Times 28725 – know your onions.

Today’s eclectic puzzle covers the whole gamut of possible wordplay types, including another witty “cockneyism” and (for me) a new anagrind in “shivering”. It took about twenty-five minutes, with 20d my last to enter.

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

1 Bowlers delirious about winning championship (5,4)
SUPER BOWL – UP (winning) inserted into (BOWLERS)*. Seems a bit odd with bowlers and bowl together.
6 Head absent from school — a candidate for firing? (5)
ARROW – HARROW school loses its H. School isn’t Eton, for a change.
9 Hurried around excessively hunched (7)
STOOPED – TOO (excessively) inside SPED = hurried.
10 Who in Paris is in ruins? De Sade, perhaps (7)
MARQUIS – QUI being French for “who” inside MARS = ruins.
11 Fish returning for shelter (3)
LEE – EEL reversed.
12 Innovative job for gardener in east London? (7-4)
CUTTING-EDGE – Groan. Said gardener could be “cutting your ‘edge”.
14 What tenor does with the French solo (6)
SINGLE – SING + LE = French for “the”.
15 Part of navy force — great number in a bad way, note (8)
FLOTILLA – F[orce], LOT (great number) ILL (in a bad way) A (a note).
17 Painful shivering after cold game (3,5)
CUP FINAL – C, (PAINFUL)*. Not seen shivering as an anagrind before.
19 Titled, His Excellency also said, but not a duke (6)
HEADED –  HE (His Excellency) AD[D]ED = also said without one D.
22 Digressions to trim with new dissertations (11)
PARENTHESES – PARE (trim) N[ew], THESES = dissertations.
23 Star visible from spaceship (3)
ACE – hidden, slightly.
25 Valid pass test uncovered alternative names (7)
ALIASES – “uncovered” here means remove the outer letters of [V]ALI[D] [P]AS[S] [T]ES[T] to get ALI AS ES.
27 Celebrate one being included in list of potential players (7)
28 River    Weaver’s output (5)
TWEED – double definition. As in Berwick-on-Tweed.
29 Be sly once deviously and shamelessly (9)
1 Fibre exists in half of plant-based meals (5)
SISAL – IS (exists) inside SAL[ADS].
2 Pointer about important dietary component (7)
3 Batter onion for troublesome customer (11)
RAPSCALLION – RAP = batter, (at a stretch?), SCALLION another name for a spring onion.
4 Rarity in title given for Major Tom’s exploits? (6)
ODDITY – I don’t know much about the late David Bowie, but I did know that Major Tom features in a song called Space Oddity. “Ground control to Major Tom… ” and such.
5 Clearly slack in a lazy manner (8)
LIMPIDLY – LIMP = slack, IDLY = in a lazy manner.
6 Look good topless (3)
7 Disc of short song, certainly banned (7)
ROUNDEL – a ROUNDELAY is a short, repetitive song, remove AY = certainly.
8 Standing stone found in drained delta wilderness (9)
WASTELAND – a STELA is an obelisk or standing stone, insert into WAN = drained, add D for delta.
13 Nearly go out with bird, a young one from poor area (11)
GUTTERSNIPE – a candle nearly going out is said to “gutter”, and a snipe is a bird.
14 Second unknown work accepted by chorus claqueur (9)
SYCOPHANT – S[econd], Y (unknown) CHANT (chorus) insert OP for work. Originally, someone paid to clap in an audience.
16 Toughness of male chamois on the rocks (8)
18 Piglike ugly creature hiding in wood (7)
PORCINE – ORC, an ugly creature e.g. in LOTR books, inside PINE = wood. (Corrected see viny1).
20 Sailor, say, in a small boat in river (7)
DRAFTEE – RAFT a small boat inserted into the River Dee. My LOI as it took me a while to relate sailor to someone “drafted”.
21 “Very large flower” one associated with the Nile? (6)
OSIRIS – OS (outsize, very large), IRIS a flower. Egyptian god.
24 Primitive, almost unstarted (5)
26 Mostly run up and down (3)
SAD – DAS[H]  = mostly run, ‘up’ = reversed.


99 comments on “Times 28725 – know your onions.”

