Times 28659 – “suffering rattlesnakes!”

A pleasant solve, not as hard as last Wednesday, with a few words not in my everyday vocabulary but easy enough to deduce. Unusually, no hidden word clue and only two anagrams.

Definitions underlined in bold, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, anagrinds in italics, [deleted letters in square brackets].

1 Country retreat houses a minister (5,4)
RURAL DEAN – RURAL = country, DEN = retreat, insert A.
9 Seafood and a US sausage (not Yankee) (7)
ABALONE – A BALONEY is a US sausage, take away Y. I’ve only had abalone once, in San Francisco years ago, and it didn’t seem to have much taste if I remember rightly.
10 Silly laughter? A measure of gravity becomes British pilot (7)
BIGGLES – Silly laughter = GIGGLES, the G for gravity becomes B for British, giving us James Bigglesworth a.k.a. Biggles, hero of about 100 books by W.E. Johns, most of which I read avidly 70 or so years ago. “Let’s show those sausage guzzlers what this thing can do!”
11 One played loudly once as playwright married (5)
SHAWM – G.B. SHAW the playwright, M for married. The shawn was an old woodwind instrument, precursor to the oboe perhaps.
12 Buzz off, small fly! Gone off (9)
SKEDADDLE – S[mall], KED (fly), ADDLE (gone off, or better, go off – gone off would be ADDLED.
13 A medical procedure, in plain language not entirely relevant (7)
APROPOS – A, OP (medical procedure) in PROS[E] = plain language.
15 Take out of container in garage (5)
DEPOT – to DE-POT something like a seedling is to take it out.
17 Tedious year following sport (5)
WEARY – WEAR  sport, in the sense of wear clothing, Y follows.
18 Paper which the head’s left for children (5)
ISSUE – TISSUE paper loses T.
19 A social event among the fleet is a gas (5)
RADON – RN (Royal Navy) has A DO inserted.  Radon, element 86, is a short lived radioactive noble gas created in the decay chain of natural uranium 238 to, eventually, stable lead.
20 Frightening to break both hands? Should be more cautious (7)
LEERIER – EERIE (frightening) inside L and R.
23 Without scruple I will take Maoism to extremes in speech (9)
IMMORALLY – I, M M (extremes of Maoism) ORALLY (in speech).
25 Place provided back in frame (3,2)
FIT UP – all reversed, PUT (place) IF (provided).
27 Spy on Frenchman before a battle (7)
MAGENTA – M (Monsieur) AGENT (spy) A. The French / Piedmontese under Napoleon III beat the Austrians at this battle in 1859, so this is a superb surface for the clue.
28 Repeat “Company, stand!” (7)
REPRISE – REP (theatre company) RISE (stand).
29 Resolve to free Teddy (9)
1 Leaders for reasons obscure bankrupt firm (6)
ROBUST – R[easons] O[bscure] BUST = bankrupt.
2 Soldiers turn up worried about one visiting dangerous territory (5,5)
ROGUE STATE –  OR (soldiers) reversed = RO, GUEST = one visiting, ATE = worried.
3 Very funny fat boy’s latest heretical ideas (8)
LOLLARDY – LOL (lots of laughs in text-speak) LARD (fat) Y (end of boy).
4 Relaxed and stopped, taking hat off (5)
EASED – CEASED = stopped, take off the initial C.
5 Disgusted as Edward accepts gold throne (9)
NAUSEATED – NED (Edward) has AU (Au, gold) SEAT (throne) inserted.
6 Emperor we’re told grants audience to a king (6)
CAESAR – we’re told = sounds like, SEES A R = grants audience to a king.
7 Measure of warmth with a classical garment (4)
TOGA – TOG (as in duvet thickness), A.
8 I want to gaze at this     reflection (3,2,3)
LET ME SEE – double definition.
14 In epidemic, exercise discretion about temperature (10)
PESTILENCE – PE (exercise) SILENCE (discretion) insert T for temperature.
16 One studying carefully about to call for dish (9)
PORRINGER – a PORER = one studying, poring over something; insert RING = call. We had this in another puzzle recently so it came to mind immediately.
17 Natural disaster that may be rife (8)
WILDFIRE – FIRE is an anagram of (“wild”) RIFE.
18 Puzzle, urgent one I must crack (8)
21 Spoil one’s appearance: quietly going inside (6)
IMPAIR – I’M (one’s) AIR (appearance) insert P for quietly.
22 Bully’s outwardly terribly strong words (6)
TYRANT – T Y (outside of terribly) RANT (strong words).
24 A doctor breaks into another dance (5)
MAMBO – A MB (a doctor) inside MO (Medical Officer).
26 A little drunk, almost overturns (4)


74 comments on “Times 28659 – “suffering rattlesnakes!””

