Times 28771 – Nope, he’s still at his post!

Time: 29 minutes Music: Chopin, Ballades, Earl Wild. I thought this was going to be an easy Monday when I saw a number of answers as the puzzle came out of the printer, but the some of the remaining clues proved rather formidable.     Knowledge and vocabulary are what you need to cut this puzzle down to size, and not every solver will have it.   The times in SNITCH so far are good, but perhaps not everyone finished. Now for a brief announcement concerning spam comments.   If you see a spam comment in a post, particularly one of the older ones, please use the Contact Us facility to report it.   These emails go to all five administrators around the world, and someone will see it and take action.

1 Street trader’s outstanding period plugging a type of eel (12)
  COSTERMONGER – C(O/S TERM)ONGER.   Yes, OS can mean outstanding as well as the usual Over Size, which wouldn’t work here.
9 Velocity in Tyneside transport system makes us anxious (5)
  NERVY – NE + R(V)Y.
10 North European became worried about current bargain (9)
11 Old PM cheers toothless types (8)
  EDENTATA – EDEN + TATA, Anthony Eden, that is.
12 Hunter’s sleeping-place with popular backing (6)
  NIMROD – DORM + IN backwards, which took me a disgracefully long time to see.
13 Canon entertaining bishops, perhaps, in apartment block (8)
  TENEMENT – TENE(MEN)T, as in men on a chessboard.
15 Time to pay bills from American: one retaining any number (6)
  USANCE – US + A(N)CE.    Grace period sounds a lot more friendly.
17 Unpleasantly sticky marks in stiff sticky earth (6)
18 Walk round English comprehensive mostly exuding calm (8)
20 Thin male bore (6)
  MEAGRE – M + EAGRE, the tidal bore.   I nearly put maugre until I remembered that doesn’t mean thin.
21 Scion temporarily unattracted to sporting expedition (8)
24 Carpet unknown in a place of worship (9)
  AXMINSTER – A (X) MINSTER, a bit of a chestnut.
25 Skimpy garment finally adopted by husband returning to India (5)
  DHOTI – [adopte]D + H + TO backwards + I from the NATO alphabet.   A rather busy cryptic for an answer I biffed and figured out later.
26 Large beam made from timber with a grant (9,3)
  BATTERING RAM – Anagram of TIMBER + A GRANT.   I was tempted by something BAR, but couldn’t get anywhere with that.
1 Vanity formerly present in most of metropolis (7)
2 Cloth worker supported by a surprisingly smart court officer (8,2,4)
  SERGEANT AT ARMS –  SERGE + ANT + A + anagram of SMART.   A classic lift and separate.
3 Alien nursing severe pain in African state (5)
4 Dullness small number found in second theatre award (8)
5 Hot drink served up, coming shortly (4)
  NIGH – H + GIN upside-down.
6 Old form of transport leaving area, thus lying outside (9)
7 Wedding attendant from NATO unexpectedly given CBE, say (6,2,6)
  MATRON OF HONOUR – Anagram of FROM NATO + HONOUR.   I had the of honour part, and still struggled.
8 Stick one’s nose in, hearing gong, perhaps (6)
  MEDDLE – Sounds like MEDAL in most dialects.
14 Notes from topless girl about capital raised (9)
  MEMORANDA – [a]M(ROME upside-down)ANDA.
16 Mariner prophet keeps at a great distance (8)
17 Caught burrowing animal, heading off for fight (6)
  COMBAT – C + [w]OMBAT.
19 Component of battery illuminated drone crossing island (7)
22 Journalist occupying hospital chair (5)
23 Bullock young kids raised (4)
  STOT – TOTS upside down – this may cause trouble if you don’t know the word.   I barely did.

72 comments on “Times 28771 – Nope, he’s still at his post!”

  1. Sometimes I actually do try to finish ASAP, though I’ve never timed myself by the clock. But other times I just work leisurely through the thing while not forgoing other attractions. Having seen Vinyl’s intro, I entered this one gingerly, first working a Down and a crossing clue in each quadrant. But when I had just the first R and the second A in SERGEANT AT ARMS, that went right in (I first heard this term in Bob Dylan’s “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”—which Vinyl clearly remembers too: “How they blackmailed the sergeant at arms into leaving his post”). After that, the pace steadily increased. I am (quite loosely speaking) a member of the order EDENTATA myself (since 10th grade… Appalachian childhood, y’know). The only NHOS were STOT and USANCE, my LOI.

