Times 28780 – a hidden pearl

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Time taken: 11:07

From the times of the first few people to finish, I suspect this is on the more difficult end of things.  In my first run through the across clues I only got four or five, did a bit better on a run through of the downs, but then the last few took quite a while. Nothing overly obscure, but a wide range of knowledge and tricks.

How did you get along?

1 Garage where favourite composer, leaving hydrogen, fills quota (6,7)
PETROL STATION – PET(favorite) then the composer Gustav HOLST, minus H(hydrogen) inside RATION(quota)
8 Deity entering principal UK island in attempt to annex? (4)
GRAB – RA(deity) inside GB(principal UK island)
9 Copy that is used by band famed saxophonist familiarly engages (10)
TRANSCRIBE – SC(scilicet, that is) and RIB(band) inside TRANE (nickname for John Coltrane)
10 Second church that looks to the west in Crosby? That’s lovely (8)
BECOMING – MO(second) and CE(church) reversed inside BING Crosby
11 Record-holder needs rest shortly before historic victory (6)
SLEEVE – SLEEP(rest) minus the last letter before VE(Victory in Europe, historic victory)
13 Early arrival taking in new books? Outstanding (10)
PREEMINENT –  PREEMIE(early arrival) containing N(new), then NT(books)
16 Legal institutions or pubs in north and south (4)
INNS – IN, N(north) and S(south)
17 What sewer may carry tests unit regularly (4)
ETUI – alternating letters in tEsTs UnIt
18 English team struggling with pitch showing understanding (10)
EMPATHETIC – E(English) then an anagram of TEAM and PITCH
20 11 is worn by a swashbuckling sort (6)
ARAMIS – ARM(11 is SLEEVE) and IS containing A, reference to the character from The Three Musketeers
22 Having been corrected, Chapter One divided circle (3,5)
PIE CHART – anagram of CHAPTER,I(one)
24 Day ran short during strike for final action (4,6)
LAST HURRAH –  THUR(day) and RAn inside LASH(strike)
26 Uncivilised type in New York, before noon disappearing (4)
GOTH – GOTHAM(New York City) minus AM(before noon)
27 Director from Left Bank originally visiting this French river that’s inundated factory (5,1,7)
CECIL B DEMILLE – L(left) and the first letter of Bank inside CECI(this, in French) and DEE(river) surrounding MILL(factory)
1 Proper treat organised for responsible individual (11)
2 Two rounds added to bill — that’s unacceptable (5)
TABOO – O,O(two rounds) after TAB(bill at a restaurant or bar)
3 January not starting sunny? Here a soaking’s possible (2,4,3)
ON THIN ICE – January is MONTH 1, remove the first letter, then NICE(sunny)
4 Resort missing out on a turn to shine (7)
SPANGLE – SPA(resort) then A removed from ANGLE(turn in a different direction)
5 Old man looking up relative point in orbit (5)
APSIS – PA(old man) reversed, then SIS(relative)
6 Altered realities figure in Bible (9)
7 Sharp point found by climbing mountain peak (3)
NEB  – BEN(mountain peak) reversed
12 Dressing Victor in ornamental plume? (11)
VINAIGRETTE – V(victor), IN, AIGRETTE(ornamental plume)
14 Me clutching booze, knocked back at one: clues initially incomprehensible (9)
ENIGMATIC – ME containing GIN(booze) all reversed, then AT, I(one), then the first letter of Clues
15 In London town, one acting badly after X amount of brandy? (9)
TOTTENHAM – HAM(one acting badly) after TOT TEN(the Xth amount of brandy)
19 Parisian pop installed in flat that’s decorated (7)
PAPERED – PERE(father in French) inside PAD(flat)
21 Singular act of slaughter leads to row (5)
SCULL – S(singular), CULL(act of slaughter)
23 Male hair product for a thinking man? (5)
HEGEL – HE(male), GEL(hair product)
25 In sound flood rescue vessel reveals bow (3)
ARC – sounds like ARK(rescue vessel)

69 comments on “Times 28780 – a hidden pearl”

  1. Never heard of PREEMIE for a premature baby. If I had one, I certainly wouldn’t call it (sic) that.

    Only saxophonist I could think of was Bird, so just gave up thinking of any others and bunged in the answer from ‘copy.’ The director was a giveaway for a cinephile. Thought ‘month 1’ was a bit feeble for January, but liked LAST HURRAH.

