Times 28745 — Not even a nap

DNF. I did well here. Fell asleep at one point, woke up re-energized and finished all but one. Lots of clever clueing here and tasty answers. In the end, I was stumped by a clue where I knew neither the definition nor a relevant piece of wordplay.

1 Still laborious lassoing horse (6)
THOUGH – TOUGH (laborious) around (lassoing) H (horse)
4 Drug taken by doctor — former PM almost ready for fight (8)
EMBATTLE – E (drug) + (taken by) MB (doctor) + ATTLEE (former PM) without last letter (almost)
10 Subordinate brought to northern river stays perhaps (9)
UNDERWEAR – UNDER (subordinate) + (brought to) WEAR (northern river)
11 Make quick note sailor’s wearing part of Highland dress (5)
JABOT – AB (sailor) in (‘s wearing) JOT (make quick note)

This is one of the ones I saw immediately after my nap. It’s a frill of lace.

12 Pegasus perhaps wingless in beginning to catch space ship (7)
CORSAIR – HORSE (pegasus perhaps) without first and last letters (wingless) in (in) first letter of (beginning to) CATCH + AIR (space)
13 Important line as seen in Spielberg movie with soldiers (7)
EQUATOR – QUA (as) in (seen in) E.T. (Spielberg movie) + (with) OR (soldiers)
14 Rely on tanky at last coming in for start of union meeting (5)
TRYST – TRUST (rely on) + last letter of TANKY (tanky at last) replacing (coming in for) first letter of (start of) UNION
15 Cracked enigma involving a final letter [in] publication (8)
MAGAZINE – anagram of (cracked) ENIGMA around (involving) A + Z (final letter)
18 Family servant kept rook in daughter’s place (8)
RETAINER – RETAINED (kept) with R (rook) instead of D (daughter)
20 Line removed from ordinary Bellini work (5)
NORMA – L (line) removed from NORMAL (ordinary)
23 Two dogs [finding] prune (7)
CURTAIL – CUR TAIL (two words meaning dog)
25 Titled woman about to take in French island sent message (7)
EMAILED – DAME (titled woman) reversed (about) around (to take in) ILE (French island)
26 Love upset where learner moves across college (5)
ORIEL – O (lover) + RILE (upset) with L (learner) moved
27 Veronica fit to join expedition (9)
SPEEDWELL – WELL (fit) next to (to join) SPEED (expedition)
28 Dodgy boss nearly murdered lackey (8)
DOGSBODY – DODGY BOSS without the last letter (nearly) anagrammed (murdered)
29 Tragedian Edward[‘s] name on marble (6)
ALLEYN – N (name) next to (on) ALLEY (marble)

The setter made this as fair as they could — after all, the clue could have been “Author’s name on marble” or something like that. But sadly I did not know Teddy Alleyn the tragedian, nor did I know of an alley marble, so this one did me in.

If this answer had contained the only Y in the puzzle, I would have smacked myself, since the pangram possibility could have given a hint. But there are several other Ys in the grid. I was thinking of the marble as a ‘shooter’ or something, and accordingly was looking for _ L _ ERN, if anything.

1 Chest picked up by crew reportedly [in] dock? (8)
TRUNCATE – TRUNK (chest) replaced by homophone (picked up) + (by) EIGHT (crew) replaced by homophone (picked up)

Another post-nap write-in.

2 Trot raised in Paris suburb [becomes] attendant (7)
ORDERLY – RED (trot[skyite]) reversed (raised) in ORLY (Paris suburb)
3 Giant fish a month back devouring worker? (9)
GARGANTUA – GAR (fish) + AUG (a month) reversed (back) around (devouring) ANT (worker?)

Is the ‘a’ in ‘a month’ a slight looseness? Or is the setter saying we should be looking for an “A” month? 😉

5 Grower to celebrate extraordinary green trade (6,8)
MARKET GARDENER – MARK (to celebrate) anagrammed (extraordinary) GREEN TRADE
6 University supporting article on little woman [in] duchy once (5)
ANJOU – U (university) under (supporting) AN (article) + (on) JO (an eponymous little woman)

Nap helped here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duchy_of_Anjou

7 Asian [should have] Greek character encased in metal (7)
TIBETAN – BETA (Greek character) in (encased in) TIN (metal)
8 Milk [and] old cake not finished (6)
EXTORT – EX (old) + TORTE (cake) without last letter (not finished)
9 Medicines laid out across counter finally declared legal (14)
DECRIMINALISED – MEDICIENS LAID anagrammed (out) around (across) last letter of COUNTER (finally)
16 Wine unknown in cooler shown upside-down (9)
ZINFANDEL – Z (unknown) + IN + FAN (cooler) + LED (shown) reversed (upside-down)

My only true biff.

