Times 28827 – all you need to know about trains.

Another speedy romp for a Wednesday, and thankfully today we see the last of January, my least favourite month. I’m expecting a low snitch for this one. When I’d finished, 16d sent me on a long read through Wikipedia on the turbulent history of the Outer Hebrides, which I’m planning to visit this year.

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

1 Religious law would harm anyone to some extent (6)
DHARMA – hidden word. I couldn’t see any wordplay for ‘religious law’ and I had a D at the beginning, so I decided it was a hidden word and something to do with Hindu or Buddhist thinking. It vaguely rang a bell, although I didn’t know exactly what it was.
4 Complained, having desire to be laid up? (7)
BITCHED –  ITCH (desire) in BED so ‘laid up’.
9 Country home of duke, a fellow quietly forgotten (5)
DACHA – D[uke], A, CHA[P].
10 Sierra Leone, troubled but without the extremes previously (7,2)
EARLIER ON – (IERRA LEON)* the anagrist is Sierra Leone without the first and last letters.
11 Mutual relationship in science (9)
CHEMISTRY – double definition.
12 Article dumped outside home, yours no longer? (5)
THINE – THE outside IN (home), old word for yours.
13 Woman needs thanks for guarding explosive (4)
THEA – HE (high explosive) in TA (thanks).
14 US President has the last word when entertaining the French sailors (4,6)
ABLE SEAMEN – ABE (Lincoln) has LES (the in French) inside, gives you ABLESE, then AMEN the last word.
18 Perturbed daughter is attracted to men — act to restrain her ultimately (10)
DISORDERED – D, IS, OR (men) DEED (act) with R (end of her) inside.
20 Tree, one by river (4)
ACER – ACE (one), R[iver].
23 Note to get medicine (5)
TONIC – double definition. Tonic as the key of a piece of music.
24 Party politician, heartless female working magic somewhere in London (9)
GREENWICH – GREEN a Green Party member, WI[T]CH a heartless female working magic.
25 Male blunder — it limits chaps — such fun! (9)
MERRIMENT – M (male) ERR (blunder) IT with MEN inside.
26 Very silly person with unnatural intelligence (5)
ASSAI – ASS a silly person, AI as in artificial intelligence. ASSAI as in the musical term.
27 More than one old ship   discharges liquid (7)
SLAVERS – double definition, one a plural noun, one a verb.
28 Curdled milk, note, returned (6)
RENNET – TENNER reversed.
1 Old-fashioned when receiving short order and seriously committed (9)
DEDICATED – DATED with EDIC[T] inside.
2 Build up a holiday island, as you might say (7)
ACCRETE – A, sounds like CRETE the Greek island.
3 This person has a story for your ear? (6)
MEALIE – ME (this person) A LIE (story). A mealie is an ear of maize or corn.
4 Man in posh car running into horse (5)
BARRY – a posh car, Rolls Royce or RR, inside BAY a horse.
5 Decade of endless desire with sealing of bond (8)
THIRTIES – THIRS[T] = endless desire, insert TIE for sealing of bond.
6 The female’s love is offered to male for selfless acts (7)
HEROISM – HER (the female’s), O (love) IS, M[ale].
7 An Italian poet here could make quite a slow movement (5)
DANTE – add AN to DANTE to get ANDANTE a slowish bit of music.
8 The guy with a supply of food that can be cooked? (8)
HEATABLE – HE (the guy), A, TABLE (supply of food).
15 He is one of those   significant contributors (8)
ELEMENTS – double definition, He being the symbol for helium an element.
16 Knight on this tour ransacked Scottish island (5,4)
NORTH UIST – (N THIS TOUR)*, where N = knight in chess. One of the Outer Hebrides islands. It has a varied and violent history and is currently owned by the 6th Earl Granville.
17 Rehearse part of play, provided with external force (8)
PRACTISE – ACT (part of play) inside PRISE (force as a verb).
19 Gran is getting sozzled with a wine (7)
21 After short wicked act boy is red (7)
22 Participate in English period (6)
ENGAGE – ENG[lish], AGE.
23 Essential train information in the paper (5)
TIMES – double definition.
24 Reckon attendees will waste time (5)
GUESS – GUESTS lose their T for time.


