Times 28603 – First a coronation, then….

Time: 21 minutes

Music: Ravel, Daphnis and Chloe, Munch/BSO.

Although I didn’t get an answer right away, and only had six in my first run-through of the across clues, I started to make good progress with the downs.   I was doing pretty well, but after 15 minutes I still had three to solve that I found a bit tough.

Fortunately, my knowledge of 18th and 19th century British culture pulled me through one, and then languages and literature kicked in.     All done in a decent time for me, with a few left to parse for the blog.    There’s certainly nothing very obscure here, so I expect some good finishes.


1 Short man, old and grim, making nasty smell (8)
5 Plant, for all to see, chewed by dangerous reptiles (6)
9 Sponger in airborne unit’s barracks, perhaps? (8)
10 Not just amusement parks have ditched their extreme characters (6)
UNFAIR – [f]UNFAIR[s], a chestnut, and my FOI.
12 Follow English girl round back of barn (5)
ENSUE – E([bar]N)SUE.
13 Immature supporter wearing trendy hat (9)
14 Peer rarely seen to support female hugging old copper (12)
BACKWOODSMAN – BACK  WO(O + DS)MAN.    One of my last three, which I ended up biffing when I spotted the definition.   DS = Detective Sergeant.
18 Oddly another ten men missing a bishop‘s installation? (12)
21 Resident’s daughter embraced by popular Dickens character (9)
INDWELLER – IN (D) WELLER, Sam Weller, that is.
23 Resinous substance the Spanish mostly give out (5)
ELEMI – EL + EMI[t], a US crossword word, rich in vowels.
24 Like image of island shaped like a dunce’s cap? (6)
25 Physical discomfort of beast of burden crossing narrow ravine (8)
ACHINESS – A(CHINE)SS.   Setters seem to be fond of cols sand chines.
26 Artificial offering from keepers at zoo (6)
ERSATZ – Hidden in [keep]ERS AT Z[oo].
27 Overwhelm sister during current appointment (8)
1 Little darling’s fit of sulks upset dog at first (6)
MOPPET – POM upside-down + PET.
2 Old string-player lines up for inclusion in register (6)
LYRIST – L(RY upside-down)IST.
3 Terrible couple keeping son in worn-out state (9)
4 In France a slim monarch left Nancy at last, foolishly (12)
UNTHINKINGLY – UN + THIN KING + L + [nanc]Y.    The thin king has appeared in many puzzles.
6 Arrest hooligan finally caught in wrecked building (3,2)
RUN IN – RU([hooliga]N)IN
7 Machair’s extraordinary drawing power (8)
8 Soldier’s strange complex involving hallucinatory drug (8)
SERGEANT – Anagram of STRANGE around E, the most common letter and drug in these puzzles.
11 Note from Heather about a knight with roots on another continent (4-8)
AFRO-AMERICAN – A (FRO(A)M ERICA) N.   Most solvers will biff – I certainly did.   The first A is the note, and the N is the knight.
15 Flower teacher planted outside a new food shop (9)
16 Bloke this person’s employed to carry one’s case (8)
GENITIVE – GEN(I)T I’VE.   One of the three I got stuck on, until I suddenly saw the meaning of case required.
17 Hard-working breeding establishments concealing evidence of debt (8)
19 Family groups delivering information on time (6)
20 Paper that ultimately children required (6)
TISSUE – [tha]T + ISSUE, a chestnut.
22 Novelist or poet using elevated material (5)
ELIOT – TOILE upside-down, T.S. or George.   My LOI, which I saw instantly when I wrote out the crossing letters backwards.

63 comments on “Times 28603 – First a coronation, then….”

  1. Very Mondayish, no troubles, no hold-ups. Possibly misparsed 1ac as MAL[colm]. Only unknown was who or what machair was – it’s a what.

    1. Remembered we had rarely-seen peers recently, but needed the cryptic and most checkers to get the word. Search search: 28211 on Feb 10 2022, so 15 months ago. A bit surprised it caught out so many others – usually I’m poor at remembering such words.

  2. 11:33
    As isla said, very Mondayish. DNK BACKWOODSMAN (LOI), so I spent some time on the wordplay before submitting.

  3. I raced (for me) through the top half and after 20 minutes had all but 5 answers, however I needed another 10 minutes to work my way through these slowly and stopped the clock bang on my half-hour target. GENETIVE was one that delayed me whilst the remainder were all in the SE corner, GENERA and ACHINESS as my LOI in particular.

