Times 28720 – I hear he knew your father

Time taken: 17:40 with one interruption. If you need to solve a puzzle in order to blog it before an online meeting, make sure you remove all felines, particularly those who see keyboards as a chance to walk and create new words.

There’s some odd words and wordplay in this grid, I wonder if the setter painted themself into a corner (specifically the bottom right corner), and had to include an obscure port city that I only know of through because I subscribe to one of those channels that shows a lot of franchise cricket for insomniacs.

How did you get along?

1 Finished bundle of notes perhaps about conclusion to Easter Rising (6)
UPWARD –  UP(finished), then WAD(bundle of notes) surrounding the last letter in easteR
5 Rough diamond (8)
BALLPARK – double definition, the second referring to a place where baseball is played
9 Bolt door, perhaps, denying right appropriate to undergraduates? (8)
STUDENTY – STUD(bolt) and ENTRY(door) minus R(right)
10 Recently in need of old apartment key (2,4)
OF LATE -O(old), FLAT(apartment), and the key of E
11 Delivery of greens by US serviceman in retreat? (4,6)
GIVE GROUND – the delivery of greens could be a VEG ROUND, put GI(US serviceman) first
13 Strength of spirit abandons leader in pole vault (4)
ROOF – PROOF(measure of alcohol level in a spirit) minus the first letter in Pole
14 Eg pieces of writing following a reading, possibly (4)
ARMS – MS(manuscript, writing) after A, R(reading as in one of the three R’s)
15 Flask concealed in pocket nearest bottom (10)
NETHERMOST – THERMOS(flask) inside NET(pocket)
18 After that article by Thor Heyerdahl, maybe point accepted (10)
THEREAFTER – THE(after) next to RAFTER(Thor Heyerdahl, maybe) containing E(compass point)
20 Name for musical guys including their number in act (4)
MOVE – got this from the definition, and I’ve come back to look at it a bunch, but I think this has to be the band MOE, that has five members, so put a V in. I’ve never seen the band, though they did a show in my town a few years ago and a lot of people were excited about seeing them.  Are they popular enough to get into the Times crossword?

Thanks to jackkt: there is a musical Five Guys Named Moe, so my rumniations on obcsure jam bands was mistaken.

21 Listeners finally having got set on pleased with themselves? (4)
SMUG – last letter of listenerS, the MUG(set on)
23 Four less days to waste in German city (10)
DUSSELDORF – anagram of FOUR,LESS and two D’s(days)
25 With which one’s had possibly not really good seafood (6)
SCAMPI – SCAM(with which one’s had), PI(not really good)
26 Island: a way home one found when visiting it (8)
SARDINIA – A, RD(way), IN(home), I(one) inside SA(it)
28 Court opportunity, rolling back years (8)
CHANCERY – CHANCE(opportunity), then YR(years) reversed
29 Judge inferior (after knocking back any number) a port (6)
JAFFNA – J(judge), NAFF(inferior) with the N(any number) moved to the back, then A.  As I alluded to before, I only know of this place because their team, the Jaffna Kings (originally the Jaffna Stallions) won the first three instalments of the Sri Lanka Premier League (they got knocked out in the eliminator this year). The former Australian batsman Chris Lynn plays for them.  Is it known for anything else?
2 Plot involving character turning on queen and tribal chief (9)
PATRIARCH – PATCH(plot) containing AIR(character) reversed and R(queen)
3 Speech written on the back of an envelope? (7)
ADDRESS – double definition – the back of the envelope could contain the return ADDRESS
4 Character who was desperate to avoid Hamlet’s end? (3)
DAN – remove the last letter from DANE(Hamlet was one)
5 Readers after a book looking up US outlet (5)
BAYOU – YOU(readers of this) after A,B(book) reversed
6 Go-go dancing with elderly statesman (5,6)
7 One on journey left in gorge over border (7)
PILGRIM – L(left) inside PIG(gorge) all over RIM(border)
8 Old-fashioned doorman denied his head is spinning (5)
RETRO – PORTER(doorman), minus the first letter, reversed
12 The men are coarse — also smoother! (4,3,4)
RANK AND FILE – RANK(course), AND(also), FILE(smoother)
16 Express disapproval when pupil misses English repeatedly (3)
TUT – TUTEE(pupil) minus two E’s(English)
17 Version, eg, altered a bit once (9)
19 Rule number one: fix must be short! (7)
REGIMEN – REG(registration number), I(one), then MEND(fix) minus the last letter
20 Needle stuck by doctor beneath one’s stomach area (7)
MIDRIFF – MIFF(needle) containing DR(doctor) under I(one)
22 Prophetic work something held by public speaker I see! (5)
MICAH – MIC(something held by public speaker), AH(I see!)
24 Rather cheeky, for one guarding vessel! (5)
SASSY – SAY(for one) containing SS(vessel)
27 Shock if this government were overturned (3)
RAJ – reverse it and you get JAR(shock)

