Times 28751 – etre ou ne pas etre


An outside-in solve for me, without a few minor difficulties. I did not (consciously, at least) know the name of the play, and took my time dragging the bird to memory (despite having cottoned the ‘migrant’ idea early). 13ac and, eventually, 14ac went in with a shrug. And I had to  look up the painter, de rigeur.

I would guess that anybody getting the 1s, 4ac, and 23dn immediately, then relying on checkers to speed things along as I did, will have found this on the gentler side.

Definitions underlined.

1 Steep rocks traversed by snoop (6)
PRICEY – ICE (rocks) in PRY (snoop).
4 Perhaps one’s undoing last of aspirin, being sick (7)
NEMESIS – N (last of aspirin) + EMESIS (the act of vomiting).
9 Handy source of opposition? (5)
THUMB – CD, the thing on your hand that allows manual opposition.
10 Almost relax with daughters round about, looking after them? (9)
CHILDCARE – CHILl (relax) + D (daughters) + CA (circa, round) + RE (about).
11 Foolishly canoeing across river, not having had instruction (9)
IGNORANCE – anagram of CANOEING containing R (river).
12 Something greater than family selection from menu (5)
ORDER – double definition; one step up from family on the taxonomical hierarchy of living things, and what you might do in a restaurant.
13 Chum’s pants (4)
TOSH – double definition, both informal British, but I’ve never seen either of them in the wild. A casual address and word meaning ‘nonsense’.
14 A mail line including hotel’s address (10)
APOSTROPHE – A + POST (mail) + ROPE (line), containing H (hotel). Apparently a passage of a speech or poem addressed to a person.
18 Unmanageable figures with no opening within reach (10)
CUMBERSOME – nUMBERS (figures) in COME (reach). In my (admittedly feeble) mind, ‘come’ needs ‘to’ in order to make sense in a substitution test.
20 Some power painter has to dismiss Monet’s water (4)
WATT – WATTeau (French painter) missing ‘eau’ (French for, Monet’s, water). I’m sure, without any evidence to support my claim, the breadth of the French language (and others) we are supposed to know has been increasing since I started these; no complaints here, just saying). The unit of power.
23 A jackal is one to preserve primitive instincts (5)
CANID – CAN (preserve) + ID (primitive instinct).
24 Strange argot comprehended by reliable proxy (9)
SURROGATE – anagram of ARGOT in SURE (reliable).
25 A link ties “diabolical” and its opposite (9)
26 Shoe with a lip (5)
WEDGE – W (with) + EDGE (lip).
27 Last playsone of Beckett’s (7)
ENDGAME – double definition, last moves in chess and the title of a Beckett play. I had a long think about how to defend ‘plays’=’game’, before the more obvious interpretation landed in my PFC.
28 High vault full of metal (6)
STINKY – SKY (vault, the verb) containing TIN (metal).
1 Flag-waving in the vicinity of disturbance captured by photo (9)
PATRIOTIC – AT (in the vicinity of) + RIOT (disturbance), all in PIC (photo).
2 Tropical lizards inhabiting Antiguan ash-heaps (7)
IGUANAS – hidden in antIGUAN ASh-heaps. First time I’ve been leapt at by an iguana.
3 Prepare for cruise with letter on outside of trunk (6)
EMBARK – EM (m, random letter) + BARK (outside of trunk).
4 Upsetting competition for Perrier is not wise (5)
NAIVE – reversal of EVIAN (rival for Perrier).
5 Wine region, note, preserving essence of vin ordinaire? (8)
MEDIOCRE – MEDOC (wine region) + RE (note), containing middle letter of vIn.
6 Rise of the Joker (5-2)
STAND-UP – double definition. Or maybe a cryptic definition. Je ne sais pas.
7 Blacken or scorch outside, medium inside (5)
SMEAR – SEAR (scorch outside), with M (medium) inside. Top clue.
8 School introducing new software for some hard stuff (8)
SCHNAPPS – SCH (school) before N (new) + APPS (software).
15 Wells found here supply tree moss (8)
SOMERSET – anagram of TREE MOSS.
16 So French to be receiving kiss, Monsieur, see (9)
EXTREMELY – ETRE (French verb, to be) containing X (kiss), then M (monsieur) + ELY (see). Very clever and original – my COD.
17 Review volunteer fighters once admitting death in hostile campaign (8)
VENDETTA – VET (review) + TA (volunteer fighters once), containing END (death).
19 Humans relying on replacement of outsiders with qualified doctor (7)
MANKIND – bANKINg (relying) having its outermost letters replaced with MD (qualified doctor).
21 Seaman with forward letting go (7)
ABANDON – AB (seaman) + AND (with) + ON (forward).
22 Show gusto around duke, wife and migrant (6)
GODWIT – here’s what I think: GO (show, informal US, a chance) + IT (gusto, energy or verve), containing D (duke) and W (wife). Or, more likely, as below, GO IT (show gusto). Not a phrase I’ve ever heard. A bird that undertakes some astonishing migrations.
23 Grand house excludes liberal section of society (5)
CASTE – CASTlE (grand house) excluding ‘l’ (liberal).
24 County that’s not so forthcoming to auditors (5)
SHIRE – sounds like “shier” (not so forthcoming).

