Times 28703 – I’ll grieve to hear what torments you endured


I’ll make a pre-SNITCH guess of about 130, or pretty hard. It was a full 4 minutes before I found anything to put in the grid (10ac, should have tried the short ones first), and after a false start in the NE corner, managed to fill the bottom half of the grid and work upwards.

I thought these were all excellent and fun clues to solve, but especially liked 24dn, my COD. Despite being only vaguely familiar with 2dn and 14ac (my LOI), the did eventually emerge from the darkness.

Definitions underlined.

1 Prompt to ditch right actors for modern programme (7)
PODCAST – PrOD (prompt) removing ‘r’ (right) + CAST (actors).
5 Somewhere driver’s seen bird by depressed area (7)
COCKPIT – COCK (bird) + PIT (depressed area).
9 Somewhere driver’s seen energy-saving old banger put away (11)
INCARCERATE – IN CAR (somewhere driver’s seen) + CRATE (old banger) containing E (“saving” energy).
10 Part of ship lacking hard timber (3)
ELM – hELM (part of ship) minus ‘h’ (hard).
11 Band get high in wings of stage (6)
STRIPE – TRIP (get high) in StagE.
12 Used bathroom during breaks in kind of film for kids? (8)
URINATED – IN (during) contained in U-RATED (kind of film for kids).
14 French army leader‘s doctor receiving help and pro tips (4,2,7)
MAID OF ORLEANS – MO (doctor) containing AID (help), then FOR (pro) + LEANS (tips). Joan of Arc, who inspired the French to break a siege at Orléans. The first half came much more easily than the second for me.
17 Home surrounded by huge predatory animal? Appeal to be stoical (4,3,4,2)
GRIN AND BEAR IT – IN (home) contained by GRAND (huge) + BEAR (predatory animal) + IT ((sex) appeal).
21 Perhaps budgie’s back feathers become less prominent (4,4)
STEP DOWN – PET’S (perhaps budgie’s) reversed + DOWN (feathers).
23 Painter has hesitation about a colour he might have used? (6)
RENOIR – ER (hesitation) reversed + NOIR (colour he might have used).
25 Boss in good four-wheel drive, not Sierra (3)
GUV – G (good) + sUV (four-wheel drive) with no ‘s’ (sierra).
26 Like Korea, say, this could create trepidation (11)
27 Slight hurt primarily caused by telltale in school (7)
SCRATCH – first of Caused + RAT (telltale), all in SCH (school).
28 Perhaps like a wizard‘s baked items (7)
POTTERY – double definition. Did anyone else think ‘pasties’ first?
1 Holy man‘s art posing many questions? (6)
PRIEST – if you “art posing many questions”, ‘pry-est’ thou? That’s my best guess – looking forward to the comments on this one.
2 Actions that are becoming green blocking oil transporter (7)
DECORUM – ECO (green) contained by DRUM (oil transporter).
3 Articles about endlessly fascinating matriarch in Rome (9)
AGRIPPINA – A and A (articles) containing GRIPPINg (fascinating). Dimly remembered Roman Empress.
4 Could it be someone joining bank? (4)
TIER – double definition.
5 More than one daily newspaper bores presidents (10)
CHAIRWOMEN – CHARWOMEN (more than one daily) that I (newspaper) bores.
6 Tribe taking in drug, or not (5)
CLEAN – CLAN (tribe) containing E (drug).
7 Picks Greek princess with power as new leader (7)
PLECTRA – eLECTRA (Greek princess), with P (power) to replace the first letter (leader).
8 Cambridge University turned to wit from the classics department with least confidence (8)
TIMIDEST – MIT (the other Cambridge University) reversed + ID EST (that is, to wit, in Latin).
13 Writer of leader in Sun probing news value (10)
WORDSWORTH – first of Sun contained by WORD (news) + WORTH (value).
15 Person with conviction maybe isn’t clear when rambling (9)
16 Source of entertainment repeated in stories (3,5)
AGA SAGAS – A GAS (a laugh, source of entertainment) repeated.
18 This person protects nurses close to wage freeze (3,4)
ICE OVER – I COVER (this person protects) containing last of wagE.
19 Flog hide of tiger cat (7)
TROUNCE -‘skin’ of TigeR + OUNCE (cat).
20 Sailor’s right-hand man has e.g. passport taken in fight (6)
FRIDAY – ID (e.g. passport) in FRAY (fight).
22 Revolutionary hit the booze store (5)
DEPOT – TOPED (hit the booze) reversed.
24 One might cower with terror (4)
WIMP – W (with) + IMP (terror).