17 Cutter[‘s] crew as before left at home (8)
MANDOLIN – MAN (crew) + DO (= ditto, as before) + L (left) + IN (at home)
19 Attention drawn to collar [and] jewellery (7)
EARRING – EAR (attention) + (drawn to) RING (collar)
21 Comfort resistance woman tempted to swallow pork pie? (7)
RELIEVE – R (resistance) + EVE (woman tempted) around (to swallow) LIE (pork pie?)
22 Harmony [from] A string with another note held (6)
ACCORD – A + CORD (string) around C (with another note held)
24 Improvised short excuse to involve Democrat (2-3)
AD-LIB – last letter removed from (short) ALIBI (excuse) around (to involve) D (Democrat)

128 comments on “Times 28745 — Not even a nap”

  1. Can anyone who knows anything about WordPress fix the column size? I certainly didn’t change anything but it seems messed up.

  2. ALLEYN is very tricky. I got it from a very vague marble memory and the fact that OBs of Dulwich College are called Old Alleynians. Never heard of the actor, who, I learn from Wiki, also founded what became the college.

    Tragedian as an actor rather than a writer also new to me, though not to Collins, which lists it first.

  3. Oh! Now that you point out he was an actor, the name does ring a bell. Back to slapping myself!

  4. DNF at 16:56.
    Couldn’t believe this was Friday, I was going so fast. Biffed the long downs and ZINFANDEL and ORIEL. But like Jeremy, I didn’t know ALLEYN and I didn’t know ALLEY, which put ALLEYN out of reach. (Also DNK JABOT & MANDOLIN, but the parsing was clear.)

  5. Tricky, but entertaining. Mostly steady if not fast progress except in the NW. ALLEYN a guess – we used to play marbles with alleys – which helped get MANDOLIN; unsolvable without all the crossers, a great clue.
    Then to the NW, to grind out TRYST, CORSAIR, TOUGH and ORDERLY. I knew I didn’t know any Paris suburbs (a known unknown) so was thinking arondissement? Banlieu? Left Bank? Then saw the answer and recognised Orly, with some embarrassment.
    Wondered if tanky was a misprint, had to look it up post-solve. Luckily its meaning wasn’t needed.

    1. I too was quite puzzled by “tanky”
      And suspected some strange hanky-panky
      It’s a commie; who knew?
      Would no other word do?
      (And the ORIEL made me quite cranky)

        1. Both oriole the bird and oriel in architecture could derive from medieval Latin aureolus(gilded).

  6. It took me a good while to get started on this. I was in a low-energy state and just happy at first to be able to get a few (FOI EMAILED)… “ah, well, maybe I’ll finish tomorrow.” But then (an Irish coffee having woke me up a bit) the SW filled in nicely, and getting DECRIMINALISED opened new prospects. MAGAZINE gave me the Z that allowed a biff of ZINFANDEL (easily parsed, though), and the bottom half was soon finished… except for that pesky last clue. I had a sense of accomplishment after completing the whole thing—except that I didn’t… there was still that pesky last clue, the same one that hung up our blogger (and Kevin), for the same reasons, and I didn’t find that actor (not the American playwright Albee!) unaided.

  7. 14:32 for a crossword in two halves. I got nowhere in the NW, not much further in the NE and thought we were in for a stinker, but a couple of easy long ones helped to flesh things out and away we went.

    Never heard of ALLEYN of course, but I recall playing marbles with “blood-alleys” and “cageys” so it was as good a guess as any. Also didn’t know (or had forgotten) ANJOU, JABOT, SPEEDWELL as Veronica and MANDOLIN as cutter. Didn’t know I knew ZINFANDEL but it must be a crossword standard because the letters just seemed to insert themselves.

    My type of puzzle, where you can enter unknowns or barely-knowns with confidence. Thank you setter, and thanks Jeremy for the blog. BTW, my two bob’s worth on 3dn is that the “a” is just there for the surface, without detracting from the wordplay. August is “a month” after all.