112 comments on “Times 28751 – etre ou ne pas etre”

  1. I dozed off a couple of times briefly, so don’t have a time, but it took a lot of time even when conscious. I biffed VENDETTA & MANKIND, never parsed them. I don’t think I knew the chum meaning of TOSH. Definitely didn’t know EMESIS, but with ’emetic’ it was likely; the checkers helped, of course. I remember reading, in the proceedings of the Virginia convention to ratify the constitution, a delegate in mid-speech asking his fellows to allow him to apostrophize Liberty, and he did: “O Liberty!” yada yada. My favorite APOSTROPHE is from an anonymous 19th-century poet:
    Inoculation! Heavenly maid, descend!
    I took GODWIT to be DW in GO IT (show gusto). ODE sv go it: act in an energetic or dissipated way.

      1. Sadly I thought it might be GO AT (which I see is in Chambers as “attack vigorously”, which seems to fit “show gusto”), and invented the GODWAT instead of the unknown GODWIT.

            1. GODWAT wins today’s DAFTA – a joint award it would appear….

              The judging committee applauds in particular the clear demonstration that obscure bird names are a bloody nightmare.

    1. Thanks Kevin – never heard that phrase and couldn’t justify it with my (Chambers) dictionary. Blog updated.

  2. Well, 1ac 4ac 1dn straight in – EMESIS like Kevin back-formed from emetic. 23 dn in on first read much later. But even so, very slow and tricky. Mostly through unknown GK – Watteau forgotten since last time, apostrophe as address, tosh as address, order w.r.t. family, wedge, abandon (verb?) as letting go (not a verb?), anything French (though I knew all today’s), and misreading county as country. I had GODWIT as GO IT informally for show gusto, again like Kevin. Remebered the bird from last time when I looked it up – one flew non-stop from Alaska to New Zealand, tracked by satellite.
    Relief to finish all correct, thanks setter and blogger.

    1. The GODWIT again! O alack!
      Which flies its infeasible track
      But we really don’t know
      How far it could go
      With no radio strapped to its back

      1. No need for a strapped-on radio-thing
        To report on the godwit’s voyaging.
        As vouched for by Isla3
        Our birdie’s gruelling journey
        Is monitored on satellite imaging!

          1. 5g is roughly 2% of the mass of a typical GODWIT, whether of the bar-tailed or black-tailed variety.

            The air speed of a bar-tailed GODWIT can reach 55 mph. This is significantly faster than the air speed of the European or African swallow, which is 20.1 mph.

            If you ever find yourself at Monty Python’s Bridge of Death, I hope you’ll find this useful

            1. For someone who claims not to like bird references, you are suspiciously knowledgeable Astro! I suspect fowl play.. admit it, you do love the little darlings really..

          2. Thanks, Isla 3, for explaining how that works. I was wondering a little how a single bird would show up on a satellite screen. I must apologize to Astro-nowt for doubting his description. I should probably delete my response to him but will let it stand as a testament to my denseness.

            1. No apology required – I really enjoy it when other folks have a bash at a Limerick.

              And actually satellite imagery is used for counting birds. Penguins to be more precise – although from memory, I think it’s something to do with assessing the typical area of ice that gets discoloured by their excrement, rather than spotting individual birds.

