Times 28777 – Nothing to frighten the horses

Middle-of-the-road Monday puzzle. 20 minutes.

1 University church among least decorated in the city (9)
6 Take the initiative following quiet appeal (5)
9 A number of the upper-class left wing in secure employment (7)
TENURED -TEN U (of the upper class: say lavatory not toilet etc.) RED
10 Scientist entertaining wife in Harlow? (3,4)
11 Colour of house regularly seen (3)
HUE – H[o]U[s]E
12 Female group opposing — no good making agreement (11)
COVENANTING – COVEN ANTI N G (dictionary.com has n.g. for no good)
14 Chemical cover including aluminium (6)
15 What could be chained outside a foreign estate (8)
HACIENDA – A in anagram* of CHAINED
17 Small car you finally grab in retreat (8)
RUNABOUT –  [yo]U NAB (grab) in ROUT (retreat)
19 Hostile language behind traditional scripture (6)
AVERSE – AV (Authorised Version of the Bible) ERSE
22 Gerbil a gent’s mistaken for something much fiercer (6,5)
23 Cake, something squelchy sent back (3)
GOB – bog reversed; a gob cake is a chocolate cake, apparently. Is this what the setter is referrring to? Not really; both gob and cake can be used to refer to a mass of something, as known to most of us in ‘cake of soap.’
25 More frivolous  arsonist? (7)
LIGHTER – double definition
27 Indicator of love concealed by playwright (7)
POINTER – O in PINTER;  I understand his stuff as much as I understand Faulkner…
28 Cheerful boy being listened to (5)
SUNNY – sounds like ‘sonny’
29 Record rush to secure bit of gold in stream maybe (9)
DISCHARGE – DISC G in HARE; not enamoured by ‘bit of gold’ for G
1 Group in club meeting honoured companion (5)
2 Hide in study, getting secure, we hear (7)
CONCEAL – CON sounds like ‘seal’
3 Villain is protected by a supporter repeatedly? Nonsense! (11)
4 Beneath border one has salad plant (6)
ENDIVE – I’VE (one has) after END (border)
5 Tool — one wasn’t working (5,3)
6 The old man with initially weak touch (3)
PAW – PA W[eak]; paw as a verb
7 Maybe hate proposal made electronically? (7)
8 Belittle group of thieves — one wonderful to hear of (9)
DENIGRATE – DEN (group of thieves) I sounds like ‘great’
13 Polish rival his nan upset (4,7)
14 Plants rise up, as captured by Dutch artist (9)
HAREBELLS – REBEL in [Frans] HALS; famous for his ‘Portrait of a man’
16 Gathered in street before sinking in mire (8)
18 Figure on outside of horse is twelve (7)
20 Author said to be one making correction (7)
RIGHTER – sounds like ‘writer’
21 A good primate’s providing religious feasts (6)
AGAPES – A G APES; besides meaning Christian love, agape can refer to a meal early Christians took together
24 Put up with tedious fellow, man finally restricted (5)
BORNE – [ma]N in BORE
26 Go very cold when victory is denied (3)
TRY – [win]TRY


86 comments on “Times 28777 – Nothing to frighten the horses”

  1. 26.22 for me, would have been sub-20 but I hit a wall in the lower left with HAREBELLS (NHO the plant or the painter), SUNNY, NONAGON and RUNABOUT all proving elusive. Thanks to Ulaca for the useful blog, I share your reservations about ‘bit of gold = G’ and also I never thought of ABRACADABRA as meaning nonsense. This was mostly a fun crossword with some obscurities (COVENANTING, AGAPES) and some really clever clueing. MUSTERED and NONAGON stood out for me. To quote a long-ago Dylan lyric, tell y’maw, tell y’PAW our love’s a-gonna grow…

  2. 5:35 – zoomed through this one. I took GOB to mean the mouth, but a look at Collins shows that both CAKE and GOB mean a lump or chunk. Collins also lists ABRACADABRA as meaning nonsense.

    1. Thanks for that, George. I went through the same thought process and even the same Collins search, but my inebriated state after yesterday’s barbecue left me a little the worse for wear research-skill wise.