  8. Until I ground to a halt after 33 minutes with only 29ac unsolved I had been thinking what a fine puzzle this is, but ALLEYN was never going to happen. Although I knew the cause was hopeless I spent another 10 minutes on it before giving up and resorting to aids. NHO the actor (or from the definition he could have been a playwright so I too considered Albee) and although various names for marbles have come up before I couldn’t remember any of them.

    Elsewhere there were some lovely clues and my other unknown answer JABOT was gettable from wordplay. SPEEDWELL again, I note! ORIEL was biffed and I needed a while to unravel its workings.

    MANDOLIN as a cutter was known from having watched too many cookery programmes on TV. The cutting might be likely to include slices of fingers if the user is distracted and I have to look away from the screen until the danger has passed even though I know the programmes have been pre-recorded.

    1. There’s a superb old video (findable on YouTube if you want) of Rick Stein using a MANDOLIN, where he explains that you have to be very careful not to cut off the ends of your fingers… and promptly does so!
      I use one quite often but am very wasteful with the last three-quarter-inch of whatever I’m slicing!

  9. 34.30. Given all the above comments I am feeling slightly smug about getting ALLEYN, not because I knew the bloke but because I had a vague alley memory relating to marbles. OK it was my POI. Some brilliant clues here I thought, particularly liked TRUNCATE, CURTAIL, MANDOLIN (agree with Jack on that) and EMBATTLE. Delighted to jag ANJOU and JABOT and remember SPEEDWELL. I liked the full and part-anagrams also. Thank you for the blog J, especially CORSAIR which had me flummoxed for a while along with THOUGH (I thought the horse ref might be nag or GG for way too long) and LOI TRUNCATE. Nice finish to an interesting week.

      1. Please, please, this place is mercifully free of conspiracy theories. That’s what Facebook’s for.

        1. Well indeed. Stephen Marche put it best: ‘among Shakespeare scholars, the idea has roughly the same currency as the faked moon landing does among astronauts’.

          1. My apologies to all. I think it is a fascinating subject, and thought some people on here may be interested.

    1. I re-read Doctor Faustus last night — it is hard to believe the author of this play could have written a word of Shakespeare. The style is radically different: Marlowe is refined, reflective, and a bit removed, like a staged epic poem; while Shakespeare is coarse, direct, and intensely dramatic.

      But, everyone’s entitled to their opinion!

  10. Managed to shoot myself thoroughly in the foot here. As I was looking at 29a for the first time, I thought, “Hrm, ALLEYN would fit…” but as I only knew the name from the Inspector Alleyn mysteries I left it for later. Then at the end I *completely* missed the “V” just above 29a as I was looking to see if there were any leftovers from the pangram, convinced myself there must be a “V” in 29a and went for OLVERN on the grounds that “olver” sounded like it could plausibly be a kind of marble. D’oh.

  11. 42 minutes with LOI MANDOLIN, only known as a musical instrument. I didn’t know JABOT either, but the J from ANJOU gave that away. I think I only knew ANJOU from the rosé in Berni Inns, in the days when eating out was less complicated. But I did know SPEEDWELL without the cryptic. I quite like puzzles which require a bit of knowledge, provided I get the answers. Thank you Jeremy and setter.

  12. Thanks first to Jeremy for sorting out too many parsings to mention! I got through this in the end when the realization dawned that it was a pangram, and I didn’t have a J. Thus was I able to replace “amyau” with ANJOU (I’ve never read “Little Women” but knew the names and picked the wrong one) and that made JABOT obvious. My LOI was biffed with fingers crossed.

    TIME 11:50

    1. Though the setter may have had Alcott’s character in mind, I didn’t have that knowledge and just took ‘little woman’ to be ‘shortened woman’s name’ hence JO(-sephine). Perhaps because I have such a sister. (Setter being doubly clever?)

  13. 25 mins so not the Friday stinker we were waiting for. Several clues bunged in on a wing and a prayer including JABOT, ORIEL and, of course, ALLEYN which was a pure guess, me not knowing neither the actor nor the marble. It did sort of sound right though.

    A chilled glass of ANJOU Rosé, followed by a glass of ZINFANDEL all served by the family RETAINER anyone? Marvelous.

    Lots to like today.

    Thanks Jeremy and setter.