    2. ABANDON puzzled me too, but I guess it’s the noun sense, as in “with abandon” or “wild abandon”, and “letting go” in the gerund sense. (I’ve probably used “gerund” incorrectly there, but in a noun-y way, anyway.)

  3. The circumflex on “être” (outside the grid, that is) is de rigueur, William. (No être should go out without its hat.)

    I had to think a bit longer on this one than any other this week, if that’s saying anything. I did get distracted after finishing the left—not quite satisfyingly, with TOSH…—and slowed down a bit. Two things were just on this side of “obscure,” GODWIT (not totally unheard-of, I’m sure…) and (for this Yank) SOMERSET, both worked out from wordplay, so a nice workout there.

    But TOSH… damn, I figured “Chum” must mean a mate, but didn’t find that definition for TOSH, nor anything connecting TOSH to fish bait either. So it went it with a mighty shrug.

    1. Out of curiosity, Guy, in a French crossword, do they allow è, é, and ê to cross with each other?
      And taking this opportunity to agree with Wm that perfidious French seems to be increasing its footprint in the puzzle. Sad for me, who has German but not even please and thank you French.

      1. I’ll have to get back to you on that one. I’ve only dipped a toe into the fiendishly difficult (I am assuming even for Frenchies—instead of definitions, you get mere hints invariably phrased as puns) puzzle in Le Canard enchaîné—did finish one once! (Proudly photographed and sent around.) My guess is yes, though. Not putting the acute on a capital E is allowed in newsprint with tight linespacing, and “Etat” has its own entry in the Wiktionnaire as “Variante par contrainte typographique.”

      1. Well, but in the grid it doesn’t purport to be French. “ETRE or not ETRE?” is what you mean (just following my own practice of capping answer words or parts of them). That would still work. Even more of a pun then.

        Admittedly, I’m just splitting hairs. The accent wouldn’t appear in a French grid either. It’s less trivial to remember to put the first U in “rigueur.” Maybe I was triggueured. Ha

  4. 46 minutes was disappointing considering how quickly I completed all the clues on the LH side of the grid.

    The RH proved more challenging however. If only I had biffed NEMESIS when I first thought of it instead of assuming there surely can’t be a word EMESIS to complete the wordplay. The arrival of the final checkers convinced me it had to be correct, however unlikely. GODWIT, MEDIOCRE, ORDER, STINKY, SURROGATE and APOSTROPHE all delayed me further.

    TOSH, my only delay LH, came to mind once the checkers were in place and I knew both the necessary meanings.

    Despite the difficulties along the way, I enjoyed solving this quirky and amusing puzzle.

  5. 59:27 for me. quite happy with that as often over the hour for the trickier Friday puzzles. and this was tricky. I got thrown by the ‘a’ in the clue for WEDGE for a long time – not sure it’s strictly necessary. EXTREMELY satisfying to parse that clue correctly. Is TOSH perhaps a crossword only word (like PET yesterday)? I knew it in the sense of pants but a total guess as synonym for chum. thanks setter and W

  6. Well I couldn’t finish, gave up at 50 after trying everything I could think of for T-S- (including TOSH) and being unable to justify any of them (including TOSH). I really detest clues like that which require knowledge of some highly obscure usage (never, ever HO by me) with no wordplay to provide an alternative means to the answer. The rest of it I largely enjoyed though it was no walk in the park, NEMESIS, GODWIT, WATT and APOSTROPHE being stand-out challenges. William’s blog was most helpful to explain a few that were guessed with fingers crossed. Not convinced by GO IT (it just seems lame) but concur wholeheartedly with EXTREMELY as COD.

        1. I have never associated the word TOSH with ‘friend’. I always assumed it just meant something like ‘geezer’.

            1. ODE has the same (perhaps unsurprisingly):‘used as a casual form or address, especially to an unknown person’. Collins doesn’t have it at all. Only Chambers equates it with ‘friend, chum’. I’m not sure I agree – I would have said that ‘hello tosh’ is closer to ‘hello fella’ than ‘hello mate’ – but it’s an unfathomable question!

                1. Indeed. So in the phrases ‘hello chum’ and ‘thanks you are a real chum’ the words ‘chum’ and ‘chum’ are not synonymous!

                    1. It certainly doesn’t! But it’s a more interesting thing to ponder than the stuff I’m supposed to be doing this morning.