103 comments on “Times 28720 – I hear he knew your father”

  1. There were too many synonyms which I needed to really stretch to see for my enjoyment (and some that I was still dubious of after I’d stretched pretty much as far as I could). But I did like the intricacy of many of the clues.

    There is an urban myth, apparently false, that Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address on the back of an envelope on the train from Washington to Gettysburg. True or false, the story helped me with 3d.

    I use “diamond” as a casual synonym for the general baseball field pretty much all the time (unless I’m being very specific), so the only problem I had with ballpark was the American invasion.

    1. Thanks for info on the urban myth, Paul, which makes sense of a clue I had been struggling to understand, though not to solve. My problem was, surely one writes the address on the front of an envelope?

        1. I remember being scolded at a post office in Cambridge for putting my return address in the upper left corner of the (front of the) envelope (as I would in the US), telling me it must go on the back.

          1. I’ve had that front/back of the envelop discussion over both Royal Mail and with USPS counters, too, Kevin. Always in the wrong, I am.

  2. Surrendered after an hour with many gaps in the NW, thanks George for the elucidation. Never would have got STUDENTY, PATRIARCH and UPWARD. I usually enjoy a long struggle with a tough puzzle but a couple of these were off the charts. I mean, VEG ROUND? Seriously? And MOE + V? There were many enjoyably challenging clues but when we get into the realms of pointless obscurity I’m not a fan. I hesitated to put in THEREAFTER given the def was ‘after that’ and Curryowen is probably right about BALLPARK.

  3. As alluded to in the clue, Five Guys Named Moe is the name of a musical. Produced by Cameron Mackintosh, it opened in London in 1990 and ran for over 4 years. Later it played for a while on Broadway. It was also the title of a song released in 1942.

    1. A song brilliantly covered by the glorious but short-lived Joe Jackson’s Jumping Jive band, whom I was lucky enough to see at some long-closed London venue, maybe Hammersmith Palais or Camden Palace, which both sounded rather more glamorous than the reality of sticky floors and sweaty people. Happy days.

    2. Never heard of the five Moes. I assumed the clue related to The Move which had 5 original members in the late 60’s

  4. I’m relieved to note that other experienced solvers’ times were in the 1 hour ballpark as I needed 54 minutes for this one. And in fact there were moments when I wondered if, as yesterday, I would have to abandon it overnight and try again this morning. However I got there eventually with everything crossed as I bunged in JAFFNA, constructed from wordplay but looking rather unlikely I thought.

    Elsewhere I struggled to parse SCAMPI and wondered about ‘in need of’ at 10ac which has no function other than as padding or linking words and is taking a bit of a liberty in my view.

  5. It was a struggle!

    I vaguely knew of the Jaffna peninsula. I think it was badly affected by the 2004 tsunami.

    I guessed what was going on with the five Moes, but of course didn’t know the reference.

    George, at 24dn, I think you mean “say”, not “as”.

  6. Very tricky, very slow. Some stretchy definitions and intricate wordplay as already mentioned, as well as generally wordy clues. 2LOI JAFFNA known and I don’t follow cricket much… maybe it cropped up in news items about the 30-odd year civil war. NHO Five Guys Named Moe, so MOVE was LOI on a wing and a prayer. Otherwise all parsed.
    I did like the veg round, but COD to the go-go dancer and the elderly statesman.

    1. Jaffna was the second largest city in Sri Lanka until the uprising of 1983.

      The Jaffna peninsula is the curly bit at the northern tip of Sri Lanka which makes it look like a paisley pattern motif.

  7. I just took 56 minutes and to be honest I just found it hard without enjoying it very much.
    NHO JAFFNA which was my LOI and just worked out from j-naff-a and hoped
    The ballpark / diamond thing I was vaguely aware of and probably should have got quicker
    So „studenty“ is a word, seriously???
    Anyway made it in the end
    Thanks setter and glh

    1. Yes, STUDENTY is in all the usual sources. I also found ‘studentry’ when checking this, a word I didn’t know which refers to students collectively.