  14. ‘Tis Nature’s doom—but let the wretch who toils,
    Accuse not—hate not—him who wears the spoils.
    Oh! if he knew the weight of splendid chains,
    How light the balance of his humbler pains!
    (The Corsair, Byron)

    30 mins mid-brekker. I thought Alleyn was a bit tricky for the non marble lovers.
    Some of the surfaces in this were tricky to justify – I mean, why would an Asian encase a Greek character in metal? What was Pegasus doing trying to catch a spaceship, especially with no wings? Who the hell is “tanky” on whom we rely?
    Ta setter and PJ

    1. Even if you imagine Pegasus as a constellation of stars the surface is still rather curious

    2. I was convinced you were going to beat me to it, but you went with Byron not Wilde.

      Yet, though remorse, youth’s white-faced seneschal
      Tread on my heels with all his retinue,
      I am most glad I loved thee—think of all
      The suns that go to make one speedwell blue!
      (Quia Multum Amavi)

  15. 34:40. A slow tough start – FOI 3dn GARGANTUA – but then it all seemed to fall into place. I got ALLEYN just from knowing the marble and I recognised Veronica, who drops in from time to time, most helpfully about a week ago. I wasn’t sure about CORSAIR being the ship as well as the pirate, and I was distracted by having “corvette” on the tip of my brain but not remembering it. Lots to like, COD TRUNCATE.

    Tanky very much, Setter, and tanky Blogger too

  16. Ha ha I was also beaten by 29ac having fjnished the rest in 17 minutes. I got the structure of the clue but NHO either ALLEY or ALLEYN. So the marbles we played with as children are known as alleys, who knew!

    Thanks Jeremy and setter


  17. After a day of relative normality the fat fingers returned, so a seemingly half decent time of 14:18 was ruined by a double typo. Probably doesn’t help that I use a small bluetooth keyboard with occasionally sticky buttons. Maybe time to visit amazon for a replacement…..

    Other than that, steady if unspectacular progress – ALLEYN took a while as never heard of him, but somewhere in the dim mists of the back of mind I remembered ALLEY for marble so a wing and a prayer for that one.

    JABOT also unknown, and spent a while trying to find a word for scribble before ANJOU (even though it ended up as ANJHO) made the penny drop.

  18. Finished in half an hour, but with no great confidence. I hesitated over MANDOLIN, partly because I didn’t know it as a cutter and also because I’d forgotten that ‘do’ is short for ditto. And then I had to hope that alley=marble and that there was a tragedian called Edward ALLEYN.

    I also relied on the wordplay for JABOT, took a while to get CORSAIR because I get corsair and corsage mixed up, thought the college was ‘Oriol’ until I figured out the wordplay and remembered that it’s ORIEL, and only got SPEEDWELL because it has come up here fairly recently.

    A good puzzle – thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Norma
    LOI Alleyn
    COD Curtail

  19. It’s just occurred to me that ALLEYN might have been an opportunity to clue with reference to the famous detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn who featured in 32 detective novels and TV adaptations. He was created by Ngaio Marsh, who was Christened with the name of Crosswordland’s favourite New Zealand tree. The Inspector pronounced his name ‘Allen’; I wonder if the Tragedian did too.

    1. Years ago I read all the Ngaio Marsh novels I could get my hands on. They were very entertaining and well written. I haven’t seen one in a second-hand bookshop for ages now though… I had no idea they’d been adapted for TV, but I barely watch the television, so would be unlikely to have heard.
      As the school Alleyn founded is pronounced with the Y spoken, I would think it unlikely.

      1. In Wiki it is stated that he sometimes spelt it Allen, so Y prob not pronounced.

        I wonder if Ngaio was christened? I usually avoid using “christian” but use “given name” like the Americans do.

  20. Quick for a Friday. No nhos, though jabot right at the edge. Ned Alleyn I knew from that lovely film Shakespeare in Love, Ben Affleck played him …

    Our esteemed setter is clearly not one to worry overmuch about surface readings..

  21. DNF 🙁
    Jabot/Anjou did for me. Alleyn no problem. The little women are always popping up and I can never remember all their names.
    Thanks, pj.