      1. Were the ads in the 80s? I remember them, but it’s rather odd that modern white goods were advertised using slang used lads loafing on street corners in the 50s, is it not?

  7. 35 minutes, the first 15 or so getting not very far, then went and made myself a cup of tea, and then sitting back at the xword with my tea was suddenly flying along (relatively speaking). It’s interesting how a break can free your mind up. Suddenly the names of migrant birds and things from my school biology classes were flying into my mind!
    Good puzzle I thought in the end.
    Thanks setter and blogger.
    PS yes as Flashman says essence of vin is I not V

  8. 17:55. This was of those days when I was pleasantly surprised to discover I had everything correct. MANKIND and ENDGAME were unparsed and whilst TOSH for pants seemed OK I didn’t know it for chum. But it was GODWIT that concerned me the most. I thought it was the name of a bird but couldn’t equate GO IT with show gusto. Indeed I thought that DO IT sounded more likely to mean show gusto, so considered inventing the DODWIT. Finally I went back to my first instinct and submitted fully expectant of an error which never came.

    1. I followed the same logic as you with GODWIT, which I have vaguely heard of, but birds are a bit of a blind spot, so I decided that perhaps there was a DODWIT, which fitted better with the parsing for me. Hey ho.

  9. Talking of exotic birds, we were visited by an example of the species during the week. A juvenile crested goshawk crashed into the glass panel that surrounds our second floor rooftop.

    My wife was sitting up there at the time (dusk) and came downstairs very excited to tell me there had been a bang and a bird was crumpled up with its tongue hanging out of its mouth but its heart was still beating.

    I went up without my glasses and began to deal with it the way I have learnt to deal with the pigeons and sparrows that meet their end in this way. With the first touch of the soft broom on its feathers, the goshawk leapt up and proceeded to remain in exactly the same position for the next 16 hours.

    When I went up at 10 the following morning to see how he was doing and retrieve the bowl of water I had left for him, he waited till I was within perhaps five feet of him, then flew off into the woods.

      1. We had black silhouettes of some kind of hawk to affix to windows to deter grouse from crashing into kitchen- happened twice before we got wise.

  10. 43 minutes with LOI GODWIT, parsed as others with DW inside GO IT. I do remember TOSH meaning mate or pal but I’ve not heard it for many a long year. COD to MEDIOCRE. I wish I was that good. A tricky one. Thank you William and setter.

  11. Enjoyed this one, apparently somewhat UK centric for once, judging by some of the early comments.
    No difficulty with Tosh, being old enough to remember Alexei Sayles’s memorable Toshiba ads…
    Nho emesis, but it is only a small leap from emetic.
    Yes I agree that we seem to need greater knowledge of foreign languages than once we did; but I think there has been a concomitant reduction in Latin and Greek required knowledge. Thankfully..

    1. Think it was Ian Dury’s voice in the ads in a parody of Alexei’s ‘Hello, John, Got a new motor?’.

    2. I worked on the petrol pumps in December 1979 during a periodic oil crisis. In those days it was not self-service. I lost count of the number of names customers would call me in order to get me to serve them first: Bob, Jim, John, Mate, Ron, Dave, Tod, Bill, Tom…the list goes on. But the most memorable was Tosh.

      No one ever called me by my real name, so on my last day I corrected one fellow and told him my name. He looked at me as if I was mad.

      1. Driver to passing pedestrian ” Excuse me John, how do I get to Camden High St.?”
        “How did you know my name was John?”
        “Just guessed it.”
        “Well guess the way to Camden High St.”

        1. I’d have probably been punched in the face if I’d said something like that. We’re talking Crawley!

          1. I certainly wouldn’t have tried it in Wandsworth and it’s unlikely to arise here in Poitiers .

  12. 16:46. Another who got EMESIS from EMETIC. As for APOSTROPHE, I ‘d forgotten that meaning and thought the clue was referring to what the punctuation mark in “hotel’s” is called. Doh. LOI SMEAR. MANKIND went in unparsed. Thanks for explaining in the blog William and thanks to the setter for the neat puzzle.