67 comments on “Times 28827 – all you need to know about trains.”

  1. 40 minutes for all but MEALIE and SLAVERS plus another 10 for them.

    I never heard of MEALIE as an ear of corn and the archive has this as its first outing other than 3 appearances in Mephisto puzzles. I bunged it in eventually as the only thing that vaguely seemed to fit the wordplay, but I wasn’t confident because of ‘your ear’, which I still don’t understand.

    I’ve always understood that RENNET is a substance used for curdling milk rather than the curdled milk itself. Collins and Chambers confirm this, but the Oxfords take a broader view, e.g. SOED – rennet – curdled milk from the abomasum of an unweaned calf or other ruminant, containing rennin and used in curdling milk for cheese, junket, etc.

    1. “Your” here as informally (Collins) “used to indicate all things or people of a certain type | your Labrador is a gentle breed of dog”—not addressing someone who actually owns a Labrador

      1. Or alternatively it’s a definition by example, indicated by the question mark. It could be your ear, my ear, or somebody else’s ear. That’s what I thought, but I think I prefer G’s explanation.

        1. There’s a special version of it in football, where people will often talk about, say, “the great English strikers, your Linekers, your Shearers”

    2. I was familiar with MEALIE for corn from my days in South Africa as a youngster, where it was grown locally and called that.

  2. Yes, another one speedily dispatched, and after a long late-evening karaoke session, even. MEALIE was LOI and rang only the faintest bell.

  3. Finished this in 17:19 which by my standards makes it easy 🙂
    Also NHO MEALIE but me-a-lie was pretty certain
    Thanks setter and blogger

  4. Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate.
    (Inferno, Dante)

    How apt. I abandoned hope halfway through, but ploughed on in 25 mins pre-brekker. A very dodgy crossword in my view. No ticks, nine crosses (admittedly two of those were just for including Barry and Thea).
    Ta setter and Pip.

  5. 28 minutes, with LOI SLAVERS bringing back fond memories of dogs I have known. My fingers were crossed for ASSAI. I was a bit more confident of MEALIE and think I knew DHARMA. Overall, I was a bit too unsure of myself to say I enjoyed this. Thank you Pip and setter.

  6. 28:33, after spending ages trawling for my LOI SLAVERS. I only know MEALIE from the Scottish mealie pudding (made with oatmeal, and available from your local chippy) but it had to be. I liked CHEMISTRY and (therefore) I liked He as the element

  7. Yes, for some reason I didn’t really enjoy this one either. Whizzed through the first three quarters with a few “well, I suppose it must be that” clues on the way. Then clunk, ground to halt with last four MEALIE, DISORDERED (the IKEA construction of this clue brought to mind our old friend horryd), PRACTISE & LOI, SLAVERS.

    Thanks pip and setter. Oh, and I meant to mention that SANGRIA is not a wine, but a wine-based drink, as I’m sure WE all know……

  8. DNF in 37.48. Being musically challenged I assumed that my invented ASSAI was unlikely to be correct, so did not persist in an alphabet trawl that might have led me to SLAVERS, settling on SEALERS as possibly some sort of ship.

  9. 25:50

    Not much enjoyed and certainly not a romp – NHO ASSAI nor MEALIE and wasn’t aware that DHARMA was actually a thing. Thank heavens for hiddens. Noted that a third of the finishers have at least one fail – mine was for dopily spelling the verb PRACTISE with two Cs.

  10. 29 minutes. Not so easy for me either. I began by dutifully walking into the SHARIA trap at 1a and only sorted this out with the NHO DHARMA after gaining a foothold elsewhere. More problems with MEALIE, ASSAI (which for no good reason I thought was equivalent to the French “assez”) and finally SLAVERS after an A-Z trawl.

