Times 28651 – Splendide Mendax!

Music: Shostakovich, Symphony #14, Ormandy/Philadelphia

Time: 51 minutes

I did most of this fairly easily, but I got stuck in the NE because of a wrong word.    I also had some other answers that I had a lot of doubts about, but finally saw how they worked.

My problem was playact for 3 down.   Flexibility is play, read a part is act, right?    However, this does not really fit the proposed literal of show more, and leaves impossible crossers for 1 across.   Unfortunately, I directed my scrutiny to the innocent wheat, thinking that a W in that position was very unlikely.     I eventually just erased both crossing letters and let my mind drift….then, of course, I saw pub crawl right away.

I hope you didn’t fall into any of these traps.    There is some subtle stuff in this puzzle.


1 Slow movement is this, bar after bar (3-5)
PUB-CRAWL – Cryptic definition?   Cryptic hint?  You decide
5 Work of art that’s drawn by English lake (6)
PASTEL – PAST (drawn by) +  E + L.
10 For each artist successively putting final pieces of painting inside steel drawer (9,6)
PERMANENT MAGNET – PER  +  MANE([painti]N[g])T MAN([paintin]G)ET.     A cryptic 99.9% of solvers won’t use.
11 A reason for current stoppage by paragon of industry in firm (7)
ADAMANT – A DAM + ANT, as opposed to the grasshopper.
12 Face then run after the big cat (7)
PANTHER – PAN + THE + R.   UK slang for face, but not used in the US.
13 Following old philosophy, sorted out optical illusion finally (8)
PLATONIC – Anagram of OPTICAL + [illusio]N.
15 Understood sensitivity surrounding self-referential letter (5)
18 Way to address lady in Mothers’ Union? (5)
MADAM – MA + DAM, two mothers put together.
20 Haul back organ for traveller in strange places (8)
GULLIVER – LUG backwards + LIVER.
23 Class schedule ready to print (7)
TYPESET – TYPE + SET, with schedule and set probably verbs, and maybe ready as well.
25 Interpret former poet (7)
EXPOUND – EX + POUND, Ezra, that is.   It is very difficult to get explain out of your mind, but there is no such poet.
26 Investor’s action perturbed eco-warrior (15)
27 Almost new and ahead of its time (6)
28 From whom one can get nary a yes? (8)
1 What has branches providing part of our capital (6)
POPLAR – Double definition, where I only vaguely knew the neighborhood in London.
2 Like wreck exposed, full of salt (9)
3 Show more flexibility to interpret a part (7)
4 Please repeat your statement about European crop (5)
6 In contact with, not friends with (7)
AGAINST – AGAINST, double definition.
7 What’s clearly smelt with head cut off, or another fish (5)
8 Volume with American spelling at one reading class (8)
9 Unusual play, Act I being modified (8)
ATYPICAL – Anagram of PLAY, ACT I.
14 Stage in preparation of shot, say, in local (8)
16 What makes us buy too much cutlery? I’d ordered in error (9)
CREDULITY – Anagram of CUTLERY? I’D.    Buy in the sense of fall for, believe.
17 Turned up book I study for characters showing feeling (8)
EMOTICON – TOME backwards + I CON.
19 Is daughter cutting food making mistake with hands? (7)
21 Profane brat promises to achieve redemption (7)
22 One leader who may be responsible for another (6)
EDITOR – Cryptic definition, where the editor writes the leaders in British papers – they’re editorials over here.
24 Letters from old man for adorable Chinese native (5)
PANDA – P AND A, a bit of a chestnut.
25 Person with insignificant role taken out of context? Rarely (5)
EXTRA – Hidden in [cont]EXT? RA[rely].

84 comments on “Times 28651 – Splendide Mendax!”