  1. 22:25
    Took time off from trying to make a vaccine reservation–I phoned precisely at 9:00, to be told to try later, and I’m still getting that same recording–and I only now realized that I never tried to parse my biff: PARENTHESES, ALIASES, ROUNDEL. Also ODDITY; I had no idea how Major Tom fitted in, all I know of that song being ‘Ground Control to …’. I hesitated until just about the last minute to put in SUPER BOWL; couldn’t believe bowl/bowlers.

  2. I’m a big Bowie fan, glad to see him here!
    Can’t see GUTTERSNIPE without thinking of Eliza Doolittle.
    Unlike Vinyl, I don’t see “bowlers” appearing with BOWL as excusable on the ground that the references are to two different sports. Oh, well…
    The particule is typically dropped by the French when shortening the Marquis de Sade’s name; in any case, “De” should not be capitalized. (After 1800, incidentally, Sade dropped the particle and all signs of nobility.)
    Quite enjoyable puzzle, though.

    1. ‘De’ is capitalised in the clue because it’s the first word after the end of a sentence.

    2. When I lived in France, nobody could ever find me in the phone book (actually Minitel by then) because I appeared under “L” since they dropped the “Mc” just like “de Sade” would appear under “S”.

  3. Thank you Piquet for parsing LIMPIDLY and ROUNDEL. I had LIMPLY for slack and was wondering why ID meant ‘in a lazy manner’. Duh. Likewise I was thinking of ROUND as a short song and trying to make something out of ‘elsure’ or ‘sureel’ . Forgot about ‘roundelays’. Nice to have SUPER BOWL and CUP FINAL in the same crossword. 39.02

  4. A number of Hail Mary biffs got me round in a brisk 19.08. Thanks to Piquet for explaining ALIASES and WASTELAND, I had been working on WASTED = drained and LAN = everything else. NHO a stela, will try to remember it. I’m another ‘bowl’ curmudgeon and I’m unsure about sailor/DRAFTEE, but there was a lot here to like and I enjoyed the puzzle. Kevin I’m not sure where you are but there’s a pharmacist in Prahran that does walk-ins, no booking required. And speaking of needles: Ashes to ashes, fun to funky, you know Major Tom’s a junkie…

    1. The definition (by example) is ‘sailor, say’. You can be drafted into any branch of the military so ‘sailor’ is as good an example as any.

  5. Just under 23 minutes today (sitting on the train to Zurich) with no holdups, except I biffed SISAL without being able to parse it so thanks for that.
    And funnily I’ve just this second noticed, I also thought Limply round Id rather than limp idly.
    Thanks piquet and setter

  6. There were some tricky bits here but I was pleased to finish with only 33 minutes on the clock as there were moments along the way when I had expected to need far longer than that.

    I looked twice at ‘good/FAIR’ but then thought of weather conditions rather than grudging praise on my old school reports. WASTELAND was no problem once I had a couple of checkers but I wish I could remember STELA as a standing stone as it is always catching me out and as a consequence I was unable to unravel the wordplay.

    My school shared facilities with ‘the dump on the lump’ as Etonians refer to the school at 6ac, which is rather unfair as it’s actually very nice there.

  7. Long, long afterward, in an oak
    I found the arrow, still unbroke;
    And the song, from beginning to end,
    I found again in the heart of a friend.
    (The Arrow and the Song, Longfellow)

    25 mins mid-brekker left me with the Cutting-edge/Guttersnipe combo incomplete and these took a while to crack. I know not why: great clues, the both of ’em.
    I liked it, mostly Sycophant.
    Ta setter and Pip

    1. Another year older, but still no wiser. An old 78, that’s what I should be playing, Al Bowlly, not David Bowie. 36 minutes with LOI SAD, all parsed apart from the GUTTER before the SNIPE. My COD goes to SYCOPHANT despite not really knowing the meaning of Claqueur. I also liked CUTTING EDGE, for once the dropping of the aitch bringing a smile and not a groan. Nice birthday puzzle. Thank you Pip and setter.

            1. Yes, now I recall, I’ve been corrected before. Repeat to self: one is not a prime, one is not a prime…..(And stop thinking you have the ability to make mathematical comments).