    It was good to have the CHEMISTRY lesson and I enjoyed the idea of ‘Gran’ knocking back her SANGRIA.

  11. No problems today, nho MEALIE, a foreign import, but it had to be.
    With 20ac I had the WICH straight off but the rest of the word only turned up after Lib, Lab, Tory, SNP and DUP were considered and rejected ..

  12. Second DNF running. Half-parsed DANTE but thought ‘here’ was a hidden definition, so went for DANCE – and after a lot of banging my head against a wall, bunged in a tired SEAJETS, which I knew wasn’t right. SLAVERS was one of many words that flitted across my mind, but I didn’t connect it to the ships, and I was thinking of more forceful discharge than drool.

    Roll on tomorrow…

  13. 24′ and fairly straightforward for me (finished before bed). One NHO in ASSAI and some “barely” HOs such as MEALIE and DHARMA (thankfully hidden). As others have said no stand out clueing though CHEMISTRY was nice and SLAVERS might become my new name for our elderly retriever. Thanks Piquet and setter and yes, nice to be rid of January.

  14. 9:30
    Quite a lot of men and women, males and females, HEs and HERs today.
    I got 1ac only from Kerouac’s ‘DHARMA Bums’ and 3d from a vague recollection of mealybugs, which it turns out are nothing to do with MEALIE (except as an abbreviation).

    1. I’ve enjoyed reading Jack Kerouac’s Dharma Bums and also his compilation of Buddhist writings, Some of the Dharma, but still no wiser about the word’s meaning. In Paul Scott’s Raj Quartet, Guy Perron remembers asking Hari Kumar back when they were at school the difference between dharma and karma. Hari, because he was reared to be British, says he hasn’t the faintest.

  15. 23:43
    Quite a few unknowns today for me (DHARMA, ACCRETE, MEALIE, NORTH UIST, ASSAI) but the wordplay was on the whole kind. SLAVERS was last in after a bit of an alphabet trawl.

    Hopefully we’re in for a toughie tomorrow as it has been quite a straightforward week thus far.

    Thanks to both.

  16. 11:30, with a couple of minutes at the end trying and failing to come up with something better than MEALIE. It looked unlikely, and something about the wordplay gave me the feeling that it might yield alternative interpretations. It didn’t, so in the end I just crossed my fingers and hit submit.
    DHARMA was my other unknown but it was my first in, more or less on first glance: ‘to some extent’ is a pretty clear direction.

  17. Quaintly failed for ages to find DHARMA in the string, even though I looked, and even knew it went D_A___. Amazing.
    Enjoyed the PDM with the drooling old ships.
    I always thought that assai=enough, as in slow enough, but it seems to mean very in Italian. Not sure if it shares etymology with assez in French.

    1. Apparently so. From the Latin ad satis. The (Old) French word is also the root of the English ‘asset’.

  18. I started quickly, expecting to finish in about 20 minutes, but got bogged down with MEALIE and ELEMENTS, (LOIs) plus a few others which I couldn’t fully parse. I found the SE corner the hardest, especially ASSAI. I biffed several answers.
    30 minutes in the end.

  19. 11:12. Held up only be DISORDERED (having tried and failed to make DISTRACTED work) and LOI SLAVERS which I had to write out with the blanks to see. Thanks Pip and setter.

  20. 10:24, with the greatest pause coming as I pondered MEALIE and concluded that the wordplay was obviously leading me to something I didn’t know. As Peter O’Hanraha-hanrahan once reported, I didn’t like it but I had to go along with it. (I didn’t hate it, really)

      1. Eben das liebte ich gar nicht, aber musste ich es mir leiden. A tentative stab at it!

        1. The correct translation is ‘rufen Sie ein Taxi bitte sonst verpass ich meinen Flug’.

          1. Thanks, very funny. I sympathise with poor Peter having been caught once or twice in similar silly lies myself.

  21. Off to a good start with Dharma as I recalled the Jethro Tull song Dharma For One. Flowed well from there, trusting the cryptics. Head scratch on Assai but guessed correctly. Just avoided Practice. About 35 mins.

