Times 28821 – one way crossing

I made hard work of this one, guessing a couple of phrases and idioms I didn’t know (but probably are common knowledge), and trying to fit the wrong answers in before seeing I was off beam. But there were a few brilliant clues; I liked ROSBIF and RUBICON best. 28 minutes.

Definitions underlined in bold, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, anagrinds in italics, [deleted letters in square brackets].

1 Niche software products for auditors (4)
APSE – sounds like “APPS”.
3 Something in the kitchen during demo contained spirit (10)
KETTLEDRUM – fortunately, I remembered that, often in crosswords, the “kitchen” is the percussion section of the orchestra, and the ending M caused me to guess the answer then parse it. Demos these days are contained or “kettled” by the police, and RUM is a spirit.
9 A note to chase something that might bring one’s blessing! (7)
ATISHOO – A, TI (a note), SHOO = chase (away) something.
11 Problem with symbol that can’t be gone back over (7)
RUBICON – RUB = problem, (as in “aye, there’s the rub” in Hamlet), ICON a symbol. What a clever definition.
12 That’s no lady who prepared so carelessly! (3,3,3)
13 Aussie bowler taking wicket confronting English scorer (5)
WARNE – W for wicket, Thomas ARNE an English composer or “scorer”. Shane Warne, RIP, possibly the best spin bowler ever.
14 Wind each alarm after a day — but fail to hear them? (4,1,4,3)
TURN A DEAF EAR – TURN (wind) A D[ay], EA[ch], FEAR = alarm.
18 TV cleaned and repositioned for Christmas decoration (6,6)
ADVENT CANDLE – (TV CLEANED AND)*. I had a problem with this, I could see it was an anagram and at first thought it must be ADVENT CALEND, a calend being an old word for calendar. I knew of those calendars with chocolates in little windows but had never heard of an advent candle. Although I now see they are a thing if you are of the Christian faith. It got sorted out when I needed the E at the end for 17d.
21 Moulding, very old, mostly seen in castles (5)
OVOLO – O-O is the symbol in chess notation for castling, king side; insert V OL[D]. We’ve had this recently, else I might not have known it.
22 Holding conference with prisoner — and wife also due (9)
POWWOWING – POW (prisoner of war), W[ife], OWING = due. I first tried to fit PARLAYING but it wouldn’t parse.
24 State after arrest would turn in Trotsky? (7)
LEBANON – Trotsky’s first name was LEON, insert NAB (arrest) reversed.
25 Believer in spirit of article and film on part of UK (7)
ANIMIST – A MIST (film) with NI inserted.
26 Risk everything in attack, shattered (2,3,5)
GO FOR BROKE – GO FOR = attack, BROKE = shattered.
27 Dock for one minute close to overload (4)
WEED – WEE = minute, add D the end of overload.
1 As menu, sadly, not quite right, dined outside (1,2,5)
A LA CARTE – ALAC[K] for sadly, not quite; ARTE = ATE (dined) outside R.
2 One possibly on vacation visiting London landmark, a riveting place (8)
SHIPYARD – I (one) PY (possibly vacated) inside SHARD the London landmark. Or eyesore, depending on your viewpoint.
4 I’m annoyed at Angus for pursuing record time (5)
EPOCH – EP our usual record, OCH! being what a Scotsman is supposed to exclaim when annoyed.
5 See red blanket the right size (5,1,3)
THROW A FIT – a THROW is a blanket, A FIT = the right size.
6 Pasta came in a bowl, or loose (5,8)
ELBOW MACARONI – I thought I knew my Italian foods, but I didn’t know the curved (when dry) type of macaroni is sometimes called this. With all the checkers in, I saw macaroni from the anagram fodder and, left with 5 letters over, made ELBOW. My LOI.
7 Comes back about to swear, stopping short (6)
RECURS – RE (about) CURS[E].
8 A howler, perhaps, from the day shift for example (6)
MONKEY – for some reason I thought of this type of monkey straight away then parsed it. MON a day, KEY such as shift on keyboard.
10 Secret spot, with trap (4-3-6)
HOLE-AND-CORNER – another answer I wrote in having the checkers and seeing no other options. Not an expression I was familiar with, but it is in Collins online and other dictionaries. A HOLE is a spot of trouble, with = AND, and to CORNER someone is to trap them.
15 For a commentator, indeed batsman is a revelation (3-6)
EYE-OPENER – EYE sounds like AYE, indeed, and an OPENER is a batsman (now only called a batter for silly PC reasons).
16 Hard to resist parts with cold sweetener, perhaps (8)
ADDITIVE – ADDICTIVE loses its C for cold.
17 Four couples getting married without being burdened (8)
WEIGHTED – four couples makes EIGHT, with WED “without”.
19 Idol getting up on stage is a crook (6)
DOGLEG – GOD (idol) reversed, LEG = stage. Something bent, like a golf hole for example. Or DOGLEG MACARONI perhaps.
20 B is for bonkers Brit abroad! (6)
ROSBIF – (B IS FOR)*. Brilliant.
23 Cut  off (5)
WHACK – I think this is a double definition, CUT as a noun in share, whack; WHACK as in to assassinate, “off” someone.