  1. 13:47
    Surprisingly easy. No biffs, no questions. As Pip said, PORRINGER came to mind quickly.

    1. I love it when someone says ‘surprisingly easy’ as I sit here thinking ‘why do I even bother?!’ – utterly defeated by almost every clue but MAGENTA, LEERIER, SKEDADDLE, SHAWM, LOLLARDY, PORRINGER, RURAL DEAN, ABALONE all just make me laugh….who KNOWS this stuff?!?!

      Great blog Piquet. Respect to all completers – back to kindergarten for me 👶

  2. I only half remembered PORRINGER, so I needed the cryptic to get its spelling. SHAWM looked odd!

  3. This was easier than it looked at first, and proved very interesting. Finished in the NW. Sure I’ve heard of the LOLLARDs before. Must’ve seen BIGGLES around these parts sometime.

    MAGENTA is too pretty to be the name of a battle.

    1. Biggles shows up a couple of times in ‘Monty Python’, once as a cardinal with the Spanish Inquisition.

      1. And the other time with Algy taking his clothes off seductively in the plane with Biggles trying to concentrate on the Germans.

    2. Or, do you mean, the colour is too pretty to be named after the battle?

      1. I didn’t know the history, thanks! That’s amazing.
        Apparently, the mere fact that a dye was patented by a Frenchman the same year as that French(-Italian) victory was enough for it to be renamed (by the chemist? or what authority?) after the site of such historic carnage. I don’t guess it had anything to do with the color of the blood running in the fields.

  4. When I was a little kid, it used to irritate my dad when I would, in his words, “GIGGLE like a little girl.”
    He didn’t like it when I started growing my hair long either…

  5. At 55 minutes I found this quite hard. There were some synonyms which didn’t seem right to me whilst solving and sowed doubts in my mind, but on reflection now seem fine, e.g. ‘garage/DEPOT’ and ‘stand/RISE’.

    There were some unknowns such as ‘heretical ideas/LOLLARDY’ and ‘cautious/LEERIER’.

    I missed the double definition of LET ME SEE and spent time trying to justify it as an all-in-one, which I never quite did but eventually moved on as it was clearly the correct answer.

    I also noted the apparent error ‘gone off/ADDLE’ at 12ac Errors in clues always disconcert me a make me suspicious of other clues where there may already be an element of doubt in my mind.

    1. ‘Addle’ means putrid or bad (Chambers). ‘Gone off’ as a synonym seems perfectly ok to me.

    2. It makes you wonder if the editor actually looks at the thing before waving it through.

  6. 15:48. I’ve found the puzzles progressively harder so far this week with this one giving me pause for thought in various places but never completely stumping me. My LOI was CAESAR where my initial thought was KAISER. It means emperor and it ends with a king which made it rather tempting but I couldn’t find any way in which KAIS sounded like “gives audience to”. When an answer tempts me like that I often find it hard to shift my mind elsewhere but in this instance CAESAR came to me shortly after.

    1. KAISER’s etymology actually goes back to CAESAR. In fact if you pronounce CAESAR in the way they teach you in Latin at school they sound almost the same.

      1. Caesar adsum iam forte
        Brutus adorat
        Caesar sic in omnibus
        Brutus sic in ‘at.

        Which you won’t find in Shakespeare’s version.

        1. The version which was current at my school was:
          Caesar aderat forte
          Brutus adsum jam
          Caesar sic in omnibus
          Brutus sic intram.
          Never mind that ‘intram’ is not, as far as I know, a Latin word!

  7. Can someone help me with the double definition for let me see?

    I am struggling with the definition being reflection. On reflection might work as in “on reflection I can make it”, but even that seems like a stretch for me.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Glen, I think it just means that when you approach a problem, you reflect on how you’re going to sort it out, and you might say, ‘Hmm … Let me see …’. I think that’s where the idea of reflection comes from.

    2. As I read the clue the definition is ‘this reflection’, and ‘I want to gaze at’ is the cryptic indication. The grammar becomes clearer if you reverse it – this reflection [LET ME SEE] [also means] ‘I want to gaze at’ – or perhaps put a comma in it: ‘I want to gaze at’, this reflection.