    24:25 – a decent workout with generous amounts of biffing

  2. We call these early arrivals ‘premmies’ rather than the nho ‘preemies’ here in west Oz, which made the parsing of 13a unfathomable – but what else could fit the definition?
    And I thought 23d could be an anagram of M and HAIR, leading me to the possibility that the biblical character HIRAM, king of Tyre, might have been thoughtful – until the final crosser fell.

  3. 22:30
    ODE marks ‘preemie’ as (N.Amer.) I couldn’t think of a saxophonist; didn’t help that I took ‘band’ to be TRIBE (having biffed TRANSCRIBE), so I was looking (not very hard) for a sax player nicknamed RAN (I knew (of) Coltrane, of course; even sort of knew he was called Trane). I also biffed EMPATHETIC, after spending some time thinking ‘English team’ might be EXI; and biffed CECIL B and PIE CHART. The H gave me HEGEL, and the G then gave me GOTH (after some time wasted thinking N__Y). Couldn’t parse ON THIN ICE, and I can’t say I care for the clue.

  4. Easier than yesterday, by far. I started with the last Down and the the last Across and worked my way up, finishing in the NE. TRANE was the first sax player to come to mind. Needed two crossers to get GOTH! Not sure I’ve ever seen APSIS.

  5. Nothing overly obscure, says glh, which was true for me too if you ignored aigrette, neb, apsis, preemie, ceci and a couple more besides. Like others I wasn’t crazy about ON THIN ICE and I thought definitions like ‘swashbuckling type’ and ‘thinking man’ a bit woolly, but otherwise this was a terrific puzzle with many challenges. I was pleased to do it in 22.14, a time which reflected biffing luck more than parsing skill and I owe a debt of gratitude to glh. Good to see John Coltrane achieving crossword immortality, he was the first sax player I thought of which helped me get TRANSCRIBE quite soon despite forgetting the scilicet thing.

  6. 41 minutes. My knowledge of The Three Musketeers is sadly lacking so an unparsed ARAMIS was my lucky LOI. Otherwise, most of the same unknowns as LindsayO and like ulaca, quite a bit of biffing went on to help me finish. Glad to avoid the potential NIB for the forgotten NEB trap at 7d.

    Thanks to George for explaining all the parsing.

  7. I completed this in 50 minutes but had two answers unparsed so I lacked a feeling of satisfaction when I eventually finished it. These were PRE-EMINENT and TRANSCRIBE. NHO PREEMIE nor of TRANE as the nickname of John Coltrane. I missed the full joys of ON THIN ICE, parsing it carelessly as {m}ONTH, IN ICE before moving on.

    I looked twice as SPANGLE as a verb and wavered between NIB and NEB as the sharp point at 7dn. I know BEN as a mountain of course, but is that the same as a mountain peak? Eventually I decided that BIN certainly isn’t so I’d better settle for BEN reversed to make NEB which I only knew as the beak of a bird.

    1. Me too – wavered between the unk NEB as an alternate spelling of the plausible NIB, and the unk BIN as an alternate to the known BEN. Unlike you, I guessed wrong.

  8. 13:22. Having had to get up at 5:00 this morning to catch a train to Brussels, I don’t feel entirely with it and yet I excelled myself going by the SNITCH. It helped that several clues were biffed where the parsing was tricky – CECIL B DEMILLE, TRANSCRIBE, PREEMINENT, ON THIN ICE. Good to see mention of the PREEMINENT team in North London, TOTTENHAM (the league table says different, but whoever took that as a meaningful indicator?).

  9. 40 mins on the nail. Like others, a number biffed and therefore unparsed. You know who you are!

    A number of enjoyable clues, TRANSCRIBE (didn’t know ‘Trane), TOTTENHAM & the director, once my feeble brain had worked out the complex wp in each case!


    Thanks g and setter.

  10. Webster was much possessed by death
    And saw the Scull beneath the skin;
    And breastless creatures under ground
    Leaned backward with a lipless grin.
    (Whispers of Immortality, Eliot)

    After 30 mins pre-brekker, I was left with the Outstanding one and I gave up. Clearly a word for early arrival, with an N in it, and NT on the end.
    Lots to like, but lots not to, inc Preemie.
    Ta setter and G.

  11. It takes a lot to make me annoyed about a crossword but TRANE and the truly dreadful PREEMIE just might…

  12. Much Biffing in the Marsh.
    Gotham/New York, an American who died in 1959, the nickname of another American who died in 1967 and US slang (not indicated) put this crossword firmly west of Ardnamurchan Point.

