Times 28743 – not Memoirs of a Madman.

Nothing too stretchy in this offering, shorter on anagrams than the usual fare. I liked CRESTFALLEN best.

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

1 Copy type of smart card, getting glib about it (9)
FACSIMILE – a SIM card gets FACILE (glib) around it.
6 Light shawl principally found in Central Manchuria (5)
FICHU – F I the first letters, CHU centre of Manchuria, as above. If I hadn’t seen this word in a previous crossword, I’d never have known of it.
9 Drone, perhaps, initially caught high in tree (5)
BEECH – BEE a drone, C H initially caught high.
10 Cranky chap touring cape with very little money (9)
ECCENTRIC – ERIC a chap goes round C for cape and CENT very little money.
11 Old flame playing for time, speaking off the cuff (with son, not unknown) (15)
EXTEMPORISATION – EX (old flame) TEMPORIZATION means delaying, playing for time, change the Z to an S for son.
13 Liberal in criticising local government procedure (8)
PLANNING – insert L into PANNING = criticising.
14 Promise offered by place to est of border (6)
PLEDGE – PL = place, EDGE = border.
16 Flop about, laughing out loud before cut (6)
LOLLOP – LOL abbr. for laughing out loud, LOP = cut.
18 Skipper of boat identity theft knocked back! (8)
BARGEMAN – all reversed, NAME (identity) GRAB (theft).
21 In England her tales involved two fairy-tale siblings (6,3,6)
23 Cast doubt on record right to prepare for publishing (9)
DISCREDIT – DISC (record) R[ight], EDIT = prepare for publishing.
25 Subscriber loses head, seeing glowing coal (5)
26 Egyptian town with a hospital on the outskirts (5)
ASWAN – W[ith] inside A SAN, a hospital. Town famous for its large dam.
27 Lines by stylish woman dismissing knight’s sharp practice (9)
CHICANERY – CHIC (sylish) ANNE (a woman), lose an N (dismissing knight as in chess), RY = railway, lines.
1 Flaubert’s first clever story (5)
FABLE – F[laubert], ABLE = clever.
2 Downcast, emblem having dropped off wall? (11)
CRESTFALLEN – well, a CREST had FALLEN off a wall.
3 Animal smell appalling at first in pub (7)
INHUMAN – HUM (smell) A[ppalling], inside INN a pub.
4 One church sure to be inaccessible in winter? (8)
ICEBOUND – I (one) CE (church of England) BOUND (sure).
5 Greek mathematician, 50, in Brussels police department (6)
EUCLID – EU (with HQ in Brussels), CID, insert L for fifty.
6 Be unsuccessful catching insect? A pigeon? (7)
FANTAIL – ANT an insect inside FAIL.
7 Vehicle needing a lot of attention (3)
8 International firm showing careless indifference (9)
UNCONCERN – a UN CONCERN could be an international firm.
12 Unflinching Catholic dignitary holding up in current board (11)
INDOMITABLE – DOM a Catholic dignitary, inside IN, I (current), TABLE = board.
13 Old college principal rejecting a painter’s many-sided figures (9)
POLYHEDRA – POLY old type of college, polytechnic, HEAD = principal, reject A = HED, RA for painter.
15 Disallow simple song, mostly one for robbers (8)
BANDITTI – BAN (disallow) DITT[Y] = mostly song, I = one.
17 Take too much time with respect to trip (7)
OVERRUN – OVER (with respect to) RUN (trip, outing).
19 Plant Asquith, say, endlessly encountered in Georgia (7)
GERBERA – Mr. Asquith was a HERBERT, endless = ERBER, insert into GA.
20 Writer crossing a road, like certain poets (6)
BARDIC – BIC a writer, pen, insert A, RD for road.
22 Large vehicle runs into small parrot (5)
LORRY – R for runs, inside LORY a small parrot.
24 In folk-tales, a wicked gnome (3)
SAW – hidden as above.


90 comments on “Times 28743 – not Memoirs of a Madman.”

  1. Not sure the parenthesis in 11 is correctly placed. It’s about part of the clue, but it follows the definition instead. Wasn’t quite sure what that was about, since I imagined Brits might spell TEMPORIZATION with an S anyway.

    1. Well, Oxford dictionaries like zeds, but no one else does. I think it’s the British way of saying ‘You can stick your attempt to introduce an Academy (sic) Francaise (sic) where the sun don’t shine.’