120 comments on “Times 28821 – one way crossing”

  1. I also found this quite hard and needed 50 minutes to complete it. Very enjoyable nonetheless.

    I got the kitchen reference at 3ac right away and identified RUM as the likely spirit, however I was deceived by ‘contained’, thinking of it as an enclosure indicator. As a result I came up with INSTRUMENT. Not specific enough for to be the answer and it didn’t account for the rest of the wordplay, but it was hard to shift from my brain.

    NHO WARNE as a cricketer. NHO ADVENT CANDLE, but it had to be. NHO WHACK meaning kill. NHO ELBOW MACARONI which only went in as a better alternative to BOWEL MACARONI

    OVOLO was unknown to me until last Thursday’s puzzle, so that was handy, as was the recent discussion of OO for castling in chess notation which if I ever knew before I had completely forgotten.

    I liked POWWOWING and ROSBIF.

    1. Completing crossword late in Gran Canaria and elbow macaroni on menu after a good guess!!

  2. DNF. I made a stupid error today, putting in WRACK instead of WHACK, thinking it was the only word that fitted, and completely ignoring the clue. Elsewhere ELBOW MACARONI was new to me, and sounds more appetising than the only anagram I could initially muster which was BOWEL MACARONI.

  3. 20:24
    NHO WARNE, ADVENT CANDLE, SHARD. DNK how OVOLO worked, having forgotten about the castling notation. I’m not sure why ‘so’ is in 12ac, or ‘also’ in 22ac. Is ‘och!’ an expression of annoyance? I took ALA as ALAs in 1d; ALACK never occurred to me, so I couldn’t account for the C. Liked RUBICON.

  4. NHO Shane Warne? That is quite something! But there were plenty of NHOs for me today and a lot of fiendishly difficult (again, for me) clues that made me feel quite chuffed to get across the line all correct, albeit in just under the hour. Is POWWOWING really a word? Who cares! Is HOLE AND CORNER ever used by anybody? Why were WHACK and WEED so hard to get? Terrific puzzle, many thanks to piquet for several revelations. OVOLO being featured very recently was helpful, it’s also the name of a hotel just down the road where Alex de Minaur (who doesn’t have a massive stand named after him at the MCG) stayed until he was bundled out of the Aussie Open by Rublev a few days ago. He kept being spotted in nearby restaurants, but not by me.

    1. Those unaware of Shane Warne need to listen to the excellent song Jiggery Pokery by the Duckworth Lewis Method (as sung from the POV of Mike Gatting). Hilarious stuff.

  5. 53 minutes with LOI the unknown HOLE AND CORNER, unsure if it might be HOLD. I ventured WHACK to mean “cut” or “share”. The OFF just passed me by. To date, my animosity towards setters hasn’t led to an assassination attempt. Any more like ELBOW MACARONI and there are no promises. COD to POWWOWING. Not an easy puzzle. Thank youPip and setter.

  6. For whack I took the ‘off’ part as alluding to out of whack – a bit off, never came across the assassination meaning.
    Thanks for the blog P.

      1. I don’t think that’s the intention, as you can’t substitute off for whack in that context, i.e. you need “out of”. I’m sure piquet’s “assassinate” explanation is correct.

