Times 28671 – my light was hidden under one

The lower half of this went in smoothly, but I was delayed a while with a few clues near the top where the setter had misled me, the unknown 1 across, and again while I parsed those I’d bunged in from definition. 25 minutes or so had it sorted.

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

1 Some dry goods, guarded by three Pharisees (4)
EPHA – Well, presented with *P*A and “guarded by” I had to assume this was a hidden clue of some obscure word, and I guessed correctly. Apparently it’s an ancient Hebrew measure roughly equal to a bushel (which as you’ll know, is 2 kennings or 4 pecks).
4 Officer to sit with upper-class resident (10)
LIEUTENANT – LIE (sit) U (upper class) TENANT (resident). Chestnut time.
9 Where eg utensils may be purchased, get her this for mashing (4,6)
10 Game up in Italian river, endlessly deep (4)
POLO – The River PO, then LO[W] = endlessly deep. “Game up” as in “up = on horseback”.
11 Bard’s work shown in text here and there (6)
SONNET – alternate letters of S h O w N i N t E x T.
12 Hurt in match, leaves boxing (3,5)
TEA CHEST – ACHE (hurt) in TEST (match); tea leaves in a box.
14 Party member to avoid leader of Greens? There’s benefit (4)
DOLE – Lift and separate, party = DO, member = LE[G]. G being leader of Greens.
15 Guinness maybe brought round, second one and last? (5,2,3)
STICK IT OUT – STOUT goes around TICK (second) I (one).
17 Sheepish expert taken in by counterfeit notes (10)
SHAMEFACED – SHAM (counterfeit) E F D (some musical notes) insert ACE for expert.
20 Italian author incorporating Homer’s principal nymph (4)
ECHO – Umberto ECO has H[OMER] inserted.
21 Impresario after concert books Queen (8)
PROMOTER – PROM (concert) OT (books) ER (Queen).
23 Award‘s military one churchyard elegist accepts (6)
GRAMMY – MM (military medal, award) inside Thomas GRAY who wrote “Elegy written in a country churchyard,” of which even I had heard, if never read (or going to read).
24 Luxurious establishment on Piccadilly — it’s a cracker (4)
RITZ – double definition, the posh hotel and the biscuit brand.
25 Choosing body, mischievous spirit with reader on ecstasy (10)
ELECTORATE – E (ecstasy) LECTOR (reader) ATE (Greek goddess of rash and impulsive actions, seen before in these puzzles).
26 Art deco’s altered with a line of priests (10)
27 Second goal brings delight (4)
SEND – S (second) END (goal). I think delight here must be a verb, to send someone = to delight someone, as if the definition were “brings delight” it would have to be SENDS not send.
2 Bacon, perhaps poor, prepared with his help (11)
PHILOSOPHER – (POOR HIS HELP)*. Sir Francis BACON 1561-1626.
3 Greek character back with a woman in the temple (9)
ATHENAEUM – when I had A*******M I wrote in the answer, and had to decipher why later. I think it’s A,  ENA (woman) inside THE, then MU reversed.
4 Understatement no mature person prevaricates about (7)
LITOTES – another where I wrote in the answer and came back later to decipher. LIES =prevaricates, around TOT a non-mature person.
5 I choose one to stop Roman Catholic prevailing (8,7)
ELECTRIC CURRENT – took me ages to stop looking for ‘prevailing’ as the definition, when C*R*E*T suggested current meaning just that; the definition is I being the symbol for current in electrical notation. ELECT = choose, RC has I (one) inside, and CURRENT = prevailing.
6 Bird heading briefly over rescue vessel (7)
TITLARK – TITL[E] =heading briefly, ARK Noah’s rescue vessel. We’ve had titlark before, I think, it is not two birds but one, otherwise known as a pipit.
7 Isolated as Man United? (5)
ALONE – I presume this is AL, a man, ONE = united, a pretty weak clue IMO.
8 Fish starters in the restaurant ready (5)
TROUT – T R (first letters of the restaurant) OUT = ready, as in a flower perhaps.
13 Port sacked in Ottoman push (11)
SOUTHAMPTON – (OTTOMAN PUSH)*. Not only a port, but my team, now relegated to the Championship. I’ll have to support Bournemouth instead next season.
16 House man’s inside to find reference work (9)
THESAURUS – TAURUS the house of the zodiac, with HE’S inserted.
18 Articles presented in trifling taste for numskull (7)
FATHEAD – A, THE (articles) inside FAD a trifling taste. I don’t think I’ve seen this word in print before, but I’d have expected it to be spelt numbskull, which I see is an option.
19 Understand everything — mostly electronic? (7)
DIGITAL –  if you DIG IT ALL you understand everything; AL[L] = mostly ALL.
21 Lives continuing as normal where cathedral burned (5)
PARIS – PAR (as normal) IS (lives). Reference to Notre Dame in 2019.
22 Looker‘s twitching after surgical procedure (5)
OPTIC – OP[eration], TIC = twitching.