  3. I know “cake hole” means “mouth” so I just assumed it could be abbreviated so “cake” and GOB mean the same thing. I also never thought of ABRACADABRA as meaning nonsense, as opposed to a magic word, but Chambers has “gibberish” as a definition which means nonsense to me. Luckily I’d heard of HALS so HAREBELLS was about the only thing that would go in.

  4. 19:42. Not too difficult. When I finished this at 00:20 GMT I was 1/1 on the leaderboard; worth a screenshot anyway, even if (no surprise) I’ve come tumbling down since.

    I wasn’t sure about GOB for ‘cake’, going through the same thought process as Paul above, but George’s explanation clears it up. I didn’t know the non-magical sense of ABRACADABRA either or AGAPES as ‘religious feasts’. Frans HALS known from the “Laughing Cavalier”, ? another name for “Portrait of a Man”.

    1. You’re absolutely right, of course. In my boozy state, I stumbled across a painting of his at the Met called ‘Portrait of a man’. Actually, the burgher looked a bit like I felt – down to the bloodshot cheeks.

      1. No need to be too hard on yourself, boozy state or not. According to the Wikipedia page on the subject, at one stage of its life, when in the Marquess of Hertford’s collection in Paris, the “Laughing Cavalier” was listed as portrait d’un homme; I’m sure that’s what you were thinking of.

        1. Indeed, originally just described as “a man”; as people have pointed out, the familiar version of it is a much more memorable title, spoiled only by the fact he’s not actually laughing, and he isn’t a cavalier either.

    2. There are 2 different paintings by Frans and both are in Wiki under Laughing Cavalier and Portrait of a Man in a Wide-Brimmed Hat.

  5. 13:39, so lighter fare for me. I was aided by HALS appearing in the NYT crossword last week, though it still took me ages to get HAREBELLS. RUNABOUT was also quite difficult for me — those two clues alone took about three minutes.

    Nearly did not submit, because I was worried about GOB, RIGHTER, and the spelling of DENIGRATE. Expected a pink square somewhere, and was pleasantly surprised to have a green grid.

  6. Smooth sailing for three-fourths of this, slowed down in the SE. It was a bit hard to swallow GOB for “Cake” but I came to the same conclusion as George, and Ulaca in his edit.

  7. 40 mins.

    GOB/BOG was LOI. I had it as both referring to the mouth, I’m sure I’ve been told “shut yer cake!”. Cake of soap, but not gob of soap; gob of butter but not cake of butter?

    I was stuck on Holbein for my Dutch painter.


    1. “Shut your cake” is indeed a very unpleasant but in some lower circles accepted way of asking if someone would please be quiet

  8. 33 minutes. I was surprised as others by ‘nonsense / ABRACADABRA’ but it’s in Collins as a secondary meaning. NHO HALIDE but deduced it from wordplay and checkers and knew that a number of chemicals end in –IDE. Looked twice at GOB and DISCHARGE but sort of saw them eventually. Wasn’t sure at all of AGAPES but the wordplay and checkers meant it had to be.

    The Laughing Cavalier is in The Wallace Collection in Manchester Square, London. I was a student nearby in the late 1960s and often used to pop in for a browse around.

  9. 25′. With the H starter and the B, Holbein also came to mind (I’m in the middle of Mirror and the Light) then remembered he’s German. But HALS and REBEL came quickly enough to unlock the SW corner though I NHO the plant. Also assumed connection between GOB and cake, (we had cakehole recently?). And I’m sure I’ve also seen this definition of AGAPES recently, which was new to me at the time. Thanks Ulaca and setter

  10. Droop’d o’er the brows like Hector’s casque, and sway’d
    In silken undulation, spurr’d and ray’d
    With spiked quills all of intensest Hue.
    (A Vision of the Mermaids, GM Hopkins)

    20 mins pre-brekker. Simple, neat, tidy – except for Cake=Gob.
    Ta setter and U.

