Times 28655 – swift as quicksilver


Rattled through this one. I think this is my second fastest solve of any Times puzzle. Had to rely on inspiration to get the vaguely remembered (from the film) surname at 7dn. LOIs were hit and hope – 6dn and 21ac.

Definitions underlined.

1 Friend ringing a seabird taking protective interest (8)
PATERNAL – PAL (friend) containing A + TERN (seabird).
5 Caught by light suggesting stop — there’s curve in road (6)
CAMBER – C (caught) + AMBER (light suggesting stop).
10 Auntie’s boss precise or vague? (8,7)
11 Clown, Greek character to work hard in cooking medium (7,3)
COCONUT OIL – COCO (clown) + NU (Greek letter) + TOIL (work hard).
13 Wild cat‘s course by the sea reported (4)
LYNX – sounds like “Links”, a seaside golf course.
15 Priest is featured in Times championing exclusive group (7)
ELITIST – ELI (priest) + IS contained by TT (times).
17 Vengeful spirits certainly associated with Hibernia (7)
ERINYES – ERIN (Hibernia) + YES (certainly). Another name for The Furies.
18 Make call to the writer in linguistics unit (7)
PHONEME – PHONE (make call) + ME (the writer).
19 Cinders, initially wearing shoe, causing public outrage (7)
SCANDAL – first of Cinders contained by SANDAL (shoe).
21 False god lacking originality — not new (4)
BAAL – BAnAL (lacking originality) with no ‘n’ (new).
22 Say Blixen, Pontoppidan and Kierkegaard, or 27s of a sort? (5,5)
GREAT DANES – famous Danish authors, or barkers/dogs.
25 Genius is on test cricket ground (6,9)
27 One earning crust from bread engages right tout (6)
BARKER – BAKER (one earning crust from bread) containing R (right).
28 Here goes Oscar with child say, heading west (8)
GERONIMO – O (oscar) + MINOR (child) + EG (say), all reversed.
1 Stalk learner seen among Vegas rollers after training (7)
PEDICLE – L (learner) contained by DICE (Vegas rollers) after PE (training).
2 Go off to climb, finding rocky height (3)
TOR – ROT (go off) reversed.
3 Think again about wayward son consumed by drink (10)
RECONSIDER – RE (about), then an anagram of SON contained by CIDER (drink).
4 A pair of spectacles wrapped in pink paper in train (5)
AFOOT – A, then OO (pair of spectacles) contained by FT (pink paper).
6 Karenina‘s twelve pies? (4)
ANNA – double definition. Former Indian currency unit (1 rupee = 14 annas, 1 anna = 12 pies).
7 Only dry bran to be mixed for this literary character (5,6)
BARRY LYNDON – anagram of ONLY DRY BRAN. Eponymous character in a Thackeray novel.
8 Wedged beneath bank briefly, cuts slacks off (7)
RELAXES – AXES (cuts) is “wedged beneath” RELy (bank) missing its last letter (briefly).
9 Posh theatrical part in G&S showing unfair condition? (8)
UGLINESS – U (posh), then LINES (theatrical part) contained by G and S.
12 Vital energy deployed by lothario — might he ask for your hand? (11)
CHIROMANCER – CHI (vital energy) + ROMANCER (lothario).
14 Slowing down where article blocks crumbling dirt road (10)
RITARDANDO – AN (article) contained by an anagram of DIRT ROAD.
16 Speculator initially tense — gold pinched in robbery (8)
THEORIST – first letter of Tense, then OR (gold) contained by HEIST (robbery).
18 Black dog coats produce shine — it’s the local food (3,4)
PUB GRUB – PUG (dog) contains B (black), then RUB (produce shine).
20 Carlyle so thought to contain kingdom (7)
LESOTHO – hidden in carlyLE SO THOught.
23 Adventurous heroine in charge bringing beer round (5)
ALICE – IC (in charge) contained by ALE (beer).
24 Olympian goddess in seven-gated city without walls? (4)
HEBE – tHEBEs (seven-gated city) missing its outermost letters.
26 Ugandan dictator’s name held in disdain regularly (3)
IDI – regular letters from dIsDaIn.

76 comments on “Times 28655 – swift as quicksilver”

  1. Yeah, easy, especially for a Friday. I didn’t know what was going on with ANNA, but I know Ms. Karenina’s first name. LOI BARKER, after HEBE. I have Kubrick’s BARRY LYNDON on a hard drive, but I haven’t watched it yet (ripping Netflix discs before the DVD service is stopped).

      1. It is one of those films where critics tend to extol the sumptuous cinematography because there’s not much else to see, (and it is Kubrick) despite the presence of Rhino Neil.