        Thanks, MikWak, for reminding me of Rachel Ward in Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid though 🙂

        1. Ha ha yes, all out of whack…thank you for reminding me of Rachel Ward. But isn’t it Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid? It’s been a while, great film…

            1. I was just moved to look it up as a reminder. Wiki said this: the film is both a parody of, and a homage to, film noir and the pulp detective films of the 1940s.
              Well said, and such a great movie, I am now motivated to see it again asap.

  7. 44 minutes. I had trouble shifting “al fresco”, despite the incorrect enumeration, for 1d and not having come across ADVENT CANDLE or HOLE-AND-CORNER before also held me up. At least I remembered the required sense of ‘kitchen’ which helped to open up the NE corner. The crossed fingers did the trick for the second def for WHACK.

    The ‘bonkers Brit abroad!’ (not even a member of the Barmy Army taunting 13a) was my favourite.

  8. Poor Girl! put on thy stifling widow’s weed,
    And ’scape at once from Hope’s accursed bands;
    (Isabella, Keats)

    40 mins mid-brekker, but worth the extra push. NHO Elbow Macaroni and Hole-and-corner rings a very vague bell, drowned out by cloak-and-dagger.
    Ta setter and Pip.

    1. 40 minutes *mid* brekker? Heavens man, that is half the morning gone!
      Having said that, I might give it a try. One of the happier bits of the day, after all ..

      1. To be fair, I started pre-brekker but finished near-end-of-brekker.
        Then brisk walk 8:30 to 10:00, before second-brekker at favourite coffee shop.
        Edinburgh is balmy and sunny this morning.

  9. 37m 10s. Guess this was on my wavelength.
    I’m still amazed that there are people who have not heard of Shane Warne. I can understand Kevin, an American, being unaware of one of Wisden’s 5 cricketers of the 20th century but not Jack!
    3ac “Something in the kitchen”. One day we’ll get a surprise and that will mean a real item of cookware and not something in an orchestra.
    24ac: The mention of Trotsky reminded me of that splendid song by The Stranglers: ‘No More Heroes’.
    “Whatever happened to Leon Trotsky?
    He got an ice pick
    That made his ears burn”
    MOTD (Moan Of The Day) concerns 20d ROSBIF. That is a term applied by the French purely to the English and not to the British as a whole.
    Thanks, as ever, Pip.

    1. I’m surprised you don’t know me better by now, Martin, as I have no interest in any sport other than tennis, and even that’s waning now.

      1. My view is that Warne was one of those figures whose fame transcends the one field he or she is dominant in.

    2. In my experience in France, Martin, the French seldom differentiated between English and other kinds of Brit, much to the frequent annoyance of my Scottish friends there. Although the French were keen attendees at the local Scottish Country Dancing sessions !

      1. Some French people are aware of the Auld Alliance, and like to bring it up to annoy the English!

          1. Monsieur Google tells me there are 3 branches of MacDonalds in Calais. I like to think that all 3 have a reproduction of Rodin’s ‘Burghers’ of Calais outside them.

      2. In my experience, the French are delighted to learn that someone is Scottish, and relieved they’re not English. (You can add the Spanish, Germans, Italians ……. there is quite a list.)

        1. You can add ‘Pommy Ausies’ to that list, as I was once referred to as a “Merde Anglais” in a shop in Honfleur, to which I rejoined (in high dudgeon) “ Je suis Australie!”: thereafter being treated with respect.

          1. What a lovely port Honfleur is!
            Unfortunately, some English rather let the side down abroad.

    3. I know of one, count’em one, cricket player, Grace; I’ve known that name, God knows why, since childhood. I know of maybe two soccer players, assuming that Messi was a soccer player; I know of no rugby players; should I go on? I could go head to head with Jack, except we’d have to exclude baseball. I, on the other hand, am amazed that so many people didn’t know HOLE-AND-CORNER.

      1. I’m pretty sure that the average Brit knows more baseball players than the average Murcan knows cricket players. Babe Ruth, Joe di Maggio and Yogi Berra for starters. Kevin Costner doesn’t count.