    1. Given that Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy are all prime short candidates for insertions or containers, it’s probably worthwhile memorising them, even if you can’t bring yourself to read the books! 😉

  22. DNF. I made a right pig’s ear of this. I had LAS for “line as” in the EQUATOR clue, which gave me ELASTOR. Then for the old duchy I put AUJEA, with JEA(N) being the little woman.
    I had managed to drag ALLEYN up from somewhere though 🤷‍♂️

  23. Flew through this, all the rarely used GK bubbling up. Bemused / excited to see the word ‘tanky’, which I thought was only ever used internally.
    ALLEYN was LOI, but ‘alley’ the only marble known.

    13’21”, thanks jeremy and setter.

    1. Alley had me trying to remember the other words we used for marbles. Glassies, Bollies (ball bearings) and murps (short for Murphies, I think) came to mind, none of them known to Google. I suppose that as a game it didn’t make for a great spectator sport, but then how do you explain snooker?

      1. Were there also “gobbies” for the larger marbles? LOI was also ALLEYN, but vaguely remembered alley. FOI ADLIB. 50 mins.
        Thank you.

      2. Snooker was invented for colour TV. “And for those of you watching in black & white the green ball is the one just behind the brown.” Colemanballs #1.

      3. Snooker is *exactly* like golf. Or darts. Dead boring (usually) until the final frame/hole, when it can become surprisingly gripping. It’s all about the pressure.

  24. The kind of puzzle that pisses me off. If you don’t know ALLEYN, or that alley=marble (ie two obscure refs in one), you’re utterly doomed. I just about forgive JABOT; though NHO it, at least it’s a fair guess if you know AB’s in the middle and JOT’s prob enclosing it.

  25. 13:45

    I finished in the NW corner where I dithered between the horse in 1a being H or GG and couldn’t see what was going on with 1d TRUNCATE until I had the T.

    Despite recent discussions on here I couldn’t bring to mind the names of all the Little Women, but having rejected AMEGU as a duchy I figured out the JOT part of JABOT and saw that the “article” in ANJOU was AN rather than A.

    ALLEYN on trust having recalled that an ALLEY was a marble.

  26. 11.20
    A lovely puzzle, and a pangram!
    The appearance of ZINFANDEL and ANJOU inspires me to write to the Letters page on the subject of which type of wine to take to a dinner party; 18ac reminds me of Old Scrotum, the wrinkled RETAINER at Rawlinson End.

    1. I’ve clued STORMCLOUD somewhere else, John, which ended up being:

      Old Scrotum, wrinkled and indeed saturated retainer?

      Oh well. Thanks all, esp to +jez.

        1. Old Scrotum the wrinkled retainer is the butler in the wonderful Sir Henry at Rawlinson’s End, by the late, great Vivian Stanshall (ex Bonzo Dog Doodah Band). A favourite quote: “There was so much incest in that family, even the bulldog had a club foot!”

      1. Old Scrotum sounds like a tiny craft brewery’s name for an obscure but much loved brand.

  27. 9:48. Quite by chance I had all the required knowledge but some of it seemed a bit out there.
    I had forgotten that Edward ALLEYN was a rival to Burbage, and I didn’t know that the founder of the Dulwich schools was the actor. So I’ve learned something interesting today. Useful? Perhaps not. I did know the name though, and I have learned the word for a marble from doing these things, so the clue was solvable for me. It’s a poor clue though, IMO

  28. I can’t believe the SNITCH on this is currently only 103! I’m finding this harder than any puzzle I’ve tried for many weeks. An hour in and still 6 clues to go. I had the championship final puzzle finished (albeit with an error) quicker than this…

    Oh well … I’ll put it down to a bad day and keep plugging away.

  29. A puzzle of 2 halves: 5 minutes staring at the screen blankly, before spotting MAGAZINE, then 8 minutes writing them all in, largely biffed. No problem with alleys & jabots, we studied Angevin kings at school, we have speedwell in our lawn and a mandolin (the cutting kind) in our kitchen drawer. COD to the tanky clue.

  30. Not quite the easiest of the week, then, but for me only by a couple of minutes.
    A word of congratulations to the setter not only for making it a pangram but also for cramming all the letters that score 5 or more in the NE corner.
    There’s a little bit of the TLS about this: there you’d expect (and be expected) to find such as JO, NORMA and, well, ALLEYN. Mandolin would be clued by Captain Corelli, CORSAIR by Berlioz or Byron, JABOT by reference to Walter Scott or some such. I happen to know ALLEYN because an Australian mate of mine managed to blag his way into becoming Head of Religious Education at Dulwich College in the late 70’s before progressing to headship of a top public school with his own chair in the cathedral. I sympathise with those of you for whom it’s a mystery, and (probably) why you miss out on the TLS.