    1. Bryan Ferry sings a good version on his “Dylanesque” album but misses out a verse or two.

  2. I finished without agony. EDENTATA was unfamiliar but plausible.

    STOT was unknown and implausible! Chambers says it’s from an Old English root. That surprises me, because I can’t think of any words that look remotely related.

    NHO USANCE, but the cryptic was clear.

  3. 20:29. I found this one challenging. Many unknowns that I had to work carefully through, but got there in the end.

  4. 25 minutes until USANCE did for me. I was distracted by the possibility of USONNE although it didn’t seem likely but I had trusted to wordplay to come up with the unknown ENDENTATA at 11ac and that had proved correct, so I went with it.

    USANCE has come up only twice before, in 2018 and 2011, when I also didn’t know it.

    EDENTATA is not listed in Collins and searching for it returns ‘Sorry, no results’, however it is mentioned in unbold italics (i.e. not as a derivative) under the entry for ‘edentate’ as the name of the order of mammals. It’s the same in the printed edition. COED and SOED treat it similarly but ODE gives it its own entry.

    Other than the above, I found this dead easy and had all the necessary knowledge.

    1. I remembered USANCE from one of those previous appearances; ditto for ‘edentate’, which in fact I flung in until I noticed that the clue said ‘types’ not ‘type’.

      1. Yes, I knew ‘edentate’ which has surely come up many times, but before I got to thinking about the plural ‘types’ I had realised that ‘tate’ could not mean ‘cheers’ whereas TATA…

        1. You reminded me of the epitaph:
          Here lies John Bunn
          He was killed by a gun
          His name was not Bunn, but Wood
          But Wood would not rhyme with gun
          But Bunn would

  5. Pretty easy, all done in 30 minutes. I guessed STOT (which I thought was a word something to do with moving sheep to the area they are meant to be until they stop straying) and I got USANCE from the wordplay as being more likely than USONNE.

  6. 14:55
    I rushed through this to get to the hospital on time (in a historic first in 45 years in Japan, I was in the doctor’s office 5 minutes after arriving at the hospital), so I biffed a lot without checking: MATRON OF HONOUR (like Vinyl, I had the OF HONOUR part long before the MATRON), BATTERING RAM, TENEMENT, NIMROD, MEMORANDA, COSTERMONGER (which inevitably brings to mind Gilbert’s police sergeant: “When the coster’s finished jumping on his mother,/ He loves to lie a-basking in the sun”). NHO STOT, and it’s not in ODE; if I had pushed the button again on my electronic dictionary, I would have got an E/J dictionary, which had it. Taishuukan often comes through when ODE fails.)

      1. Fine, thanks; sorry to have mentioned it, actually. I had a melanoma removed a couple of years ago, and see the dermatologist every 3 months (and get a CT scan every 6) for a check-up; so far, aside from one scary false alarm, nothing.

  7. Ditto everybody else re USANCE and STOT. For a while I had MAIDEN OF HONOUR which didn’t help but in the end I got there in 25.12. I was mainly held up in the COMBAT/MEAGRE corner but was pleased to see our hairy-nosed burrower waddle into the grid when the answer finally revealed itself. Anyway, it’s that time of day. I started out on burgundy but soon I hit the harder stuff…

  8. Might’ve been on a PB here if I’d known USANCE (which I at least had some confidence about via “usurer”) and STOT, and also hadn’t bunged in THONG on the basis of “skimpy garment”, the middle “O” I had and the H for husband. On the other hand, even with those hold-ups I managed to finish in 17 minutes, so I must’ve been pretty well on the wavelength!

  9. 32 mins with three unknowns worked out solely from wp, STOT,EDENTATA and LOI USANCE.

    Otherwise not too tricky but I had to dust off the old grey cells for a few.


    Thanks vinyl and setter. (PS you’ve missed out the second A, between ANT & TARMS in 2D, v)

  10. 19 minutes with LOI the unknown USANCE. My fingers were crossed for STOT although I couldn’t see what else it could be. It took me a couple of minutes to convert EDENTATE to EDENTATA. COD to EXTRINSIC. A gentle start to the week. Thank you V and setter.

  11. 14 mins, new PB by a minute I believe. COSTERMONGER went in immediately and the associated down clues fell in pretty easily on first pass. STOT and USANCE were NHOS but reasonable biffs with all crossers. LOI MEDDLE where I didn’t immediately spot the obvious homophone indicator so took up a minute or so.