  13. A bit like yesterday a few answers confidently put in after totally wrong parsing (hotel’s APOSTROPHE, …GAME somehow =plays). Also, again, my lack of decent French meant EXTREMELY was a biff, though I did get WATT(eau) fairly easily, (even I “kneau” that). TOSH I knew as pants, but not as chum… I had forgotten the Toshiba ditty. GODWIT I’d heard of but not sure where, though assumed a bird, so in it went! Around 55′ for all that. Thanks William and setter.

  14. Sneaked in in just under 30 minutes, and sneaked out again sheepishly realising I’d forgotten that those versions of SMEER and SEER take A.
    I had quite a decent shot at the County with SLIGO: something less forthcoming would be a SLY GO – now that’s clever! I also exhausted my list of Wells – Tunbridge, Builth,
    Llandrindod, and a few more I’d forgotten – before realising it was just Wells at the last.
    APOSTROPHE as address I learned quite a few years ago in a lengthy debate on this site, the sort that means you don’t forget. Clearly I need more of those.

  15. 12:02. Tricky one, and mildly annoying in places. TOSH is a noun, ‘pants’ is an adjective. ‘Come’ doesn’t (with out ‘to’) mean ‘reach’. Got through it all in the end, with the SE corner proving the hardest to crack.

      1. You can often substitute nouns and adjectives and retain the overall meaning (this food is muck/disgusting, the tea is dishwater/weak) but that doesn’t make them synonyms. Or to put it another way the substitution test is necessary but not sufficient.
        On reflection though ‘pants’ does in fact have a noun form. ODE gives the example ‘he thought we were going to be absolute pants’, where the perfectly grammatical use of ‘absolute’ rather than ‘absolutely’ is the giveaway.

        1. Do the two words in the definition have to be synonyms of each other, AND the same sense? Or just synonyms of the answer, which might have multiple senses: e.g. SET can be noun/verb/adjective/present participle/past participle and… maybe more? There was a clue a few years back “Register for work (4)“, the answer was TILL: (cash) register = till, a noun; work = till, a verb. Neither register or work are synonyms, and one’s a verb and one a noun, but the clue works for me. No-one complained on the day.

          1. No, certainly not. But in that case you have a word (TILL) that is both a verb and a noun, defined separately as first one, then the other. My objection to TOSH was that it is a noun, whereas ‘pants’ is an adjective. On that basis you can’t define one as the other. I subsequently realised that ‘pants’ can, in fact, be a noun, so it’s fine.

            1. You’re right, sorry. I parsed the clue without a second thought having pants as a noun for tosh, and a hopeful guess that maybe chum = tosh in English slang.

  16. I completed this one in about 15 minutes, which is very quick for me.

    The one that held me up, my LOI, was ‘TOSH’. The meaning of rubbish, tat, is still just about extant and as soon as the word sprang to mind, I was sure it was the answer. but ‘chum’? Then I remembered that in my childhood (which was a very long time ago), someone might be addressed as ‘tosh’ – it wasn’t a mark of friendship, rather one of contemptuous dismissal to a stranger; so, if it is a synonym of ‘chum’, it is only in expressions like ‘Oi, chum, why don’t you clear off?’

    Maybe it’s regional too? I’m from the south-east.

    Not a great clue in my opinion.

  17. I started well, but the hit the tricky ones. Like vinyl1, many entries were total guesses. Couldn’t make sense of CHILDCARE, though I did see CHIL(l). The problem is I’ve never seen a single D clued as ‘daughters’. It’s not in Chambers, so I was looking for two Ds. Some pretty vague definitions as well.
    55 minutes.

    1. Interestingly though the equivalent entry for s is ‘son(s)’.
      Similarly, for s ODE says ‘(in genealogies) son(s)’. For d the equivalent is ‘(in genealogies) daughter’. The example it then gives is ‘Henry m. Georgina 1957, 1s 2d’, in which d clearly indicates a plural!

  18. 26:10. Toughest of the week and nicely put together. I think GODWIT has cropped up before somewhere – perhaps clued as a migrant as well. The being sick bit of NEMESIS was a new one on me.

  19. 47:20

    Not much enjoyed – the last three grids have all been a struggle for me, so glad to get this week over. Not so bad on the LHS – my Dad used Tosh quite a lot when talking to any of his six kids so no problem there. Less keen on the RHS which was like pulling teeth. NE went in before SE – didn’t help having bunged in VOLT instead of WATT (can never remember which is which and didn’t think of WATTeau). SURROGATE was hard, GODWIT was diabolically hard – GO IT? Really?