92 comments on “Times 28671 – my light was hidden under one”

    1. It’s Latin to blame here, for that’s the root of the origin. I knew the word, but I suspect you’ll be far from alone in being tempted by “sacred”.

    2. what a pathetic excuse for your own ignorance! Perhaps a little humility is called for, rather than blaming your own lack of knowledge?

  1. 16:09
    DNK EPHA, and looked it up to be sure; I still don’t get the def, since an epha is a measure of dry goods, not the goods. DNK that the RITZ is in Piccadilly, not that it mattered. Waited to write in ALONE, trying to parse it; I agree with Pip that it’s not a great clue. Biffed TEA CHEST & THESAURUS (it’s always THESAURUS), parsed post-submission; biffed ATHENAEUM & ELECTRIC CURRENT, didn’t.

    1. I was walking past the Ritz today. The cream cracker reference (and possibly the hotel as well but probably not) seem to me to be a bit of product placement that I wouldn’t have expected The Times to sink to (I’ve been out all day and haven’t yet read the comments, so if I’m repeating something that’s below, my apologies). 31 minutes.

  2. Another very pleasurable outing. I seemed to make more headway with Downs, PHILOSOPHER being one of my first in. Had to guess at MM, and I, too, checked EPHA, though I think it may have been vaguely known from my Bible-drenched youth (I’ve worked a lot of puzzles in my life, but it was not as familiar to me as Vinyl found it).

  3. 35 minutes but I finished with queries against 6 answers where I didn’t know the word or fully understand the parsing.

    One of these, SACREDOTAL, turned out to be wrong because although I’d heard of it vaguely I didn’t know precisely how it was said or spelt, so I applied what I assumed was logic that having to do with religion the word SACRED might form part of it. I’m tempted to stick this in the category of words that shouldn’t be clued as an anagram without something more (like checkers) being available to avoid a potential beartrap. If I ever learned at school that Latin for ‘priest’ is sacerdos I have long forgotten it.

    I still don’t get ‘ready / OUT’ at 8dn, despite the suggested example in the blog.

    Never seen ‘numskull’ without a B before. [Correction on edit. It came up in #27125 in August 2018 when I let it pass without comment. Also in #23899 in April 2008 when I didn’t comment at all but probably would have solved the puzzle]

    1. I didn’t give it much thought, but thought of such cases as ‘he had his gun out/ready in case it was an intruder’; ‘The next time Alice visited the Duchess, she had her handkerchief out/ready at the door.’

      1. Never heard that said. Makes it sound like an escaped animal!

        ‘Have your money out/ready’ makes sense though.

        1. I have just heard it said. Those of us brought up in the West Riding have dinner at mid-day.

    2. I remember NUMSKULL being the answer to this Guardian clue which caused controversy when it appeared during the miner’s strike :

      Stupid head of miners?

      If Arthur Scargill knew about it, he wisely kept his counsel.