      1. Thanks jackkt – actually studentry seems fine to me along the lines of citizenry, while though studenty is just ugly even if real!

  8. I’d echo a lot of the sentiments so far—about fifty minutes of crossword that I found hard for the wrong reasons, it seemed. Was quite surprised to find my LOI, JAFFNA, was right, but relieved it was over, anyway.

  9. Back of the bar, in a solo game, sat Dangerous Dan McGrew,
    And watching his luck was his light-o’-love, the lady that’s known as Lou.
    (The Shooting of Dan McGrew, Robert Service)

    30 mins pre-brekker did three quarters, but not the tricky NW. Another 15 to crack the Studenty Veg Round.
    Lots to like, I thought, e.g. The Rafter and Nethermost. But quite a lot to wrinkle the brow too.
    Ta setter and G.

    1. Nothing to do with dangerous… Desperate Dan was a cartoon character in the Dandy. But it was nice to be reminded of Dangerous Dan McGrew, a favourite poem of my dad’s.

      1. Margaret Rutherford (as Miss Marple) reciting this as her audition piece in Murder Most Foul is a delight. Wonderful comic actress.

  10. 74 minutes with LOI ARMS. I owe 5d to Roy Orbison, but this crossword often made me blue. I’ve toured Sri Lanka so managed to biff JAFFNA, not that we got that far north. I am at least feeling SMUG about going through the minor prophets I could think of and coming up with MICAH with only the C and the H. I cottoned on to MOE straightaway too. CODs to NETHERMOST and THEREAFTER. Hard to start, hard in the middle, hard at the end. Thank you setter and George.

          1. Sadly it’s ‘has/had’ for the voice also. She has a Parkinson’s-like brain condition which has taken away her ability to sing.

                  1. Thanks, Jerry! I’ll watch that.
                    Oops, it’s on BBC iPlayer. I’m in NZ and don’t think I can access it.
                    PS….You’re probably aware that The Eagles were her original backing band

        1. Guilty as charged! Her version of “Silver Threads And Golden Needles” is as fine an example of @#$!-kicking music as you can hope to find!

          1. Silver Threads and Golden Needles. I first encountered that as a Springfields song before Dusty went solo. I first saw her even earlier. In Summer 1960, Adam Faith played a summer season in Blackpool and fourth on the the bill were The Lana Sisters. One of them was a Mary O’Brien. I think she remains my favourite female vocalist but, yes, Linda Ronstadt was pretty good. Emmylou? Chrissie Hynde? All the way back to Ella? It’s been a long life.

            1. The first recording of Silver Threads & Golden Needles I remember was by Skeeter Davis in the early 60s. And, yes, I liked The Springfields, too!
              Other female singers? Emmylou certainly. Saw her live in Sydney at the back end of the 90s after she had moved away somewhat from C&W and was touring her album “Wrecking Ball”. My big musical love, though, for a long time was Judy Collins.
              Elkie Brooks was good, too!
              Then I moved over to classical music and discovered The Golden Voice, Gundula Janowitz.
              Happy Days!

  11. 18:30
    Some lovely wordplay (NETHERMOST, SCAMPI, GIVE GROUND, ROOF, LLOYD GEORGE, REGIMEN); not keen on “days” to indicate DD in DUSSELDORF.

  12. 33:07. Not too bad!

    Held up by SCAMPI which doesn’t parse well. One is definitely, not possibly, ‘had’ by a SCAM and. PI does not mean ‘not very good’: very much the opposite. The clue is makes better sense if written ‘With which one’s had really good seafood.

    As regards 10 ac ‘in need of’ makes sense; OF LATE (recently) ‘needs’ O + FLAT + E to construct the answer.

    1. ‘Pi’ is often (usually?) used to indicate false piety, so ‘possibly not really [genuinely] good’ is accurate, and clears up your objection to SCAM.

  13. Glad I didn’t get this one, with only DAN in after about 10 minutes. I think, on balance, I’m not very enthusiastic about this. I did like MOVE, as I knew the musical, and the DLG clue. Didn’t like THERE AFTER for AFTER that (sloppy?) and definitely not JAFFNA, never in my geographical ken, and struggling with getting NAFF for inferior (plus which way to move the N). When Princess Anne famously told photographers to “naff off” it definitely didn’t mean inferior!
    I parsed REGIMEN as a dubious fix meaning regiment with the end knocked of, and number one as verbiage. Worked at the time, but George is clearly right.
    31.36, and a bit -um- MIFFed.