    1. It was on at the BFI recently and we almost went to see it, until we read some of the old reviews. The word ‘glacial’ pops up a lot.

      So we went to see M3GAN instead and had a fun time.

  2. A range of references:
    literary, classical, musical, geographical, Scandi… yet quickly solved, so the clueing was was good.

    BAAL, ERINYE and ROCKET SCIENTIST have particularly nice surfaces.

  3. Nice puzzle, not so easy as others found it though half the clues were giveaways. Didn’t know the authors were Danish – current Great Danes would be Jonas Vingegaard and Mads Pedersen. Lots of guessable unknowns like the Danes, anna, Erinyes and Thebes having 7 gates.
    COD to the Rocket Scientist, very smooth surface.

    1. I’d add Sandy Toksvig, though she suffer like your two from being Not Dead Yet. But she does ride a bike!

      1. Surprisingly I know who Sandy Toksvig is, unlike most Australians – my mum watches QI, so I see it occasionally when visiting.

        1. In my mostly immobile recovery period, I binge watched QI from series T backwards. I’ve rather ground to a halt now I’ve reached the Stephen Fry dominion.

  4. 29 minutes with only ERINYES completely unknown but gettable from wordplay. 22ac might have held me up for longer had I not already solved 27ac so I knew I was looking
    for a breed of dog. BAAL known only as the title of a play by Brecht, but it gave me the confidence to write it in.

  5. Unlike the ROCKET SCIENTISTs above (great anagram btw) I found this not to be a breeze, getting home in 43.19 after wrestling with every conceivable mix of letters to get the NHO RITARDANDO. I didn’t help the cause by thinking I’d nailed 17ac with EIREYES. When a few longer ones like BARRY LYNDON, the DG and the scientist arrived I felt a surge of confidence, only to be undone by some cleverly crafty clueing and too many NHOs. I mean PHONEME? PEDICLE? CHIROMANCER? Not to mention the musical term and the ERINYES. But I got there eventually and enjoyed the work-out, thanks to William for the Indian currency elucidation. Like everyone else I biffed it from the book.

  6. 22 minutes. Not too hard for a Friday with the crossing BARKER and HEBE giving me most trouble at the end. We’ve had BAAL and the Eumenides version of ERINYES recently so both were fresh in my mind.

    I didn’t know what a CHIROMANCER was before but I do now and RITARDANDO will doubtless come in useful again in crossword land.

    Thanks to William and setter

  7. There are three named ERINYES, you know
    Called TisiPHONE, MEgaira, Alekto
    And this hidden’s on view
    In the very next clue
    Coincidence? I don’t think so……

  8. 15:19
    As I was solving this, I was thinking what Vinyl said about GK. NHO Portoppidan, but Blixen and Kierkegaard (appropriate name) were enough; didn’t even register 27 until later. I’m re-reading Powell’s “Dance to the Music of Time”, and coincidentally enough last night I started The Kindly Ones.

      1. 40:24. not bad for me but got stuck with LOI Anna and her 12 pies and Erinyes. could have come in under the half hour without those. COD UGLINESS.

  9. Bashed through much of this very quickly in the first few passes, wondering if it really was Friday and maybe a PB. Then some of the NHOs kicked in but I ground them out. However finally DNF on GERONIMO, knew how the clue worked just couldn’t work it out with only vowels as crossers. Of course once I see it here it’s simples, Grrrr. Thanks to setter and blogger.

  10. 9:23. No real problems, in spite of the funny words. I knew most of them, but not the Indian currency unit, and Barry rang only the faintest of bells.
    I’m reminded of this.

    1. Very good. Never seen it, hardly seen them.

      Know Mitchell from WILTY.

      Can’t get much more highbrow than that!

    2. I’d never thought very highly of Mitchell and Webb but this was wonderful.

      Perhaps it’s an age thing: I was watching an old Pointless on iPlayer recently and only 2 people out of 100 knew that Peter Cook and Dudley Moore were a comedy double act, which amazed me. M&W don’t compare, in my opinion, but now I’m not so sure.

      1. Watching WILTY I think David Mitchell is a comedic ROCKET SCIENTIST but have never seen him in anything else. That clip was hilarious. As for Pete and Dud, they were brilliant but even funnier as Derek and Clive…if I’m allowed to say that.

        1. Again an age thing I think (I was only a few years younger than Peter Cook). I have never found Derek and Clive remotely funny and rather agree with Jonathan Miller (one of the four of the original Beyond the Fringe) that they were scraping the bottom of the barrel. Their early stuff was quite brilliant but then …

    3. I remember hearing a rocket scientist explaining that rocket science was actually not very complex – indeed not … er … rocket science

  11. 38 mins, again inside a Halfsnitch.