      1. Happy Birthday.

        I have followed the above with interest because for some reason you made your comment as a reply to mine – which means all your Happy Birthdays are replies to me too and I am alerted to every one. I am enjoying them as early ones for me (Birthday on Sunday).

        As an aside – for the mathematicians – I note that 78=3*26 and 26 is the only integer that is between an integer square and an integer cube. i.e. between 25 (5*5) and 27 (3*3*3). It really is the only integer of this sort, honest. It is provable – but the proof is rather tricky.

        1. Sorry, Robert. Posting in your personal space was of course for no reason other than the incompetence of old age. I don’t think there is any way of moving the entries now. Have a great birthday on Sunday.
          The mathematical proof will be well beyond me these days and probably always was.

    2. I shot an arrow in the air,
      She fell to earth in Berkely Square.

      Louis d’Ascoyne Mazzini, future Duke of Chalfont’s thoughts as he dispatched Lady Agatha d’Ascoyne, who busy dispensing Suffragette leaflets from a hot-air balloon.

  8. 30 minutes or so, and I kept up a steady momentum throughout, before spending far too long looking at 5D trying to concoct a word. I’m not sure I’ve ever come across LIMPIDLY and it took an age to put this rather simple clue together with all the checkers firmly in their place.
    An enjoyable crossword though with helpful cluing and checkers to get the longer and perhaps more obscure words.
    Thanks to the setter and piquet.

  9. 16:11. A few unparsed… DNK the David Bowie song, but I never listened to him. Failed to see WAN for drained at 8D or that 7D was a shortened ROUNDELAY. LOI STOOPED. COD to SAD for the deceptive surface. Thanks Pip and setter.

  10. 40:25. A bit tricky in places, I thought, and I didn’t figure out the parsing of ALIASES (nice one), WASTELAND, or ROUNDEL I liked LIMP IDLY and (forgive me) CUTTING ‘EDGE

    1. Fire, with reference to arrows, is in Collins (where ‘projectiles’ covers it). It is also specifically mentioned in their COBUILD learners dictionary, which is based on a large, representative corpus of how language is actually used, which seems always to be the most important thing in discussions of this kind.

      ‘If you fire an arrow, you send it from a bow.
      Example: He fired an arrow into a clearing in the forest’

      1. In medieval warfare, arrows could be “fired” by setting light to them before shooting them, generally with oil-soaked cloth attached, with the intention of burning the target. Timing was crucial to avoid the archer getting burnt. So I’m happy with an arrow as a candidate for firing, if not necessarily for the reason intended by the setter.

  11. Ground control functioning well today, 43 mins. Held myself up by bunging in SPOTTED at 9ac so LOI RAPSCALLION was a challenge. Got there in the end.

    Very enjoyable challenge today. COD GUTTERSNIPE. A favorite word of my Mother’s.

    Thanks pip and setter.

    1. Oh! SPOTTED is actually a better fit than stooped, so I’m glad it never occurred to me.

  12. 13:20
    Nice juxtaposition of SUPER BOWL and CUP FINAL. ‘Space ODDITY’ (playing on ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, obvs) was space-craftily released five days before the launch of Apollo 11.

    “Most people call them green onions, but they’re really scallions. Did you ever notice that, Joe?”
    “Notice what, Frank?”
    “How most people call them green onions, but they’re really scallions.”
    “Uh-huh. SCALLIONs.”

  13. 25 minutes, with some biffing. Didn’t fully parse FLOTILLA or ALIASES (for the latter, I saw that ‘test’ was uncovered but didn’t twig that ‘valid’ and ‘pass’ were uncovered too), NHO a roundelay so ROUNDEL went in with a shrug, didn’t know that a candle can gutter so GUTTERSNIPE went in mainly based on the checkers, and needed the wordplay to piece together SYCOPHANT as I didn’t know what a claqueur was.

    Not too bothered by SUPER BOWL – it’s nicely timed given that the County Championship came to an end last week. Here speaks a smug Surrey fan 😉

    A nice puzzle – thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Super Bowl
    LOI Limpidly
    COD Wasteland

  14. 13:17

    I didn’t fully understand ROUNDEL and WASTELAND so thanks for the parsings.

    For SAD I fleetingly considered SUP, a reversal of PUS(h) as in drug-running, and to SUP can be to down.