            1. And, trivia alert: When Australia started building their own submarines for the navy, the head of the company was Hans Ohff. Pronounced by Australian newsreaders as: hands off.

    1. Agree completely on THEREAFTER – I wasted quite a bit of time not putting it in as I thought „after“ was already in the clue and it couldn‘t be in the answer too…

  14. 15:19. Tricky one, some very clever wordplay but also the odd stretchy bit as others have noted.
    I had heard of the musical fortunately, but not the port. The wordplay seemed more or less clear but ‘inferior’ is vague for NAFF and the result looked a bit unlikely so I was relieved not to see any pink squares.

      1. Collins has the same, but the qualifiers ‘in style or taste’ (Chambers) or ‘in poor taste’ (Collins) are absolutely necessary, I would argue. ‘Inferior’ on its own doesn’t convey the meaning adequately.

  15. 27:53. I struggled with much of the NW corner and the port, not helping myself by initially putting in MIDRIFT rather than MIDRIFF. After I’d sorted that out I was sorely tempted by JIFENA, thinking that infe might be an abbreviation for inferior. However, JAFFNA came to mind from somewhere after which I was able to reverse engineer naff and finish with all correct and some relief.

  16. 25:24. I’m glad to find I’m not the only one who found this a struggle. NHO JAFFNA but it was confirmed when I finally saw SOVEREIGN. NHO of the musical either. The answer had to be MOVE so I saw it had to have something to do with five Moe’s, but it still didn’t ring any bells. I liked MIDRIFF. Thanks George and setter.

  17. Well, I liked it. Only quibble was “after” in the definition of THEREAFTER. I don’t see why it couldn’t be “following” or something.

  18. Well over the hour when I finally flopped over the line like an ingenu marathoner. Now safely wrapped in Bacofoil, I can see the attractions of the course, which at the time just seemed endlessly gruelling. I think it was hard, clever and mainly fair, though LOI JAFFNA went in with a prayer. Joint COD to the Norwegian adventurer and the five guys. Thanks Jack for explaining my biffs and tricky setter for a serious workout.

    1. Love this comment. It’s the way ‘Bacofoil’ subverts the seriousness of the already ingenious metaphor. Top comic writing! 🙂

  19. No problems today, had heard of the musical and also Jaffna, courtesy of the Tamil Tigers, I suspect.. not from cricket, anyhow!
    A bit American again, with the bayou, the ballpark and the GI.
    Not keen on 3dn, the back is definitely a nonstandard place to put an address, though I know it happens occasionally…

  20. 14:21, and the “right sort of hard”, challenging without being unfair and all there when the penny drops. Obviously I was helped by having all the required knowledge somewhere in there – I suspect my vague awareness of JAFFNA may also come from its cricket, and I, too, had that Joe Jackson album several decades ago. Some very deft touches, particularly THE RAFTER, the rough diamond, and the desperate DAN(e). Nice work.

  21. This was hard (and I was not on form). I see Jaffna is twinned with that well known port city, Kingston-upon-Thames. Never hear of the MOE band thing or musical. Didn’t like the diamond clue or STUDENTY. Is a BAYOU an outlet? Some of the rest was good. George you did well to do this in 17 minutes.

    1. I agree about “outlet” as almost completely not what a bayou is. OK, if it is a slow moving river it is an outlet in some kind of a way but bayou also means marsh which may have no outlet at all except by seeping down through the bottom or evaporation. Neither of which meets the def.
      Totally foxed by MOE/Move.
      Can accepy studenty as Uxbridge.
      Otherwise HATED it.

  22. 45ish minutes or so but with 2 stabs at the cherry as I required a mid-solve coffee to get my head together. JAFFNA was the only unknown to me but the wordplay and checkers saw me through.
    As always I did my best to lay my own traps, with a hastily entered JAR causing me a bit of bother in the SE.
    I also initially reasoned that DIVO could be the answer to 20 across, based on the light opera band Il Divo, as there are 4 in the band and I thought DO would do for act. All a bit of a stretch.
    Thanks to the setter and blogger as always.

    1. DIVO occurred to me, as the Italian masculine version of Diva – a major opera singer e.g. Pavarotti is a divo. Also considered DEVO, a US band who I remember “Whipped it Good!” Who I was going to misspell DIVO with the 4 of them in act=do.

      1. I got to Move by first thinking of The Dave Clark Five, then DEVO. FWIW, it is rumoured that Mick Jagger was quoted as saying that DEVO’s cover of Satisfaction “is exactly what I was trying to convey when I wrote it”.