83 comments on “Times 28703 – I’ll grieve to hear what torments you endured”

  1. 27:49
    Pretty good guess, William; the SNITCH is currently at 131.
    I struggled with this one, but it was less of a struggle than most Fridays. FOI, like William, ELM, LOI STEP DOWN (I had DOWN early on, but). Biffed PODCAST & GRIN AND BEAR IT, parsed post-submission. 5d had me thinking of US presidents for too long. And ‘French army leader’ had me trying to come up with CHEF DE SOMETHING, until the M of DECORUM removed the scales from my eyes. ‘Holy man’ was a poor definition for PRIEST. I liked WIMP, although I don’t equate ‘imp’ with ‘terror’.

        1. OK, Kevin, I’m curious, what do you call those rotten little ne’er-do-wells? Brats? Rapscallions? Or do you just ignore them so as to not to encourage them by paying attention to their antics.

          1. As I said, the words aren’t in my vocabulary–I would never use either of them– but what prompted my original comment was that ‘imp’ seems to me less negative than ‘terror’; mischievous but not nasty. Brats–and I might use that word–are nasty. But it’s been years–nay, decades–since I’ve had cause to refer to such children.

            1. As I use and hear the words ‘terror’ (usually prefixed with ‘little’) is a word you might use to refer affectionately to your nephew. ‘Brat’ isn’t. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone actually say ‘imp’ in this context.

  2. Really liked that. Failed to parse the budgie being a pet so guessed it, and eventually settled on PRIEST, but otherwise it all went in fairly smoothly. Slow start, only a few acrosses, but the downs filled all the gaps. Untimed but felt about average. Lots of nice PDMs: WIMP, MIT, SUV, INCARCERATE, MAID OF ORLEANS, PARTITIONED, RENOIR, FRIDAY etc.

  3. Certainly the hardest of this week! I took a break for half a rib sandwich, left over from yesterday, before finishing. Had the SW first, then the NE and SE, ending with URINATE (guessed the answer before the wordplay was fathomed) and CHAIRWOMEN. The quotient of jokey clues is rather high, in my view. I wrote “Good grief!” next to “PRI-EST,” though that seemed clever enough (sure you’ve parsed it right, William… though it takes liberties with the spelling), and then was somewhat taken aback to (finally) get TI-ER just a few clues over. On second look, that is fairly straight. But we have POTTER-Y too… Har de har. But enjoyable enough overall.

    It would be rare to hear TIMIDEST rather than “more timid.”

    It’s funny that the right wing (in France, anyway) reveres the famously cross-dressing Maid of Orleans.

    (BTW: There are keyboard commands, whether you’re on a Mac or a PC, that can make apostrophes come out correctly instead of as their mirror image. Nobody seems much to care, though…)

    1. I’m not sure I have understood your point about the spelling of PRIEST so apologies in advance if I have missed it. Going by what I can gather from Collins and SOED, if the second person form of ‘pry’ were to exist it would be spelt ‘priest’ rather than ‘pryest’, as the third person form is ‘pries’, not ‘prys’. In fact, rather to my surprise (no pun intended!) it seems that ‘prys’ doesn’t exist at all in the English language, no matter what meaning of ‘pry’ is intended.