    I suspect the lack of muses and musical terminology, my usual GK blindspots, helped. Thanks Vinyl1 and setter.

  12. 24 mins.
    Took a bit of courage to bin edentate in favour of edentata, but it had to be that according to the wordplay. Stot – oh, okay then.
    Thanks, v.

  13. DNF. I was in the same boat as Jack, considering whether the unlikely looking USONNE could be a word, and unable to come up with USANCE. It’s one where with hindsight I think I might have come up with it given time, but when I threw the towel in today I was nowhere near it.

  14. I rushed too much on this one. Threw in NERVE rather than NERVY which made EGYPT impossible. Finally sorted that but realised too late that I had failed to parse EDENTATE/EDENTATA

  15. DNF, defeated by USANCE – I always forget that ace=one so never considered it here.

    Had to trust the wordplay for EDENTATA and STOT, only parsed MEMORANDA after entering it, and didn’t parse BATTERING RAM at all. And I can never remember what a NIMROD is, apart from a piece by Elgar.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    COD Sergeant at arms

  16. 13:17. Another who hesitated over the unknown STOT, but it couldn’t be anything else, and stumped for a while on my LOI USANCE having rejected USONNE as unlikely. I knew EDENTATE so it was a short step to the ‘types’. As anyone who has lived there knows, the Tyneside transport system is the Metro, but that didn’t help here. Thanks Vinyl and setter.

  17. Grrr. Having survived the trials of EDENTATA, STOT and USANCE, I rammed in NIGHTRATE hoping it might be another yet unknown word meaning ‘current bargain’ (geddit?), with wordplay I didn’t understand. The result: a very fast time sunk by pink, which happens suspiciously often to me. I need a bit of Harry Kane’s sang froid in font of goal.

  18. 18:09. I was on a roll today, just 26 seconds off a personal best. FOI 1ac COSTERMONGER. I particularly liked the SERGEANT (cloth worker).
    A couple of unknowns – USANCE and STOT -constructed from wordplay. I sometimes used to look these up to make sure they were real words, but now I enjoy the frisson of fear pressing submit with made-up NHOs in the grid and the moment of triumph when they are right. Or, of course, sometimes not

  19. 14 minutes today for a relatively kind puzzle. I at least knew USANCE was a word, meaning much the same as usage and even use, the sort of word Shakespeare came up with when the iambic pentameter just wouldn’t flow (it is, too!). Took today’s more technical meaning on trust. Likewise STOT, which turns up in Mephistos when our esteemed setters have difficult 4 letter spaces to fill: I knew it (probably thence) as something a dodgy horse does, but again it’s take it on trust because there aren’t many climbing children you can get from the two Ts apart from TOTS. Can’t get them to do your chimneys, either. A brief pause at 17d wondering how CADGER meant a fight, before realising it was, in two ways, my favourite acronym, Waste Of Money, Brains And Time that was needed.
    Pleasant grid and a pleasantly forthright and honest blog.

    1. I like that wombat, might have to use it. In Australia calling someone (as opposed to something) a wombat has a completely different meaning: He’s a wombat – he eats, roots and leaves. Of particular import is the comma between eats and roots.

    2. Shakespeare did indeed. Shylock in The Merchant of Venice (spoiler alert: it didn’t end well for him):
      Signior Antonio, many a time and oft
      In the Rialto you have rated me
      About my moneys and my usances.
      Still have I borne it with a patient shrug

  20. No problems with this at all (STOT and USANCE NHO but easily constructed from wordplay) and since I took ‘only’ 19 minutes my guess was that the SNITCH was very low. Not really so: I can’t believe that I’m improving at my age — it must have just been an aberration. EDENTATA wasn’t a problem: Azed’s answers are often the class (genus? family? something else?). NIMROD known to Independent solvers as an incredibly difficult setter.

  21. 16 mins, mostly a case of see clue, write in answer. Even the unknowns like STOT were like that. Until USANCE, of course, where like others, I forgot about ace for one. No, I don’t remember it from previous crosswords either.