    Whilst constructing the answer at 1ac from wordplay I had been taking ‘short man’ as MA{n}, but when MALODOUR occurred to me and I needed to account for the ‘L’, like Isla I immediately thought of MAL short for Malcolm and moved on. Of course MAL{e} is more likely to be what the setter had in mind.

  4. 9:01. I was at risk of keeping up my bad run of last week when I was tempted by DECISIVE, which I thought of before GENITIVE. This parsed if you took DEC to be the required bloke and IS for one’s, but although I’m not great on grammatical terms I doubted there was a decisive case. Also I wasn’t sure if Dec existed in his own right or only ever as one half of Ant & Dec.
    Fortunately an alphabet trawl quickly threw up GENITIVE and I was able to finish without error.

  5. Found this really difficult (though all the time with the nagging feeling I was just being gormless – e.g. when I thought “crocs” but failed to get CROCUS for another 10 minutes). But most of my pain was self-inflicted, due to entering ODOUROUS at 1a. Fixed that at about 38m, leading to a reasonably orderly completion sequence. Finished, very relieved, with BACKWOODSMAN (I still don’t understand the BACK bit).

    Finally, as a woman of the world, I can assure you that Es aren’t hallucinogenic. 43:52 – thanks V and setter

    1. BACK is “support,” as in “two-thirds of Tories back the proposal.”

    2. Collins describes MDMA in British English as “a powerful drug that acts as a stimulant and can produce hallucinations.” Under “American English,” however, the same drug is described as “mildly psychedelic.” Perhaps you are buying the American version, Denise? 🙂

      1. You will appreciate, Jerry, that my familiarity with “disco biscuits” ended some years ago (thankfully, some time before camera-phones and YouTube became popular). I’m also well aware of what psychedelics are like.

        As for the nuances of the definition …you can trust my extensive first-hand experience, or trust some academic US lexicographer sitting in a dusty book-lined office in Princeton.

        1. Beautifully put! I think I’m going to trust your superior knowledge as tequila is my drug of choice.

        2. Ha.. you might be surprised what Princeton academics get up to.
          I am well out of my comfort zone here, a decent red wine is as far as I ever go… but it is always good to learn.

        3. Well done Denise-a woman after my own heart! Great to come across someone who’s ready to debunk the lexicographical myths with first-hand knowledge.

          Too many times dictionaries set themselves up as experts on subjects of which they have no knowledge whatsoever. The dictionary definition for MDMA should be ‘Recreational drug; known as ‘ecstasy’ in its tablet form’.

          Anything else more subjective risks a clash with another dictionary which might have a different take on it. They can’t both be right, and it’s wrong to indulge them in their respective vanities.

  6. 20:05. My fourth fastest recorded time (all Mondays). Did not get the definition for BACKWOODSMAN so it went in from wordplay and crossers, although I do now think I knew it. Unlike Denise, I have led a sheltered life, but even I raised an eyebrow at Es being hallucinogenic

  7. 7:28. No real hold-ups today, although I only had two or three answers after my first run through the acrosses. I’ve never heard BACKWOODSMAN used in this sense but it seemed amusingly logical.

  8. 11’03” this morning, with DISREPAIR LOI. I’ve never thought about the meaning of BACKWOODSMAN until now.

    Thanks vinyl and setter.

  9. 26 minutes with LOI MOPPET. A steady solve, troubled mainly by wondering if there really was such a word as Machair or if the setter was a redhead. Must concentrate more. COD to PARASITE. I liked ELIOT too .Thank you V and setter..

    1. MACHAIR was the word to be clued in The Sunday Times Cluewriting competition some years ago.

  10. I who have sat by Thebes below the wall
    And walked among the lowest of the dead.
    Bestows one final patronising kiss,
    And gropes his way, finding the stairs unlit . . .
    (The Waste Land, TS Eliot)

    25 mins mid-brekker. No ticks, no crosses, no ?s.
    I liked it.
    Ta setter and V.

  11. 35 mins so on the easier side. No idea what machair was, or that meaning of BACKWOODSMAN, nor that of ELEMI, but the wp was clear. No other real probs. LOI GENITIVE.

    Thanks v and setter.