    1. Add Etui – a standard of the US puzzles, where it’s a blessing to a setter in a puzzle where every letter crosses.

  13. 18:04 finishing with PREEMINENT. Couldn’t parse ON THIN ICE, TRANSCRIBE (DNK the saxophonists nickname), ARAMIS or SPANGLE and NHO PREEMIE, so a bit unsatisfactory for me. Thanks George and setter.

  14. 17:05
    Much biffing in Lincolnshire as well.
    Only yesterday I found myself quoting the mixed metaphor from ‘The Happiest Days of Your Life’: “You’re playing with fire, skating ON THIN ICE. And if anything happens to upset the applecart, someone is going to lose his bread and butter”.

  15. All correct in 30 minutes. TRANSCRIBE and VINAIGRETTE were biffed in, not knowing John Coltrane’s nickname or the plumage. COD to ARAMIS, despite it being linked to another clue. Do you swash your buckle or buckle your swash? I’ve never known. Enjoyable puzzle. Thank you George and setter.

  16. 45′. Much the same experience as others. Too many half-parsed (did I spell that right?) biffs that only came to light, sometimes unsatisfactorily, once I visited here. NHO TRANE as Coltrane, don’t want to hear PREEMIE again, and first time hearing AIGRETTE. Biffed ETUI from wordplay, even though we had it somwhere last week (QC?), but I hadn’t picked up the correct meaning of “sewer”. NHO NEB and had “nib” initially which didn’t parse till “ben” came to me, so thankfully biffed from there. The director was an obvious write in though again only partly parsed (French not my second language). Thank you GLH and setter.

  17. DNF, defeated by the unknown ARAMIS. Bunged in PREEMINENT once the checkers were in place as I didn’t know preemie; hadn’t heard of the aigrette ornament for VINAIGRETTE; couldn’t parse TRANSCRIBE and didn’t bother to parse LAST HURRAH; relied on the wordplay for APSIS; and tried to justify ‘skill’ for 21d before getting SCULL.

    I parsed SPANGLE as removing the A from ‘spa’ then adding ‘angle’, though I guess it doesn’t matter.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    COD Taboo

    1. That’s how I (probably most of us) parsed it too. Otherwise, the syntax is rather unwieldy, even for Yoda.

  18. Still getting used to solving on my phone, so a fat fingered DNF after about 22 minutes. Could FFDNF catch on?

  19. Not keen on this one. Nho “preemie” which is an infelicitous way to welcome a newborn. Nho Trane, the only Coltrane I knew (and admired) was Robbie.
    I suppose we should consider ourseves lucky it was a petrol station and not a gas one.
    The “peak” seems superfluous in 7dn. Unless it is intended to be a second stab at the definition?

    1. Like yourself and jackkt above I ‘knew’ BEN to be a mountain. So I was surprised and enlightened to see that Chambers defines BEN as ‘a mountain peak’

  20. 50 minutes or so with a feeling of relief when the last one went in.

    I found this harder than yesterday so I was obviously off-message based on the snitch score and the above comments.

    Numerous unknowns (NEB, APSIS, CECIL B DEMILLE) and loads of biffing. I also tried to make one or two much harder than they were, as is my MO.

    The blog was much needed today to fill in my knowledge gaps so thanks to George and to the setter for the challenge.

  21. 19.53. I was definitely not a PREEMIE, being three weeks late and unintended. Ghastly word. My saxophonist friend’s hero was John Coltrane, but I never, ever heard him refer to his hero as TRANE, so though I thought of him, I dismissed it in favour of TRIBE and a lot of smudging.
    Again non, je n’aigrette rien, but put it in anyway. A lot of this felt very imprecise – thinking man, swashbuckling sort, spangle – and rather encouraged slapdash solving.
    You’ll expect me to mention TOTTENHAM, so there it is.
    Well done George for sorting out the smudgy bits.

    1. I was struck when I came back here just now by the overwhelming aversion to ‘preemie’. Not a word I’d ever use, mind you, but one that I thought would be taken in stride by people responsible for such horrors as ‘pressie’.

    2. Don’t take it to heart Z. I had an unplanned chap three weeks late in 1995. The extended pregnancy was a bit of a trial but also extremely unusual practice in the NHS at the time. He grew into a natural comic, was the naughtiest boy in school, became a doctor and an athlete and I’ve always been very fond of him.