      1. Oh, of course. I should have left my comment as I initially wrote it, before adding that bit. I had asked myself why it might be that William expressed a little uncertainty about his parsing, and that’s what, in the moment, I came up with.

      1. The content managing system (CMS) for TfTT automatically changes the “dumb” (straight up and down, non-curled) apostrophes and quotation marks that are typed by default into the interface into “smart” ones, but often the algorithm betrays the writer’s intent. The most egregious example is when apostrophes are typically rendered as opening quotation marks when they come after a space (duh) or some code.

        My experience with PCs is very limited, but Apple commands can be transposed easily into IBM lingo, if you know which PC keys are equivalent to the Command, Option and Control keys on a Mac.

        On a Mac, then, it’s done with the Option key and the keys for the square brackets.
        Open double quotation mark (“): Option [
        Closed double quotation mark (”): Option-shift [
        Open single quotation mark ( ‘): Option ]
        Closed single quotation mark / Apostrophe (’): Option-shift ]

    2. Well, I’m grateful, Guy, you pointed this out to me some months ago and I think I’ve got the hang of it.

  4. On the subject of urination (in The Times of all places! Egad!), I think Gallers needs to be blood tested.

    13 minutes! Pah!

  5. I had 56 minutes on the clock when I finished having resorted to aids for one answer (more of that in a moment) so I take some comfort that some respected solvers also had difficulties.

    Actually I had been doing rather well until I ran into a breezeblock in the NE segment and I wish now that I had made a note of how long it had taken me to get that far with only 4 clues still outstanding. I would estimate it was around 35 minutes.

    The clue that finally did for me was 7dn where I had the checkers P?E???A and had even considered ‘Electra’ as part of the wordplay but I didn’t know she was a princess so I dismissed her from my thoughts. I should have followed through on the wordplay to get to PLECTRA meaning ‘picks’. Peter B used to have a self-kicking boot for moments like this. I certainly needed to borrow it today!

    Before the arrival of CHAIRWOMEN at 5dn proved it wrong I had been trying to fit WENT into the answer at 12ac clued by ‘used bathroom’.

    The double meaning of TIER came up in yesterday’s Guardian puzzle where it was clued more succinctly as One drawing level (4).

  6. What a fun crossword, but hard. Just over an hour for me. I got GRIN AND BEAR IT and MAID OF ORLEANS early on, which helped. Luckily, having lived in France for years, I knew that Joan of Arc was the Maid of Orléans (oh, that French army leader). Lots of fun clues where it was not obvious how the clue worked and suddenly, all became clear.

  7. I like days like this when you realise after getting next to nothing on the first run-through ‘Oh, this is hard’ and are thus saved from the tyranny of the timer and can settle back to enjoy the ride. In the end I registered 56.54 which I thought was pretty good in the circumstances. William’s excellent blog was required for several, such as WIMP, TIER, INCARCERATE (Oh! E in crate!) and PRIEST. So many good clues here, including CHAIRWOMEN, WORDSWORTH, MAID OF ORLEANS and the Jumpin’ Jack Flash one (it’s AGASAGAsgas). Speaking of which, I believe Keith Richards prefers Fender PLECTRA and that’s exactly how he describes them.

  8. Fine puzzle, and much enjoyed pressing “reveal” on many clues for multiple forehead-slaps.

    Just finished watching repeat of “I,Claudius” which was released on iPlayer this week, so AGRIPPINA was straightforward. It’s brilliant TV, and everyone’s in it ( including Patrick Stewart with hair)


    1. I share your enthusiasm for I CLAVDIVS, having lamented for many years that it was pretty well not available. When I saw Patrick Stewart in the cast list I had to go back to recognise him, Jean Luc with hair! I think I’d have struggled with AGRIPPINA otherwise, and wondered whether our setter was also immersed in possibly the finest drama series ever made.