  22. Unoriginal, but another USONNE as last one in. Then looked up the word finder on _S_N_E and found USANCE, a word I’ve come across before at work. Bugger! STOT unknown but had to be; EDENTATE known (from crosswords) so EDENTATA no problem; MATRON OF was clear from the cryptic. One of the last in was COMBAT, totally surprised to see a wombat here. Tip: never hit a wombat driving your car, they’re heavier than if made of unobtainium, and twice as hard on the outside.
    Did enjoy it, though, great puzzle.

  23. A nippy 27.37 for me, well inside target, helped by the fact that COSTERMONGER went straight in. The corresponding down clues went in speedily and this set me up nicely. Like others, certain words were new to me, including STOT and EDENTATA, although in each case I had the vaguest feeling that I might have seen them before. My LOI was the same one that caused trouble for others USANCE, and I spent probably two minutes on it before I could concoct it from the wordplay.

  24. 21:26

    I biffed some answers without even finishing reading the clue, but got slowed by LOI usance. COD 2d.

  25. 7:07 Very biffable today (over 60%), to the point that most of the wordplay passed me by at the time. I’ve a vague recollection that we’ve had USANCE before recently, and we have plenty of STOTs up here in Scotland, but I agree the vocab was a bit more esoteric than usual on a Monday. Like others I was nearly caught by the teeth of the EDENTATE trap. COD to EXTRINSIC – that was one of the few that required attention to detail. Nice to be reminded of some classic Dylan!

  26. Expecting a Monday job and it turned up, found this straightforward as the long ones went in quickly. 14 minutes. STOT seemed familiar from before?

  27. 08:24, delayed mostly by the usual suspects, STOT and USANCE (the latter a little unfair with there being a perfectly likely looking alternative if you don’t know which one actually exists, luckily I chose the right one…)

  28. 35 with most of it going in quite easily but then held up by the unknown COSTERMONGER and inexplicably struggling with COMBAT with all checkers firmly in place. I just couldn’t think of wombat or a type of fight that would fit.

    Quite a few unknowns for me (USANCE, COSTERMONGER, EDENTATA, STOT) but all fairly clued so no complaints.

    The days of easy rides on a Monday appear to be over but the snitch is very green so perhaps it’s just me that found this chewy in places.

    An enjoyable solve so thanks to both setter and blogger.

  29. No probs today, usance a write-in, having actually dealt with bills of exchange in my days on the documentary credits desk. Stot rang a vague bell. One of my very favourite animals, (something of a role model, in fact), the sloth, is a member of the edentata.

  30. Not too bad, but an unnoticed ESTRINSIC slipped in due to laptop keyboard.

    STOT & USANCE as per above, I also took a while to see the wombat in COMBAT.

    18:37 but..

  31. I played STOT on Words With Friends last week, and my American opponent had to to ask what it was. I told her. “Bullocks” she responded, though it could have been a typo.

    I’m sure I’ve seen EDENTATA clued similarly fairly recently.

    The only unknown was USANCE, but I parsed it quickly and moved on.

    TIME 7:40

  32. 19:50 – fairly straightforward apart from USANCE, eventually reached by the same logical/sounds-more-likely route as others, and STOT, which I vaguely knew as a livestock term of some sort but couldn’t have defined or even remembered without the cryptic.

  33. I found this fairly straightforward, finishing in 20 minutes. Agree with others that some of the words were a bit esoteric, but they could all be extracted from the clueing. NHO STOT, and USANCE was known only from other crosswords. And I don’t recall any previous reference to MATRON OF HONOUR – I certainly didn’t have one at my wedding. A pleasant start to the week.
    Thanks to vinyl and other contributors.

    1. I had two Ms o H, my sister and sister in law, matrons by three and two weeks respectively. It was a busy month. For busy read hectic, especially for parents.
      I dithered over usance, having only met it as a synonym for usage or custom. Bunged it in on spouse’s confirmation that it is used in Bills of exchange. (As a set time for payment, rather than a period of grace, cf our esteemed blogger’s comment.)

  34. A range of NHO’s mentioned by others but all clued generously enough to not cause a problem… and it’s good to learn new words ( and then forget them!).
    Enjoyable puzzle.

  35. Like others I had to take STOT on trust and decide betweeen USONNE and USANCE, fortunately choosing correctly. COSTERMONGER was FOI. COMBAT was POI after a bit of thought, and the aforementioned USANCE was LOI. SERGEANT AT ARMS was familiar to me also from picking up Angel. 20:47. Thanks setter and Vinyl.