    1. Dharma for One just about qualifies as a song, but it was notably Clive Bunker’s drum solo in Tull’s early years.

  22. Oddly straightforward, and largely understood. MEALIE and SLAVERS the last two in – the latter after a trawl as far as L, the former with a shrug from the wordplay, having discounted MEANIE.

    I liked ELEMENTS.


  23. 31:07
    Last two in were DHARMA and MEALIE.
    I liked ELEMENTS. Not so fond of the random names in THEA and BARRY.
    Thanks Piquet and setter

  24. 16:40 – MEALIE and ASSAI both unknown but were reasonably confident guesses. DHARMA familiar from binging Lost in the dim past and the rest straightforward. Like Rosedeprovence, I’d query the definition of Sangria; it’s not a specific wine, but any old red mixed with orange juice or some other sweet drink. Sangria could equally be clued as orange juice on that basis.

  25. 33 minutes, with no very major problems. DHARMA only vaguely known and entered without confidence. I liked the [S]ierra Leon[e] anagram but was less comfortable with DISORDERED = perturbed. Not sure why random names are so unpopular. We can have random rivers and random countries and random lots of other things. What’s so bad about a random name?

  26. Unlike just about everybody else I struggled with this and got home in 43.14, thinking a DNF might be on the cards. Jack Kerouac got me off to a good start at 1ac with DHARMA but weirdo words like ASSAI, MEALIE and RENNET took ages to figure out. I took way too long to see GREENWICH (despite the chestnut female) and am embarrassed to say one of my LOIs was THEA – the Anglo name of my wife. So thanks to piquet and an apologia to Theologia.

  27. DNF, defeated by SLAVERS. I raced through the rest, only to get completely and infuriatingly stuck on it, and bunged in a hopeless ‘soakers’ in the end.

    MEALIE was unknown; got the parsing for THIRTIES the wrong way round (thinking the bond was going outside) so didn’t quite see how it could work; was lucky to see the hidden DHARMA pretty quickly.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    COD Dacha

  28. 46:45 with RENNET my LOI due it being extremely NHO. had to rely on a vegan colleague to inform me of its meaning.

    ASSAI was also new but the wordplay looked safe enough.

    MEALIE is common enough if you’ve visited South Africa – it’s what they call corn, as in cornfield and ‘on the cob’ too, I think. ‘Go and ___ in the mealies’ is also a rather popular turn of phrase in Afrikaans, as heard in traffic jams, football stadiums and local parliaments the country over. You get the picture 🙂

  29. I had the same problem as ChrisLutton and the resulting alpha trawl of over 2 minutes spoilt the puzzle even more than some of the dodgy clueing (particularly SANGRIA). I still managed to duck inside the 10 minute mark though.

    COD MEALIE (which I’d heard of)
    TIME 9:45

  30. Finished in just under an hour. Vaguely heard of ASSAI, DHARMA and SLAVERS (as verb). Thought of expression ‘mealy-mouthed’ and convinced myself that the definition for MEALIE was ‘this person has a story’ 😆 ELEMENTS was my LOI by a long way, and is also my COD. Many thanks all.

  31. 19 minutes. If you’d asked me, I’d have said MEALIE was the product of grinding some sort of vegetation, plus not so long ago I had the MEATUS of my right ear scanned, when that was a new word to me, probably just made up by Junior Doctors to look clever. For DISORDERED, “attracted” in the clue really threw me. As for S_A_E_? Chambers tells me there are 132 possibilities, and while I accept that a SLAVER is a ship I’m less sanguine about “discharge liquid” which has a lot more of force about it. Dog owners please advise.
    Not my favourite, but then I’m still basking in the glow of solving ‘Eck’s magnificent Listener, in which I’m still finding delightful Easter eggs.

  32. While the answer is obvious, I don’t think 7d works at all. “An Italian poet could make quite a slow movement” might conceivably be a clue for ANDANTE, but this just seems a mess. What is “here” doing for a start?