      1. FWIW my Australian Oxford has only S, while Chambers has both with Z in the head word, S a lesser option.

      2. The French way of saying ‘vous pouvez coller votre Academie Francaise la ou le soleil ne brille pas’ is just to ignore it. Nobody actually pays any attention to their nonsense.

    2. It’s about both, since both can be spelled with either S or Z.
      The British preference for S over Z is a relatively modern phenomenon, and as u says not reflected in the Oxfords.

      1. It’s not reflected in Collins or Dictionary.com either. Both give the Z spelling as primary for both words, with the S version as a “chiefly British” variant.

        In any case, S over Z does not indicate a difference between the spellings of the two words but is only telling you that, for some unknown reason or simply arbitrarily, S is considered the correct spelling in this puzzle.

        1. It’s not really saying it’s ‘correct’: just that it happens to be the answer in this puzzle!
          Collins even has ‘realize’ as the primary spelling in British English, which is clearly wrong.

          1. That’s what I said. In this puzzle a Z instead of an S would, though arbitrarily, give you a pink square.

            1. Oh I see, sorry I misunderstood.
              The more I think about it the more I think Collins and others are just wrong about this. S is overwhelmingly the preferred spelling in the UK, and nobody here ever writes ‘realize’.

              1. Collins wrong? Never! I’m staggered. . .

                FWIW, with a ‘z’ was the original spelling of all such words in British English until the ‘s’ supplanted it. All mediaeval, Tudor and up to late Georgian-period documents use ‘z’.

                However, as Britain is the ultimate arbiter of written English, if we predominantly now use ‘s’, then that is the correct version and cannot be described as a ‘British variant’. It’s the use of ‘z’ which has become the variant. And Collins has no authority on it to deem otherwise.

                1. There is no such thing an ‘ultimate arbiter’ of language. There are just different varieties, none more or less valid than another. So you can’t say that either spelling is ‘correct’.
                  However the question of whether S or Z is more commonly used in British English is an empirical one, and it’s clearly S. So for Collins (And Oxford) to list Z as the main variant is perverse. To be fair they don’t actually say that one is more common but that is surely the implication.

  2. 21.42, nothing too challenging. I’ve heard of an ECCENTRIC being a crank but not cranky, and like Guy I’m a bit thrown by the red-hot S/Z controversy raging over EXTEMPORISATION. Needed piquet’s help on BARGEMAN and CAR, and I too have never encountered FICHU anywhere except here. I read that Verlaine has done brilliantly over many rounds in a lucrative American quiz show. Well, our pub quiz team came second last night and won a $30 bar voucher so nobody should be feeling too complacent…

    1. For eccentric =cranky, think mechanically, ie crankshaft, cam etc.
      This was on the far too easy side for my liking. I prefer a bit more of a challenge.

  3. S/Z was strange – I guessed it was the editor being kind and telling us which optional, equally-valid letter to use in the unchecked light, to save lots of pink squares and miffed punters.
    Vaguely heard of Asquith but not Herbert Asquith, so I guessed he was ardent and invented GARDENA. On seeing NHO GERBERA it rang a very faint bell; but plants (like birds, painters, poets etc) are not my thing.

  4. Popping my head in to marvel that GERBERA is not common knowledge – it is the most generic looking flower of all flowers and comes in every colour. They are cheap and cheerful, long lasting and you should all buy yourself a bunch from your local supermarket and treat yourself! 🌼

    Not that knowing the plant would have helped me anyhow, the word play is beyond me.

    1. I looked online to check and I do recognise the variety: they are what I know as ‘flowers’. 😉

  5. No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
    Shine, and blue-bleak Embers, ah my dear,
    Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.
    (Any excuse. The Windhover, GM Hopkins)

    25 mins pre-brekker. No ticks, no crosses.
    Ta setter and Pip

  6. 15:25. I was as surprised as Tina at the unfamiliarity with GERBERA, though maybe not so much with overseas solvers – I don’t know if the flowers are as common abroad. It was still my LOI, as I struggled with the parsing, wanting to fit in ME(T) for “endlessly encountered”. Eventually I did think of HERBERT though.

    1. I’ve always disliked gerberas, for no rational reason, and regard them as the choice of lazy gardeners. So I was dismayed to have to fund the penny pinching provision of a single (orange, so doubly horrible) bloom for my daughter to carry at her debut.