    Never mind groan, I thought CUTTING EDGE was superb.

  15. 6m 15s with biffing for ROUNDEL & WASTELAND – thanks for the parsing.

    I initially tried MACHOISM for 16d. Not sure it’s a word, and it conflicted with 25a anyway.

    1. Haha, so did I! It would have stayed there had I not been convinced by the anagram of 29A not allowing for an M!

  16. 7:41. No hold-ups this morning. I don’t remember seeing ‘claqueur’ before but the wordplay was very clear.
    ‘Scallion’ is a word you don’t encounter much in this country. It’s much more common on the other side of the pond in my experience.

    1. Which pond are you referring to, K? The Atlantic or the Irish Sea? (‘Scallion’ is commonly used in Ireland on both sides of the border, but much less so in Great Britain.)

      1. I was referring to the Atlantic. We spend a lot of time in Canada and what I would call spring onions are usually called scallions there.

  17. I’ve just bought a coffee or two for Starstruck, and note several commentators referring to a QC SNITCH. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t find it online. Can anyone help?

    Or have I been banned already?

  18. Very enjoyable 21.27 for, as Piquet says, a very eclectic puzzle. I parsed neither WASTELAND nor (as it turns out) LIMPIDLY, but rejoiced in both long ne’er-do-wells.

  19. 30 mins plus aid needed for LOI LIMPIDLY.

    Is there a difference between a RAPSCALLION and a GUTTERSNIPE? Either way they are both excellent words.

    I knew ROUNDELAY from being Frederic at age 11 in Pirates of Penzance: “This weary ROUNDELAY”, then having to kiss Mabel on stage!


    1. You ask: Is there a difference between a RAPSCALLION and a GUTTERSNIPE?

      I consulted my AI assistant and here’s what it wrote:

      A rapscallion is a mischievous or playful person, especially a child. A guttersnipe is a street urchin, especially a dirty and neglected one.

      The main difference between a rapscallion and a guttersnipe is their social status. A rapscallion is typically from a more comfortable background than a guttersnipe. A rapscallion might be a well-to-do child who is known for their pranks and devil-may-care attitude. A guttersnipe, on the other hand, is typically a poor child who has to fend for themselves on the streets.

      Another difference between the two words is their connotation. Rapscallion is often used in a humorous or affectionate way. Guttersnipe, on the other hand, is often used in a derogatory way to describe someone who is dirty, uncouth, or immoral.

      1. Curious. Not sure I quite agree with your AI friend that “the main difference between a rapscallion and a guttersnipe is their social status”. Calling someone a rapscallion doesn’t per se tell you anything about their social class (it’s just a variation on “rascal”), whereas guttersnipes are definitely at the lower end of the scale, and originally children actually living in the gutters, in the same way that actual snipe tend to lurk in ditches. Good effort though!

        1. The difference between RAPSCALLION and GUTTERSNIPE is that there are circumstances in which you could call one of my kids the former and be invited back.

  20. 09:05, with quite a few clues where it took longer to work out exactly why they were right than decide that they were right to begin with. Entertaining.

  21. Goldilocks puzzle for me. Not too hard, not too easy.

    Biffed ROUNDEL, and semi-biffed WASTELAND – knew STELA, didn’t quite make the leap to wan and d in my haste to put it in. Thanks for the parsing.

    LOI SAD after I finally figured out ALIASES – oh, I don’t just have to uncover test…


  22. 16’38”, after a week away, pleasing. Rather liked the puzzle.

    Didn’t parse SISAL. Chicken salad anyone?

    Thanks pip and setter.

  23. I’ve just done this on Crossword Club and already forgotten! but I think my time was about 25 mins. LOI limpidly only dragged out by gazing into my wife’s eyes.

    Few silly assumptions which slowed me up before rectifying- machoism, leading edge and rabscallion but all forgotten with guttersnipe. I haven’t seen that since reading the exploits of Alf Tupper in The Victor. I’ve followed his diet regime religiously throughout my life. Maybe that’s why I’m in hospital ( it’s not really).

    Thx setter and blogger.

    1. If you’re going to eat like Alf Tupper then you’ve got to do the running too!! Great memories of Victor and Hotspur.

  24. 21:36 but with a very careless MACHOSMO. Drat and double drat! Thanks setter and Pip.

