Times 28675 – What kind of gypsies, Steve?

Music: Steve Hillage, L

Time: 24 minutes

This was not exactly what you would call an ordinary Monday puzzle.   Fortunately, I was able to biff my way through the most difficult parts by calling on that most able officer, General Knowledge.    That left me with a correct answer I couldn’t explain, so I had to use the phone a friend option, which in my case is text a blogger.   Even the cryptics I did understand were rather elaborate, and involved unlikely elements.

I suspect some of those who usually finish might struggle on some of these.   Many of the clues are chestnuts or beginner level, so this one is definitely a strange mixture.


1 Express disapproval with uniform dress for dancers (4)
TUTU –  TUT + U, a beginner clue to make you think this is an easy puzzle.
3 Grim quality of nasty sneers after end of Christmas Eve (10)
SEVERENESS – [Christam] S EVE + anagram of SNEERS.
10 Canine ailment? Oh, the coat is mangy (9)
TOOTHACHE – Anagram of OH, THE COAT.   The question mark told me right away the canine was a tooth.
11 Old official always about arresting English (5)
REEVE – EVE(E)R backwards, a chestnut.
12 Hour joining a line by hospital department entrance (7)
ENTHRAL – ENT + HR + A L.  Using the dual meanings of entrance is an old trick.
13 Twist editor queried to some extent (6)
TORQUE – Hidden in [edi]TOR QUE[ried].
15 Recite fictional broadcast adding points? (15)
ELECTRIFICATION – Anagram of RECITE FICTIONAL, where the points have their UK meaning.
18 What might blow up tent in another case using no energy? (15)
TRINITROTOLUENE – Double definition, but….the second one is in cryptic form: T[e]NT, where tent is in upper case and losses an E.   Thanks and a hat tip to our resident professor of chemistry.
21 What’s acceptable in clothing for imprisonment (6)
23 Setter confused about round diamond (7)
ROSETTE – Anagram of SETTER around O.
26 Minor actor is remarkable, not ordinary (5)
EXTRA – EXTRA[ordinary].
27 Turn up day before new gallery closes in university (9)
EVENTUATE – EVE + N T(U)ATE.   Remember, there is only one gallery in cryptics.
28 After that drug stashed in a specific roof beam (10)
THEREAFTER –  THE R(E)AFTER – and only one drug.
29 Retained cap, changing bits of it? (4)
KEPT – KEP(-i,+T)   In upper case, you only have to remove a few serifs from the I, which are bits of it.
1 Child chased by adder regularly in moorland the whole way (2,3,5)
TO THE DEATH – TOT + HE([a]D[d]E[r])ATH.   Tricky parsing.
2 Swimmer’s time leading to defeat (5)
TROUT – T + ROUT, another chestnut.
4 Does exceptionally well gaining one gold and upwards (9)
5 Priest leaving bar incident (5)
6 English city demolishing round one area where Wedgwood worked (7)
ETRURIA – E + TRUR[o] + I + A, another one I just biffed.
7 Controlling river channel and river — not two rivers (9)
8 Staunch supporter of gardens (4)
STEM – Double definition.
9 Drought reduced Yorkshire town over time (6)
THIRST – THIRS[k] + T.   I wasn’t sure of the town, but this had to be it.
14 Neat and decent reformed prior (10)
ANTECEDENT – Anagram of NEAT + DECENT, with antecedent as an adjective.
16 Gets piqued with its item requiring uncovering in protocol (9)
ETIQUETTE – [g]ET[s] [p]IQUE[d] + [i]T[s] [i]TE[m], a tour de force that most solvers will just biff and move on.
17 Get involved to help bury Edward in church (9)
19 Repeat over and over — it takes a long time, note (7)
20 Preparation of cells is behind, including last two in Strangeways (6)
LYSATE – L([strangewa]YS)ATE.   A little tough, but once you have the crossers it can’t be anything else.
22 Stalks bound to be mostly cut fine (5)
SHEAF – SHEA[r] + F.
24 Exchange of invective I missed (5)
TRADE – T[i]RADE, another chestnut.
25 Try one’s luck introducing European vegetable (4)

98 comments on “Times 28675 – What kind of gypsies, Steve?”