    Needed a couple of checks (ERINYES, THEBES, BARRY LYNDON). But apart from that, trusted my GK.

    Karen Blixen : “The cure for anything is salt water — sweat, tears, or the salt sea.”

    Great clues, especially PHONE-ME and ROCKET SCIENTIST.

  12. She said I once met a fellow with dark wavy hair,
    So we rushed off to Alaska for a quick love affair,
    But I came back disappointed with a cold and a cough,
    We were both frozen stiff and I just broke it off.
    (We knew what she meant, Ronnie Barker)

    30 mins mid-brekker. Weird words, but no probs for a TLSer.
    Ta setter and WJS.

    1. I had a little bet with myself that you’d go with Eliot today:
      I who have sat by T-hebe-s below the wall 
      And walked among the lowest of the dead.
      You’ve been much more ingenious.

  13. 12 minutes with LOI a constructed ERINYES. I may have broken the 10 for the first time in years if I’d known that. I knew the nationality of Blixen and Kierkegaard, but never heard of Pontoppidan. Two out of three ain’t bad. I guess he came from a town with a bridge. I had no idea of the derivation of Anna either, but didn’t let that detain me. COD to GERONIMO. PEDICLE was good too in this nice puzzle. Thank you William and setter.

  14. 10:06. Several unknowns got from the wordplay. I didn’t know there was something smaller than an ANNA in Indian currency, who the first two Danes were (or that Kierkegard was Danish, for that matter) or that Thebes had seven gates. BARKER and HEBE held me up at the end to take me over the 10 minute mark on what was a refreshingly easy puzzle for a Friday. COD to ROCKET SCIENTIST. Thanks William and setter.

  15. I’m annoyed with myself as I did all the hard work getting today’s unknowns (BAAL, ERINYES, PHONEME) only to fall at the last with TIRARDANTO! The DANTO bit was easy and TIRAR was familiar (take away in Spanish) so I thought it might work in Italian! Doh.

    The long anagram was brilliant.

    Thanks William and setter.

  16. Failed on RIT…

    Had heard of the direction but only as an abbreviation, and as I’d failed to get or know ERINYES…Oh well.

    Thanks william and setter.

    1. Same here- had tried eireyes which meant I couldn’t sort out the musical term.
      Only 2 successes this week- I hope for better from Monday

  17. DNF, defeated by the unknown ERINYES – I thought Hibernian was related to Scotland, but didn’t think of Erin.

    Didn’t know the 12 pies bit of ANNA, had to hope that BARRY LYNDON was right, and worked out PEDICLE from wordplay.

    A really good puzzle to end the week – thanks setter and blogger.

    COD Afoot

    1. Hibernia was the Roman name for Ireland. Hibernian Football Club was founded by Irish immigrants in the East End of Edinburgh. By comparison, the current club Dundee United was originally known as Dundee Hibernian.

  18. 34 minutes, held up by two wrong entries, I thought an [AM]BIT was an old fence (maybe!) and CHIROMANCER which was just careless. Also DNK RITARDANDO, which took a while to work out.
    Thanks for the explanation for ANNA, I hesitated over that as I couldn‘t make sense of it.
    The ROCKET SCIENTIST was a clever clue and anagram. It saved me from the chiromancer thing also.
    Many thanks setter and blogger

  19. 25m 09s A nice end to the (non)working week.
    Fortunately I was watching a YouTube video of Neil Young singing ‘Sugar Mountain’ the other day, so no problems with 27ac:
    “Oh to live on Sugar Mountain
    With the barkers and the coloured balloons..”
    Thank you William, especially for ANNA and PUB GRUB
    Ah, the Erinyes, or Furies. My guide to Greek and Roman myths describes them as follows…..
    “…[they] are generally depicted as serious young women in black mourning clothes, although when on a case they changed into short maiden dresses with knee-high hunting boots and armed themselves with whips.”
    I like the sound of them!

  20. 16.46, so not exactly a Friday struggle. Curious in that there was a lot of GK in here that you didn’t really need to know. Is LESOTHO a kingdom? Did Thebes have seven gates? Who on earth is Pontoppidan (anything to do with Fireman Sam)? Is BAAL a false god? (Careful how you answer!)
    Still, I was alright with Kierkegaard (I think…) and the best bit for the chorus in Elijah is the rollicking Baal We Cry to Thee. The long anagram at 25 was a great “who knew?” moment, and the whole thing was pleasant enough.
    Prompted by a down pair, I’m thanking of a screenplay for a movie in the style of Barry Lyndon, in which the story of an adulterous affair is shown in sumptuous detail. Working title ANNA RITARDANDO. What do you think?