    1. “Here” is in the space after “an”. The first three words of the clue are both part of the wordplay and the whole definition.

    2. You have to read ‘Italian poet here’ as ‘the Italian poet here’, or ‘this Italian poet’. AN + [this Italian poet] would make [word meaning slow movement].

  33. Rather liked the Elements clue after initial slight annoyance at it. Slow generally – old age may at last be telling – but got there, as usual if not always, and thought it not a bad puzzle at all. (Except perhaps for the slightly cheeky essential trains information.) Short. terse clues tend to be the best.

  34. In one of those weird coincidences, last night I was watching an episode of Two and a Half Men starring Charlie Sheen, with guest star Jenna Elfman who I couldn’t place but had a feeling I’d seen before. I Googled her and found she was the star of a sit com from the late 90s called Dharma and Greg! Then up she pops in 1a! I zipped through most of the puzzle, but slowed in the SE and had to slog my way through the last few. I hesitated to put RENNET in as I thought, like Keriothe, it was the curdling agent rather than the product, but once the checkers were in I saw the wordplay and shrugged and moved on. GREENWICH fell next followed by ENGAGE and LOI, ELEMENTS. 21:44. Thanks setter and Pip.

  35. 43:03. started really well then the trickier clues raised by others got me… quite happy with the result. I wasn’t very happy with the DANTE clue, and couldn’t parse it… was briefly tempted by DONNE and DANCE but luckily went for the Italian poet instead. thanks Pip and setter.

  36. DNF after about 45 minutes, as I went for SEALERS instead of SLAVERS. Like others I was not very keen on some of the clues (BARRY, THEA, DANTE) but enjoyed ELEMENTS.
    Thanks to piquet and other contributors.

  37. 24.08. I got lucky: anyone who regularly solves Paul’s puzzles in the Grauniad would probably be familiar with ‘assai’, as he frequently throws in musical instructions, and ‘Dharma’ was familiar as I studied Religion as a mature student at Newcastle and the course lecturer on Hinduism and Buddhism tried valiantly to explain the concept to us: – as I recall, it means a great deal more than ‘Religious law’ but is difficult to define precisely.

  38. 38 minutes with no real difficulties. ACCRETE was my LOI because I kept trying to understand why AC or maybe just C would indicate a holiday, until I realized that this clue was even simpler and more boring than I thought it would be (and yes, one does need the homophone indicator to justify the double C). I didn’t know the corn meaning of MEALIE but thought it might denote an insect which feeds on corn (so “for your ear”) and that was good enough for me. The wordplay helped with the spelling of PRACTISE or I would have got it wrong. I agree that this was not a very memorable puzzle.

  39. I finished it OK but I’m not in love with this setter’s style although I realise that’s my problem not theirs! I don’t like double-definitions where one is derived from the other (CHEMISTRY) they seem barely cryptic. I also don’t enjoy wordplay that leads to almost-non-words like “HEATABLE” . I thought “ESSENTIAL TRAIN INFORMATION” was very weak and the use of “attracted to” in 18a, “your” in 3d and especially “sealing of” in 5d were all stretching things a bit. And finally I’m another non-lover of random boys and girls names without any specific cultural reference to justify them. Funnily enough I did know “mealie” from “mealie meal”. Some you love, some you don’t. Thanks for the blog!

  40. I had ASSEI, with the faultless logic that e is an ‘unnatural’ number. Is it? Being too clever by half. That’s the third unforced error in two days! DHARMA brought back the good old days of watching LOST – at least the first three or four seasons, before they lost the plot. And boy, did they ever lose it! 16’24” and the one error. Thanks.

  41. Did this late at night and into the early hours of this morning.
    I’m surprised that people don’t remember the film Zulu and the redoubt built of Mealie bags at Rorke’s Drift.

  42. Felt the same about this crossword as quite a few others: not a lot of humour or PDMs to help it on its way. Also some rather dodgy clues, as previously mentioned. ELEMENTS has to be COD.

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