    2. I’m about half way through watching it after seeing it when it first aired on television. Derek Jacobi’s performance is outstanding, but for me Sian Phillips as Livia is a truly amazing performance, she manages to capture the very epitome of evil. In the episode I’ve just watched she has died, with the kindly Claudius in attendance. Now on to another brilliant performance by John Hurt as Caligula, who’s depiction of evil is a little less subtle than Livia’s as I recall.

  9. 35 minutes. PRIEST was the one that gave me the most trouble; I could see what was intended but wouldn’t have been able to explain it as well as William. The ‘Somewhere driver’s seen’ x2 were good and had me thinking that a golf course must be involved in at least one answer. Other good ones were the ‘Picks’ as a noun, MAID OF ORLEANS and CHAIRWOMEN. Highlight was WIMP; takes one to solve one.

    Joanna Trollope – or the literary genre she spawned – has been getting a good run lately; the third appearance this year. I thought MIT was the ‘Cambridge University’; is there another one somewhere?

        1. Well there’s also Lesley University, if you want to include less prestigous institutions.

          1. Lesley used to be a college, not a university, but upgraded. Back in the stone age Radcliffe, also in Cambridge and when it was more technically separate from Harvard, was able to call itself a university (due to the composition of the faculty and the offering of graduate courses) but didn’t.

  10. If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
    Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, …
    (Enough already. Dulce et Decorum est. Wilfred Owen)

    40 very enjoyable mins mid-brekker. Excellent. Exactly what a Times crossword should be IMO: chewy but fair, witty, clever, with nice surfaces.
    Only slightly marred by my LOI. I don’t really want urinated over breakfast.
    Ta setter and WJS.

  11. This was one of the hardest puzzles I’ve ever finished. 58 minutes with LOI URINATED. If Joan of Arc hadn’t emerged from the flames early on, I’d not have persevered. As it was, I did, so COD to GRIN AND BEAR IT. I liked TREPIDATION too. I didn’t fully manage to parse WORDSWORTH. PRIEST Thou was my parsing with three question marks. Thank you William and setter for the torment.

  12. 27:46. I thought the SNITCH rating was going to be higher but it turned out I made hard work of this puzzle. At first attempt I wrongly parsed many clues today, not least my last two of URINATED and CHAIRWOMEN. I thought “Used bathroom” was going to be PEED or WEED. This assumption led to an incorrect E in CHAIRWOMEN and I toyed with CHAPERONES as an answer. Not that it fitted any definition, but PERON came close to satisfying the “presidents” bit, albeit I couldn’t justify the singular.

    I have a slight misgiving over SUV for “four wheel drive”, given that I suspect most SUVs are not now four wheel drive.

  13. A good Friday test, done in 35 minutes, with a MER about whether PRIEST was a thing “thou priest” being a verb form. Much to like here. URINATED was a bit graphic.

  14. 23:55
    Another Uxbridge English Dictionary definition in POTTERY. I enjoyed PLECTRA, though helped towards it by thinking “Picks” might be SELECTS.
    URINATED reminded me of Colin Dexter’s Azed prize-winning clue for MICKEY-TAKING: “(M)urine-extraction?”

  15. 11:45. Tricky one, but very enjoyable. It really shouldn’t have taken me as long as it did to spot Joan of Arc.

  16. About half an hour, and for the first time in a long while everything was parsed. Eventually remembered AGRIPPINA and Electra to get PLECTRA; was barking up the wrong tree with the definition for 12a until enough checkers emerged to eliminate weeing/peeing and get URINATED; likewise didn’t get MAID OF ORLEANS until I had enough checkers and remembered that Joan of Arc led an army; was helped with TIMIDEST by the Cambridge University trick having come up recently; and finished with the devious (and I thought brilliant) PRIEST.

    A really enjoyable challenge – thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Podcast
    LOI + COD Priest

  17. Morning Becomes Electric
    A very fine puzzle, even if not my slowest of the week in 19:28. Such liberties with the English language that gave us PRI-EST and POTTER-Y are what make cryptic crosswords the joy that they are: can it be done in other languages?
    The repeated “somewhere driver’s seen” neither of them leading to golf made those top lines harder for me, and I only got INCARCERATE as my last in, shortly after the piddling to middling URINATED.
    Add combining a perfect anagram for PARTITIONED with a smooth and credible surface and I feel mentally set up for he rest of the day: perhaps even for the Listener.