  21. Everything went in pretty quick but ERINYES beat me. Had all the crossers, LOI, knew it ended in ‘yes’… but NHO it so I’d just have been guessing. No clue what was going on with ANNA, but it was obviously right. Liked CHIROMANCER and PUB GRUB.

  22. I was expecting the usual Friday stinker, but the first three across answers caused no problem, and then it seemed to be downhill all the way (in a good sense), timing out in 17 minutes. I am a great believer in wavelengths, and today I seemed to be on the right one.
    Thanks to william and other contributors.

  23. 17:19. RITARDANDO was a jigsaw puzzle needing all the crossers and I had never heard of PIE in that sense. BAAL and ERINYES from recent appearances in Times crossies – very occasionally something sticks.

  24. DNF. Started off at a pace, but with a feeling that there would be a sting in the tail. And indeed, with about 6 to go, I ground to a halt. NHO CHIROMANCER but worked it out eventually from the cryptic, though I had a MER at lothario=romancer. To me they are quite different kettles of fish. Got ANNA from the first definition. I knew Eumenides as The Furies but NHO ERINYES, though again, I worked it out eventually, but checked it as it seemed so unlikely! That gave me the final letter for UGLINESS, the theatrical part of which had been eluding me between G and S. I was also late in seeing GREAT DANES, and was left with my last one in 27A which, OK, I should have got as a result of 22A, but I had completely forgotten the term ‘barker’ for tout, and was obsessed with finding something to go between B and D, the ‘crusts of bread’. I ended up with ‘buried’… dead Danes, ‘one earning a crust’ of earth etc… Well, it’s imaginative…

    1. Some ancients shied away from using the name ERINYES for fear of ticking them off or even of just drawing their attention to you. Instead they called them Eumenides “The Kindly Ones” to stay on their good side. It reminds me of the Brooklyn tailor’s warning, ” You rippa dese, you menna dese!”

    2. Quart in a pint pot!
      I too wondered how I was going to get Eumenides into seven boxes.

  25. Not too bad for a Friday, not helped by a mombled EIREYES, which held up RITARDANDO.

    Super anagram for ROCKET SCIENTIST, though I needed rather a lot of checkers, and was looking for a named genius, rather than a generic one. NHO of BARRY LYNDON, so that took a lot of unpicking. Liked the def for PUB GRUB.


  26. As a novice in this arena, I was pleased to finish.
    I don’t know how others operate but I often have to confirm the answer I think I have by googling; ERINYES, PHONEME, BAAL and CHIROMANCER fell into this category. For RITARDANDO I confess that I had to search for a musical term that meant ‘slowing down’. And I had to check that the authors were Danes. Without these ‘aids’ I’d be flummoxed. I hope I don’t get told off.
    I particularly liked the surface for ROCKET SCIENTIST.

    1. That’s a good strategy for getting better, in my experience. Outside of competition and prize puzzles, it’s better to use aids and learn something than not to finish at all.

    2. Agreed, and you’ll find that next time you come across those obscure terms, you’ll almost certainly remember them. Musical terms are worth boning up on, however; they do crop up quite frequently.

    3. When first starting these puzzles I rarely finished, so checking possibilities was de rigeur. After a couple of years – and after finding & studying this blog – I started to recognise lots of “obscurities”. Now I never look things up before giving up – though still fail to finsh about once a week, one way or another.
      So I’d say: do your thing, whatever it is. But aim to learn enough through experience to finish without checking – however long it takes. Might be years.

  27. 36:11
    A few NHOs: Erinyes, Pies (as currency), Barry Lyndon. But the wordplay was helpful. No real dramas with this one.
    Thanks, w.

  28. Like hopkinb I was delayed solving RITARDANDO by a biffed EIREYES, until the BARKER arrived and foretold of the GREAT DANES, who preceded my shout of GERONIMO at which juncture the wool fell from my eyes! The final hold up was HEBE. Apart from those clues and CHIROMANCER, I had the rest of the puzzle solved pretty quickly. At least the ROCKET SCIENTIST prevented me from biffing CHIROPODIST:-) 25:31. Thanks setter and William.

  29. 28 minutes, few real problems. Despite David Mitchell (see K above), I had my doubts over whether a rocket scientist was a genius. OK extraordinarily intelligent, but a genius seems to me to be something else, like Mozart or Einstein. However, no doubt the dictionaries support it. Got the GREAT DANES, but forgot to look at 27. I have sung in Mendelssohn’s Elijah and he seemed to be keen to mention Baal. Didn’t know that Thebes had seven gates, but easy enough to guess.