  8. Good challenge today, finished in 15′ 15″. Enjoyed being reminded of BIGGLES, liked SKEDADDLE, spent time thinking M was the spy before MAGENTA came to mind.

    Good to see that the women drew the Ashes, maybe the men will go one better?

    Thanks pip and setter.

  9. 26:19
    Nice puzzle. Some slightly obscure vocab, but all fairly clued.
    Thanks, p.

  10. One shade the more, one ray the less,
    Had half Impaired the nameless grace
    Which waves in every raven tress,
    Or softly lightens o’er her face;
    (She walks in beauty …, Byron)
    ( Not Mariana being Weary, or the King’s breakfast Porringer)

    25 mins mid-brekker. OK, but I didn’t like ‘gone off=addle’, nor Let Me See.
    Ta setter and Pip.

  11. 27 minutes with LOI LET ME SEE. There were no unknowns today, although I took a while to convince myself of LEERIER. and PORRINGER would have been so before the recent puzzle. COD to ROOSEVELT. Enjoyable. Thank you Pip and setter.

  12. 25m 32s No real problems with this and some entertaining clues.
    I agree that the clue for 12ac should read ‘go off’.
    My only query was with CAESAR so, thanks Pip.
    COD: DEPOT. It reminded me I need to repot the poinsettia on the window sill…

  13. I convinced myself this was harder than it actually was, and so took ages over some that should have gone in without too much difficulty. The result was 51.27 and for a while I feared the dreaded CNF. My own carelessness gave me the twin unparseables GIGGLES and SET UP which made ROBUST and WILDFIRE impossible until, too late, I straightened things out. Dimly remembered LOLLARDY was a thing, hoped SHAWM was a thing and didn’t know there was a rural/metropolitan divide on the dean issue. With others on gone off/addle and LET ME SEE but won’t let them (OK, plus the rather desperate wordplay for APROPOS) take away from a thoroughly enjoyable puzzle. Thanks to piquet for much-needed and informative blog.

  14. 55 mins so on the tougher side. Held up in the SW. LOI REPRISE.

    Agree re the gone off/go off argument. Had me stumped for a bit. No probs with MAGENTA as, a: it’s one of many streets/ places in Paris named after battles and b: my great grandfather (a general) was there. He later SKEDADDLED with Nap 111 to the UK.

    I liked BIGGLES .

    Thanks pip and setter.

    1. Also in Milan. The church that houses Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” is on Corso Magenta, just down from Porta Magenta.

      1. I’ve never been to Milan, unfortunately, but it’s on the cards though.

        1. Just occurred to me… Magenta must be a place. It is, about 25 km west of Milan. Which is why the road heading west is called Corso Magenta, and why the old city gate on the west side of the city is called Porta Magenta. Ties in with other city gates names’ e.g. Porta Romana to the SE, Porta Genova to the SW, Porta Venezia to the east. They must have been named long before the battle, named for the geography not the battle.

      1. Apology for late reply. Yes the family history is quite colourful. A number of generals who fought alongside Nap 1er and Nap 111. I have a original copy of a baptism certificate for my grandfather, born in the UK, signed by the Empress Eugénie and her son the Prince Impérial! She was recently widowed.

  15. 31 minutes. I can’t remember seeing RURAL DEAN before and although SHAWM looked familiar I had no idea what it was. I’d NHO MAGENTA as a ‘battle’ but I couldn’t make the wordplay work for ‘Spy’ as the def, so in it went as an unlikely looking answer; I was surprised to see it was correct.

    Good to be reminded of BIGGLES, Algy and Ginger.

  16. 25 minutes. Constructed LOLLARDY from wordplay, trusted that PORRINGER is a word, and put in LET ME SEE with a shrug as I didn’t understand the reflection bit. Only dimly aware of ABALONE, so that didn’t go in until all the checkers were in place, couldn’t remember which war the battle of MAGENTA was from, and didn’t know the ked fly – though SKEDADDLE was clear enough with the checkers (I agree that ‘gone off’ is an error).

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Toga
    LOI Magenta
    COD Rogue state

  17. 11:25
    Chambers has ADDLE as an adjective (putrid, bad eg of an egg), so “Gone off ” would seem in good order.
    I didn’t know DE-POT as a gardening term, so confused myself by over-thinking “Take out of container” as DEPO(R)T.
    BIGGLES also appears in Monty Python in a somewhat homophobic sketch in which the pilot dictates a letter to King Haakon of Norway. We are led to expect Episode 2 of his Adventures, “Biggles’ Flies Undone”.