        1. Never heard their Satisfaction cover. Devo sticks in my mind for Whip it Good because I live in Perth WA (Western Australia) and used to work in the oil industry. Here the major player in the 1980s was WAPET: WA PETroleum. Whose employees were known to have a few beers and sing “Wapet, Wapet good”.

  23. Worked away steadily after FOI, DAN, and got the LHS completed, but then hit the wall with 20a, 20d, 27d and 29a outstanding in the SE and 8d and 13a holding out in the NE. I eventually got going again with MIDRIFF and JAR, which allowed me to construct JAFFNA and MOVE. NHO JAFFNA but MOE eventually rang some sort of bell. I was unable to think of a 4 letter vault beginning with R so I looked up synonyms and so found ROOF. That allowed me to get RETRO. Hard going. 40:46 with a little bit of help. Thanks setter and George.

  24. What a shame that, after yesterday’s treat, we are back to a welter of American words, references and practices.

  25. 9m 49s for a tough puzzle with several obscurities (Thor, Moe, Jaffna) where I had to rely on the other half of the clue. Some very nice clueing, though.

    My only issue was 12d, where ‘are’ doesn’t work in the cryptic grammar. Probably doesn’t bother many, but it did me.

    1. Interesting question, are collective nouns singular or plural? The men are ready. Yes. The men is ready. No. For the surface you need ARE. For the cryptic, ‘definition’ are ‘wordplay’. No ‘definition’ is ‘wordplay’. Yes. For the cryptic you need IS. Didn’t notice it when solving, but I agree.

    2. The men are rank and file, aren’t they? Don’t see a problem.
      I suppose you could make a case for 5 Guys Named Moe being obscure, and certainly for Jaffna, but Thor, really?!
      If you truly regard the Thunder God and his hammer, Mjölnir as obscure, then maybe the Times cryptics are not for you 🙂 .. though I know they are. Also watch out for retribution, according to Netflix or similar he is still about and may be watching ..

      1. The men are rank and file, but in the wordplay [the men] is a single element (the definition).

          1. The definition is just ‘the men’. Conventionally the grammar for a clue like this is normally [definition] is [wordplay], irrespective of whether the term given by the definition is singular or plural.

            1. Convention… and you so much younger than I am, K 🙂 .. but there is actually nothing to show “The men are” is not the definition, and “coarse etc” the wordplay, is there? Does such a clue not work?

              1. I guess so, as an adjective. I’d normally expect to see it hyphenated in that case but as I’ve said before I regard the use or not of hyphens as almost entirely a matter of personal taste.

      2. Curious fact of the day….the Russians use the word Molniya in association with thunderstorms, but in their case it means “lightning” rather than “thunder”.

  26. 53:50. Very hard. I’m with those who found it an enjoyable struggle. It was intricate and challenging, but it took so long! I could not parse MOVE or REGIMEN (although I felt vaguely reassured by the possible short regiment). POI JAFFNA which I must have heard of because I only saw NAFF once I had it. LOI 1ac UPWARD perhaps because it had just got left behind, but it was still a tricky clue. I liked SCAMPI and the GO-GO dancing

  27. 41’53” (plus 20 minute snooze when I turned timer off: needed it though – this was tough). Found myself stuck over the top-left at the end, with GIVE GROUND last to yield. DAN was cleverly misleading. I’m sure I was not alone in looking for a four-letter word for DESPERATE, containing a T. JAFFNA known from the Tamils and the peninsula. BALLPARK may be not quite precise at the baseball end, but I forgive the setter: it’s otherwise so neat. Many thanks.

  28. 45:35

    The bottom two-thirds were almost a pleasure compare with the top third. JAFFNA known from spending time in Sri Lanka, and knew of Five Guys Names Moe for MOVE. Less confident with SMUG but what else could it be. Top third though, needed PATRIARCH (pencilled in as I didn’t fully get it at first) to come up with ARMS, ADDRESS and UPWARD, then DAN. I’d wondered if the second word of 11a was GROUND (had 6d and 12d already), when BALLPARK and BAYOU came in quick succession. Only one place really for the GI, which left me puzzling over 9a for some minutes – not sure I equate BOLT with STUD but hey ho.