  30. 21:40

    All fairly straightforward. Some witty clues and an enjoyble sprinkling of general knowledge. I liked LESOTHO, PUB GRUB and ERINYES

    I think BARRY LYNDON is worth watching, if only because it has both Leonard Rossiter and Patrick Magee in it.

    Thanks to William and the setter.

  31. 23:04

    Blasted through the top half in sub-5mins. Much slooower in the bottom half piecing together the SE next including a punt on the unknown ERINYES once I’d got RITARDANDO (I play guitar and have dabbled a bit with piano so it was somewhere in the back of my mind).

    Couldn’t have told you that any of those characters were DANES (Great or not) and initially had 27a as not-very-parseable BEGGAR (tout – dogs beg) with an unlikely C-G ending for 12d which eventually came to mind.

    A reminder for David Bowie/Brecht fans that you can catch the 1982 BBC TV adaptation of Brecht’s play BAAL (starring Bowie) on 26th July 11.05pm on BBC4 – first time it’s been shown in more than 40 years.

  32. Friday the new Monday? Held up a touch by untangling ritardando with ritenuto getting in the way. Didn’t know the film and the Thackeray title took its time to unlock a file-drawer. An enjoyable word-scree to amble over but no sharp challenge.

  33. Smugly wrote RALLENTANDO because it couldn’t possibly be anything else, and found myself getting slower and slower in that corner. Finally spotted my mistake and got back up to speed, finishing in 36 minutes.

  34. Every time Ritardando comes up I swear I’ll remember for next time where all the letters go, but every time I don’t. Sometimes the cryptic construction is generous; today I thought it was the definitions which were over-adequate. thanks WmJS and setter.

  35. I enjoyed this. Solved over lunch and I managed to work out/guess all the unknowns.
    LOI was HEBE.
    I knew BAAL but not Pedicle, Anna and Erinyes.

  36. 33 mins but watching Djokovic at the same time…. NHO RITARDANDO, so it was a toss up between that and TIRARDANDO. Another unknown clued as an anagram. However I seem to be in the minority, so maybe it’s ok.

  37. Needed a bit of help again but pleased to get the rest without too much trouble. Liked the surface for RITARDANDO which, as a musician, didn’t cause any problems. Nice puzzle and thanks for the blog.

  38. 27’56”
    Pushed along early stages, stayed on gamely.
    All parsed, but a dozen pies in an ANNA was a moderately confident assumption. When a shilling became 5 pennies not 12, betting odds were not decimalised; 7/4, 15/8 etc. I still remember that 8/13 is 0.6153 from my time settling in betting shops in the 80s.
    CurryOwen’s YOU RIPPA DESE, YOU MENNA DESE! reminds me of a note I read on a very brightly coloured, brand new and very swish boat, that I was very surprised to find under the one I was coxing: THIS BOAT IS WORTH £40,000, IF YOU BREAK IT YOU WILL PAY FOR IT! – Cambridge University Boat Club, Captain thereof.
    Having got our boat out, rowed and back very gingerly, I left a note on ours: THIS BOAT IS WORTH NEXT TO NOTHING (or words to that effect), BUT, IF YOU BREAK IT, WE’RE GOING TO USE THE YELLOW ONE! -Cox, St. Radegund (pub) Boat Club.
    Lots of fun both in the crossword and, as ever, here; thanks to all.

  39. Strictly a DNF today as I couldn’t decide between BAAL (BANAL) and BLAD (BLAND) for 21ac. I wanted to believe The Impaler had a divine relative, but it was not to be. I vaguely remembered ANNA was a currency unit and just hoped PIE was too. ERINYES and RITARDANDO were easy guesses from the wordplay and had the right sort of ring to them. I enjoyed it, thanks for the blog.

  40. 1hr12 for a DNF with 4 wrong – BAAL, HEBE, ERINYES, RITARDO which are all NHO and therefore forgivable. Snitching at 79 when I attempted it. Usually only give it an hour but I had ROCKET-SCIENTIST and CHIROMANCER left as well as some answer filled on those others so just pushed through. Pleased with that.

  41. Very similar to L-plates above, I staggered through the lower half ( where most of the NHOs were) after thinking I was in for a doddle when the top half came so easily! Not to be…problems started with ERINYES down (had E…YES) followed by PHONEME (which just lends itself to great cluing) and the GREAT DANES where I was convinced the first word had to be BRAIN (followed by a word to rhyme with DEER – to explain the presence of a reindeer!) ho hum. Had to look up RITARDANDO just to confirm. So not the gimme I was expecting; but really admired ROCKET SCIENTIST and COCONUT OIL.

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