting loo, daughter is upset (14)
25 This PM no longer has to accommodate English (5)
26 Plotting together? Old American laughs (2,7)
IN CAHOOTS – INCA HOOTS, a definite chestnut.
27 Timid troops began to rally? (8)
RESERVED – RE + SERVED, as in starting a tennis point.
28 Protest about the president? My goodness! (6)
CRIKEY – CR(IKE)Y, a good one.
1 Argument having value for the poet (10)
2 I’m going to secure newspaper crown (5)
TIARA – T(I)ARA, the Independent, now the I.
3 Trendy bishop booted out of seaside town (5,2)
RIGHT ON – [b]RIGHTON, another chestnut.
5 Attacker losing a knight perhaps (5)
6 Way of teaching an arrangement of Chopin’s (7)
PHONICS – Anagram of CHOPIN’S.
7 Sneer at corrupt monarch who might hail from Java? (9)
EASTERNER – Anagram of SNEER AT + E.R.
8 Female receiving second shot? (4)
9 Increasingly intolerant, hurried back to confront bowman perhaps (8)
NARROWER – RAN backwards + ROWER, that kind of bowman.
13 Pretty good cleaner will leave things thus (3,2,5)
NOT SO DUSTY – Cryptic hint for a UK-centric phrase, ignotus mihi.
15 People of south-eastern nations in conflict (9)
17 Learn about protecting small volcanic island (8)
DOMINICA – DO (MINI) CA, where do is used in the sense of do a course of study.
19 Anonymous person having one for the road? (7)
ANOTHER – A.N. OTHER, as wags used to sign themselves in visitor books.
20 Chat sociable Theresa is in need of (7)
BLETHER – hidden in [socia]BLE THER[esa], more often spelt blather.
22 Failing to grab old Express (5)
23 Hit record (5)
CLOCK – Double definition, the second often referring to recording a particular rather fast speed.
24 She does burn fish (4)
CHAR – Triple definition.

63 comments on “Times 28555 – Sign here!”

  1. A bit tricky parsing some of them – DOMINICA and DROP DEAD guessed then reverse-engineered. Also NHO NOT SO DUSTY. And I see reading the blog I forgot to parse RESERVED, missing the tennis reference.
    I had OD = overdraft for in the red?
    Liked INCONVENIENCED best.

  2. I reckon there will be a few hasty drip-feeds to day.

    31 minutes for me, labouring throughout but getting there in the end.

  3. ‘Inca hoots’ may be a chestnut for our blogger, but I’ve never seen it before. My COD.

    With sadness I see that a previously frequent contributor to TfTT has passed away. Tony Sever , who coined the word ‘vocalophobia’ for the feeling induced by a solution with only vowels as crossing letters. His rapid solves made him one of Horryd’s Time Lords. His stern admonishments for the failings of others in general knowledge will live long in the memory.

  4. 36 minutes. A bit harder than the usual Monday, with DROP-DEAD, DOMINICA and the difficult CLOCK double def taking a while to sort out. I didn’t know OD as a term for “overdraft” at 14a but guessed it must be something similar. The NHO NOT SO DUSTY seemed likely from the wordplay but still needed an alphabet run-through to be sure.

    Best left till last with the CHAR triple def.

  5. Collins and Chambers have O/D as an abbreviation for both ‘overdraft’ and ‘overdrawn’. I’ve only met it as the latter.

    As a tennis fan (indeed it’s the only sport I take any interest in) I am kicking myself for missing the tennis reference in 27 so I wasn’t sure of the parsing of RESERVED. On a point of pedantry one might argue that since a rally is a series of strokes exchanged between players they only ‘begin to rally’ when the receiver returns the serve. But maybe the question mark allows for this.

    30 minutes.

    1. On further thought it must be overdrawn for in the red, as you originally surmised. Overdraft is a noun, in the red adjectival.

    2. I was interested to see so much dissent at 15 Squared over several clues in today’s Guardian puzzle. It must be a bad one as it’s very rare for commenters there to criticise anything.

    3. If a tennis rally consists of (eg) six strokes, the serve is always the first one … a rally has to begin somewhere, and stroke 2 doesn’t feel like it!

  6. Seeing TETRAGRAM clued that way (my FOI as it happens) reminded me of a classic Listener puzzle set by Kea many years ago which involved various politicians’ forenames reversed around the first letter of their surname (Listener 3356 published in May 1996). Thematic entries were LEG(L)IN, NO(B)EL, LI(K)EN and S(H)INED and I will leave the full identifications as an exercise.