  1. Oh, hi. I’ve been waiting for you. This was very easy. I randomly started at the bottom, with FOI EXTRA and second EXPOUND, and the NW was the last to fall, POI POPLAR and LOI ADAMANT.
    Google: “Residential Poplar is a down-to-earth area with swathes of post-WWII social housing, including Erno Goldfinger’s iconic, Brutalist-style Balfron Tower.”
    I think the clue for 1A must be a CD. At karaoke one night, a friend taking the mic said, “Give me eight bars so I’ll know where I am,” and I said, “After eight bars, I never know where I am!”

    1. Of course, Poplar is most well- known know as the setting for Call the Midwife!

    2. While recently doing a little amateur research into brutalist architecture, I came across a panoramic view with the Balfron Tower in the centre; I gazed at it with a mixture of awe and horror. I had no idea it had been designed by a villain.

      1. Double-take… read “Erno Goldfinger” (who I’ve never heard of) and thought: James Bond villain, Ernst Stavro Goldfinger. Wondered what on earth he was doing living in a London tower, instead of a secret underground lair below a dormant Jamaican volcano.
        Or something.

        1. Not a villain, maybe, but (according to Wikipedia), not a nice guy…
          “Goldfinger was known as a humourless man given to notorious rages. He sometimes fired his assistants if they were inappropriately jocular, and once forcibly ejected two prospective clients for imposing restrictions on his design.”

        2. Ian Fleming fell out with the real one in a Hampstead property dispute, and named the villain after hin.

  2. 38 minutes. I did have to parse PERMANENT MAGNET which I’d never come across as a specific term before. I thought it looked green paint-ish but “it’s in…”. This then helped with POPLAR for which I was in the middle of doing a London suburb trawl. I also spent too long on 11a as I expected the ‘paragon of industry’ would be a “bee”. I liked PUB-CRAWL which initially led me down a few musical dead-ends as intended.

    I had ‘Work of art that’s drawn’ as the def for 5a, with PAST (‘by’) E (‘English’) L (‘lake’) as wordplay.

    1. PASTEL: Oh, sure, that’s the obvious solution. I didn’t notice Vinyl’s typo.

      1. I took ages to justify PART, just in case it wasn’t, and eventually settled on “drawn by”. I’m sure you’re right, but I’m not sure I’m wrong.

  3. I was surprised last year to learn POPLAR is a suburb of London. Now, I had just forgotten. My problems were more in the NW than the NE, although I struggled with PAST=DRAWN (by). PUB CRAWL unlocked the last few.

    1. I read the permanent magnet as something that draws steel, not something made of steel that draws. Many permanent magnets are ceramic, especially in motors. Most steels are attracted by magnets. Some common stainless steels aren’t e.g. your kitchen sink, but some stainless steels are e.g. cutlery.

  4. Some excellent surfaces and matching wordplay here,
    TACIT, CONSERVATIONIST and NAYSAYER being particularly neat.
    Yes, With PASTEL, by = past.

  5. Nobody else has mentioned it so now I’m wondering if it’s just me, but isn’t there a problem at 17dn with a plural definition and a singular answer?

    As for the puzzle, I found it very enjoyable and not particularly easy and needed 33 minutes to fill the grid. LOI was PASTEL where I might have biffed the answer and moved on but I lost time trying to make sense of the wordplay, which having read BR’s comment I now understand at last. The wordplay in PERMANENT MAGNET was tricky too, but I got there eventually.

    I wouldn’t know whether PAN is used for ‘face’ in the USA but I might have been surprised if it was completely unknown since they have surely used ‘deadpan’ to describe the style of certain comedians going right back to, and probably further than, the silent film-star Buster Keaton whose name is just about synonymous with it. Anyway I checked Collins and they have ‘pan/face’ as a US meaning in addition to the entry in the British English listings.

    1. In the old days emoticons were a series of characters e.g. colon hyphen closing bracket for a smiley face :‐)

      1. Ah, right! I still use those.
        But they are often automatically changed to emojis.
        Like here. I’ll type ; then – (the nose!) then a smiling ).