  12. About 25 minutes. I hadn’t heard of ELEMI and embarrassingly didn’t know the Dickensian Weller character for INDWELLER, but in both cases the wordplay was helpful. I also didn’t know chine as a narrow ravine, but again ACHINESS was gettable. MOPPET gave me the most problems, as I thought ‘dog at first’ was giving D at the end of the word for a long time. Eventually I realised what was going on and just about remembered that a pet can be a fit of sulks.

    A nice start to the week – thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Unfair
    LOI Moppet
    COD Lyrist

      1. It’s Pom, as in a Pomeranian, upside down (indicated by ‘upset’) to give ‘mop’. The ‘at first’ means to put that on top, and then ‘pet’ (a fit of sulks) below it.

  13. 9:42. Nothing to add. I realise it would look more dignified if I made up some comments, but let’s face it I’m just here to mention that I had a sub-10.

    Thanks Vinyl and setter.

  14. For a while I thought I was up for a good time but the lasr few answers let me down and I ended up in 28 minutes. I spent a good 5 minutes worrying about A(CHINE)SS becausr I wasn‘t convinced CHINE was a real word, but couldn‘t see any other possibility. Then my LOI GENITIVE took the last 8 minutes (!!!) before I finally cottoned on. Good clue!
    Thanks setter and blogger

  15. DNF as failed to notice that I hadn’t filled in 1d. It does not seem to me obvious, so that would have been the hardest part. Also inexplicably failed to see Toile in 22d, biffed ELIOT, so that was both ends of the down clues not actually solved.
    Loved the “peer rarely seen” def in 14a. I had thought that the O Ds were old pennies, but now see that a singular, Old DS is required. So quite a bad biff really, but still COD.
    ACHINESS is a horrid word, but the clue is fine and the word does exist so can’t complain.

  16. Quick today, as befits Monday.
    Nho that definition of backwoodsman before. Not being a peer, I suppose..
    Elemi dragged up from the depths having seen it in previous xwords.
    My impression is that the generality of Times setters positively revel in illicit drugs, so such a basic error would be surprising. But I see that Collins says it is “a powerful drug that acts as a stimulant and can produce hallucinations.”

  17. LOI, GENETIVE took some thought, but duly arrived. MOPPET was FOI. BACKWOODSMAN rang a faint bell after construction. 17:29. Thanks setter and Vinyl.

  18. Finished in a respectable 36.42 with only my LOI GENITIVE causing me any great delay. Like others never heard of the alternative meaning in this instance for BACKWOODSMAN, but I did hesitate before putting it in.

  19. 05:00, something of a mad dash to the line today. Some words which are positively commonplace in crosswords compared to how often I use them in real life (i.e. not at all) such as ELEMI and CHINE, but ultimately nothing which caused very much delay at all.

  20. 21 minutes, so I found it rather easier than last Monday’s. BACKWOODSMAN held me up a little, and AFRO-AMERICAN took a while to parse post-solve. I didn’t know the meaning of CHINE as used in the clue.

  21. 15:25. BACKWOODSMAN was a new one for me, but only GENITIVE gave much pause for thought. A gentle wake-up after a sleepy weekend.

  22. 21:17
    A straightforward Monday puzzle though BACKWOODSMAN took a bit of starng at. Never heard of MACHAIR.

    Thanks to vinyl and the setter.

  23. 22 minutes after rather a slow start. I still don’t know what the peer is doing in the BACKWOODSMAN clue, but no doubt there’s some meaning of which I’m unaware. Finished with GENITIVE, entered before parsing but eventually understood.

    1. ODE sv backwoodsman: (Brit) (informal) a peer who very rarely attends the House of Lords

  24. Mondayish, but not too much, for me at least.

    Got a bit stuck on LOI GENITIVE and the NHO BACKWOODSMAN, but got there in the end.


  25. 15.05 so a more or less standard Monday. No real issues but I was glad to remember elemi from past adventures. Initially thought of poppet for 1 dn which meant I meeded malodour to finish.
    Thx setter and blogger.