    4. I’d be interested to know your authority for that nuance, as it’s new to me. In my experience (having lived and worked in Spain, Germany and France, and with relatives in Spain and Italy), not many European nationals have much awareness at all of Scotland, Wales and (especially) Northern Ireland as specific entities within the UK. Like it or not, to most, we’re all British, and to many, we’re still English.

        1. Thanks, MartinPi. Interesting. However, may I counter with the Chambers entry:
          “ A contemptuous term applied by the French to any person who has the misfortune to be British”.
          It looks like one’s language preferences reflect one’s preferred dictionary. Or is it the other way round?

    5. If you’re not at all interested in cricket, why would you know WARNE? For that matter, I’d never heard of the composer ARNE. Still, the odd guess delivered a completed puzzle in 27 minutes.

  10. Too hard for me this one. I needed Google to choose between SORBIF and ROSBIF. And that was after a very long struggle with a few others. NHO HOLE AND CORNER and I kept entering and removing SHIPYARD until I eventually saw the parsing. Ridiculously couldn’t think of the last word of GO FOR BROKE. Oh and I had to cheat for WHACK as well, although I think it’s a great clue.

    Just made a bit of a mess of it all. Maybe rattled by the surreal reminder of Warney’s eligibility for the Times crossword.

    Anyway, well done Pip and setter.

  11. Just under 40′. NHO HOLE AND CORNER which was LOI and teased out with an alphabet trawl (making an arbitrary choice between “hole” and “hold”). KETTLEDRUM biffed, the orchestra reference was known but forgotten. Some nice clues elsewhere, esp ROSBIF. Seems a bit early to be including WARNE, but thats the rules I suppose. Thanks Piquet and setter.

  12. 48 minutes with LOI Warne, whoever he is. Luckily I had heard of Arne. Several answers here were phrases I did not know: Hole and corner, Advent candle, Elbow macaroni.
    Shame about the obscure answers I thought because the clues were clever.
    Thanks setter and blogger

  13. 17:20
    Even trickier than yesterday. NHO ELBOW MACARONI, which I thought might somehow involve calamari until I got the first word from WARNE (some of whose deliveries were that shape).
    LOI WHACK, which required obscure definitions from both sides of the Atlantic.

  14. 17:22. Most of this went in quite easily, but I was left with several at the end that took some digging out – POWWOWING, WEED and WHACK being my last 3 in. HOLE-AND-CORNER known only from a previous crossword and NHO ELBOW MACARONI but it had to be. ROSBIF an excellent COD. Thanks Pip and setter.

  15. 39′ and happy to emerge unscathed today.

    Here was me thinking I was clever for knowing my Italian pasta shapes (it’s ‘gomiti’ in the Italian form), but then there was the unholy trio of the NHO HOLE-AND-CORNER, the unlikely ATISHOO and my LOI of KETTLEDRUM. The stroll through the park on the way to work must have helped because it suddenly struck me that in crossword land the kitchen is part of the orchestra – one of those things I’d not have twigged in earlier solving days.

    Before that I’d been convinced the answer was some kind of kitchen herb I’d never heard of, a cousin of marjoram for instance, or a Latin word for a cooker.

    Not sure about how well EPOCH works. Couldn’t a non-Scot not also be annoyed at Angus? Probably splitting hairs, and as it’s Burns Night tomorrow this sassenach will say no more.

    Excellent puzzle. COD to POWWOWING. Wowsers.

    1. In the cryptic reading I thing Angus is the place rather than a chap (cf annoyed at Ben Nevis, Loch Ness or Fife), but the setter chose a place that’s also a man’s name to make the surface reading work.

      1. I agree it’s Angus the place of course, but I’m not sure anyone would ever say “at Angus” rather than “in Angus”, as it’s an region rather than a specific location. It would be like saying “at Surrey”.

        1. Perhaps there’s a golf course called Angus? I agree it should be ‘in’ rather than ‘at’ if the setter means to invoke the place, but again I think it gets a Burns Night free pass.

  16. 13:06

    …for a NITCH of 90 and a WITCH of 81 (at time of going to press) so I’ll take that.