        1. I’ve noticed that before – had to look up the HTML code for a dash to stop that happening: & #8208;

    2. I raised an eyebrow at EMOTICON, but I was so busy forgetting to check LITERATE that I forgot. I suppose isla’s got the answer.

      1. Ah, thanks Rob, so that’s what I was doing! I’ve always avoided the wretched things so I wasn’t clear on the distinction. The only time I ever use them now (but very sparingly) is here in response to a comment since we lost the ‘Like’ feature we had in Live Journal.

        Thanks to Isla too for his initial response.

      1. Thanks, Martin. I’m happy to accept the explanation above as justifying the clue however it’s a very fine distinction being drawn and I can’t help wondering if the setter was aware of it rather than it being another of the errors that creep in from time to time. If the clue had been ‘character’ rather than ‘characters’ I very much doubt that anyone would have thought to query it, even in this delightful nest of pedantry!

        1. The setter might have looked in Collins, where the definition is ‘any of several combinations of symbols used in electronic mail and text messaging to indicate the state of mind of the writer, such as 🙂 to express happiness’.
          Ha, the ‘series of characters’ (originally “:-)”) in this case is automatically changed to the symbol, rather neatly illustrating the problem!

          1. Sometimes dictionaries go to places where they really shouldn’t go as they simply have no credible authority whatsoever on certain subjects.

            A few weeks ago one of them was earnestly trying to assure us that ‘e’s’ were hallucinatory.

            1. I think that’s a bit harsh. They’re just trying to describe the meaning of words as they’re used. They’re human so occasionally they’re bound to make mistakes. In this case I think they’re perhaps just a bit out of date.

        2. 🤣🤣
          “…delightful nest of pedantry”
          I do like that!
          I use emoticons in comments underneath articles in The Times because the AI Robot that monitors readers’ comments doesn’t like emojis.

  6. Mostly easy, slowed down a bit in the NE being slow to get PUB CRAWL, and in the NW by PASTEL which I couldn’t parse, missed the sneaky BY. Very entertaining, liked it.

  7. Not spared, not one
    That dandled a sandalled
    Shadow that swam or sank
    On meadow & river & wind-wandering weed-winding bank.
    (Binsey Poplars, GM Hopkins)

    25 mins pre-brekker. I struggled to get going but then sped up. Getting the weird Pub-Crawl helped.
    Hats off for Salt being NaCl and not Tar, Jack, Rating, etc.
    Ta setter and V.

  8. 17’45”, with NW last in. Should have got PUB-CRAWL earlier. POPLAR took a while too, London has many parts.

    Thanks vinyl and setter.

  9. Unlike many of those who came before I found this pretty tough, tough but fair. Took ages to get anything and was quite relieved to finish in 45. The anagrams helped me establish a beachhead, CONSERVATIONIST was my FOI. Correctly guessed there was such a thing as a PERMANENT MAGNET and thought the cryptic was clever when I eventually figured it out. Is a PASTEL a drawing? I suppose it is. Took a long time to finish the NW, ADAMANT and BARNACLED the LOsI. Thanks to vinyl1 for the elucidations, notably MADAM and PANTHER.

  10. 41 minutes with LOI TYPESET. COD to BARNACLED for the chemical formula. For some reason I then thought of Barnacle Bailey. Trevor wasn’t an early exponent of Bazball. I can’t say that PAN for FACE is a regular part of this Englishman’s vocabulary either. I put in PERMANENT MAGNET without spotting either of the Manets on display. Quite hard. Thank you V and setter.

      1. I did think of it. My good fortune was in deciding to stick with the cricket.

  11. 37:12. FOI 1ac PUB CRAWL but then it was the bottom half that filled up first. Nice one

  12. 14:31. Held up at the end by PUB-CRAWL (lovely cryptic definition) and BARNACLED (nice to see NaCl for salt). I thought 10A might be some sort of (railway) ENGINE at first, but AGAINST disabused me of that when I got to the downs. COD to CREDULITY for the neat deceptive surface, but there was plenty more to like. Thanks Vinyl and setter.