    1. Exactly my problem with poppet for 1d , BrenK1, but alas I stuck like glue to it and ended up with P?LODOROUS for 1a . Spent too long worrying over 16d too, so finally gave up and came here. Unlike many, had no problem with BACKWOODSMAN, which went straight in, and I too had a vague recollection of ELEMI and CHINE from previous crosswords- so the rest fell smoothly enough. Quite happy with my effort. 😑

  26. 22:05

    Fairly smooth with a couple of hold-ups:
    MOPPET – didn’t really get the MOP or POM bit – backwards or forwards!
    GENITIVE – useless with cases never having studied Latin so have no idea what this means! Luckily I’d heard of it…
    BACKWOODSMAN – heard this word before but didn’t know that it was anything to do with peers
    ELEMI – educated guess based on the brand name

    On the plus side:
    INDWELLER – pleased to have learnt about Sam Weller from reading The Pickwick Papers last year

  27. 21:55

    Most done in a little over 15 mins. The rest of the time was spent on LOI GENITIVE.


  28. Completed and all parsed for a change although I was a little unsure of the parsing of AFRO-AMERICAN. I did get it in the end but it took a while and a few crossing letters before adding the AMERICAN bit. I kept thinking that the ‘from Heather’ went around both the A and N for knight.

    MALODOUR was my FOI seeing the DOUR bit as I read the clue. LOI GENITIVE like others as it took time to break down the clue and see the definition.

    BACKWOODSMAN was new to me although I got there through wordplay checking its meaning after.

  29. I don’t understand the “U” in the parsing of CROCUS. For all to see?

  30. 27 minutes. As for many others, I didn’t know the House of Lords link for BACKWOODSMAN and spent an unreasonable amount of time at the end on GENITIVE which I thought was right but which I couldn’t parse; one’s instincts are often correct in such a situation and I should have trusted to them.

  31. Gentle puzzle to start the week, for which many thanks. Only held up by backwoodsman. I’ve always understood machair to refer to a distinctive type of grass growing near the shore, often containing many wild flowers- it’s a very pretty sight. Especially used in the Western Isles of Scotland.

  32. From “The Chines of Bournemouth and Poole”
    “The word ‘CHINE’ means a ‘deep, narrow ravine cut through soft rocks by a water course descending steeply to the sea’. The word is peculiar to Dorset and the Isle of Wight, chines being very much a feature of this part of the British coast. ”
    Examples would be Alum Chine, Branksome Chine and Dene Chine.
    “BACKWOODSMAN” was probably more widely used when hereditary peers were all entitled to attend the House of Lords but many only did in cases of extreme need, like opposing The Reform Act.

  33. Wasagasman beat me to it – I also knew Chine from trips to Bournemouth.
    I’m another who didn’t know that meaning of Backwoodsman.
    I was rather slow today, for a Monday, at around 50 minutes – enjoyable puzzle.

  34. 34 minutes, nothing very hard, though ELEMI believed only from wordplay. I liked DISREPAIR (it took me ages to see that the couple would not be a DUO) and AFROAMERICAN.

  35. Got there in the end. Like many others, my LOI (by a loooong way) was GENITIVE with its trickily disguised definition. I vaguely remember coming across BACKWOODSMAN (in that sense) before, probably here years ago, but with all the checkers there was nothing else to fit. I’m surprised that people don’t know ELEMI since I have the impression it comes up fairly regularly. When I see “resin” in the clue it is always ELEMI as the only resin that seems to exist.

  36. I thought CHINE might raise a few NHOs, living on the Isle of Wight I had a bit of a head start on that one. The chines are very short and usually left hanging because the cliffs are soft sandstone and recede very quickly – they look like the edge of the cliff has been nicked by a large knife. Nice to finally find out what BACKWOODSMAN means. Thanks for the blog!

    1. Yes that helped me, all my early holidays with cousins in Shanklin and walking blackgang chine to Ventnor.
      Seemed a long way from Glasgow back in the day!

  37. NHO GENITIVE so relieved to find it was LOI for so many other people. Okay apart from that.

  38. Pleased to have finished another one after several hours on and off. How does any one manage to read the clues, decipher them and then write down the answers in just a few minutes ! What would be the point and satisfaction of completing such an easy puzzle.

    Re. your query, Simon , a tile is slang for a high silk hat-mainly Scottish.

    Never did fully parse genitive or backwoodsman but both had to be right.

  39. As in my reply to BrenK1, a DNF for me as although most of it was plain sailing for me (including ELEMI, CHINE and BACKWOODSMAN), I stubbornly refused to let go of POPPET for 1a ( for some reason totally forgetting the more modern term MOPPET). Also spent far too long on 16d (some housework at least needs to get started!) and came here for the explanation.

    1. I may be a bit late to the party to help you out with this but as I understand it RY is railway – thus “lines up” is YR in list (register).

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