  31. Half an hour in total, most of it spent expecting a sting in the tail which never came.
    The only unknown for me was JABOT, although the wordplay was very fair, and I vaguely knew ALLEYN.
    Fridays are the only day in the week I wake up with a self-induced fuzzy head, so I always appreciate a more straightforward grid.
    Thanks to both setter and blogger.

  32. 07:02, buf a DNF as the curse of the keyboard strikes again (DECRIMINILISED) – I thought I’d checked my work but it turns out these things are somehow much harder to spot when they’re down clues, rather than written normally. I don’t know what I was doing with that clue all round, as I made a right pig’s ear of my first effort as well, and only realised I’d entered it wrong when trying to fit CURTAIL into C_R_T_A, and then obviously butchered the overtyping. Not my finest hour in the end, but a nice crossword which made quite a few demands of one’s knowledge as well as wordplay.

  33. A DNF because I was stumped by 1ac. Given the letters I had I was sure that ‘laborious’ pointed to ‘TOUGH’ and so I just needed one letter. For some reason, the only word that sprang to mind was ‘TROUGH’, so I wrote it in, despite being sure that it was wrong, since it clearly didn’t parse, and didn’t make any sense given the clue.
    Had ‘THOUGH’ occurred to me, I would have written that in and been happier because I would have seen that it could just about be a synonym for ‘still’, even though I’m struggling to think of an expression where you could replace one with the other. But, had I done so, I still wouldn’t have been able to parse it.
    So, in crossword land, ‘horse’ in the clue simply equates to ‘H’ in the answer; how? why? – ffs, as they say these days.

      1. Ah, thanks. I’m aware of heroin being referred to as ‘H’, but not as ‘horse’; I’ve led a sheltered life.

        Looking at the other explanation offered, I suspect it’s more likely explained by the use of ‘H’ to identify horses in race books, but that in no way invalidates the heroin explanation.

        1. Yes either works. I have always assumed the heroine explanation is the right one on the basis that H as a direct abbreviation for ‘horse’ is not in the usual dictionaries (Collins and Chambers don’t have it), but I see now that it’s in ODE. So take your pick!

    1. H can stand for Heroin, which is also called ‘horse’ as a slang term. I think that’s how it originated.
      Edit: sorry, K, when I put this in your comment didn’t show.

  34. 31 mins, much of it spent on MANDOLIN and ALLEYN. Could our setter at least not have used the fictional inspector, much more well known? Especially as who knows that marbles can be alleys? Gripe over.

    1. I guess one man’s meat is another man’s poison. I have a keen interest in Elizabethan theatre and ‘ALLEYN’ went in straight away given the letters I already had and despite, apart from the final ‘N’, being unable to parse it because I had never heard of “alley” being a type of marble.

      Had the clue in some way pointed to ‘Inspector Alleyn’, I would have been stumped, not being a fan of detective fiction or TV dramatisations of it (with the exception of Morse).

      My wife would definitely agree with you though.

  35. I thought easier than usual for a Friday, 25 minutes, JABOT dredged from somewhere when ANJOU was in. ZINFANDEL biffed – a wine beginning with Z…

  36. Seemed much easier than a few of this week’s offerings apart from, of course, 29ac which, like others, done for me so a DNF. Sort of agree with GideAndre in that an otherwise fairly straightforward puzzle rather turns on one pretty obscure clue. If the clue was part of a general stinker of a puzzle then fair enough.

    Being doing this for only a little while (compared with others) and must have come across SPEEDWELL at least three times (including with Veronica). It could be my first chestnut!!

  37. I have a friend whose aunt used to live in Alleyn Park Road in Dulwich next to the College and in whose house I stayed several times so ALLEYN was entered with confidence. Alley as a marble only rang a very vague bell. Growing up in the North East I seem to recall we used to call marbles “liggies” or something similar. Rolling small balls of glass in the dirt for pleasure – them were the days 😏 …

    In spite of knowing the tragedian I struggled with this puzzle. I thought the little women were Meg and Joy so like others tested some unlikely place names before persuading myself that Jo was a little Joy …

    Embattle also took far too long, Attlee being one former PM whom I clearly cannot readily bring to mind.

    Being a Patrick O’Brien fan made CORSAIR close to a write in and SPEEDWELL was a flower I knew in contrast to the one earlier this week that gave me some grief.