  13. 31m 50s but, like Kevin, I put LITERATE for 8d.
    I agree with Jack about the singular/plural issue in 17d and I also agree with Bletchley about PASTEL.
    Thanks, Vinyl.

  14. About 20 minutes. Only parsed PERMANENT MAGNET after I’d put it in. I agree that ‘work of art that’s drawn’ is the definition for PASTEL, and I thought the plural ‘characters’ in EMOTICON was a mistake until I saw isla3’s explanation above. I’m not familiar with pan=face as required for PANTHER, but it had to be.

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

    FOI Madam
    LOI Editor
    COD Conservationist

  15. I found that very hard, taking 50 minutes!
    I also thought EMOTICON should have been plural.
    POPLAR might not be so obvious for people who don’t know London.
    Cod BARNACLED for the NaCl
    The Manet stuff did actually help me get the answer, I got PERMANENT saw MANExT and only then I got MAxNET.
    Very clever and cunning crossword overall but hard for a Monday (for me anyway)
    Thanks setter and blogger

  16. 13:09. I found that tricky, particularly at the end when I got completely stuck on BARNACLED. Just couldn’t see it for ages.

    1. Ha ha K, I too got stuck on BARNACLED but my ‘ages’ was almost your total time!! I’m with SteveB above, found this hard but clever and cunning as he said.

  17. Quite slow, especially at the top. Couldn’t quite parse PASTEL for a while, but eventually got it, and popped it in. ADAMANT and AGAINST were also slow up there, being last two in.

    Not Mondayish, which was slightly disappointing, but nevertheless a very good puzzle.


  18. Just off 25 minutes, so not a Monday doddle. Held up by the brilliant BARNaClED (who’da thunk salt was – um – salt?!), by PASTEL trying to be sure of PAST, by READAPT because I’d mis-entered PUB-CARWL, and by working out the parsing of the MAGNET because, well, could it be wrong?
    Thanks to the gang for clearing up the difference between an EMOTICON and an emoji: I hope the setter is feeling a bit smug at having confounded this “delightful nest of pedantry”. Can we add a backwards POND somehow to the list?
    P AND A always makes me smile. That’s a lot of smiles over the years.

  19. 44mins, having got bogged down in the NW until I finally saw the very fine PUB CRAWL, which is basically what I have been doing for the last three weeks with my family having been here!

    I also had a MER at EMOTICON so I checked it after and, as has been mentioned, the 🙂 that I do use, is just that.

    My favorites today are PUB CRAWL and the clever « reading class ».

    Thanks vinyl and setter.

  20. When Vinyl says that the cryptic in PERMANENT MAGNET is one 99.9% of solvers won’t use, he really means ‘99.9% of those who are keen to have as fast a time as possible, and therefore resort to occasional biffs’. Surely there are plenty of people who have no great interest in being as fast as possible but want to unpack the niceties of the clue. After all, the setter has made all that effort. I took 42 minutes over this: not sure about PASTEL — a pastel is not so much drawn as daubed, although maybe in a sense it’s drawn. As Collins says, “when you draw something, you use a pencil or pen to produce a picture, pattern, or diagram”, and so far as I know that’s not really what an artist producing a pastel does.

    1. 👍 re 10ac, and I also share your misgivings about the definition of PASTEL. As mentioned above I missed the wordplay as interpreted by BletchleyR so I wasn’t entirely convinced by this clue whichever way I approached it. Eventually it went in as a word that fitted the checkers and had a vague association with one aspect of the clue.

  21. 20 mins. Loved BARNACLED post solve, it was biffed at the time. The one I had most trouble with was AGAINST, for which PASTEL would have helped, but I rejected it as I didn’t get the clue.