  22. A tick under 29 mins which is quick for me. Lots of them biffed then parsed: 1a, 18a, 24a, 27a etc, but did need preemie, a semi derogatory expression I suppose in fairly common use in Australia (we love to Aussie-fy expressions as well as names) for preeminent. As a graduate of the eighties, I knew quite a few Goths who were, at least to me, far from uncivilised.

    1. I think the Goths got a bad rap in history. Like Vandals and Huns their name developed negative connotations. Theodoric was a very accomplished ruler based in Ravenna. Many Swedes look to the Goths as founders of their nation and similarly many Spaniards see Goths as founders of their nobility. And don’t forget Gothic cathedrals!

  23. 20:43 for a tough but entertaining puzzle. Enjoyed GOTH, ON THIN ICE and the reference to the club that Ange built.

    Loving the trans-Atlantic huffing in the comments!

    Thanks George and setter.

  24. Found this one relatively friendly, apart from 9ac and 13ac which were more or less biffed and which I couldn’t parse after biffing because (a) I have never heard of “preemie” for a premature baby and assume it is American, since we would surely say “premmie”? and (b) although I have heard of John Coltrane, I was unaware that he had any nickname at all.

    I enjoyed this one though, as I seemed to be on the wavelength from the start and it didn’t contain any words I’d never heard of, apart from ‘APSIS’, which, just for once, I got purely from the wordplay.

  25. 20 minutes, with PREEMINENT and TRANSCRIBE biffed not parsed. Now I see it’s PREEMIE that’s awful. @pootle TOTTENHAM are far from the pre-eminent team in North London, as the table currently shows. 9 points, in fact.

    1. The late arrivals in North London are invited to enjoy their position while they can, but the preeminence is decided more by the result of the matches between the two, currently standing at level honours, with the second leg still to be played at the preeminent stadium.

  26. A pleasant work-out, completed in 21 minutes. NHO PREEMIE, like others, but the answer couldn’t be anything else. Something of a relief after yesterday, despite the apparent trans-atlantic vibe.
    Thanks to george and other contributors.

  27. 9:56. Lots of biffing today, and I had the bits of knowledge required for the wordplay where necessary, including ‘preemie’.
    I was hesitant about SPANGLE, unsure of the definition and unable to untangle the wordplay. I agree with those above who think SPa, ANGLE is more likely than SPA, aNGLE.
    I nearly came a cropper by allowing the wordplay to override my ability to spell (often a sensible strategy for me), realising just in time that SLEEVE was not indicating RIM but ARM, and so it was indeed ARAMIS not ARIMIS.

  28. A relief after yesterday to come to a puzzle that I could at least solve, though not without some head-scratching and a quantity of unknowns – listed exhaustively above by others. LOI was GOTH, which I felt was a bit unfair, until I realised the reference was to the ancient tribe rather than the late 20thC one! Also didn’t like the conflation of a fictional city with a real one. I did like ON THIN ICE, though it took ages to work out the second part, CECIL B and LAST HURRAH, (not a very familiar expression) so worked out laboriously from wordplay. Thanks to George for explaining 10A, 15A and 9A – quite familiar with John Coltrane, but not the nickname, and couldn’t get Bird or Pres out of my head.

    1. You’ll like to hear that the NY tabloids LOVE to use Gotham (or The Apple) (or a couple others) in an attempt to liven up their writing. I’m not especially amused or entertained when I see it there, either.

  29. A bit of a curate’s egg for me. A couple of NHOs (NEB, TRANE for Coltrane, PREEMIE etc.). Biffed Aramis but I didn’t think much of ARM standing for SLEEVE.

  30. 10:07, so while it didn’t actually take me long to reach my conclusions, I wouldn’t say the process involved 100% certainty in every case (for reasons already stated above which need not be relitigated by me).

  31. I couldn’t have told you that John Coltrane was a saxophonist and certainly not that his nickname was Trane. And I had always thought that Cecil B was de Mille, not Demille. SPANGLE defeated me — I’d thought of it but wasn’t happy with it being ‘shine’: to me, to spangle (if it’s a verb at all) is to shimmer, whereas to shine is to emit light continuously. Turn = angle seemed a bit loose, and I was thinking that South as in Southend or Southsea or somewhere I couldn’t think of was dropping its ‘out’ so that it began sh…. Preemie a guess, but likely I thought. 54 minutes.

  32. DNF (transcript / nip)
    X is not the same as Xth. Tentotham.
    Trane. Preemie. Aigrette. Oh, okay.
    Thanks, g.

  33. No time but it was very long and I was just pleased to finish, although in multiple sessions. Found it very difficult with lots of unknowns, missed definitions and general obscurities. Even more humbled than usual by the times posted here. Eheu.