    1. Sure, other languages can be played with the same way. Even accidentally, to unintentional comic effect, as with French politico Ségolène Royal’s gaffe “bravitude” in 2007, which still inspires a plethora of other coinages in the very playful (but serious) Canard enchaîné.

      1. It’s something I’ve wondered but never seriously checked up on. According to wiki, Israel has a fine line in Hebrew cryptics, and Poland, Germany and Finland have them, but not France, where mots croisés are usually of the straight word substitution type. The Chinese have their own way of doing it (I’ll bet that’s fun!). Hopefully someone will now post a link to L’Auditeur to prove my research is pathetically lacking!

        1. L’Auditeur ? I don’t know what that is (and a Google search turns up nothing relevant on the first page…)
          The clues in the Canard’s Les Mots Croisés are generally puns that hint at the answer, without offering a strict definition. (It took me quite a long time to finish one, the one time I did.) A different kind of cryptic: no anagrams, charades, or hidden words. It’s a 9 by XI (horizontal answers take roman numerals) grid, and most words are shorter than those limits.
          Here’s an easy example: “Au lit soit qui mal y pionce” (sounds like “honi soit qui mal y pense”; “pionce” is argot for “sleep”): INSOMNIAQUE.
          A part of a word can be the answer, clued sans definition, as it apparently does not even have to be a word: “Un moment d’éternité”: ERNI…! Doesn’t quite seem fair.

          1. l think for clearly a whole raft of reasons I’d struggle with French mots if that’s typical!
            L’Auditeur probably doesn’t exist as a crossword, and shouldn’t turn up as such in Google. The Listener, on the other hand….

    2. Very much agree, Zabadak.

      Guy, my French is of the O level variety (not even GCSE, so obviously back in the dim and distant too) so I’m going to have to do a Margot Leadbetter and wail: “^Why^ is it funny?”

  18. 32:34 so for me not the hardest of the week, but definitely hard. About a minute of that was spent staring at PRIEST until I got PRI-EST and went ooohhhh. FOI was AGRIPPINA and I thought, OK someone’s watching I Claudius! LOI was Man FRIDAY. I took ages over CHAIRWOMEN, I had the CHAR and WOMEN but had a mental block on the I and where Presidents came into it.
    Thanks setter and blogger, Steve

  19. Gave up, disheartened. Wouldn’t have got PLECTRA if I’d looked it at for a century, likewise PRIEST.

  20. Very slow to get started and only ground my way through it all, finishing in 70 minutes. I was pretty sure the SNITCH would be at about 140, but no, just getting feeble nowadays I think. I was poor with CHAIRWOMEN as presidents (had to use electronic aid for that one), thinking it would be something like Roosevelts or Adamses. There was an inelegant tendency a while back to have go/pee/went etc, and I hope we aren’t going back to it. To call Wordsworth a writer seemed a bit odd — I think of a writer as a writer of prose. Otherwise a good crossword.

  21. I thought I’d just pop in to say
    That FRIDAY’s an apt clue today
    Is the grid self-aware?
    If it is should we care?
    And is A.I. now coming our way?

  22. Finished this in a semi-respectable time if at a limping walk at the end; but irritated with myself by not parsing the perfectly fair wimp, and with the puzzle for continuing the deification of the desperately plainly written Rowling books. Will anyone ever write a children’s book with true magic again – magic of style?

  23. 28:05 – fun and fair. I particularly liked PRIEST and was miffed to have puzzled over TIMIDEST as long as I did. Note to self (again): see Cambridge, think MIT.