      1. That’s brilliant. I can imagine him chortling in the back seat of his chauffeur-driven Jaguar when he read that.

  4. DNF. My ongoing stretch target is to get to zero errors on the leaderboard, which I haven’t achieved so far this year. I was down to one before today’s puzzle added two more. Although I was fairly confident about the spelling of ATHENAEUM, I parsed it as HEN inside THE giving me ATHENHEUM and I went with this despite my doubts. I would have been annoyed with myself if this had been my only error so I was thankful for SACERDOTAL, for which I’m confident that anyone who doesn’t know the word will put SACREDOTAL. I presume the high number of solvers with errors thus far is evidence of that.

  5. 27 minutes. Fortunate to have remembered EPHA and SACERDOTAL. I had most trouble with firstly the parsing and then the spelling of ATHENAEUM which I thought might have been – ANA- rather than -ENA- (either would do for ‘a woman’) until I realised we were dealing with a ‘temple’ dedicated to ATHENA. A ‘Man United?’ turns out to be ALONE after all; I thought it was OK. Missed ‘up’ as being part of the def for POLO.

    Favourite bit was “The ploughman homeward plods his weary way” reminder.

  6. I enjoyed this one. My “O” level Latin from 60 years ago stopped me from going astray on SACERDOTAL, and at the same time Gray’s Elegy was part of my English Literature selection.

    I agree with Pip that my LOI was really weak, but it’s my only gripe.

    TIME 8:34

  7. Familiar with sacerdotes, not for any religious reason but via Sci-fi, in particular the works of Jack Vance. Nho EPHA, but it didn’t matter. Dry goods, not my strong suit.
    Not keen on 7dn and I see I’m not ALONE

  8. Another SACreDOTAL and a biffed EPHA, so really a 35′ DNF. Enjoyed the simple “I” as the definition rather than part of an anagram, so ELECTRIC CURRENT my COD. However Piquet, not quite sure how you can so easily move to supporting Bournemouth, you wouldn’t get away with that in Glasgow! Thanks for the blog and setter too.

    1. Gerry, I was born and brought up in Bournemouth but supported Southampton as a lad when the Cherries were rubbish 😀

  9. … then on the shore
    Of the wide world I stand Alone, and think
    Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.
    (When I have thoughts TIMCTB, Keats)

    25 mins mid-brekker. I liked it. MERs at Ate, who I thought was a tad worse than ‘mischievous’ (didn’t she blind people?), and ready=out which is verrry stretchy.
    Ta setter and Pip.

      1. Sorry. Should be “fears”.
        When I have fears that I may cease to be
        Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain, …

  10. 19:26 so I seem to have done better than the average today. LOI was EPHA, which I NHO, so I held my breath when putting that in. Almost put in POGO instead of POLO. Other than that seemed very straightforward today.
    Thanks setter and blogger

  11. Same as the QC: I was gonna beat 30mins but coulda shoulda woulda…as SACERDOTAL biffed incorrectly for two dreaded pink squares. Won’t be hard on myself because I’m clearly not alone in this NHO.

    SOUTHAMPTON one of LOIs and I should kick myself as a follower (don’t go often enough to call myself a fan) of the (now not so) mighty Saints!

    Re Gray’s Elegy, I remember my ‘O’Level literature teacher telling me that Gray had wrestled with the order of “the homeward ploughman weary plods his way” … or is it the “weary ploughman”?, or “the ploughman, homeward, plods his weary way” or is it “the ploughman, weary, plods his homeward..”?? or one of any other many permutations… wish whatever he’d gone with had stuck in my head.

  12. 15:02. SONNET finally helped me spell ATHENAEUM correctly, which I have no excuse not to know as we have one with its name in big letters on it in Angel Hill here in Bury St. Edmunds. At least I knew SACERDOTAL. I see I’m not ALONE in being unimpressed with 7D. Thanks Pip and setter.

  13. 27m 05s
    Thanks, Pip, particularly for ELECTORATE and ATHENAEUM.
    Sorry, but relegation isn’t an excuse to change allegiances. I’ve been a Brighton fan for over 40 years including the time they had to get a point away at Hereford in 1997 to avoid going out of the entire Football League. Now look where they are!