  22. Hard for a Monday but fun.
    Somehow missed the NaCl in barnacled, DOH!
    Struggled to justify PASTEL at 5a, but managed at last.
    Loved the 2 MANETs

  23. I found this tricky, but eventually crawled over the finish line having READAPTed to the not so Mondayish situation. READAPT was LOI. In fact the NW was the last to fall in its entirety. WHEAT eventually led the way after leading to PUB CRAWL. 34:01. Thanks setter and Vinyl.

  24. 31:06

    Mostly harmless having started slowly, but heavy use of checkers helped to work out connected answers. A few I was less sure of:

    PERMANENT MAGNET – Not sure I’ve ever heard the term but saw the trick with the painters and went for it.
    PANTHER – PAN = face? One of the last words I would have thought of.
    PLATONIC – took far too long to fill in the blanks
    TACIT – from definition and first two checkers, didn’t parse the rest
    POPLAR – pdm – maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner, that I remembered this from my Dad’s encyclopaedic knowledge of London bus routes
    BARNACLED – excellent clue and my LOI – very satisfying to finally see it

  25. Very good clues, but some were very indirect, and I wasn’t on the setter’s wavelength, taking a full hour.

  26. 23mins with the misapprehension noted by Isla causing a bit of puzzlement at 17d.

  27. Only one in the top half (ATYPICAL) on first pass so I thought this was going to be a disaster. However the bottom half was a completely different experience and before I knew it (well, after about 30 mins) it was done. Returning to the top half, I had suspected PASTEL on first pass but couldn’t parse it (and still can’t, even with the blog). Having put it in with fingers crossed, the NE started to appear. No such luck with the NW, so I resorted to aids for 2 clues, which helped me finish off. A nice puzzle but some pretty tricky clues, I thought.

    1. See comments above: the definition is ‘work of art that’s drawn’. PAST is indicated by ‘by’.

      1. Thanks. That makes more sense now. Obviously didn’t read the comments properly 😉

  28. 28:34. I found this quite tough. Over 5 mins spemt on LOI Barnacled.


  29. After three or four weeks off, for no real reason at all, I picked up the crossword this lunchtime and cracked it in about half an hour, of which 10 minutes or so was spent trying to justify PERMANENT MAGNET and failing. So thanks to our blogger for parsing it and making it my clue of the month. Excellent work. I liked the NaCl reference for salt as well – a nice change from tar, ab and Jack.

  30. I spent ages staring at the blank sheet and wondering if I was going to get a single one. Finally, PANTHER was first in, followed by LITERATI. After completing most of the rest, the NW was left blank. WHEAT finally gave me PUB-CRAWL, then POPLAR (not a district of London that this Londoner immediately thinks of). The clever 10A opened up my last two in, BARNACLED and READAPT. I was so pleased to get the former that I failed to parse it, sadly, as that was a good one, and I’d wondered about about ‘salt’ initially, before anything went in. MADAM not understood, so thanks for the explanation, Vinyl, and since emojis have been explored today, can anyone eg Jackkt, tell me how to do a thumbs up using the computer keyboard? I can do 🙂 and 😉 but that’s as far as my knowledge goes…

    1. Looked up HTML coding for thumbs up…
      & #128077; (without the space between the & and the #).
      Let’s try it:

        1. You need the semi-colon ; on the end

          & #128077;

          without the space between & and #.

    2. alto, if you are using Windows, press the Windows key (between ctrl and alt) and semicolon and you will be presented with a palette of emojis.

      1. 👌 Oh, brilliant! Cracked it, thanks, Jackkt! And thank you to Guy and Isla also for your help. I’m definitely a Windows person, so this has what I need!

  31. I was surprised to finish this in 55 minutes over three sittings and without any parsing problems which must be a first for me for the 15×15.

    I did have a question mark against NEGATIVE but after reading the blog I had parsed correctly.

    I drew smiley faces against PERMANENT MAGNET and PANDA. The sort of clues I would once have failed on.

    I think I deserve a cold beer in the garden.