  24. DNF.
    Watched I CLAVDIVS last night so I searched cheating machine with AxxxxxIxA looking for Roman matrons. AGgRIPINA for AGRIPpINA mucked up the whole of the NW, and I never checked it because she was misspelt in said machine, which of course I have now fixed.
    Loved pLECTRA when she/they finally showed up.
    Couldn’t get I CeOVER. DOH!
    Loved the Uxbridge E.D. Potter-y.
    Couldn’t parse AGA SAGAS, DOH again. Loved Jumpin’ Jack Flash but he didn’t come to my aid.

  25. 41:38

    Enjoyable puzzle with a couple of ums – thought PRIEST was a bit convoluted and consequently remained pencilled in when pressing submit. NHO AGRIPPINA (and never seen I Clavdivs – perhaps I should…) – it was thinking of AGRIPPA (another Roman) that led me to that.

    Other than that, enjoyed PLECTRA and PODCAST and the should-have-seen-it-sooner AGA SAGAS.

    Thanks setter and William

  26. As it is Friday I was a bit surprised to finish this in 30 minutes over lunch. Some clever clues including a UED definition, as discussed, and a return of the lavatorial vibe which I detected a few weeks back. A MER over TROUNCE=FLOG in 19dn. My dictionary gives only a meaning of ‘defeat heavily in a contest’ for TROUNCE but I am happy to accept others may give a broader meaning.
    FOI – ELM
    COD – MAID OF ORLEANS (so not a Napoleonic general)
    Thanks to william and other contributors.

    1. Not in the dictionaries, but FLOG is often used colloquially in these parts to mean beat heavily in a sporting contest.

  27. 51’35”
    Outclassed, finished tailed off.
    As I struggled in the early stages I imagined the heavyweights disappearing on this good to firm going. Looking at the SNITCH-MEISTER’s placings, my suspicions were justified.
    I thought this a very classy puzzle and the priest proved most troublesome; so chuffed to have finished with all parsed in under an hour.
    I thoroughly enjoyed the struggle; many thanks to the setter and William.

  28. Slow as ever, but completed, and felt easier than yesterday’s to me with clues going in at a steady pace rather than the usual hard stop. Like Jack I was trying to put ‘went’ into URINATED. I was especially confused as D-URIN-G in the same clue holds a significant portion of the same letters, and for a moment or five I wondered if the break was breaking away part of that word. I may have been overthinking again.
    I’m a fan of JKR and enjoyed her books, mostly because of the nostalgia. She nails the British boarding school of my youth, but I agree with joekobi that there are other more ‘magical’ books. My favourite as a child was The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart. The big reveal when Merlin discovers he is a wizard was so exciting and not a little familiar in HP book 1.

    Thank you William and setter and the enjoyable discussions as always.

    1. I thought the first HP book (and possibly the second – memory is a bit hazy) was quite good, and enjoyed reading it with the kids. The universe she created is quite compelling even if not particularly original. However at some point she got so successful that she was able to insist on not being edited and the books became increasingly verbose and rambling to the point where I found them unreadable.

      1. That’s a reasonable point and does explain how they grew in volume as indeed her Robert Galbraith books have. The yoof didn’t seem to mind. They couldn’t get enough of it. She did seem to get a generation reading. I gather this latest set admit they never read for pleasure. (The Times yesterday?)

        1. My four kids are aged between 14 and 20 and at various times we’ve struggled to get all of them reading, certainly as much as I used to. Phones and social media surely play a part in this. However both the older two have been bitten by the bug at some point (my daughter read War and Peace this year) so I’m hopeful it’s just something they get to a little later. To be fair I read a lot of books in my teens that I probably didn’t really understand.