  7. Thanks for the little brain teaser. Some blasts from the past that even I can identify.

  8. O/D plus EON for the cinema was one of my CODs in a crossword I really enjoyed. It was over too soon in 21 minutes with LOI DOMINICA. Chestnuts or not, I liked IN CAHOOTS and CRIKEY, and particularly the reminder in TIARA of how I’d say goodbye as a boy. By a whisker, COD to RIGHT ON, which reminds me of no part of my life. Thank you V and setter.

  9. (Auld Ayr, wham ne’er a town surpasses,
    For honest men and bonnie lasses.)

    25 mins mid-brekker. LOI Drop Dead having eventually dismissed P.A.s.
    Very good, in parts.
    Ta setter and V.

  10. 9:46, ending with the NHO and very strange-looking NOT SO DUSTY. I see it’s the name of a 1956 film.
    Steady solve otherwise: not difficult but as out blogger says some of the equivalences are not the most obvious.

  11. 38 mins so on the tougher side for me. L2I TETRAGRAM and DOMINICA where I hadn’t parsed “learn about”. O/D for overdraft no probs.

    I too liked IN CAHOOTS which I don’t remember having seen before.

    Altogether not too dusty.

    Thanks v and setter.

  12. 22:45. I kept following dead ends today, reflected in me having the highest WITCH at time of typing.
    DROP DEAD gave me the most problems. Initially I took it to be an anagram of SWEET + PA + E. Then when I had the checkers for some while I thought it had to be DRIP FEED. INCONVENIENCED was another where I kept trying in vain to find an anagram.
    For NOT SO DUSTY all I kept thinking of was the pint of Jolly Sailor “Knot Too Shabby” I had at the weekend. I’m familiar with “not too shabby”. Not so with NOT SO DUSTY.

    1. I beat you (and everyone else so far) to top WITCH score by some margin! But at least I finished all correct… eventually. DROP DEAD gave me the most problems too and was my LOI.

  13. Never heard of NOT SO DUSTY, having lived in England all my life. Tricky for a Monday, careful parsing needed. Liked DROP-DEAD, which only fell into place with the crossers. Am familiar with TETRAGRAM, another nice clue, through the (transliterated) YHWH.

    14’17” (with a typo), thanks vinyl and setter.

  14. 30:54. That was fun. FOI WORDSWORTH, LOI DOSE. NHO TETRAGRAM but Margaret, taken aback, was clever. CHAR was a nice triple. I liked DROP-DEAD and the not seen before INCA HOOTS

  15. About half an hour, not all understood. NOT SO DUSTY was unknown, and ANOTHER went in with a shrug once I had all the checkers. I took a long time to see INCONVENIENCED, which to my mind feels not quite strong enough for ‘upset’, but I imagine there’s a situation somewhere with enough overlap between them. I also wasn’t familiar with the od=in the red part of ODEON.

    FOI Oasis
    LOI Another
    COD Scatterbrained

  16. 31.38 with most of the time trying unsuccessfully to parse ‘drop dead’. Some rather ‘iffy’ definitions in my view, so not my favourite puzzle. Fortunately, Buccaneer in the FT, which I haven’t looked at yet but I’m confident will be up to scratch.

  17. 25:57
    I thought this a bit tougher than the usual Monday puzzles with some enjoyably playful clues.

    A fair few colloquialisms may have made it a little trickier for non-UK solvers ( e.g. NOT SO DUSTY, CRIKEY, CLOCK, BLETHER). COD- DROP DEAD

    Thanks to vinyl and the setter

  18. Yes I’m sure that in 27ac it’s a tennis reference, but in the solving I missed this, thinking that it was a (very) oblique reference to serving in the armed forces. Nice crossword despite the possible chestnuts (TETRAGRAM, IN CAHOOTS, … ?) which I needed 26 minutes for. When is a chestnut not a chestnut? When you’ve never seen it before? In that case for someone at least the clue is worthwhile?

  19. Definitely harder to finish off than a usual Monday, although most of it went in quickly. The SW corner came last and LOI CHAR was excellent when I saw it. No problem knowing IN CAHOOTS and NOT SO DUSTY. 24 minutes.

  20. 09:06, which felt like a zippy time for a puzzle which was tougher than Mondays often are. Only modest delays as I tried to work out how the apparently odd word DOCA could be “learn about” until that penny dropped, and persisted in looking for ABE rather than IKE.

  21. 25 minutes

    Slow but steady until I ground to a halt in the NE. Took a very long time to see DROP-DEAD after which DOSE was a write-in.

    If this sets the tone for the week it will be interesting.

  22. 11:08

    No major hold-ups for me today. Think I was lucky to immediately take “exceptionally” for the definition in 4Ac, which then followed easily after thinking of DAD for Pa.