  1. Couldn’t agree more with our blogger – some easy stuff leavened with some remarkably arcane vocabulary. Our old friend Dorset Jimbo would have revelled in the scientific flavour.
    Meantime, if anyone has the setter’s mailing address, I have an interesting idea involving a little Trinitrotoluene (for which I had to use a reference book).

    1. Are you planning on blowing anything up? (You can email me privately. 😉)

      1. I didn’t know the word, just the abbreviation, and I have a science background. I was a little surprise at how many people did know it. Different curriculums in different Chemistry courses around the world, I guess.

  2. 16:06
    As Paul said, this would have pleased Jimbo. DNK LYSATE. Biffed TNT, and didn’t bother to parse. Failed to parse EVENT. Biffed ETIQUETTE, parsed post-submission. DNK about Wedgwood. I wouldn’t expect THEREAFTER to be defined by ‘after that’, even in a QC.

  3. DNF, defeated by NHO Etruria. Know Etruscan but didn’t know it derived from Etruria in Italy, or that there was another Etruria in Stoke (which didn’t fit the crossers, or the word-length). Have heard of Truro – there was a kidnapping or murder many years ago at Truro in South Australia.
    Forgot to parse TNT. Tricky. Couldn’t parse EVENT, not sure I’ve seen PR for priest before. LYSATE and THIRS{?} had to be taken on trust.
    Strange sort of a puzzle. COD to KEPI.

  4. 25 minutes. Couldn’t parse TRINITROTOLUENE and yes, I biffed ETIQUETTE. I parsed ‘changing bits of it?’ in KEPI as substituting an I for a T (the other letter in the word ‘it’) but your parsing is probably what was intended.

    Maybe not lowbrow, but not highbrow either, TV to the rescue here. I knew ETRURIA from the either Bargain Hunt, Antiques Roadtrip or Antiques Roadshow as well as crossword land. We had THURSO, where The Highland Vet is set, two Mondays ago and today THIRS(K), where James Herriot (Alf Wight) practised and which is one of the places where the The Yorkshire Vet is set. Just goes to show Reality TV series are not always “Awful tat, verily?”

    1. No, I’m pretty sure your parsing of KEPT is the correct one. Aside from anything else, the online version of the clue doesn’t even have any serifs

      1. Oh, man, definitely nothing to do with serifs. I hadn’t read Vinyl’s explanation, which certainly is imaginative!

  5. Hurried to finish just so I could say, “Hey, editor! The clue for THEREAFTER should start ‘Following that,’ not ‘After that’! An easy fix!”
    LYSATE sneaked in from a Mephisto. I did check it.
    LOI ETRURIA, because I didn’t know Wedgwood.
    TO THE DEATH was my FOI.

    (“Gypsies”? “Steve”? Now there’s a mystery…)

  6. Somehow I got through all but one clue in 35 minutes despite a considerable number of unknown words and meanings, and parsings that proved impenetrable whilst the clock was ticking.

    The one that eluded me and I looked up because I thought I wouldn’t know it was ETRURIA where the reference to Wedgwood did for me. As it turned out, I knew the word and its connection with the Etruscans and their pottery, but Wedgwood put me off the trail. As an aside I would mention a classic episode of Hancock called The Bedsit in which Tony, having been let down by the girl he was planning to date that evening, consoled himself that he would now be able to stay home alone and listen to a talk about Etruscan vases on the Third Programme.

    Amongst other unknowns were DURESS as ‘imprisonment’ and ROSETTE as ‘diamond’, a meaning that seems to be confined to the Oxford dictionaries although the other usual sources have entries for ‘rose diamond’ or ‘rose cut diamond’. EXCELSIOR as ‘upwards’ was another and I never parsed KEPT

    1. Yes I’m with you on DURESS Jack. I wondered if it should have been “durance” which does mean imprisonment.

      1. Thanks, Olivia. I found this to justify the clue in SOED but I’m still not sure about it: duress 3 Constraint, compulsion, esp. through imprisonment, threats, or violence; spec. in Law, constraint illegally exercised to force a person to perform an act. LME.