      Thanks setter and blogger, MER at paella clued as chicken stew, it’s so much more….

  7. 32m 56s
    After tackling the 2023 prize puzzle yesterday and mostly failing* in that I had to resort to aids after well over an hour, this was a a nice bit of light relief.
    Thank you, Pip.
    *The clue I never did get was PASH.

  8. 21 minutes, which will probably be a slow time today. NHO Gerbera but knew Herbert Asquith. LOI was BARGEMAN which I had to painfully write in backwards to see what would turn up. It‘s only americans and the OED use IZE.
    Thanks setter and blogger, Steve

  9. A nice puzzle although I had no idea what was going on in wordplay for EXTEMPORISATION as I don’t recall ever coming across ‘temporize’, nor its valid alternative ‘temporise’.

    I stopped that clock at 33 minutes feeling pleased with myself, but coming here this morning I found I had not completed the answer at 6ac as I had planned to return to it at the end but then forgot. FICHU seems to have come up quite regularly in the past but it’s one of the words that fails to stick in my brain. I haven’t researched every appearance but the one occasion its seems not to have caused me any difficulty was in a puzzle I blogged in December 2021 when the wordplay was simply the first letters of five words in the clue. I note that in the summer of that year it had been clued as Light shawl originally fashionable in central Manchuria’.

    1. That’s because the ‘ise’ in ‘temporise’ isn’t a suffix. Or rather I don’t think it is?

      In which case it must always be ‘ise’ in the UK.

      1. As per usual the Oxford dictionaries all list temporize as the preferred spelling with temporise as an alternative.

  10. 29 minutes with LOI INDOMITABLE. I’m not sure if I’ve heard of FICHU before but the cryptic and crossers were kind. I’ve given up on trying to understand if it’s a z or an s. Life’s too short and I’ll never remember anyway. COD to LOLLOP, a great word. Pleasant puzzle. Thank you Pip and setter.

      1. My autocorrect usually pops up with S, but has some kind of mental block and insists on realize. I might have to use a synonym….

  11. At 19dn I assumed LORD Asquith, endlessly giving OR plus MET (encountered) in GA (Georgia) giving GORMETA as the flower. Why not? although I do know gerbera. But I took so long with the rest (49 minutes) I’m glad not to be picked up by the snitchbots

  12. 11:51. No problem with GERBERA – lovely flowers as Tina says. I was a bit discombobulated by the spelling instruction after the definition in 11A – I’ve never seen that before. I tried to make 6D AIRMAIL at first, but the F from FICHU stopped that nonsense. COD to BARGEMAN. Thanks Pip and setter.

  13. 20 minutes. Slightly surprised that some people struggled with GERBERA – I’m sure it has come up here several times before, and I don’t think Herbert Asquith, Prime Minister at the start of the First World War, is too obscure (albeit of course one person’s obscurity is another’s general knowledge).

    Didn’t parse FACSIMIILE until after I’d entered it; had to trust the wordplay for FICHU; was very confused by the clue for EXTEMPORISATION, though isla3’s suggested explanation makes a lot of sense; and didn’t really know Lory as a parrot, though LORRY was obvious enough.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Fable
    LOI Facsimile
    COD Hansel and Gretel

  14. Pleasant solve with FICHU my LOI. Only unknown apart from plant which fortunately was kindly clued was BARDIC, but with the crossers was also kindly clued.
    Thanks setter and blogger

  15. So much for being in for a stinker of a week: I did this in around half the time of Monday and Tuesday. It helped that the lesser-known bits were in my ken, even GERBERA and FICHU. I had to work on word endings: POLYGON, BANDITRY and even GRETAL, but would have unflinchingly put in =ISATION regardless of the extra help.
    A gentle relief, like “the deep peace of the double bed after the hurly-burly of the chaise longue”.

  16. 42 mins but… I’m another who invented the GARDENA. Sounded right to me although of course I had no idea was our ‘erbert was doing!

    Enjoyable for all that though I did miss my anagrams. COD LOLLOP.

    Thanks pip and setter.

  17. A steady 20 minute solve today, with the only unknown being FICHU, though that rang a distant bell once I’d worked out what was going on. Similar to others re temporize, but otherwise a gentle and enjoyable stroll around the grid.

    I particularly liked the ID theft going on at 18A.

    Thanks to the setter and blogger.