  18. Not so easy for me reaching nearly 60 mins. NHOs RURAL DEAN and SHAWM, needed all the checkers and a prayer. Also never heard of KED as a fly but an easy biff (didn’t pick up on the tense problem). Enjoyed LOLLARDY. Thanks Piquet and setter

  19. 23:48
    Very enjoyable puzzle. Had RIFLE RANGE instead of ROGUE STATE for a while but was rescued by BIGGLES. I Knew about the LOLLARDS but didn’t realise there was a noun.

    I read BIGGLES as boy and even tried a Worrals, his female counterpart in another W.E. Johns series. Pip’s quote brought it all back.

    Thanks to Pip and the setter.

  20. 12:13. No problem with this, but then I had all the GK for once, although LOLLARDY took a while to remember. Thanks Pip and setter.

  21. A gentle enough ramble in 16.33, with the top right being the hardest to crack. I know ABALONE is a sort of shellfish, it just looks and sounds as if it should be something more romantic, perhaps out of Arthurian legend.

  22. Misled for a while by thinking it was spelled SKIDADDLE, and not understanding the parsing therefore. Once this was corrected, it all fell into place – albeit slowly, in 45 mins. Tougher, I thought, than the SNITCH suggests. NHO SHAWM, which was my LOI and a pure punt. Liked WEARY, BIGGLES and LOLLARDY.

  23. 36:23. As I whizzed through this I felt I was doing really well with a particularly tricky puzzle. So I’m a bit disappointed that the SNITCH is just (currently) 101. But you can still put me on the list of those who disagree with Kevin’s assessment “surprisingly easy”.

    I liked BIGGLES, DEPOT, LEERIER, REPRISE, NAUSEATED (for the surprise abbreviation of Edward to Ned), IMPAIR and LOI WILDFIRE

  24. I don’t think I’ve met LOLLARDY as a noun, but remembered Wycliffe and his mates well enough. There are some useless words here – shawm, abalone, rogue state etc etc but they are all popular in Crosswordland although not elsewhere. The thing is so many times we claim NHO, but usually we have HO but forgotten. No excuses! : -)

    1. Useless words? What else can one call a shawm — but a “shawm”? And ‘rogue state’ recurs depressingly often in the news pages these days.

      1. Aye you are right. Also I like abalone but to be fair they only live in the Pacific so is a rare SF treat on a visit to Cal.

  25. I saw RURAL DEAN as the page came off the printer, then ABALONE, and it was mostly as easy as those. However I came to an abrupt halt with some – APROPOS, LET ME SEE, WEARY and WILDFIRE, MAGENTA, MAMBO., plus doubts about LOLLARDY. About 10 minutes until then, but another 25 to finish off.

  26. I seemed to be on the wavelength for this one with EASED FOI, although the NW proved to be hardest to crack, with ROGUE STATE LOI. Once I’d constructed 3d from wordplay, I remembered the LOLLARDS. PORRINGER was still fresh in the mind. CAESAR was first thought for 6d, but a moment of doubt crept in when the KAISER dropped by. He was soon cast aside though. BIGGLES brought back memories of visits to the school library, and eagerly devouring all the WE Johns books. 22:26. Thanks setter and Pip.

  27. 22 mins. Very straightforward until I discovered post solve that I didn’t know that the colour was named after a battle.

    1. How interesting, I did not know that. I have always just assumed that the colour came from the town. According to Wiki it was originally called ‘roseine’ but the manufacturers changed the name after the battle.

  28. I’ve backed a horse called BIGGLES a couple of times this year, but not, alas, on Saturday when he won at Newmarket at 5-1.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this one, even accepting that ADDLE was OK via its use in the phrase “ADDLE-pated” (which I’ve not come across in many a moon).

    TIME 9:37

  29. A few MER at definitions today: REFLECTION (I see the connection but not as a definition?); TEDDY as definition by example without “?” or other; and ADDLE too but I see that’s addressed above.