    The litotes in 13 I haven’t heard much, but it’s not that dissimilar from “not too shabby”, which is in very common usage, at least in England.

    Favourite clue CHAR for its succinct expression of a triple definition.

  23. 42:11 but…

    A slow trudge for a Monday morning spoiled by entering DOES rather than DOSE (two pink squares).

    A few that I found difficult:
    DROP-DEAD – nicely clued on reflection but difficult at the time
    REARGUARD = reactionaries? Really? I don’t get it.
    RESERVED – missed the tennis reference
    DOMINICA – got the MINI bit but don’t understand the DO CA surround.

    1. See Collins: ‘an entrenched or conservative element, as in a political party’.

    2. No problems today. Amazed, nay astounded, to see so many comments about “not so dusty” without anyone mentioning the late, great Dusty Springfield … I never rated her, until I saw a Motown Special evening on tv, with all their best known artists, and thought, actually, she is a better singer than all of them ..
      Anyway, nice crossword 🙂

  24. 19:20. NOT SO DUSTY was just about familiar enough to be gettable on the second pass. I wasn’t entirely convinced about upset for inconvenienced, but I’m sure the usual authorities give it their blessing. Fun stuff and a wee bit harder than your usual Monday.

  25. Pretty steady solve from start to finish, crossing the line in 34.27. I was briefly held up by putting FEATHER BRAINED in for 12ac as the mention of down made me think of the feather connection, but solving 3dn made me reevaluate. I’m amazed that so many people have never heard of the expression NOT SO DUSTY, particularly those based in the UK. I use the expression regularly, perhaps because I’m a certain age?

  26. Not on the right wavelength, never got to tetragram, quite a few biffs that I couldn’t parse (doca…) and had “not so messy” in place for a long time.

  27. A technical DNF as I put DOMENICA — wrongly believing that’s what those who live there call it. Couldn’t make the parsing work of course but bunged it in anyway. Didn’t spot the 3rd definition in CHAR(lady) nor the tennis allusion. Tricky for a Monday.

  28. I didn’t think I was familiar with the expression NOT SO DUSTY, but for some reason, it came quite quickly with the S from BURNS in place. Many of the others held out for a long time, among them DROP-DEAD (and therefore DOSE and RIDER), SCATTERBRAINED and TETRAGRAM, until T-T-A suggested TETRA…. Took two sessions of brainstorming. I liked IN CAHOOTS and HEATH particularly.

  29. 4m 58s, lots of biffing. Like many others, I’d NHO NOT SO DUSTY.

    TETRAGRAM is nice, and gets my COD.

  30. I was very slow today @ 47 minutes. Also NHO NOT SO DUSTY. Just looking it over now, Ted HEATH I had completely forgotten about. I was struck by the assumption a char was a she. The expression “drop dead gorgeous” took me
    also a while to remember. Inca hoots was clever and new to me.

  31. 21 mins, with the BURNS chestnut not being so chestnutty for me. I was even wondering whether BARKS were a thing in Scotland. Also took ages over INCONVENIENCED, mainly because I identified an anagram (visiting loo d is) which even had the V in it. Would have been easier if I’d CLOCKed CLOCK earlier.
    Agree with above, TETRAGRAM COD

  32. 27.50 but I must have spent at least five minutes solving drop dead. Even then it was a half guess. How I laughed – not , when reading the blog. Aaarrrggghhh!
    Still, good puzzle and agree on Tetragram as COD. Thx setter and blogger.

  33. Isn’t DO a bit of a stretch for LEARN? DO can double for just about anything. And why from JAVA for EASTERNER? Anywhere out thataway would do, so why pick JAVA? Why not, I hear you say – but a good clue shouldn’t leave untied ends like that. NHO NOT SO DUSTY, but I took it to be the same as NOT BAD used as a positive exclamation. Think I saw INCA HOOTS, Amerindian guffaws, Lost people’s chortles etc, in the Spectator a week or two back. 20’45”

  34. 13d NOT SO DUSTY was an expression of my father-in-law born around 1930 so that was easy, but Andy Pandy’s reference to a certain age does ring true….
    Missed the OD in ODEON, so foxed.
    DOMINICA was clever. Not entirely sure DO = Learn tho.
    Missed the chestnut BURNS and stupidly BIFfeD BARKS without a clue how it worked. DOH!

    1. Well Andy I was born in 1948, and I suspect I may have picked the expression up from my father born 1913 in Nottingham. I’m pretty sure nobody of the generation following mine would use it, my three sons certainly wouldn’t.