  18. I eventually found this to be easier than I initially suspected. MER at LOLLOP as “flop about”, I’d consider it as moving in a rather ungainly fashion, rather like a puppy. NHO of my LOI, but it had to be once I parsed it

    TIME 8:11

  19. Mostly flew through, but top right slowed me up considerably. I think it was getting the unknown FICHU from wordplay that unlocked it all, and ECCENTRIC went in last.


  20. 11.10
    Back to normal solving time: no ruffled feathers with today’s pigeon and parrot, after yesterday’s BUDGERIGAR.

  21. 7:39. No problems today. I only know about GERBERA from doing these things: in the real world the word ‘flower’ has always been amply sufficient for my purposes.
    The device in 11ac is quite common in the concise but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in a cryptic before.

  22. Probably my fastest ever time. Helped
    by knowing the flower and remembering FICHU from earlier outings.
    LOI and COD Bargeman

  23. Much more my wavelength after crashing and burning yesterday (gave up, but too late to add to the blog..). About 30′. Similar to some others I initially wondered if the parenthesis in 11ac was part of the clue. I’m also a very limited gardener but eventually remembered GERBERA from my many visits to Homebase (so not that exotic!). However I did fail to parse the “erber” from Herbert. BARGEMAN/ name-grab I thought was clever. Thanks Piquet and setter.

  24. 30 minutes, with some discomfort over EXTEMPORI?ATION (I didn’t like the definition not being at one end of the clue). So far as I know in US English it’s (nearly?) always z. This makes some people moan about creeping Americani?ation when the English use z, ignorant of the fact that there is some reason that goes back to Greek. Then others moan about the etymological fallacy. Goodness knows.

    FICHU a word I only know from crosswords. Got GERBERA as required, but didn’t know of it so looked it up to find that it was indeed a plant. Had tried to make verbena work.

    1. Z used to be more common in English English so it’s more a case of creeping re-anglicisation!

        1. More the opposite, I think. I believe S became more common in English than Z because of the influence of French.

          1. Someone once told me that classiscists were careful to use Z in words with Greek roots and S in words with Latin roots (and slight condescention for those of us with neither Latin nor Greek). Any truth to that?

            1. No idea but it wouldn’t surprise me. The silliness of misguided language pedants knows no bounds.

  25. 17 mins. I started in the NE which turned out to be the hardest quarter.
    The odd device for EXTEMPORISATION is new to me, but thoroughly justified.

  26. 18:42

    Fairly gently with a few leaps of faith. Like others, FICHU only remembered from crosswordland. The correct (or not) spelling of EXTEMPORISATION washed over me as I didn’t fully get the parsing. You could have slapped me around the face with a bunch of GERBERAs and I couldn’t have told you what they were – but at least I had heard of them. Needed BARDIC to get CHICANERY. LOI ECCENTRIC from all checkers unparsed, but COD to BARGEMAN.

    Thanks P and setter

  27. The difference in difficulty between two successive puzzles is astonishing. I spent ages on Tuesday’s, and still didn’t finish. By contrast I disposed of this 1n 15 minutes, despite distractions. Without those I might have finished in 12. I went straight through the clues, rarely pausing for more than a few seconds. For thee top half I didn’t lift pen from paper.

  28. 22:20 – Nothing too scary, at least after the two-coffee nightmare of trying to solve the Champ final puzzle. Slightly thrown by the Z/S signposting in 11ac. Common enough in the cluing for the quick but I don’t remember seeing it in a cryptic before. I realise if solving online only one will be correct, but for the rest of us if it falls in an uncrossed light either is correct and would presumably be so in a contest.

  29. On the wavelength today – 19:18?after a few days where I have been way down on my personal snitch.

    The Z/S thing threw me a lot – I saw the answer but could not account for son, not unknown thing until I can here. As others have noted, perhaps it’s the editor being kind after some recent Z/S controversies and no checker to indicate.

    Very enjoyable puzzle . Liked the surface for ASWAN for my COD.

    Thanks P and setter

  30. 25:50 today, found this fairly straightforward, with a bit of biffing of extemporisation for example. LOI Bargeman. had seen Fichu before but couldn’t recall it as a shawl, so got that from the wordplay. thanks Pip and Setter.

  31. 10:34. I was in the groove with this one. I didn’t understand the S/Z thing so thanks for the explanation.