  30. 24’48”
    Smartly away, stayed on well.
    Lucky to get a clear run, as everything here, more or less, happened to fall within my ken.
    I never read Biggles; I was too busy with Hornblower. However, the beer boat and I, by some fluke, got to the final of a novice sprint. The opposition called themselves ‘Biggles’ and as we hadn’t a cat in hell’s chance I continued with the crossword awaiting the start. No.5 suggested that, lacking a coach, the cox should give a pep talk.
    The only thing I could think of was, ‘Gentlemen are you ready? …( mumbles )…. In that case, extinguish all cigarettes, fasten your seat belts and prepare for take off!’
    They were still laughing (and thus relaxed) when the flag fell and we stole half a length in the first 20 strokes and won by a rapidly diminishing foot.
    Happy days.
    Thanks Pip et setter et al.

    1. I read BIGGLES and Hornblower at about the same age. Loved them both, but Hornblower more.

  31. Very hard but completed. One of the advantages of recovering from a new knee is the amount of time one has to struggle with such things. I didn’t know a lot of the definitions so had to graft with the word play. The final section (SE) fell relatively easily after the rest was completed. Solving time – most of the day!

  32. Slow on this for which I blame the cricket dominating infield and outfield. Broad as good as ever. Can hardly look away to type this. Got there and now to get back.

  33. 9:52. Fortunately I happened to have almost all of the arguably-arcane knowledge required today.
    I MERed at ‘gone off’, but you can read ‘small’ as a shortening indicator applying to the combined KED ADDLED, or you can think of it as part of ‘addle-brained’ (as Phil says) or you can go with the adjectival form in Chambers. Take your pick!

  34. This took me 45 minutes so I definitely would not have called it easy. Was held up for a long time by 12ac, as I dimly recalled there was a four-letter word ending in ‘-ed’ which meant a fly and so put in SCRAMBLED. This did not help at all with the solution of the NW corner. Fortunately I saw the error of my ways.
    COD – WILDFIRE (very topical, alas)
    Thanks to piquet and other contributors.

  35. No time as I forgot to start the clock at the second sitting, the first being 50 minutes so I guess over the hour.

    A DNF as although I had parsed ABALONE correctly I had written ABOLONE by mistake and couldn’t for the life of me make anything of 6dn not spotting my error until reading the blog.

    I needed the blog to fully understand the parsing of MAGENTA although I should have seen it. And PESTILENCE I had questioned marked but parsed correctly.

    Two NHO SHAWM and LOLLARDY but both were gettable from the WP. I had SHAWM early on guessing the playwright but left it until checking letters arrived. LOLLARDY I needed the checking letters before working out the WP.

  36. I’m glad everyone else had a nice solve as I never got my hands around this even though I had all the GK and vocabulary excepting only Shawm. Biggles and Toga went directly in, then it was stare-at-the-wall time. And, whenever I did think I understood what was needed, it turned out I didn’t. Thanks for the blog, pip. One up to you, setter.

    1. Same experience here, Paul.in.London. Only real NHO was SHAWM, and LOLLARDY vaguely remembered. FOI ROBUST, which gave me false hope, together with EASED. Disaster after that, as I searched the grid for a foothold. WEARY and RADON didn’t offer much help, so resort editors to aids for a few to complete. Not my best effort. 😩

  37. Tackled throughout the day and forgot to pause the timer. Think somewhere under the hour. CAESAR took an age and can’t believe how many clues I failed to parse eg WILDFIRE, ROOSEVELT! Lots to smile at -BIGGLES, LOLLARDY, APROPOS

    Thanks to setter and piquet

  38. 17’00”. Found it pretty straightforward. I think I’d heard of a SHAWM. In any case I put it in, and that’s all that matters. Born in ’61, I reckon I’m from the first post-war cohort not to read Biggles. It was in the school library, but no-one took it out. From the occasional times I’ve dipped in, I don’t think we missed much.

  39. 1h 45m DNF NHO SHAWM despite trying a double alphabet dump for H and W. After SPASM SWARM SMARM surrendered to retire abed. Very satisfying workout. COD ROOSEVELT

  40. I think it was quite easy though it took me 31 minutes. But that was quite a bit standing in airport queues and whathaveyou so arguably not full concentration…
    Strictly I DNF as i put in PORRIDGER without realising it was the last clue and got the unlucky message. Before switching my brain on and deciding although I never heard of a PORRINGER it must exist.
    I also thought „gone off“ should be addled not just addle, but didn‘t let it worry me. (Sorry for the German punctuation it‘s my phone)

  41. I assumed that 1A ( ‘Country retreat houses a minister ‘) was a cryptic clue for Rural Seat ( as in a seat in the House of Commons that a Minister may have). Never heard of Rural Dean. Hence I could not finish 5D, which for me began with a ‘T’.

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