    1. Do you know C. Day Lewis’s ‘The Poet’? near the end:
      Oh, on this striding edge,
      This harebell height of calm,
      Where intuitions swarm
      Like nesting gulls …

      1. Hi
        No, I don’t know it, but I like the sound of it. I have printed it off to examine.

  11. 11:59. Didn’t cakehole come up as an answer last week? It was on that basis that I assumed gob could mean cake, though I see now that doesn’t work and that it is meant as in a “gob of soap” as others have mentioned. I submitted with some lingering doubt today, not having parsed NONAGON or TRY, but I’d figured they couldn’t be anything else.

  12. 14’40”, much delayed in SW and by DISCHARGE. Didn’t like GOB at all.

    AGAPE came up recently, and I commented, probably too late for many to read it.

    Thanks ulaca and setter.

  13. 28 minutes. Steady progress, delayed a little by RUNABOUT, DISCHARGE and AVERSE – where I took a diversion through linear A (language) plus VERSE (scripture) before it clicked. Remembered AGAPE as something Christian from its recent appearance, also blogged by Ulaca, so thanks for both meanings.

    I don’t think we’ve seen supporter=bra for a while and today two came along together

  14. 29 minutes with LOI TRY. I just assumed there was a GOB cake. Otherwise reasonably straightforward. New College was built in 1379 (it was new at the time) and I think Harlow pre-dates that. Hacienda my comments. Thank you U and setter.

    1. Old Harlow, so called, indeed predates even Domesday, but now looks much less dilapidated and worn than the New. The latter does have a remarkable collection of sculptures on its streets, including works by Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore, Elisabeth Frink and Barbara Hepworth, but for the most part they rather add to the impression of a place ravaged by the passage of time.

  15. Nineteen minutes, stretched out a bit by HAREBELLS where I’d been assuming I was looking for Latin before the English plant hove into view. Pretty straightforward top-to-bottom apart from that.

  16. I’m used to HOCUS-POCUS meaning nonsense, and so I wonder if ABRACADABRA has taken on a similar secondary meaning.

    I was racing through this looking for a fast time and didn’t properly stop to check whether SONNY or SUNNY was wanted. Unnecessary pink square for me.

  17. 24:49. I was just not with it all on this, getting stuck for a long time on ABRACADABRA and nearly all of the SW corner. I thought of HALS quite quickly, but HAREBELLS and the innocuous RUNABOUT were my last two in. I think I’ll be at the bottom of the leaderboard for the WITCH with something like 200. Thanks Ulaca and setter.

  18. About 15 minutes. Assumed GOB was cake as in cakehole, tried to fit Jean (for ‘Harlow’) in 10a before getting NEW TOWN, didn’t know the Dutch artist for HAREBELLS and hadn’t heard of AGAPES as feasts. Not too tricky otherwise.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Hue
    LOI Halide
    COD Hacienda

  19. Quick today but with all the uncertainties already mentioned .. abraetc, gob .. nice to see a HALIDE letting a wee bit of science in.

  20. DNF. Just couldn’t see MUSTERED. DNK HALIDE or HALS either, which didn’t help.

    Thanks u and setter.

  21. 20 minutes door-to-door, with a few unknowns/unknown definitions as highlighted by others above.

    Nothing too obscure though and all fairly clued. The last one in was HACIENDA which took far too long as I tried to make it much harder than it was.

    A nice warm-up to start the week so thanks to both setter and blogger.

  22. 12:30
    “Our troops are MUSTERED.”
    “What about Cleopatra, is she mustered?”
    “So I’ve heard.”
    (‘Carry On Cleo’)

  23. 48 mins
    So convinced was I that this was easy after the top of the grid went in quickly, I started bunging stuff in at the bottom and made such a mess it took another half hour to sort out. Ruined a perfectly good breakfast. Back to the Christmas cards.

    Thanks U

  24. No-rush 17 minutes, slowed in the SW corner particularly by NONAGON, which I got to eventually by trying to think of that word for a 12 year old, so not a teen, and thinking the world might have invented the non-ager. Well, why not: according to the OUP it has already invented rizz, which will please the late, great Spike Milligan and make next years’ Easter proclamation interesting.

  25. Not too bad, though a fat-fingered MSUTERED ruined both that and RUNABOST.

    TRY was LOI after I got a 99% complete message and I didn’t get it at all – so thanks ulaca!

    14:45, though 2 careless rather than not known pink squares.