    1. Don’t worry. Before I was corrected by the arrival of checkers I was going with MACHOISM !

      1. I was heading that way too. I forgot to correct the first O when ISMO arrived!

  25. I enjoyed this one even though my finishing time was a little outside target at 46.29. Having said that I discovered that PARENTHESES has an E towards the end and not an I. I also failed to parse WASTELAND and spent too long looking for an alternative. I failed also to parse ODDITY, having spent all my time trying to think how the exploits of the charity fund raising centenarian figured in it, having promoted him from Captain to Major I now discover.

  26. 18:20 with a few silly minutes wasted wondering how id as slack fitted into limply to make limpidly. Otherwise, a very clean and efficient sort of puzzle.

  27. I never knew what a claquer was, and suspected it was one of those things people used to rattle at football matches, probably influenced by my childhood toy the click-clack. Eventually it could be nothing else (my ihtb evidently hasn’t caught on) and I learnt its meaning. 30 minutes on a crossword that presented few problems apart from this and SAD, which I was thinking was a palindrome, so when I had S_D I thought I had the river wrong, since ALIASES had to be right.

  28. Enjoyed this despite a careless typo– OSIROS.

    Certainly esoteric and lots of fun. Having spent a fair amount of time in the company of GUTTERSNIPEs and RAGAMUFFINs it was good to see them here. I needed Pip to explain why a WAND isn’t a drained delta.

    Thanks to Pip and the setter.

  29. Straightforward, but very enjoyable. Loved the juxtaposition of rapscallion and guttersnipe, and I suppose they conjure up similar images, though there is surely more opprobrium attached to the former. COD to CUTTING-EDGE, for injecting a bit of humour to the proceedings. You wonder how many east Londoners have had their hedges cut instead of their edges, and vice versa. Or is it just the gardeners who drop their aitches?

    1. Ref rapscallion and guttersnipe, please see my reply to Merlin posted above (but not before you had asked the question).

  30. Just inside my target of 30 minutes. A few clues which required a bit of thought but nothing too testing. Thank you Pip for explaining the parsing of ROUNDEL and SISAL and of course the Setter.

  31. Here we go again:
    1 Across – you cannot have BOWLERS in a clue leading to SUPER BOWL!

    20 Down – ‘in small boat’ – not ‘in a small boat’, the ‘a’ is not only superfluous but misleading.

    Is anyone checking compilers’ work nowadays?

  32. A little MER at ‘raft’ being described as a ‘small boat’. Probably the most famous raft in modern times was the Kon-Tiki, which had a deck of 18 x 45ft and consisted of 9 lashed balsa trunks. I wouldn’t call that small. The definition of a raft lies in its construction, not its size. Having said that, I thought this was a gentle stroll, with little needing a great deal of effort bar the sporting clues, and they were, at least, anagrams. Seeing the blog, I realise I forgot to parse ALIASES, which might have held me up a bit. Liked PARENTHESES and ARROW, but generally all entertaining.

  33. About 40′ over three visits, disrupted by golf and chores. A few unparsed, SISAL, WASTELAND and CUTTING EDGE (always wonder why we’re supposed to get “cockney” clues, but never see Scouse, Geordie or for that matter Glaswegian slang…now that would be interesting!!). Always like to see a music reference post 1960, and in my mind not much better than Bowie. Enjoyed the puzzle, thank you Piquet and setter.

  34. 17:21

    Not often my time ducks under those of some very esteemed solvers – everything went right today though I did have one or two not fully parsed:

    ACE = star? What else could it be with the two checkers….?
    SYCOPHANT – the cryptic worked with four checkers (SCPT) but didn’t know the word claqueur
    ROUNDEL – had forgotten about roundelays so the last part of the clue didn’t make sense to me
    WASTELAND – I know what a STELA is, but failed to spot it in this bifd-from-WS checkers answer.

    Luckily, I’m a big Bowie fan so 4d was easy enough as my LOI with all three checkers.