  20. ‘Go it’ rather than ‘go’ + ‘it’ for me and no problem with the godwit, which by happy chance I came across recently. APOSTROPHE in that sense I didn’t know, so entered this with a shrug. TOSH for mate also wasn’t known really, but I guessed it was OK, and tosh for pants was OK in the sense that there is an equivalence, but I’d never use either word. The odious ‘pants’ is nowadays increasingly, it seems, being used as an anagram indicator. 48 minutes with some misgivings over THUMB: does it really provide opposition?

    1. My AI assistant advises this although I already knew it: The opposable thumb is thought to have played a key role in the evolution of human intelligence. It is made possible by a specialized joint between the thumb metacarpal and the trapezium bone in the wrist. This joint allows the thumb to move independently of the other fingers, and to rotate so that its tip can come into contact with the tips of the other fingers. By allowing for more precise and dextrous manipulation of objects, the opposable thumb made it possible for early humans to develop new technologies and skills.

  21. Laid low for a time by assuming N-AILING but not too halting thereafter. Didn’t think much of ‘tosh’ for ‘chum’ and don’t generally think much of the new ‘pants’ meaning but there it is. Neat ’round about’ in ‘childcare’. Good to see Beckett’s plays still on the go. I suppose ‘going it a bit’ e.g. for someone overdoing things justifies the slightly unlikely ‘go it’. Not a bad puzzle but fairly low ww rating (wit/whimsy, the star criterion after the basic accuracy test). Re the last, having opposable thumbs was a giant leap forward for humankind.

  22. I am not at my best on a Friday but I just about managed a full grid to end the week, with the second half hour required to tease out the last few clues.

    Like others I was sorely tempted by GODWAT, imagining a nomadic tribesman of Saharan Africa or the Gobi Desert endlessly travelling the hostile plains. I eventually forced myself to widen my horizons, to wit the unknown bird revealed itself.

    Overall a challenging solve but there was nothing too obscure or anything unfairly clued. Thanks to the setter and blogger.

  23. 26.10 but in good company with GODWAT. Bit dense as I vaguely recognise GODWIT though GO IT wouldn’t have been easy to buy.

    Tough elsewhere as well.

    Thanks all

  24. DNF, defeated by the SW corner. Thought that 20a would involve removing ‘eau’ from a painter’s name and considered WATTEAU, but ruled it out as it looked so unlikely a name. Didn’t get anywhere near ABANDON, would never have equated ‘high’ with STINKY, haven’t heard of a GODWIT or ‘go it’ as an expression, and was thrown by the ‘a’ in the clue for WEDGE.

    Like joekobi above, I thought of ‘nailing’ for 4a before SMEAR, MEDIOCRE and STAND-UP pushed me towards NEMESIS, though even then I can’t remember seeing ’emesis’ before. I had to trust that an APOSTROPHE can be an address, I didn’t know TOSH as a chum, and I’m not convinced by reach=come for CUMBERSOME.

    A tough end to the week – kudos to everyone who solved this one.

    COD Iguanas

  25. 29:36
    After three successive DNFs, this was a much needed confidence boost. Enjoyably tricky with a good range of clues. Needed William to properly parse VENDETTA. No problem with “GO IT” . I remember seeing it regularly in the schoolboy fiction of Anthony Buckeridge and Frank Richards.
    Thanks to William and the setter

    1. I have vague memories of reading Buckeridge, and schoolmates of mine would have too. But I cannot recall ever being exhorted to ‘Go it!’, probably because my minimum distance was ten miles and so going it was beyond my compass.

  26. Well for me this was fairly easy, easier than yesterday’s because more “normal” for the Times.
    4a I started with NAILING which works for me (just) but doesn’t fit the crossers.
    13a If you’ve ever lived in Liverpool you will have been addressed as Tosh (assuming you are male.) I was there at Uni. I would say not pally but pretty neutral as chum can be. I never thought of fishbait for chum, fortunately.
    Didn’t worry that I didn’t fully understand 14a APOSTROPHE, but apostrophY didn’t work for me. Must improve my spelling.
    I’m pretty sure the 22d GODWIT was marked as a migrant last time here. No prob with ‘Go it’ and the D W were gimmes.
    5d not first, v, but essence, i, of vin, as pointed out above by flashman and SteveB.