        1. I also couldn’t find a strong justification for DURESS meaning imprisonment, bunging it in with a touch of confusion once all the crossers were in place.

        2. The third definition in Collins is ‘confinement; imprisonment’. News to me: I had the same thought as Olivia – ‘durance vile’ – but just trusted the wordplay.

  7. 25 mins for all but the unknown ETRURIA, throwing in the towel after another ten minutes of staring.

  8. Another who gave up (on the hour) having stared at 6d for at least ten mins. No inspiration led me to look up ETRURIA. I had no idea of the place.

    Definitely a xword of two halves, as has been mentioned.

    Thanks v and setter.

  9. I’m with Sawbill. My time might have been quicker had I not biffed “execution” thus having an incorrect letter in my LOI.

    Away for the rest of this week, but I’ve got a note from my Mum….(if she were still here she’d be 117).

    TIME 9:29

  10. Gave up at about 40, defeated by the explosive and the potter’s place. Even if I’d seen the T(e)NT trick I would have had no chance at the word itself, without any wordplay to assist you either know it or you don’t. I find clues like that annoying TBH. I’m with jackkt on some of the definitions. I too failed to appreciate the mastery of ETIQUETTE and am indebted to vinyl1 for explaining EVENT (I wondered if ‘ven’ had something to do with priest) and KEPT which turns out to be very clever.

  11. She should have died hereafter;
    There would have been a time for such a word.
    To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, … etc

    After 25 mins mid-brekker I gave up trying to parse TNT and city-searching for Truro. Shame about those two duds.
    Ta setter and V.

  12. 15 minutes. I remembered what TNT was from school. Started off with LASYST but switched to LYSATE after getting EVENTUATE. Unlike the blogger was slow to get the canine tooth thing. I understood KEPT as switching the I and T of IT?
    Thanks setter and blogger.

      1. Ha ha yes, we had the fire brigade round to defuse a bomb one time! I remember quite well what tnt looked like, kind of red oily liquid.

  13. At 29, I’m not sure the case and the serifs are relevant. The clue just requires the the replacing of the I in kepi with the other bit of it, i.e. the letter T.

  14. 17.53. Managed to make an earlier start to the week this time after a few late entries last. Main difficulty for me today was in the SW with sheaf and thereafter. Till I got sheaf I was panicked over whether the latter answer was some arcane architectural word I didn’t know.

    Apart from that , steady progress if not spectacular.

    Thx setter and blogger.

  15. Flew through this despite the complex vocabulary. Dnk LYSATE, didn’t parse ETRURIA, have never ever seen the abbreviation Pr for priest (it’s in Chambers). Wrote in ELECTRIFICATION and TRINITROTOLUENE after a few crossers, didn’t parse either.

    10’36”, thanks vinyl and setter.

  16. 17 minutes, having all the knowledge today about Wedgwood, the full name of the explosive, the Yorkshire town and the Manchester prison. LOI ETIQUETTE. Maybe that’s something I never learnt. Enjoyable. Thanks V and setter.

  17. 12:26. An interesting mix. I liked the wordplay for ETIQUETTE and TNT. DNK LYSATE but did know ETRURIA. LOI THEREAFTER after EVENTUATE, once I realised 22D wasn’t STOOK where I was wondering how STOP could mean “cut”. Thanks Vinyl and setter.

  18. 45 mins
    Odd puzzle. 28 ac doesn’t seem right with ‘after’ in both the clue and the solution. I eventually saw Truro, but it’s a bit niche when you’re looking for a city that could be anywhere, and the solution is obscure.
    Thanks, v.

  19. “Broadcast” usually means “sounds like”, not anagram. Or has something changed?