    Thanks P and setter

  35. On the wavelength, so quick and easy. I wrinkled my nose at Super Bowl both for the trans-atlantic invasion and for bowl..bowl construction, but I liked Rapscallion. thx, pip

  36. 30’52”
    Fairly decent early pace, stayed on gamely.
    Given it’s eclectic nature, I was delighted to have finished this under my par with no unknowns and all parsed. But I have to admit my parsing of ‘Nearly go out with bird’ was G(o) UTTER – out with (it) = say/utter (it)… Not what was intended, but it seems to work.
    I’m having a bit of an eclectic day, having spent the morning watching Jonathan Meades’ Mussolini: Monuments, Modernism and Marble; I thought I’d better look it over again before sending it to a rather young student. His auntie Chiara might object to Giuseppe Belli’s blasphemous take on the Immaculate Conception, but in Meades’ priceless cod-cockney translation she’ll never understand it.
    The grid was interesting today; it was almost symmetrical from all cardinal points, but just the central 3×3 square rendered it symmetrical from N and S only.
    The last one that was identical from all four standpoints was last Monday’s, 28,717. They tend to crop up on Saturdays, but perhaps this is coincidental.
    Thank you setter for your elegant, eclectic efforts and thank you Pip.

  37. 32:04. had to do this over 2 sessions, but brain clearly working a bit better this afternoon. I thought sailor as drafter was a little bit of a stretch, and wasn’t keen on Super Bowl / Bowlers at all. I now have a Superb Owl stuck in my head as a concept to boot. thanks setter and pip!

  38. 32 mins. RAPSCALLION had me scratching my head, until I realised that SPOTTED should have been STOOPED, giving me a duh moment and many minutes extra time.
    Like others, I had no idea how ROUNDEL worked

  39. No idea what a claquer was but SYCOPHANT went in from the wordplay and the checkers. My one puzzlement on parsing was PROTEIN, “pointer about important…” gave me PIN (pointer) about ROTE, which confused me since I didn’t know that meaning of ROTE. Doh!

  40. 27:11
    A very enjoyable puzzle. OBSCENELY was my LOI – long anagrams are hard unless I resort to paper, which I didn’t do today. Enjoyed TWEED.

  41. Nearly completed this but put ‘deeded’ instead of ‘headed’. Aargh! On the cockney/Scouse/weegie issue, I have seen Brummie in the Grauniad use a phrase like “I would say” to indicate that the answer ‘toy’ sounds like ‘tie’ (or something like that, it might’ve been a different minimal pair of words in the Brummie accent).

  42. About half an hour, with no idea of the oddity’s provenance or the claqueur’s meaning, though I knew I’d seen the word. The east London ref. really is a tad iffy. Also a bit troubled by your presumably non-human AI assistant Jack – unnervingly accurate in every way.

  43. 21 minutes but with a careless, unparsed SISEL. Fairly basic puzzle but with nice surfaces, eg ‘Star visible from spaceship’.

    Speaking of AI I’ve been trying to get ChatGPT to solve some of the easier clues, but so far it’s been consistently wrong, albeit with some charmingly specious explanations:

    “The answer to the cryptic crossword clue “Fish returning for shelter (3)” is “Cod.”
    “Fish” indicates that we are looking for the name of a fish.
    “returning” suggests that we need to reverse or flip a word.
    “for” serves as a connector in the clue.
    “shelter” is a synonym for “cod.”
    So, when we reverse or return the word “cod,” we get “doc,” which is a three-letter word for a fish.”

    Has anyone else got better results?

  44. Fairly plain sailing today, getting round the course in 18 minutes. A MER at 1ac, but otherwise no issues. The word ‘sycophant’ has travelled a long way from its original Greek meaning of ‘informer’, often a malicious one, although as mentioned in a previous comment the connection with figs remains obscure.
    Thanks to piquet and other contributors.

  45. 33 minutes. Couldn’t parse WASTELAND and had NHO ‘claqueur’ but otherwise all went in steadily, if not quickly. I enjoyed the discussion above about the distinction between a GUTTERSNIPE and a RAPSCALLION; I wonder where another crossword favourite “tatterdemalion” would fit in.

    1. I toyed with tatterdemalion when the grid was empty, but at 14 letters twas never a goer.

  46. 18’23” with ALIASES and SAD slowing me down at the end. I couldn’t get AKA out of my head. Couldn’t parse ROUNDEL. Otherwise straightforward. Thanks to all involved.

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