  27. 33 mins. Another NAILING here which held me up, I could see it didn’t work but….
    TOSH, just a bad clue

  28. Off to a quick start with PRICEY, then the NW corner populated nicely, apart from TOSH, which went in with a shrug once the crossers were in. The NE followed, although I didn’t know the reqired meaning of APOSTROPHE and assumed it had something to do with the one in “hotel’s.” MANKIND, VENDETTA and ENDGAME held up the SW for a while, but ABANDON, EXTREMELY and WEDGE took some serious thinking. GODWIT came relatively easily as I knew of the bird, the DW was obvious from the wordplay, and GO IT seemed close enough for show gusto. WEDGE was LOI. 23:49. Thanks setter and William.

  29. All complete, all correct, but for some reason I didn’t love it. Similar feelings as others on the phrase GO IT. Also considered that daughters must require two ds in the answer. Surely “letting go” requires abandoning or abandonment. No problems with TOSH thanks to the advert.
    COD to THUMB. A brief and amusing clue that when you see it, you know it’s correct.

  30. A quicker solve on my part due to the US sports on TV during mid-evening solving hours last night taking less attention than the glorious baseball earlier in the week had done. I thought there was some clever wordplay, and I didn’t relish meeting the old Godwit again. Thx Wm, setter

  31. 49’36”
    Flew out of the stalls, stopped as if shot back straight, finished lame.

    Given it was clear after four furlongs that I’d finish at a trot, I was determined to justify the lot, which I did, finally.
    Raised an eyebrow at GO IT, knew apostrophe had a rhetorical meaning of some sort, and I parsed SKY=VAULT as the (celestial) vault.
    Got bogged down in the moss; first tried to shoehorn in SPARGHUM, then samphire, forgetting that it is seaweed, because I’d at long last got an M from cumbersome.
    Oh it’s wells as in Wells, the spookiest place I ever sang evensong. It was dark when we arrived, which didn’t help, and then in the dimly lit quire you’re sandwiched in by those two great x-shaped arches, looking like two enormous, ravenous, gaping birds of prey. Happy days!
    HR has already used ‘cracker’, so I’m going to call this a corking puzzle, with which I enjoyed struggling. Thank you setter and William.

  32. This seemed a bit more friendly than the typical Friday fare, but it still took me 46 minutes to complete. I too succumbed to NAILING at 4ac which was a serious impediment to clearing up the NE corner. I am sure Flashman is right about the parsing of 5dn. My first recollection of TOSH was when a refuse collector used it to address me when he came to empty the dustbin at my parents’ house. This must have been in the 1950s, in the days when dustbins were emptied on a weekly basis. I think he was being friendly. Overall a fair, but not especially exciting puzzle.
    Thanks to william and other contributors.

  33. 40.40 but missed out on tosh. Does that make me billy no mates? Other than that, I found this puzzle hard but fair and clever.

    Belated thx setter and blogger.

  34. Saturday night solve and 35’05”. Last one in TOSH. Knew the rubbish meaning — What a load of old tosh! was a common expression in my university days — and so had to assume the chum bit.

  35. Sunday afternoon solve, hope I’m not breaking some rule of TFTT etiquette by commenting this late. One or two good clues but rather too many unfinished ones I think. The “a” in 26a is spurious. I could accept “round about” for “CA” (10a) or “around” but then we’re stuck with “RE”. As with many I’ve never heard “GO IT” for “GO AT”. At least Watteau passes my “are they in the Art Book” test although I fear I may have walked straight past some of his work mentally muttering “boring” in my ignorance! Thanks for blog!

  36. Started (as a few others) with NAILING at 5a, so not a good move. I too get muddled between SHEER and SHEAR, so 7d also a bad move. My time was off the scale (had to keep playing with the new kitten – far more important!), with several NHOs (EMESIS -should have guessed), APOSTROPHE and that meaning of TOSH. Didn’t know that play of Becket’s, and although did Art History at Uni , had forgotten poor old Watteau, despite being aware that I needed to drop off the EAU! So all in all not so good for me , but enjoyed the ones I managed, especially THUMB and MEDIOCRE.

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