    1. Can be either, which adds to the fun, but my impression is that it more usually has the anagram in sight.

  20. Pleasant start to the week. EXECUTIVE my LOI. Nothing exceptional here but thanks as ever to the blogger and setter.

  21. Uppards
    My slightly extended time at 15.36 was spoiled by a typo, but I more or less breezed through this. I attempted to fit in TNGlycerene for reasons of senility. I was unsure of LYSATE (not, it turns out in Chambers) and was briefly tempted by ARSYSE. I did know of ETRURIA, which was Wedgewood’s own naming for his stately home and factory. Some odd repetitions here: two AFTERs, one in the clue, and two EVENTs.
    I’m another who solved KEPT by swapping the I and the T. V’s take is ingenious but I think belongs more in Listener territory where setters can and do use “a strange device”

    1. Z, I also attempted TNGlycerene and lost time going over its spelling several times hoping that somehow I would make it fit.

    2. Lysate is not in Chambers per se, true! Though lyse and lysis are. And it is in Collins, and also in ODE, or what passes for ODE in this degenerate age…

  22. DNF. STEM wouldn’t come so I bunged in an unparseable SKEW. Bother. Also had to cheat to confirm Etruria has a connection with Wedgewood.

  23. I had no knowledge of Etruria beyond the fact that somewhere I’ve seen (perhaps on the china itself) ‘Wedgwood of Etruria’. 28 minutes for a puzzle where I just about understood it all except the TRINITRO… answer, which was a mystery: it was only entered because it fitted, both checkers and apparent definition. The connection of points with ELECTRIFICATION seems a bit tenuous: surely you can have points without electrification? Certainly you can with a child’s toy trains. Agree that the KEPT clue requires us to swap the bits of ‘it’.

    1. The relevant “points” are these ones:
      a socket in a wall for connecting a device to an electrical supply or communications network.”

  24. 08:16, and of the two which particularly appeared to fox people today, I definitely knew ETRURIA, but had never heard of LYSATE so that went in from wordplay (and remembering the existence of lysine from some quiz or other, the similarity of which seemed more than suggestive – I don’t actually know what lysine is, either, but that’s neither here nor there).

  25. Samne unknowns as many, but managed to follow the wordplay and arrive at the correct answers, apart from biffing, TNT and KEPT. 21:47. Thanks setter and Vinyl.

  26. 29:50. Decidedly a mixed bag. Worried not to find LYSATE in Chambers (iphone version) when checking post-solve, but it is in the Shorter Oxford. Had no idea about ETRURIA or the clever TNT clue or DURESS as imprisonment or ROSETTE as a diamond. Bit of a bumpy ride, all told.

  27. Relied on wordplay for LYSATE and bunged it in. On checking Chambers app, surprised to find no mention of the word, despite LYSINE and other related derivatives. Minor quibble on ROSETTE. NHO it meaning diamond and no dictionary I have gave this sense. But it had to be. FOI TUTU, LOI ETIQUETTE, COD EXTRA.

    1. It’s in my (Australian) Oxford: Rosette 5. A rose diamond. In the solving I guessed it was the name of a cut of a diamond, which it turns out was correct – a hemispherical diamond with the curved part cut in triangular facets.

      1. Yes, as mentioned in my earlier comment I managed to find ROSETTE as a diamond in my three versions of the Oxford dictionary but not anywhere else. It’s rare for the Oxfords to be outliers other than insisting on -ize suffixes!

  28. Very easy to start with then as Vinyl1 says, some toughies. Got through them all with a few biffs; dont know where Etruria came from but I got it. Came unstuck with the explosive, knew it was TNT but couldn’t guess the spelling. Never happy with a DNF on a Monday! Thanks blogger and setter.

  29. All rather easy unless – like me – you don’t know what TNT stands for and have no help at all from the clue to figure it out. Also couldn’t get the unknown ETRURIA. Hopefully no suburbs of Stoke-on-Trent will be required knowledge for the championship.