    I didn’t notice the possible problem at 17dn until I read the comments. I also agree with BR regarding PASTEL.

  32. 27’18”
    Slowly away, stayed on gamely.
    Ariadne, where art thou?
    Tried most of the misdirections; well done to the setter, and I would not like to single anything out as it was all very pleasing.
    The Fitzwilliam Museum once displayed two pastels by Sir Peter Lely; it seemed pretty evident to me that he had lavished far more care and attention on the self-portrait than on the study of his son.
    Thanks to all and hats off to Vinyl; simultaneous solving and Shostakovich – I’m impressed.

  33. I might have got AGAINST eventually with an alphabet trawl but was demoralised by the PERMANENT MAGNET. I had the Manet but misunderstood the ‘successively’ direction and started messing around with planets, to no avail.

    Thanks all

  34. About 40 minutes for me, in two sessions. Unlike a lot of people, PUB CRAWL went straight in an was my FOI. I thought the NaCl in BARNACLED was brilliant, although I basically biffed it and only once I’d put the letters in did I realize how it worked. It certainly never crossed my mind to try NaCl after I’d given up on JACK and AB etc. I did use part of the cryptic for PERMANENT MAGNET, the PER bit and then the rest was obvious. Later I worked out what was going on with the MANETs.

  35. Liked seeing NaCl in BARNACLED. I wondered if there were many other words with a buried NaCl. Turns out that there’s around 40!
    Knew PERMANENT MAGNET from schoolday science lessons.
    Happy to complete in 34 minutes.

  36. I got PUB-CRAWL straight away (which might say something about me) and expected a Monday breeze but then hit the multi-layered PERMANENT MAGNET, which I worked out eventually but had never heard of (how many French artists does it take to make a crossword clue?) as well as the, for me, still problematic PASTEL It’s a work of art, yes, but “drawn by” to mean “past” seems a bit of a stretch, especially when the “by” could also merely mean “next to” the E and the L. Or am I missing something? Otherwise teasingly and wittily tricky but by no meams a breeze.

    Thanks to setter and blogger (in some awe that you could tussle with this while listening to Shostakovich 14).

  37. 22.41. Reasonably smooth sailing, maybe a tad choppy for a Monday but no complaints. PERMANENT MAGNET took me a while as I’d never heard of it. I did end up parsing it to convince myself it was right. I’m another who didn’t quite parse PASTEL, but I have no problem with it. “He produced pastels and watercolours” works for me.

    The salt in BARNACLED was lovely.

    Thanks both.

  38. 23.54. Parsed ‘Pastel’ after completing the grid, otherwise my time would have been much longer.

  39. I am inexorably drawn to the mesmerizing tapestry of your words, interwoven with polysyllabic expressions and labyrinthine syntax, rendering each blog post an intellectual marvel that leaves me in awe.

  40. 20 mins or thereabouts. Permanent magnet could have been tricky but having got the magnet and Per, I just bunged it in. Sometimes life’s too short to be bothered by not parsing completely. No doubt that tendency will come back and bite me in the posterior anon.

  41. Unhappily for me, I didn’t manage a single word in the NW – apart from the simpler WHEAT – within my time constraints, despite having filled in the other 3/4 of the grid with (relative) ease. So came to the long-ago written blog to finish it off for me. I don’t think I’d ever have gotten PERMANENT MAGNET (NHO) nor READAPT (ditto); and I’m another ex-Londoner who couldn’t remember POPLAR! I think the excellent BARNACLE has to be my COD (despite not getting it). Very pleasing crossword.

  42. Model at 18 across and misreading the clue for 19 down led to a trawl for a food starting and ending with l and consequently DNF

    Thanks setter, especially for NaCl, and to blogger for amusement, as usual, and elucidating ‘drawn by’.

    My spouse specialises in puns when we travel, the now sadly defunct Northern Australia Cement Limited was of course the salt mine so that clue is COD for me.

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