  35. A very nice puzzle. I must have been on the wavelength, as apart from 4 and 18, I found it fairly straightforward.
    NHO of NOT SO DUSTY- SHABBY is more familiar.
    I liked the DROP DEAD clue
    Regards to Setter and Blogger

  36. Was beginning to mutter tetragrams beneath my breath as I struggled with the lower half of this — CLOCK, INCONVENIENCED, ANOTHER and TETRAGRAM were far from obvious. Finally crossed the finish line at 38 minutes.

  37. This was a steady 40 minute solve for me, but I never felt I was quite on the wavelength. Like others I was held up by playing around with clues which looked like anagrams but weren’t, such as 22ac and 21ac. And the arrow or arrower visible in 9dn was not needed, despite the reference to a bowman.
    COD – IN CAHOOTS (a new one on me).
    Thanks vinyl and other contributors.

  38. 53:02
    Like pulling teeth in places.
    Not so dusty. Okay, then …
    Thanks, v.

  39. Struggled badly in the SE as I wrote in TERTAGRAM – having clocked Margaret but got the T of Tory in the wrong place. Took an age to then get ESTONIANS and correct the answer. Drop dead and dose also held me up but a good struggle – successful in the end.

  40. Just back from a musical 60th birthday celebration in deepest Northumberland, (Clennell Hall near Rothbury. A superb location!) with lots of carousing and merriment. A period of rest and recouperation is now warranted! Anyway this gave me a few pauses for thought, but didn’t cause a headache. Lots to like. NOT SO DUSTY was vaguely familiar. From WATERY to RESERVED in 20:31.

  41. I didn’t like this while I was solving it (too many very strange definitions, secondary and tertiary senses, as vinyl says), but after I finished it, which took 56 minutes, I found it rather good. My LOI was DROP-DEAD, which the crossing letters suggested but seemed not to have anything at all to do with the clue until I looked again at the clue’s first word. CRIKEY took a while, too, although in a solution that short I already suspected the president would turn out to be IKE. I also NHO NOT SO DUSTY and considered NOT SO MESSY for a while, until I became INCONVENIENCED by the M in that. As for TETRAGRAM, I thought of that as soon as I saw “four-letter word” (what else would be in the Times?) and thought the backwards MARGARET in it was very clever. But COD perhaps to DROP-DEAD, nonetheless.

    One question about RESERVED: I thought it had to do with the army, as a soldier who joined up again would have RE-SERVED as well. Otherwise, can someone explain what “troops” are doing in the clue, if it refers to tennis?

    Very sorry to hear about Tony Sever, whose times always absolutely amazed me (on the lines of: “very slow today, it took me 7 minutes” to paraphrase him). He hadn’t posted here in ages, but I always enjoyed his comments.

    1. I was sorry that, shortly after I became more than a lurker at TfTT, the estimable Mr. Sever was compelled to cease participation because of one of the paper’s unconscionable subscription rate hikes.

      The troops are the R(oyal) E(ngineers).

      1. Thank you. I didn’t see that, that is, I obviously succumbed to a different meaning of RE.

  42. Tricky just in the way Vinyl described… another I couldn’t finish after karaoke last night, just got thru it now. I was blanking on the parsing for OASIS, and no time to ponder further. NOT SO DUSTY is an expression new to me, and one that aptly describes this outing.

  43. CLOCK (Collins): “to measure the speed or record the time of (a race, runner, motorist, etc.) with a stopwatch or other timing device”—not necessarily in reference to a broken, a new or an all-time record (which itself is not synonymous with CLOCK).

  44. Nice clues today. Didn’t understand T(I)ARA until I saw the explanation here, having obviously forgotten TA-RA was a cheerio. But I put TIARA in anyway. 35 minutes.

  45. 31:31. I must have got seriously stuck several times, especially my LOI, DROP DEAD (which I’m not sure I’ve ever heard without the word GORGEOUS following), but I’m not sure why – the clues are all fine. Maybe I shouldn’t try solving after a long day walking. Trying to remember whether we had ever had a PM called OWENS didn’t help, but CHAR sorted out that corner.As for BLETHER/BLATHER, well in Scotland, as I remember it, it is the former that is more common. Thanks Vinyl and setter.

  46. Fun puzzle which I very nearly finished in about 40 minutes. Loved DROP DEAD ( once I realised an anagram of ‘sweet pa e’ was not going to work!), but defeated by the easy DOSE, where I misguidedly stuck to my original DAM as the only female 3-letter word: oh dear. Never CLOCKED the lovely Margaret reversal, and hadn’t heard of the TETRAGRAM, and DOMINICA also a non-starter as I’d never thought of ‘learn about’ as DO.
    Otherwise an enjoyable romp, and one that felt NOT SO DUSTY.

  47. An utter pile of time wasting. Has AI arrived at the times? The beginning of the end…….

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