  36. DNF, saw that EDENTATe wasn’t plural, decided to come back to it or moan, but forgot both. Doh!
    Once knew a colleague called Stot (possibly with different spelling) and had looked it up at some point so knew it was livestock. In Wiktionary the def is:
    “stot (plural stots)
    (obsolete) An inferior horse.
    An ox or bull.
    (regional) A heifer.”
    so not bullock then.
    Felt the need to check USANCE, so another DNF then.
    Also took a while to find the wOMBAT.

  37. 19.33, once I’d parsed COSTERMONGER to my satisfaction (mostly by realising which O was part of the eel). Same NHOs as others, and was pleased to remember ACE for one – felt much more plausible than USONNE.

    Thanks to setter and blogger.

  38. Failed with Usonne (must remember ace as well as I, per, a etc…). Liked the cloth worker. Otherwise a steady Monday pace.

  39. Finished all correct in around 45 minutes. I know it was an easier Monday offering but very pleased to complete without the customary use of aids or early peeks at the blog. Luckily went for USANCE rather that USONNE and correctly guessed NHO STOT. DNK EDENTATA but sounded highly plausible when constructed from the wordplay. Happy days. Thanks all.

  40. Sorry to be pedantic (although I guess this is as good a place to be pedantic as any), but isn’t there an extra letter A in the clue and answer for SERGEANT AT ARMS to be mentioned?

    Thought I was doing OK this morning with everything finished apart from one clue in about 18 minutes. Finally threw in the towel a quarter of an hour later, inexplicably completely unable to spot either COMBAT or WOMBAT.

    I’ve been unable to access the Crossword Club on my android phone (error 403) since sometime yesterday, although working fine on my PC. Is anyone else having the same problem? Or any suggestions how to fix it? Thanks.

    1. I’ve had problems with my android in the past, which also shows up when trying to access comments. Various fixes tried including clearing caches and cookies but they dont always work. A few times I’ve reinstalled the Times app, which usually does work.

  41. 16:04 but…

    … failed through not seeing the TATA rather than the TATE – I rather hurried through that clue without stopping to admire the paintwork. Oh well – in company at least as more than a quarter of club solvers seem to have an error…

    Everything else was OK apart from the guessed USANCE which seemed a possible legal word…

  42. All OK in around 20 min. but the tata plural for an edentate would rather be for an edentatum and has anybody ever seen one of those? Better to have stayed with the known singular. Knew the words stot and usance and the given meanings seemed as likely as any. What a splendid – and foreboding – title matron of honour is.

  43. Well, I did finish correctly in 45 minutes, except for an annoying typo (NEGOTIAGE?). All the many words I didn’t know well, though, came out right and I understood why. So all in all I found this quite pleasant despite the pink square.

  44. Had to resort to aids for the unknown USANCE, having rejected USONNE. Annoying, as if I’d thought of ‘ace’ instead of ‘one’ it would have been the more natural choice. Other than that, no real problems with EDENTATA, or STOT, which I’m sure I’ve come across before. My MER, which no one else seems to have had, was with CLAMMY. I’m sure the setter was thinking of CLAGGY, which definitely has the sense of sticky and wet, whereas clammy is simply cold and wet to the touch. Cold porridge would be claggy, a cold forehead clammy. However, the parsing made CLAMMY the answer, but I was expecting comments.

  45. I too had a schoolfriend called Stott. And he was quite bovine, as I recall. 18’32” all up. COMBAT and MEAGRE the last two in. Much fun thanks.

  46. Disqualified following stewards’ enquiry.

    Solving on paper, staring at the impossible usonne, and my watch saying 31′, I thought that will have to do, then thought better of it and finally dredged up usance after 41′,  but no two bites at the cherry so a DNF.
    Very nice puzzle; thank you setter and Vinyl.

  47. Fairly straightforward and entertaining, save for TaTa for ‘Cheers’, which I had thought meant ‘thank you’ or just ‘ta’. I had associated TaTa with ‘goodbye’. Maybe I missed something?

    1. I think it is a variation of cheerio. A search ‘cheers goodbye synonym’ yields a lot of examples, mostly tagged as informal.

  48. Yesterday’s solve was suddenly interrupted, so I came back to this today. As per usual, all the tricky ones had metamorphosed into write-ins with the extra night’s sleep. Apart from Usance which, like others found, remained a tentative Usonne. Put the two next to each other and it’s obvious which one is right, so hopefully I won’t be caught out next time. Invariant

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