  29. Three goes needed to complete this one.

    Slightly disheartened to see that apparently everyone else has heard of BAYOU, which I had to construct from wordplay, hope, and then look up once I came here. Also NHO JAFFNA, though I eventually managed to figure it out (not helped by initially putting ‘jar’ rather than RAJ – I feel either could have worked). Biffed MOVE with a shrug, not knowing about the musical reference, and didn’t figure out which last letter was being dropped to get DAN. Was also confused by part of the clue for SCAMPI, so I’m grateful for the explanation of what ‘possibly not really’ was doing there. Didn’t like the fact that ‘after’ was there in the clue for THEREAFTER.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Of late
    LOI Jaffna
    COD Lloyd George (great image!)

    1. Google “Song, on the bayou” and prepare to be surprised … everyone from Hank Williams on, including the Carpenters, Mamas and Papas, Roy Orbison, many others …

  30. 15:52 Well I enjoyed that quite a lot, although it was a bit of a slog, and some of the parsings eluded me until I read the comments. Getting RAJ was the key to the SE corner, and took a couple of minutes to come. I’d already thought of J for JUDGE of course, but that didn’t seem plausible, as the only port I could think of beginning with J was Jaffa, which didn’t fit. JAFFNA must be known vaguely to me from the Sri Lankan civil war, as I know nothing about cricket. My COD was the LLOYD GEORGE one for the lovely, if slightly disturbing, image it concocted.

  31. 38.07. Got a bit bogged down by assuming 22d ended in IC, and also had DIVO instead of MOVE for a while.

    NHO JAFFNA but was fairly confident from the wordplay once I had the crossers. It took a bit of a brainwave to get RAJ with its unusual definition placement.


    Thanks both.

  32. Starting to attempt the 15x15s; substantially more tricky than QC, for me. For example, why is “it” SA in SARDINIA? I get the ARDINI but not the SA, which makes it difficult to solve without the checkers.

    1. A bit of a cryptic cliche, that one. “It” is “sex appeal” (someone may have “it”) which apparently can be abbreviated SA. I think this is sort of 50s/60s slang.
      [Edit] It seems that it is older than that. Clara Bow in the 1920s was an “It girl.”

  33. Done in two parts, had to go out early-ish. Overall about 70 minutes. I thought it was very difficult and the MOVE/MIDRIFF/JAFFNA trio held me up for ages at the end. Surprising that there is only mild appreciation in one or two places, as well as some criticism, of the GI VEG ROUND, which I thought was delightful. STUDENTY was the Azed clue-word in Dec 2020. The third prize used ‘stud’ in a quite different sense.

  34. Really enjoyed this one – took a while to see upward and patriarch to open up the NW corner and the double American crosser of ballpark and bayou in the NE were my last two in.

    I got the move clue being very familiar with the music of Louis Jordan on which, so I understand, the musical is largely based.
    Very chewy puzzle but even the incredibly obscure Jaffna was very fairly clued I thought.
    Thanks G and setter

  35. I thought I was slow so am glad to see that a lot of people were even slower. I had problems with ARMS and STUDENTY (which I didn’t think was a word) and I bunged in REGIMEN without quite seeing how it worked – I was trying to fit REGIME into the answer. I knew about the 5 guys called Moe although I never saw the musical. The rest went in with no major hold-ups. 41 minutes

  36. I found this hard but enjoyable. I happened to have seen Five Guys Named Moe when I was in London years ago, which made that clue easy once I’d given up trying to make DEVO work as DIVO. Also wasted time trying to justify JUNEAU for the port, as the only one I could think of starting with J. Eventually I put together another unlikely port from the wordplay, and it turned out to be correct.

  37. 45 mins. Slick surfaces made it difficult to find a toehold and the definitions were clever to the point of obscurity. I normally call it a day after 30 mins or so, but this was too good to give up on. No particular stand-outs: they were all good.

  38. 63 minutes. Not just me who found it difficult then. Couldn’t parse MOVE and the NW corner held out till the end with the cunning def for ARMS defeating me until I eventually had the crossers. I hope never to see STUDENTY again, in a crossword or anywhere else for that matter.

  39. 71m. DNF as went awry with PROS at 14ac which sounded plausible. When reading prose out loud it’s a piece of writing. PROS made no sense but I forgive myself having spent 10 minutes on it as my LOI

  40. Did this on various trains, tubes and buses so no actual time, but probably about an hour, and with ARTS instead of ARMS at 14a. Must admit I didn’t particularly enjoy this one. Some rather ungainly surfaces and dodgy definitions (eg ‘outlet’ for ‘bayou’), and too many answers went in with a question mark.

  41. 53’50”
    Found the going sticky and tired on the uphill finish.
    I thoroughly enjoyed this, despite running like a tired old hack.
    26 was a gimme given my whereabouts.
    Many thanks setter and George.

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