    1. True, re supporting, but have to support someone in the premier league not just hate the bad guys. Actually I can legally support both, see Gerry Murphy above. 😉

  14. The unknown TITLARK was my LOI but every permutation kept getting the UNLUCKY! message, so I eventually pressed reveal to find, yep, it’s spelt SACERDOTAL. So a DNF in about 28, if that makes sense. Agree on ready/out and not thrilled about delight/SEND but this was generally most enjoyable with a mix of easy and hard. RITZ crept in from the QC but I had to wait for piquet’s highly useful blog to have TEA CHEST, STICK IT OUT and ATHENAEUM explained.

  15. 34:48 but…

    …checked the spelling of SACERDOTAL before submitting (I’d pencilled in SACRODETAL) – answers such as this should be more kindly checked!

    Troublesome. A random bird, a stupid Latin-based anagram, and an unknown Hebrew measure. The only thing missing was a mysterious plant.

    After the first pass, I thought this was going to be a stinker, but gradually gained some footholds. I’d forgotten that the RITZ was on Piccadilly, and wondered how the Man United cryptic worked.

  16. Steadily increasing in difficulty this week, today taking 1922. Probably my stickiest issue was the long one, where with “I choose” at the beginning and the news of the Orange One facing conspiracy charges Electoral College was a likely answer, somehow personified. Otherwise, a liberal sprinkling of Hebrew, Greek and Latin upped my enthusiasm probably as much as it clearly flattened (and floored) many others. Much enjoyed.

  17. 58 minutes with LOI ATHENAEUM. I fifteen acrossed it but without any satisfactory PDMs. You can call me Al, but also many other names. If I have read a biblical passage containing EPHA, I didn’t notice. A challenge, for which I thank the setter and sympathise with Pip.

  18. I was confident with SACREDOTAL as the only reasonable arrangement of the letters. Never mind

  19. Just under half an hour. No problem with SACERDOTAL as I remembered from schoolboy Spanish that ‘sacerdote’ is a priest. Hadn’t heard of EPHA so that didn’t go in until both checkers were in place, having first taken a while to parse (and spell) ATHENAEUM. I didn’t know the MM=military medal in GRAMMY, though again with the checkers it couldn’t be anything else, and I had to trust that Ate is a spirit in order to get ELECTORATE. Tried to justify ‘inhabitant’ for 4a until I realised that the definition was at the start rather than at the end of the clue and got LIEUTENANT.

    Re DIGITAL: I might have said this before when it’s come up, but I’d only ever use ‘dig it’ to mean that I like something, not that I understand it. Though I imagine it’s backed up by the dictionaries.

    A tough but enjoyable challenge – thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Echo
    LOI Epha
    COD Shamefaced

  20. 16:45, hindered by inexplicably entering my FOI as the non-existent EPAS. LOI therefore ATHANAEUM; LOL ELECTRIC CURRENT.
    The b-less “numskull” reminded me of ‘The Numskulls’ strip in The Beezer comic of the 1960s (later in The Beano and Dandy), featuring tiny technicians who lived inside a man’s head running his mind and body. Nosey, the character in charge of nasal matters, eventually changed his name to Snitch.

  21. I rejected Epha at first because I’ve never seen it as a four letter word. My Oxford dictionary doesn’t suggest an alternate spelling to ephah (as it appears in most bible translations from memory)

  22. Quick time, for me, of 21 mins. And yet I didn’t know what was going on with some of the clues, even though I knew they must be right. Thanks for the explanation of ‘house’ as TAURUS – astrology never occurred to me – and the ATE of ELECTORATE. Likewise EPHA, which I’d spotted as a hidden, but NHO. Ditto TITLARK, which I got from wordplay alone.