    We had advent candles as children a couple of Christmases. I think it was just to give us a change from opening windows to reveal badly drawn pictures of robins and bells, in the days long before the windows had chocolates behind them. Basically the candle had 24 days marked down the side, and every day you burned it long enough to go down to the next day. It was exciting seeing the big day get nearer as the candle burned down, and we managed to avoid setting fire to anything.

    I didn’t know H-and-C, and might have struggled with OVOLO if it hadn’t come up the other day.

  17. About half an hour.

    Wouldn’t have got OVOLO if it hadn’t come up recently (and even then I forgot O-O as castling); hadn’t heard of HOLE-AND-CORNER; forgot that ‘kitchen’ can mean the percussion section but got KETTLEDRUM anyway; didn’t fully parse TURN A DEAF EAR; wasn’t familiar with ELBOW MACARONI, and the combination of first word ending in W (from WARNE) and the second word ending in I looked unlikely for a while, until the B from RUBICON made it clear.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Apse
    LOI Ovolo
    COD Advent candle

  18. 25.52 – I found the top half tricky, with KETTLEDRUM, EPOCH, and ATISHOO all holding out for a while. Enjoyed the reappearance of OVOLO, and the neat use of ‘castles’. I also struggled a bit with WHACK, and got there via the scenic route of weed-whacking.

    LOI had to be HOLE AND CORNER, but after yesterday’s flub I took a minute or two to satisfy myself, then remembered that a ‘spot’ can be a ‘fix’ or a hole (better than my original attempt of a ‘hole’ as a bar/spot!).

    Count me as another surprised at how many have NHO Shane Warne – I only follow cricket in passing but he’s pretty well-known. He was also engaged to Elizabeth Hurley at one point.

    Thanks piquet and setter.

  19. Has anyone living ever said hole-and-corner as a needlessly elaborate synonym for secret? The nooks and crannies of English are almost limitless… this from Wikipedia:

    “Oxford Dictionary has 273,000 headwords; 171,476 of them being in current use, 47,156 being obsolete words and around 9,500 derivative words included as subentries. The dictionary contains 157,000 combinations and derivatives in bold type, and 169,000 phrases and combinations in bold italic type, making a total of over 600,000 word-forms.

    There is one count that puts the English vocabulary at about 1 million words — but that count presumably includes words such as Latin species names, prefixed and suffixed words, scientific terminology, jargon, foreign words of extremely limited English use and technical acronyms.”

    That gulf between 171,476 and a million is where setters love to frolic and harvest their instruments of torture.

    Apart from all the NHOs (same as everyone else) I thought this a fine puzzle, especially ROSBIF. Had to come here to understand WHACK. a high-level DD. Thanks setter and blogger.

  20. ADVENT CANDLEs are in church, and by definition not Christmas decorations. The pink one has to be lit at the right time.

    While the orchestra reference passed me by in KETTLEDRUM, it brought back memories of being kettled in 1990 or so – a horrible experience, causing huge resentment and anger.

    13’52” thanks pip and setter.

    1. I narrowly avoided being kettled in (I think) 2009 when there were climate protests in the city. Other people just trying to get home on their daily commute were not so lucky. Outrageous!

      1. They seem to have reined back on kettling, now that they have been explained to about it being illegal and wrong, as with the Met it seems you always have to do. At least with the old mounted police charges, you could just step into a doorway and let them go past (as I had to do, late ’60s)

  21. 28:26
    Quicker than yesterday. I was helped by OVOLO being a write-in thanks to it’s recent appearance and hindered by being taken in by “kitchen” once again. Fool me once etc.

    HOLE AND CORNER was a new one on me requiring most of the checkers, but otherwise all within my knowledge base.

    An enjoyable solve so thanks to both setter and blogger.

  22. 23’29”. Thought this was a delightful puzzle, with some nicely recondite answers and very clever clueing. LOI WHACK. I got the CUT bit, but not the OFF until I read the blog. Thank you.

  23. 21 mins
    Hole and corner – remembered from Orwell’s Aspidistra.
    Whack – The Sopranos / Goodfellas / Godfather, etc. Also in Slow Horses (UK).
    Leon – Stranglers, as MartinP1 said.
    Warne – fascinating response to this clue: vinyl1 picked up on it adroitly, observing the fame of MLB pitchers. Baseball and cricket, each a self-contained world even though they share some similarities.
    Thanks, p.