  30. 20:21
    Definitely not a run of the mill Monday puzzle. Good fun with some nifty surfaces throughout. Quite an education for me with ETRURIA and LYSATE never heard before and new meanings for DURESS an ROSETTE . Didn’t bother parsing TNT or KEPT. COD- ETIQUETTE.

    Thanks to vinyl and the setter.

  31. Much the same experience as others. Lots of easy clues leading me to think I’d finish in 25 minutes or under, then trying to work out the wordplay for others, failing, but throwing in what fitted.
    Good misdirection in 10a. Obviously an anagram, but I was looking for an obscure dog afflction to go with the other obscurities.
    45 minutes.

  32. DNF. Today’s the day when I realised that everybody else knows what TNT stands for, and how to spell it. I didn’t, and I had absolutely no idea what was going on with 18a, so I gave up.

    Frustrating, after having worked out everything else apart from KEPT, where I hadn’t heard of the kepi cap. Not entirely sure where I knew ETRURIA from, and LYSATE was dredged up from somewhere too. ROSETTE=diamond was new to me, and ELECTRIFICATION=adding points wasn’t the most obvious link.

    COD Eventuate

  33. Not everyone Chris. I got as far as TRINITRO….scouring the clue for further direction, but no! Either you knew or you didn’t? Also failed at Truro despite it being closer than I care to admit. So a DNF after 40 mins. Not a good start to the week sadly.

    Thanks V

  34. 23:34 but…

    …all was looking good, even the guesses, until I attempted to enter TNT – somehow the letters were spludged and finished as -TUOLENE which gave LYSATE the wrong starter. Two errors for the price of one.

    The perils of walking and typing…


  35. ETRURIA defeated me, so DNF. Didn’t like the use of AFTER in the clue for THEREAFTER.

  36. 27:07, with one typo

    I have visited the Wedgewood museum and factory, so was familiar with its history, making Etruria gettable.
    I read KEPT as swapping the two bits of IT to replace I with T.

    I biffed TRINITROTOLUENE, but cannot parse it, even with the explanation in the blog.

    Thanks blogger and setter

    1. As Vinyl says, you need to take the word TENT and make it lose the abbreviation for energy (E), which gives you TNT, which is in turn the abbreviation for the explosive with the long full name.

      1. Thanks. It makes sense now. I was thrown by how the “in another case” came in, I hadn’t grasped the lower to upper case tent to TENT.

  37. I have been following this string for some weeks. What has surprised me is how virtually all
    the bad clues and parsing of the various compilers are overlooked; almost to the point of assuming that they are somehow too clever for the solver, not simply poor clues. Today’s crossword brought things to a head – I had to say something! 28 Down is unforgivable – you cannot have ‘After’ in a clue with the answer THEREAFTER; and why have EVENTUATE and EVENT as answers in the same grid? EJECT or EXERT, say, are obvious options.
    As the sole compiler of the Radio Times cryptic crossword for nearly twenty-five years, I feel qualified to make these comments. Come on The Times, make them hard by all means, but they must be fair. And come on contributors, let everyone know that there are some bad clues as well as very good ones.

    1. Fair points. I think we get the balance about right. We do complain about clues (unlike certain other forums which I find rather bland as a result) but I think people generally try to cut the setters a bit of slack (they churn these things out to a very high standard every day!) and not overdo it. You are not the first to point out the problem with THEREAFTER!
      I didn’t even notice the EVEN/EVENTUATE thing but I did notice the double use of ‘eve’ in 2ac and 27ac.

      1. But all these things could and should be edited out. As they are not, one can’t help feeling a lot of it is just ‘waved through’, without being subjected to any quality controls.

    2. Well Myrtilus (a setter himself) calls two clues duds, and others have said they don’t like various clues, so I think we have it covered.

    3. You Sir, are music to my ears!

      I cannot overstate how much I agree with you. This is The Times crossword for goodness sake! Some of the offerings need rigorous editing.