  23. Late solve after a fuzzy day of midazolam and fentanyl (the drug that killed Michael Jackson and the drug that killed Prince, as the anaethetist gleefully told me – only River Phoenix missing). Another SCAREDOTAL which we must have had before… only once according to search, in 2010. Where crossers made it impossible to get wrong. Another NHO EPHA, couldn’t parse Athenaeum… was vaguely thinking the woman was Athena.
    If we’re having random names, what’s wrong with Al? No MERs, but mehs, at ALONE and ready for out.

    1. Er, what’s the difference between a MER and a MEH? I’ve always thought of them as alternative spellings for the same thing but apparently not.

      1. MER is an abbreviation local to this site, minor eyebrow raise at an apparent error by the setter.
        Meh is an Italian exclamation/exhalation of lack of interest, as much as anything. ALONE works perfectly, no MER from me. But I’m not a fan of random names like Al or Dee or Ena being peppered throughout the clues, so a meh.

          1. Yes, the heart sinks at ‘notes’ – there are just so many to choose from, what with the sol-fa and random words like ‘memo’, to say nothing of the verbal forms…

  24. 51:44 (includes 20 min break for Twitter scrolling)
    Another entertaining puzzle. This is a good week so far.
    Thanks, p.

  25. 16’15”, taking several attempts at spelling ATHENAEUM, being convinced that ‘hen’ was the woman.

    Thanks pip and setter.

  26. DNF, cheated for 26a SACaRDOTAL guessed spelling, which had to be wrong as excess E left over and an A short.
    3d I too thought hen was the woman, so biffed it anyway.
    Failed to parse 15a STICK IT OUT, so thanks there too.
    The philosopher could have been (from wiki)
    Roger Bacon
    Born c. 1219/20
    Near Ilchester, Somerset, England
    Died c. 1292 (aged about 72/73)

  27. I was fairly pleased to finish well inside target at 34.45, but with fingers crossed for a number of the answers. I was pleased to find that EPHA was indeed correct, but I then found that I join the long list of those that opted for SACREDOTAL.

  28. 19:19. Assumed EPHA was some sort of dry goods measure – although I’d have plumped for it being an old English word rather than a biblical one – and I thought trade names (Ritz) weren’t permitted in Times crossies. As no-one else has picked up on it, I am clearly mistaken.

  29. Fortunaltely, SACERDOTAL has lodged in my brain from somewhere, so I didn’t consider any alternative arrangement of the anagrist. EPHA was unknown and entered once the checkers were in. FOI was PHILIOSOPHER. Managed to parse ATHENAEUM eventually, making LOI DOLE more likely, but the parsing of it took a little longer. 20:35. Thanks setter and Pip.

  30. Just under the 20 minutes mark today, but helped by knowing all of the required vocabulary for once. Thanks for the explanation of ALONE, which was biffed. On the ready/out debate, when I was a steward at the old Arms Park in Cardiff we would shout endlessly ‘Have your tickets out, ready, please,’ which I now realise was tautological. Liked the reference to Gray’s wonderful poem. My father’s birth village in Shropshire, Hinstock, is one of the many claimants to be Gray’s inspiration, as reputedly his brother was the organist in the church. Just thought you’d like to know. Thanks to setter and blogger.

    1. Interesting. I’d always understood it was the church at Stoke Poges, in Bucks.

  31. As Zabadak observes, a steady increase in difficulty so far this week. This one a little demanding, no panic, but Friday’s out there like Grendel or something. I liked the leaves boxing.

  32. 9:13, but like almost everyone else I put the most logical sequence of letters for the unknown 26a. A poor clue.
    Weirdly my first in, with great confidence, was EPHA. The benefits of Mephisto solving, that being where the word belongs.

    1. A poor clue… because the great Keriothe got it wrong?

      Maybe if you were not ignorant of a perfectly reasonably Latin-derived word, you would have less recourse to criticise a very fair clue. But EPHA is fine, because you’ve previously looked it up in a rather parochial crossword?

      Give me strength…

  33. Another SACREDOTAL, alas, and another Saints supporter, alas, alas.

    Thanks Pip and setter.