  32. 10:37 (but with a frustrating typo)
    Nothing too challenging today. Didn’t get the GERBERA wordplay but couldn’t think of an alternative (plants are a massive blind spot for me so I woundn’t have been surprised to get that wrong). Didn’t realise what was going on with the S/Z qualifier in EXTEMPORISATION but I’d left that one to last so I decided not to overthink it.

  33. 16.36 with an appalling GRETAL

    Also no clue about the s z thing but Asquith’s first name and the plant (astonishingly for me) vaguely known

    Ta all

  34. 16 mins but completely undone by Gerbera. NHO it which didn’t help and then fixated on trying to include met for encountered. Most galling is I knew what HH stood for, though not certain he did.

  35. 08:55, with a modest delay while I explored the black hole I call “botany” once more (I must take the word of the gardeners that it’s actually something I should know, of course, but it does seem to be one of those things which divides the community down the middle). And yes, very strange to realise that we were getting the (S, not Z) instruction that appears in the concise quite regularly, but appropriately souped up in cryptic form.

  36. A very easy one today, with no unknowns, though I did spend a few seconds staring at SAWAN, wondering if it was a very obscure Egyptian town before the penny dropped! Much biffing going on, parsing to check. Once I’d got 11A I didn’t waste time trying to understand the bit in parentheses. INDOMITABLE LOI just because it was the last I’d got to in the grid. I felt this was perhaps a bit TOO easy for my liking (I’ll probably regret that tomorrow!).

  37. 24’08”
    Decent early pace, quickened closing stages.
    Hubert-Henry ? Henry-Hubert ? Come on you chump; don’t you remember that essay. ‘The removal of Asquith was a squalid plot or a necessary political expedient. Discuss.’
    Through sheer cussedness you took the former to upset Sir. Oh, of course, it was Herbert, you Herbert! Auntie Sue diligently sent a SA flora and fauna calendar every Christmas, which helped.
    Strange: Class A handicap yesterday, Class D today and a Witch of 84 in both (and in good company today, a length behind Zabadak).
    Feeling slightly crestfallen, glancing at the unsolved ‘icebound’, I was awaiting being brained by the ‘breeze-block’, but it missed.
    Liked this lots; many thanks setter and Pip.

    1. I feel about plants, including the flower sub-set, pretty much the way some of us feel about birds. Understood the S/Z indicator, probably from doing the Concise, and was glad of the cryptics for several where, like Bargeman who might be a deckhand instead of the skipper, I was leery of the indicated answer. thx, pip

  38. 37:35 – Not come across Temporisation before, so had to put in 11 from the checkers without really understanding it. Also only vaguely aware of FICHU & GERBERA. Not heard of BANDITTI either but it was the only thing that made sense.

  39. Only one bird today, versus three yesterday.

    Trying to decide whether this is three times better; a third times better; three divides better; or something else.

    Does anyone have any suggestions?

  40. I am another who went for GARDENA never having heard of GERBERA and knowing nothing about the Asquiths. So DNF.

  41. Done and dusted in a very speedy 25, which is close to my best. Spent longer on the QC today.

  42. 17:55 but with a careless, misremembered FACHU. CAR and FANTAIL were first 2 in. FACSIMILE was LOI. Thanks setter and Pip.

  43. 28 minutes. Managed to remember FICHU from previous appearances and knew GERBERA as a ‘Plant’, even if I sometimes mix it up with the not quite synonymous “gerbil”. EXTEMPORISATION was a bit ECCENTRIC, with the odd wordplay and centric location of the definition; think I’ll stick with “ad-lib”.

  44. I made a slow start, but after finding a couple of answers I went straight into overdrive and got past the chequered flag in 16 minutes. 11ac was my first one in and I just wrote it with an ‘s’ as that’s the way I always spell words like this. NHO GERBERA but had heard of H.H.Asquith and remembered he was a Herbert.
    Thanks to piquet and other contributors.

  45. 9:21 today, exactly the same time as the Quickie.

    I thought gerberas were one of the more well-known flowers, but I don’t know enough about flowers to even make that assertion. I know even less about Asquiths. But it all just fell into place, as did most of the puzzle.

    Thanks Pip and setter.

  46. Had to think hard about Asquith’s first name, though it should have been easy, given that I’ve just finished Andrew Roberts’ biography of Lord Northcliffe, who helped bring him down. FICHU remembered from past puzzles. COD BARGEMAN. 18’50”

Comments are closed.