  34. I’m joining in the moaning:
    NHO John ColTRANE let alone the abbreviation. Dislike and NHO PREEMIE, and will never use it. Surprised at Gotham=NY. Never solved (m)ONTHI-NICE despite a recent outing of this trick. NEB 7d is archaic IMHO. I congratulate the blogger, not for completing it (even I did), but for working out the logic.

    ps – 6d the anagrist is REALITIES.

  35. 31:58 but…

    …on a dreadful run of pink squares – four in my last six cryptics (including QCs) – this time for somehow turning one of CECIL’s Is into an E.

    No one I know uses PREEMIE or PREMMIE for an early delivery. Don’t know much about John Coltrane other than that he was a sax player, but didn’t know that he had that familiar soubriquet.

  36. Pleased to finish correctly, and had the same queries (and niggles) while parsing as many others. COD to pie chart.

  37. 49:19 NHO TRANE – I originally guessed REINSCRIBE for 9a, which slowed me down a lot as IN THIN ICE took a long time to see, at which point TRANSCRIBE went in, unparsed.

    ETUI was known only from the QC a few days ago.
    L2I were LAST HURRAH and SCULL.

    Thanks g and setter

  38. After yesterday’s debacle I found this much more to my liking even if I wasn’t able to parse quite a lot of answers. Many thanks to George for the explanations.

  39. Found this hard going. PETROL STATION was an early arrival, unlike LOI, PREEMINENT, which I spent ages pondering as I’d NHO PREEMIE and, like others, find it repugnant. I also thought PRE-EMINENT should have a hyphen. On looking it up, I was surprised to find it exists without the hyphen, but also that PREE-MIE is a dictionary entry with hyphen included. I’d also NHO AIGRETTE, but with VIN and the definition, just biffed it anyway. Totally failed to parse ON THIN ICE. On the whole I didn’t enjoy this one. 40:26. Thanks setter and George.

  40. Made the wrong choice between NIB and NEB – never heard of the latter, so guessed there might be an alternative spelling of BEN as BIN in use somewhere. Pah.

    I don’t like the word PREEMIE, but I undoubtedly was one, at a mere 27 weeks.

    Thanks both.

  41. 37 mins. Game of two halves, the first half being done this morning when I ground to a halt. Picking it up this afternoon, everything flowed in without a qualm. LOI NEB, which it had to be despite being a NHO. Much biffing as usual.

  42. Had a bit to do withs “prems” years ago, NHO the rather twee “preemies”.
    Could not for the life of me connect SLEEVE and “arms”, the distant rumble is me kicking myself still.
    Must try to remember “Gotham” = “NY”
    Agree with everything said above.

  43. 20.26

    Eventually parsed PETROL STATION but realised this was one where it was going to have to be a bit of a biff fest. Like others many were only partially unparsed.

    No problems with PREMMIE but never heard of the other version.

    Didn’t really know NEB but I trusted w/p rather than bunging in an unparseable NIB

  44. Finished it but had no idea of the gatecrasher Trane, was revolted by preemie, would not call Goths ancient or modern uncivilised, not keen on inundated for surrounded, nor on the klunkiness of that clue … still the down ones were OK and one was left with the sense of a good work-out. But also of a grauniad-like shadow darkening the door.

        1. Welcome any time, in my book!
          One of my all-time favorite albums is Interstellar Space (1967), four improvised pieces with just Coltrane’s sax and drums by Rashied Ali.

  45. Managed to finish with all correct but quite a few unparsed. LOI was CECIL B DEMILLE mainly because it took me a long time to remember his Christian name. No time recorded as it was completed in three separate sessions, but probably in the 50 minute plus or minus bracket.

  46. Not my cup of tea; modestly glad to come here and find I’m not alone today. thx, gh

  47. This setter’s style is beginning to get familiar, as is, unfortunately, the pink square it almost always brings me. I too decided it was more likely that BIN in some Celtic parts of Britain might be an alternative to BEN than that NEB would mean anything at all (NIBs are sharp points, too, aren’t they). My OED defines NEB as the peak of a cap or a bird’s beak and locates it in Scotland and northern England, so maybe not an American setter? The rest of the puzzle was very tricky and sometimes quite creative and enjoyable, but the pink squares and their recurrence ruin it all.

  48. Just did this one at the end of the day –
    28 minutes, found it much easier than yesterday, unlike most apparently.
    Cheers Steve

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