  26. I managed this in about 20 minutes so it continues the trend of either all or nothing (or at least nothing much!). I was surprised at Gob but happy enough with Abracadabra – I think I was told once,rightly or wrongly, that the word can translate as meaning nothing? Thanks all!

  27. 05:45, so apparently right up my street. Paused briefly at GOB, but otherwise very straightforward, which is what I think everyone probably likes on a gloomy Monday morning.

  28. This felt tougher than I suspect it actually was, and my LOI took the best part of two minutes alpha-trawling. I thought GOB was one of the poorest clues seen here in quite some time.

    TIME 8:25

  29. 14:43
    Easy peasy generally. Got hung up on Jean Harlow for a while and spent a minute or two trying to make a word out of TRY plus V for victory.

    ABRACADABRA has give me a Steve Miller Band earworm.

    Thanks to Ulaca and the setter. “I wanna reach out and grab ya”

    1. I’ve got the LP somewhere with that song – I’ll have to dig it out – great LP.

  30. 18:26

    Having read on the QC blog that this was a fairly comfortable solve, I was mildly perturbed with only three in on the first pass of acrosses. However, it was one of those puzzles where it was fairly easy to pick up answers all over the grid. I thought of HAREBELLS and RUNABOUT long before writing them in, though I wasn’t convinced by ABRACADABRA until the last checker went in, which relied on educated guess HALIDE actually being a thing. GOB was another pencilled entry until BORNE went in – my LOI was DISCHARGE, not quite seeing how it worked even with all checkers.

    Thanks Ulaca and setter

  31. Was held up in the SW corner because of NHO’s HALIDE and HAREBELLS but all ok in the end.

  32. 22.17 A recent convert to online in Sydney -£1 a month for the first 6 months was tempting. I did not expect to take to solving on my phone, but find it ok. Some posts mention having to press submit, but the App responded with congratulations as soon as the last letter went in. Is doing it via the Times App different to another method?

    1. I’m a bit like you and never know if I’m actually a member of the Crossword Club. I use the app and when the puzles (Futoshiki, Kenken, Chess, etc) all appear there is a choice: one can just do the Times Cryptic, or go to the Crossword Club and get the option of the cryptic. They look slightly different, but the CC route seems a bit hetter and one gets that message at the end (either Congratulations or Unlucky). The trouble I have is that after about ten days the app fails to give anything but a blank page, so I have to uninstall and reinstall, which is a nuisance (calls to The Times resulted in nothing better).

      1. The Times app doesn’t submit to the leaderboard, and as you mentioned, tells you instantly if you’re correct. As far as I know, the app-only subscription is distinct (and possibly a bit cheaper) than the Crossword Club.

  33. 17.03

    Nothing to add. Temporarily stranded in the SW but seeing BELLS as a possible ending for the flowers unlocked the whole of the quarter.

    Thanks all

  34. 25 minutes on a crossword that presented few problems. I equated ‘shut yer cake-hole’ with ‘shut yer cake’. AGAPES seemed stretched and ABRACADABRA only suggests magic to me, so I assumed there was another meaning.

    1. It may surprise that AGAPES (pl) has appeared only once before, and it was in a Quick Cryptic. What may not surprise is that the setter on that occasion was Izetti.

  35. Pleasant crossword, except for confidently bunging in COBALT at 14 across (which fits the clue, by the way). That held things up for a while, until I saw a harebell.

    1. On first look it fits the clue; on second look it doesn’t: a COBT isn’t a cover to hold the Al 😉

  36. 6:01 but I can’t spell DENIGRATE. Drat.
    Add me to the ‘thought it was mouth’ club. I’m not sure GOB/cake passes the substitution test.
    Like others I was helped by the recent appearance of AGAPES.

  37. A pleasant start to the week, all done in 23 minutes. Unlike others, I was held up in the NW rather than the SW corner, having first put in BUNCH at 1dn, which not surprisingly caused a problem with 9ac. Luckily I spotted the error of my ways before it was too late. Disappointed not to find FIGHTER and BLIGHTER alongside LIGHTER and RIGHTER.
    Thanks to ulaca and other contributors.