  38. A youth, who bore, ‘mid snow and ice,
    A banner with the strange device,

    Good stuff for a Monday. Remembered Etruria from visits to Stoke on Trent, in the Potteries. I liked TNT. Lysate was what used to happen (unintentionally) to my Helicobacter cultures, rendering them useless. Which is why I was not a scientist. 30 mins, which is fast for me.

    1. There’s a rather fun alternative by Marriott Edgar which starts:
      ‘Twere getting dusk, one winter’s night,
      When up the clough there came in sight,
      A lad who carried through the snow,
      A banner with this ‘ere motto…

      1. Forgot to mention: EXCELSIOR is the official motto of New York State.
        We do try!

  39. About 25 minutes for all but six, and then another27+ minutes to complete. When I say complete that is not strictly true. I was sure that TNT in the extended form was the answer to 18ac, but I couldn’t come up with the full name and in desperation looked it up. Even then I couldn’t parse it, but it did make my LOI EXCELSIOR gettable at least.

  40. 30 minutes – quick for me. Biffed “Event” as not seen PR for priest before and biffed “TNT “.

  41. Happy to have ploughed through most of this – including dnk LYSATE. Came up short on DURESS and ETRURIA.

  42. 8:13. I started very quickly on this, with the first four acrosses and all the danglers across the top apart from ETRURIA going in immediately. Things slowed down in the bottom half.
    Lots of odd things in here – DURESS, ROSETTE, kepi, EXCELSIOR, ETRURIA, LYSATE – and a couple of visits to the less famous towns and cities of England lent a quirky feel.
    Requiring knowledge of what TNT stands for, and how to spell it, seems a bit harsh to me.

    1. Dear Keriothe, I know you will disagree, but if I, who am hopeless at science, didn’t do physics and barely scraped through Chemistry O-level, can dredge up the memory of Trinitrotol- something or other and get the letters in the correct place and parse it, then it doesn’t seem unduly harsh! After all, if you know it, it’s GK, right? 😎

      1. For the avoidance of doubt, it didn’t cause me a problem (and I’m no scientist either) so here I am for once not applying my usual rule 😉
        Going by the comments here (and this is generally quite an erudite bunch) it seems to have caught quite a few people out which suggests to me that some wordplay was in order.

        1. Exactly, Keriothe! It remains an unfair clue! ( wordplay is supposed to be helpful, is it not?)

          1. To be fair to the setter these things are hard to judge. One person’s obvious GK is another’s obscurity. The degree to which TfTT solvers know something is my personal obscurity litmus test, and I think it’s a good one.

  43. 32’30”
    Good early pace, spooked and swerved final furlong.
    Would have been sub 30, but paused to parse KEPT. A fairly recent and excellent Radio 4 offering on Wedgwood (it might still be available) helped with Etruria, and Truro came easily as I have an ancestor who is perched on a plinth there on Lemon Street: Richard Lander, explorer.
    I’m certain LYSATE has appeared in the past, but it may have been the Guardian.
    I enjoyed this rather quirky puzzle; thank you setter and Vinyl.

  44. Lots of complaints about general knowledge fails … Jimbo is looking down, and would have something to say about it all!

  45. 19 mins. NHO KEPI, let alone the arcane clueing. Otherwise, straight forward. Doesn’t everyone know ETRURIA is in Stoke? Sometimes we know stuff and sometimes we don’t…..

  46. TNT and ETRURIA not problems.
    But I failed to get SHEAF and BEET and THERAFTER and DURESS.

    Thanks for all the explanations.

  47. Found this reasonably straightforward…but couldn’t be sure about the middle of the TNT word and gave up on it too soon. The clue seems fair but its strength lies in not carrying a way to get the letters from those we’re given, a step I was unable to make. Wasn’t aware of points as electrification or of lysate, but got same; but annoyed about the nitro.

  48. Etruria was a write-in, as there’s a type of pottery called ‘Tuscanware’ named after the area (and my dad’s from Staffs). I got all except ‘duress’, which still seems iffy, and quite quickly (though I forgot to time myself).

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