  24. 26.27. A challenging week so far for me, and this one had its – um – challenges. Unusually the multi word entries didn’t yield sufficiently quickly to speed things up. ELBOW MACARONI was new to me (it’s not on Tesco’s pasta shelf, or at least not under that name). It was nearly CANALONI with all the checkers in but the anagrist was disagreeing.
    My last in of W_A_K could have been WRACK for all I could guess, but I settled on WHACK with shades of the cavalier batting Shane Warne, who could certainly whack a ball, maybe occasionally with a cut shot, though he more usually went over cow corner.
    A challenge, sure, but a fun one.

  25. 15:36 I found this quite hard, with a few DNKs (HOLE-AND-CORNER, WHACK=”murder”, ELBOW MACARONI, but it was all fair and above board. I don’t follow cricket, classical music or CoE rites, but even I had heard of Messrs ARNE and WARNE, and ADVENT CANDLES. I guess these are generally ROSBIF preoccupations so maybe not so well known on the other side of the pond. Interestingly “rosbif” (ροζμπιφ) in Greece is a dish made with pasta and tomato sauce (alongside the beef). A slightly confused legacy of the British Empire no doubt. COD to ROSBIF.

  26. 09:30 and enjoyed this, possibly because I didn’t find myself at a dead end with any of the more arcane references (even though I’ve NHO elbow macaroni despite the hundreds of times I’ve cooked with it…) Admittedly I only knew OVOLO because it came up last week, when I definitely didn’t, but it seems I have finally trained my brain to think of drums whenever I see the word “kitchen”, so I am still successfully learning things.

  27. One or two entered without my really understanding them: WHACK, which I now see as rather good so long as one accepts that whack = assassinate, which seems a stretch; HOLE = spot, perfectly OK once pointed out. I shared the amazement that so few people had heard of WARNE, but as has been pointed out, closed little worlds that we live in. I wouldn’t know the names of any of the top performers in American sport. I only ever heard of O. J. Simpson because of his activities outside whatever game he played. I’d have thought people would know of WARNE in this way. 39 minutes.

          1. Indeed. I didn’t realise he was a sportsperson though or connected to Marilyn Monroe! Guessing baseball?

          2. … and the running reference to Di Maggio in the much underrated Robert Mitchum version of Farewell My Lovely. Despite the time shift from 30s to 50s by the scriptwriters, IMHO it’s far better than the Dick Powell version.

  28. 12:46. That was quite tricky, and rather odd in places, but on the whole I enjoyed the quirkiness. WHACK was my last in, a very good double definition.
    OVOLO is really a ridiculous assembly of obscurities, but I remembered the necessary bits from past puzzles: the chess notation has appeared quite recently I think.
    Add me to the list of those who’ve never come across HOLE AND CORNER.
    I have come across the term ELBOW MACARONI. The product itself is very common but the distinction between the bendy and straight stuff is often (usually?) not mentioned on the packaging. There’s a type of pasta sold in France as ‘coudes’ (‘gomiti’ in Italian) but it’s not the same as macaroni.

  29. KITCHEN as the percussion section of the orchestra comes up regularly in these puzzles (as recently as last December and before that in October) but you didn’t comment on those days so I guess you didn’t do those puzzles.

  30. Very enjoyable, even if too much for me in the end – cheated to get WEED, and therefore submitted off leaderboard after 30 mins ish – that sort of dock escaped me. Faced with ?E?D, I just gave up to be honest.

    Otherwise, a very enjoyable puzzle, WHACK went in because it fitted, so was pleased to see that it was also correct. 1A and 1D went straight in, which is very rare. I liked RUBICON.


  31. 29:21. I was pleased to get through this unscathed in just under 30 mins. Tricky with a few terms that were new to me.


  32. 36.58, so a bit of a struggle. NHO kettling as a police technique which made 3ac unparseable. The anagrist for ROSBIF seemed unlikely to generate a word, but then the penny dropped. Is it an insult directed at english cuisine or applicable to sunburnt tourists?