    Thanks setter for an excellent puzzle and Jeremy for filling my knowledge gaps.

    Time: 50:02

    1. When I played marbles as a kid near Glasgow the fancy marbles were called taws, never heard of alley in that regard. Seems alley comes from alabaster which presumably gives them the creamy colour?

  38. I was pleased to finish on a Friday. I am usually too knackered after golf to put up much resistance but the course was waterlogged today. 29a was the last to fall and was a bit of a guess.

  39. Same DNF as all the others who’d never heard of a marble being called an alley. I didn’t play marbles, and when I’d given up trying to think of a tragedian called Edward something, I even tried looking for a synonym for marble and, guess what, alley didn’t appear! What’s even more annoying is that I have heard of Edward Alleyn, as he founded both of the other schools in our Dulwich trust – I went to James Allen’s which is the sister school to Dulwich College and Alleyn’s (now co-ed, then a boys’ school). But it would never have occurred to me that the setter would use such an obscure person – I also considered Albee. The rest of the puzzle was perfectly fair and quickish. Although I didn’t remember JABOT, the clueing was clear enough.
    PS I missed the pangram!

  40. It seemed a bit odd to call the Equator important. OK, major, significant, or something. But important? I took 46 minutes and finally entered CORSAIR and RETAINER without understanding how they worked, and was surprised to see that they did, somehow. Not that in retrospect they were really difficult, though. Was also a bit uncomfortable with EARRING since the wordplay seemed weak, but there it was. ALLEYN entered in vague knowledge of both.

      1. More seriously, “significant” is a definition of “important”, but it does feel a bit loose to me as well.

        1. I too feel that the equator line is not truly important. If you are near it, it is hot (unless you are at the top of Mt Kenya or in Quito,) but the line itself???? Just a mark on a map.

          1. Whatever else it might be, it is NOT just a line on a map!
            Heavens, you might almost think folk don’t eve realise they live on the only barely habitable surface of an oblate spheroid!

    1. Well, the Equator would be considered important by geographers, especially cartographers.

  41. I haven’t read all posts (there seems to be a plethora today, possibly a sign of a good puzzle?), so forgive me if I’m repeating any of them.
    A DNF, my nemesis being ALLEYN. I thoroughly enjoyed this nevertheless as, being a Friday, I anticipated a toughie. I heroically avoided all temptations to aids, and worked my way steadily, with measured analysis which somehow got me through. (Crossword solving is not necessarily a rational process.) Until 29 across. Felt it must somehow involve ALBEE, and in the end I had resort to aids. But neither Wikipedia nor Chambers app revealed anything to do with the actor, director or marble (unless one knew the answer already) so I couldn’t even fill it in.
    Nonetheless an enjoyable experience all round. Thanks to all. I’ll read the blog properly now.

  42. I didn’t know MANDOLIN as a cutter, and JABOT was unfamiliar, so despite the easy wordplay I didn’t enter it until I got ANJOU. I thought many clues quite straightforward, but I abandoned it after 45 minutes with ALLEYN unsolved. After 5 minutes of staring there was no point persevering.

  43. Surprised myself by working out my unknown last 2 in from wordplay. MANDOLIN the ALLEYN. Only knew the musical instrument, but did know alley as a marble. 20:28. Thanks setter and Jeremy.

  44. A shade under 30 minutes. Possibly the first week I’ve completed all the Times puzzles, although this wasn’t without its gnarly bits. I assumed there was someone called Veronica Speedwell(!), and had never heard of Mr Alleyn, but the marble rang the vaguest of bells. Also came close to inventing the BANDOLIN before forcing myself to sort out the parsing.

    Thanks both

  45. Bottom half (except ALLEYN) and long ones went in smartly enough. Winkled out the rest, but ALLEYN remained unsolved.


  46. 34:35 – LOI ALLEYN. Pleased to finish w/o aids as there were several unknowns for me that had to be deduced from wordplay & checkers – JABOT, SPEEDWELL, NORMA & ALLEYN. Got both long central downs quite quickly so that helped get me started.

  47. 20.47

    ALLEYN sprang to mind but was a bit of a punt and I tend (quite a habit in fact) to agree with Keriothe about the clue.

    Otherwise, thinking of JOT unlocked the NE included the duchy.

    Ta Jeremy and Setter

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