  34. I found this largely straightforward, with several giveaways, so my time should have been quicker than it was – 33 minutes. The only unknown was TITLARK. For the second time this week I was tempted to enter TITANIC. I was slow to see the anagram fodder for SOUTHAMPTON; I thought the clue might be a container using SEAT or DIVAN or similar. On the other hand, SACERDOTAL fell quickly with no checkers in place.

  35. 23.47 WOE

    Got stuck at the end on the ALONE POLO crossers. Had ASIDE for ALONE (seems reasonable) but even when I’d decided I needed to change that I couldn’t get GO out of my thoughts and ended up with – in retrospect – a rather silly POGO which neither parsed nor fitted the definition

    Thanks all

  36. Heavy rain today prevented golf. A pint of Harvey’s seemed preferable. And that gave me time for this.
    I knew SACERDOTAL, an early solve, but not EPHA which had to wait- pencilled in , until I got POI PHILOSOPHER- not a difficult clue but it took me ages to see it.
    I was at Burlington House last week for the Summer Exhibition. If you haven’t bought a ticket, don’t bother; lots of rubbish. But I suppose it is all a matter of taste.
    Another enjoyable puzzle, not quite up to yesterday’s but that too is a matter of taste.

  37. Having another go at moving from QC to 15×15. Managed about two thirds before resorting to the blog – many thanks Piquet. Nho TITLARK, EPHA or ate, and only vaguely heard of SACERDOTAL. Wasn’t sure about MM In GRAMMY and hadn’t parsed THESAURUS. Must remember ‘house’ can mean ‘sign’.
    I wonder if someone would explain in general terms the ordering of words within a 15×15 clue – is it trumped by surface? For example, in PARIS, I was expecting IS to come before PAR based on the word order, although of course the surface wouldn’t work then. Should I just abandon any notion of a fixed order when attempting the biggie?
    Thanks all

    1. I think ‘continuing as normal’ is a pointer to the ‘is’ coming after the ‘par’ in this case. But I had to find the answer from the crossers before I could explain the clue.

        1. IS (=being) “continues” (meaning follows after, thus continuing) PAR (=normal)

  38. 47.29 today, could have gone a bit quicker I think but got rather stuck in the NE corner. SACERDOTAL went in straight away, but I did check EPHA was a word before submitting. LOI TITLARK.

  39. No problem with the priestly clue, having studied Latin for A level. Never heard of epha (nor has my spellcheck) but know that you can have a peck of pickled peppers. 3 correct solves in a row this week – hate to think what awaits in coming days.

  40. All done in 41 minutes, but this included a certain amount of biffing, and it took a long time to parse some of the clues. Never got to justify THESAURUS, having convinced myself that ESAU was a random chap surrounded by the other letters which somehow explained ‘house’. NHO EPHA or SACERDOTAL, but was rescued in the first case by the crossers and lack of alternatives and in the second case by distant recollection of Latin. Agree with Myrtilus that ATE was a serious heavy rather than a mischievous imp. Overall an enjoyable though time-consuming puzzle.
    FOI – ECHO
    Thanks to piquet and other contributors.

  41. I especially liked Electric Current and Tea Chest. I solved on paper, so I didn’t so much like coming here to learn that I deserved a pink square in Sacerdotal. Nuts, I say. thx, pip

  42. 17 mins. I seem to be quicker than most of you for a change. Struggled to understand how DIG IT ALL means understanding it all and LOI GRAMMY, NHO MM, presume it’s military medal.

  43. Took me all day, as I did the bottom half before a morning appointment, then the top half after supper. All present and correct, no problem with ATHENAEUM or SACERDOTAL, and no problems with the parsing, although I struggled with ALONE, before deciding it was just a poor clue featuring ‘random chap’. Needless to say, never heard of EPHA, LOI. At least it was kind of the setter to include the meaningless 3 Pharisees as a hint of a hidden.

  44. 45 minutes, with SACREDODAL.
    LOI PHILOSOPHER, since I was thinking too much of pork products.

Comments are closed.