          1. My five are between 22 and 32. Some of them don’t read books at all and those that do, rarely. I was incarcerated at a very boring school for 8 years and read everything in the fiction library. It is absolutely to do with other forms of amusement being on offer. We once hired a place in Mallorca with nothing but Spanish speaking telly at a time when young teens wouldn’t have had phones. We’d bought each of them a paperback at the airport. They read their book, then swapped with a sibling, and swapped again, until the boys were on Milly Molly Mandy and the girls were reading some dodgy Michael Crichton. In two weeks they’d read 6 books (I’m not sure any of them wanted mine).Then iPhones happened. It is an interesting point though. It suggests that although we say we read for pleasure, it does appear to take some reasonable mental effort. I have given up on worrying about about what these changes mean. I realise that the world is changing beyond all recognition, as every generation has observed, but we are just along for the ride. The kids still seem to do ok.

            1. Five? Well done!
              I’m not concerned at all. I read English at university so I have a big bias to literature but in my working life (finance) I’m surrounded by numbers people who have no interest in literature. They’re all fine. As you very wisely say, the world changes massively for every generation and it’s foolish to resist.
              I’ve been listening to the audiobook of Stefan Zweig’s The World of Yesterday recently which brings this point home forcefully. You think the world you grew up in is changing?!

              1. Five? We found out was was causing it after two!
                My younger read anything he could get his hands on as soon as he could read: goodness knows what his young brain made of Heinlein.

              2. I’m reading the very book right now! Picked it up in second hand shop round the corner. Wonderful, but so sad. Just read the bit where he’s at the seaside near Ostend when everyone suddenly realises war IS coming.

  29. 21.09 – I must have been a bit on the wavelength today as it all gradually went in. LOI with a “huh, ok, I guess” was PRIEST. I think there’s been a similar clue for TROUNCE in the Guardian recently as well.

    Thanks both.

  30. Nice blog. Nicer puzzle. Too many good clues to single one or two out, though, aren’t there.

  31. Cambridge universities? Of the four I know, I haven’t seen mention of Anglia Ruskin above.

  32. I almost gave up on this half a dozen times, but through sheer pig headedness I persevered. I was rewarded by finishing with all correct and I even managed to parse everything correctly. My time wasn’t recorded as I kept picking it up and putting it back down again, but the cumulative time could even have been over 90 minutes, if not more. LOI was FRIDAY even though I thought of ID easily enough FRAY escaped me for some time.

  33. Andy Pandy’s experience almost exactly mirror mine, though my interruptions were due to being in transit. I annoyingly succumbed to temptation and used an aid to get TROUNCE so a DNF, but it wasn’t my LOI. I have only this to say about URINATE:

    With a prostate condition like mine
    X-ray therapy’s usually fine.
    Twelve across was so apt
    I should really have clapped,
    But the side-effects ain’t so benign.

    1. Bravo!!

      I wonder if there’s a collective noun for Limerick writers?

      My most profound contribution to the world of astronomy is the collective noun for a bunch of astronomers.

      A peer group!

      1. How about “Woganites”?

        The late Terry Wogan was a native of Limerick whose various utterings were invariably amusing… although perhaps never in Limerick format.

  34. 55:08
    FRIDAY very hard to get, even with the ID a write in.

  35. 40.56

    PLECTRA and URINATED did for me at the end but did eventually squeeze them out.

    Interesting and enjoyable puzzle and blog

  36. The repetition at the beginning of 5a and 9a elicited a groan, but I was pleasantly surprised to find from the blog that the treeware Australian wasn’t suffering from yet another cut and paste failure.
    A chewy puzzle, thanks so much setter, and appreciative applause to the blogger, 1d is a bit poor, no?

  37. Like you, Eladnq, I’m using treeware in the Australian about a month after it appears in the UK, and also like you, couldn’t see what’s to like about 1d …
    Perhaps we’re both missing the cleverness? Like a few of the regular solvers I too nearly gave up on this several times, but as it was rather fun, kept returning to it, and finished with (quite a bit of) help. Liked the artist and the French maid, but my first in was ELM ( like our blogger), followed by a significant dearth of answers! Had to go out, and the little break helped me see a few, like GRIN AND BEAR IT and PLECTRA. An above standard puzzle with much to like.

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