  38. 26 on the dot, and relieved at that, despite a very promising start. Never heard of HAREBELLS nor HALS, with artists and plants being two considerable blind spots for me. Eventually dragged myself away from the tempting but unparseable HORNBILLS, saw REBEL (thank goodness the crossers were kind), and HALS sounded Dutch enough for a punt.

    Otherwise straightforward Mondayish stuff. MER at GOB, which I also got to through ‘mouth’. BENGAL TIGER was my pick, made me smile.

    Thanks blogger & setter.

  39. Didn’t properly parse RUNABOUT, so thanks. I thought “run out” was retreat, and didn’t like it as couldn’t find an “a”. Thought the “b” was finally grab. Also didn’t understand DISCHARGE.
    Like plusjeremy I was worried by GOB & RIGHTER.
    LOI TRY. Couldn’t see (win)TRY for a while.

  40. I got the correct Gob meaning (I didn’t do the cakehole puzzle, apparently, so I wasn’t primed that way), but I do think cake really means a certain kind of mass – a handful of mud is a gob, but it isn’t a cake until it’s dried.

    I think that we, as a group, should offer our revision services to the several dictionay publishers. Over the course of a couple years we’d hit just about every word in the language (and some in French), and if they’d just take our “what the ???” comments into their editorial revision process they’d have a MUCH better book in the next edition. Who’s with me?

    1. Good luck with that. Some time ago I emailed the OUP to point out (politely) that in the ODE the word ‘chenille’ was listed after and not before the word ‘Chenin’. I received an autoreply and have heard nothing from them since.

  41. I got a bit stuck towards the end with the HAREBELLS/HALIDE crossing. NHO latter, and I thought the former was an upwards plants, the whole being the artist. Began to doubt LIGHTER and SUNNY as I was also stuck on parsing TRY. Eventually used missing letter aids for 14D to confirm the others. Otherwise a straightforward run. No problem with GOB, parsed as ‘mouth’ – I’ve heard ‘shut yer cake’ enough not to spend further time on it. Is COVEN specifically female? I thought it meant a gathering of witches generally, rather than female witches.

    1. Without getting into dictionary definitions as I’m limited for time at the moment, I’ve always understood that all witches are female. But I’m aware one can’t rely on such assumptions these days.

    2. The first definition for “witch” in Collins is “historically, in mythology and fiction, a woman believed to practise magic or sorcery, esp black magic.” Merriam-Webster has “(especially a woman)” in the first definition but other definitions (more figurative) are exclusively for women. A male practitioner of the black arts is, of course, a “warlock,” and a coven can indeed include members of both sexes. Wikipedia: « The word “coven” (from Anglo-Norman covent, cuvent, from Old French covent, from Latin conventum = convention) remained largely unused in English until 1921 when Margaret Murray promoted the idea that all witches across Europe met in groups of thirteen which they called “covens”. »

  42. Very quick, and same unknowns/slowdowns as others. With one more: plants being a great mystery, I wondered if the Dutch artist starting with H was… name on the tip of my tongue… Heironymous. Of Bosch fame. Turns out I remembered Harebells from puzzles past.

  43. 12:19 but with a typo at HAREBELSS. Drat! FOI MOUSTACHE, LOI MUSTERED. Thanks setter and U.

  44. A nice easy start to the week, and I approached it with confidence with the heads up from comments in the QC that it was on the easy side. Same comments as others really in that the definition of ABRACADABRA surprised me, and I was unaware of the chemical HALIDE. Crossed the line in 27.03 which is speedy for me.

  45. 5 min. for the top half; another 25 for the bottom. I couldn’t accept Righter as an author and it took forever to see (s)he didn’t have to be one. Annoying how one can be stuck in the blind alley of a delusion. Surprised by the mealy plural of a Platonic love.

  46. Quite gentle, with just the SW corner causing difficulty, mostly because I really wanted 17ac to begin Mini-, and wasn’t up to speed 😉 with Harebell being yet another name for campanula/bluebell. Having looked at wiki, I am more than impressed by the attention to detail in Hals work – the fine embroidery and lace work fashionable at the time have been stunningly reproduced. Invariant

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