    1. I don’t know if you ever listen to The Rest is History podcast, which I recommend by the way, but this is covered during their episode on beef (more interesting than it sound, as is the one on pigeons). If I remember correctly it is the equivalent of calling a Frenchman a frog based on the assumption that they all eat frogs legs, so slightly derogatory but not really. Unlike in France, beef over this side of the water was relatively inexpensive and consumed by people across the social spectrum, so Brits were rosbif and the French were frogs based on eating habits.

  33. 34:51

    For those that follow cricket, WARNE is spoken about with the same hushed and reverent tones as Grace, Hutton, Sobers and Tendulkar (other cricketers are available) – no first name required to know who he is – given that he had a fairly high profile personal life, as well as being prominent in hair transplant circles, it is difficult to believe that anybody from a cricketing nation won’t at least have heard of him. Hey ho – I couldn’t name more than a few golfers or rugby players though feel I might have at least heard of the greatest.

    As for the crossword, I’d forgotten that kitchen can be part of the orchestra – remember not knowing this when it came up before. NHO HOLE-AND-CORNER needing all of the checkers to puzzle it out. Thought WHACK wasn’t the setter’s finest hour as nobody seems to have known that WHACK = off/assassinate. COD to ROSBIF and WOD to POWWOWING which I didn’t know existed.

    1. I’m amazed that anyone doesn’t know this meaning of WHACK. Have you guys never seen a gangster movie?!

      1. Well actually the first gangster movie I watched was The Godfather, this Christmas, just to see what all the fuss was about. I don’t think I’ll be adding it to my favorite (sic) genre on Netflix. They may well have been whacking people for all that I understood the plot (or cared either way)! Each to their own…

        1. Fair enough. I’m not a particular fan of these movies myself but one way or another I’ve seen most of them over the years. I just googled the screenplay of the The Godfather and the word ‘whack’ does not appear: if you had started with Goodfellas it would have been a different story:

          For most of the guys, killing got to be accepted. They were routine. Murder was the only way everybody stayed in line. It was the ultimate weapon. You got out of line, you got whacked. Everyone knew the rules.

        2. Probably a poor suggestion if you did not enjoy the first one but try the sequel, it’s a true masterpiece and about the only movie I can think of where the sequel is better than the original

  34. Slow with interruptions but glad to finish without hitting a wall as is my wont lately. WEED a small yet so devious clue. COD RUBICON

  35. C 50mins – almost a DNF until the unknown HOLE-AND-CORNER randomly selected itself from a list of other unlikely candidates. A LA CARTE, among others, cheerfully unparsed.

  36. Resisted KETTLEDRUM until the PDM/DOH! of orchestral kitchen. Good clue.
    Biffed 25a ANIMIST. Never sussed 16d ADDITIVE. Nor 23d WHACK (but should have).
    6d NHO ELBOW M, saw the mac quite quickly. Loved the idea of jackkt’s BOWEL MACARONI.
    Mum often described things as HOLE & CORNER.

  37. There do seem to be an awful lot of words that mean killing someone, don’t there? Almost all of them I know only from crosswords, as with the drug cant, and I have a new one today to add to the list.

    The crossword was fine but I must say, I enjoyed the comments here more. Thank you Pip, and all

  38. 28.10 with good guesses for ovolo and hole and corner. Saw Warne pretty quickly but took ages to realise Arne was the English scorer! COD weed, small but beautifully formed.

  39. A bit of a workout at 30:47, but sadly having worked out the correct answers for all the clues, my downfall was at 6d. I had considered CANALONI and discounted it as it needed two Ns, written out the anagrist, and on paper I had–B– MACARONI. From the remaining letters I duly entered ELBOW in the grid, noticing later that I still had -A-A-O-I as the second part, then shoved in CANALONI in a moment of extreme carelessness. Doh! Thanks setter and Pip.

  40. Enjoying the debates above about the multiple bubbles we all live in. Classical music notations, composers and religious references are the things which most stretch me in crossword land so the great Shane would have had to wait for checkers had we not had Arne before😊 mind though I’m familiar with The Godfather, Goodfellas et al the meaning of off for whack did not occur to me for a long time (LOI). Loved Rosbif and rubicon, perhaps one the most elegant surfaces we’ve had for a long time.
    30 minutes and change
    Thx P and setter

  41. I got to shake Shane Warne’s hand once, and while I’d like to tell you I didn’t wash if for a couple weeks that would be a fib. NHO the plant Dock, and I thought Elbow Macaroni and Whack added a distinctly North American flavour to the Empire’s cricket, expressions of anger, and national nickname. Nice puzzle, setter

    1. In the UK we were taught to recognise dock leaves as they often grow in the same place as nettles. It’s said to help a nettle sting if you rub it with a dock leaf, but in reality there’s no scientific basis for this. Probably any leaf would do…

  42. When I worked for a builder’s merchant we sold quite a bit of ovolo skirting and ovolo architrave, so that was known to me, and ‘whack’ is by no means obscure, I bet it appears in Casino, Donnie Brasco and Carlitos Way as well as some of the other gangster films mentioned. I didn’t know HOLE AND CORNER though and found this tricky overall with 5 clues unanswered.

    1. Thanks to the magic of google I can confirm that it does indeed feature in all of those movies.

  43. Much harder than the past couple of days! Only managed half and then gave up. NHO the meaning of WHACK as “Cut” or the phrase HOLE AND CORNER.
    After discounting BOWEL it had to be ELBOW MACARONI although I’ve never heard of that either.
    Now I read the blog and comments I see how RUBICON and ROSBIF work – clever clues!
    But I take issue with “Och” meaning annoyance – it’s more of a filler word like “ah” or “oh”. And “in Angus” as in the County makes more sense.

  44. Powwowing a weird word with or without hyphen. Part-clue for och to my mind weakly tittery and also distinctly tottery. However my irascibility backfired as being furious at whack, which turns out to be a fine clue which I just didn’t think about properly, I threw in the last as geld not seeing weed at all. A deserved dnf.

  45. Wow, over a hundred comments! I got to this late last night and left it with a handful unfinished. Antepenultimate one in, just now, was the unknown sports guy, which I cheated to get (the only word I could think of to fit was WORSE). Then the NHO HOLE AND CORNER and last LEBANON, the clue for which seems worded rather oddly. J’ai trouvé ROSBIF rigolo !

  46. I did this on the train from London to Eastbourne, and finished when we reached Wivelsfield, so that’s about 60 minutes. Held up for a long time in the SE corner as my first punt at 23dn was WRECK (thinking of shipwrecked sailors). When I eventually found ANIMIST I had to change that and biffed WHACK, without really understanding why. NHO ELBOW MACARONI or HOLE AND CORNER, but the clueing was helpful.
    Some time ago I was at Edinburgh Waverley station, heading north, and asked the ticket inspector whether the train I was about to board was going to Perth. He said ‘och’ so I got on. The train ended up in Dundee. I don’t know whether the ticket inspector was annoyed but I certainly was.
    FOI – APSE
    COD – WEED
    Thanks to piquet and other contributors.

    1. What a shame your post was so late. Your ticket inspector story was great. It really made me laugh. Thanks.

  47. Pleased to finally get over the line in several sittings, although I did cheat by revealing WEED and WHACK. NHO ELBOW MACARONI or HOLE-AND-CORNER, and needed help from the blog to parse WARNE and LEBANON. Favourite was POWWOWING. Many thanks all.

  48. Fascinated to read the blog and entertaining comments. I don’t time myself, as I’m never quick, and it just puts a level of stress onto what should be an instructive entertainment, but I did most of it on the train up to London (1 hr) yesterday, and then spent roughly another 20 minutes on the last 4 clues on the return journey today. But delighted to finish all correct and parsed except LOI WHACK. I knew it had to be that or wrack but had no idea about the US meaning, nor any desire to educate myself by watching violent gangster movies. Apart from that, 16 and 17d turned out to be impossible with ADVENT CALEND – thanks, Piquet for owning up to that, as I had thought myself an idiot when finally realising it was CANDLE I was after – a perfectly obvious answer in retrospect. HOLE AND CORNER familiar from the once again invaluable childhood devouring of 30s and 40s adventure novels of the Buchan type. A great crossword, thanks, setter.

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