Times 28849 – Spinal tap

A fairly typical Monday specimen, I thought. I just snuck under 20 minutes, having entered a typo, which had to be dealt with.

How did you do?

1 A fairy to quarrel endlessly? It could be the sherry! (8)
5 Trainee protecting the female child looking innocent (6)
9 Big bird to be unsteady, mostly (3)
ROC – ROCk ;legendary large bird
10 Men go in lift possibly to get what restaurant offers? (5,6)
FILET MIGNON – anagram* of MEN GO IN LIFT; essentially, what fillet steak is known as in the US, I am told; in France, it typically refers to pork tenderloin
12 Star full of power, or police officer without staff (10)
SUPERWOMAN – SUPER (superintendent) WO MAN (staff – vb.)
13 Monkey: one pursuing bird (4)
TITI – TIT I; sometimes (as here) a monkey, sometimes a plant
15 Narrow thoroughfares or wide streams? (6)
BROADS – B roads will be familiar to British drivers: the Broads are shallow navigable lakes, linked by rivers, in East Anglia. Pretty wide streams, then
16 Neighbour needs a dairy product (7)
18 Half of them were not well and sent message (7)
20 Tommy, for one, given food with little hesitation (6)
TUCKER – TUCK ER; a reference to the English nursery rhyme ‘Little Tommy Tucker’: Little Tommy Tucker / Sings for his supper. / What shall we give him? / White bread and butter.
23 Hotel‘s documents read out (4)
RITZ – sounds like ‘writs’
24 Craftspeople needing skill if joining top decorators (10)
ARTIFICERS – ART (skill) IF (if) ICERS (those who ice or frost cakes)
26 Like sale article at ground level? (7,4)
KNOCKED DOWN – a sale article is indubitably knocked down (in theory, anyway), while something at ground level may have been knocked down; hence the question mark and hence the non-ascription of double definition status. But I wouldn’t go to war over it…
27 Song is heard in this Scottish town (3)
AYR – sounds like ‘air’ (as in ‘Londonderry Air’ – altogether now, ‘O Danny boy!’)
28 Granny joins group going round French city (6)
NANTES – NAN SET reversed; Britanny’s largest city, or not, as you prefer
29 Creative impulse of a female, calm American (8)
AFFLATUS -A F FLAT US; basically, divine inspiration. Not a word you can easily use without getting funny looks and feeling you ought to apologise
1 This clue is not a hard thing to bear (6)
ACROSS – A CROSS; this clue is of course A DOWN!
2 Finally the son has lark — one getting away (7)
ESCAPERthE S CAPER;  escapee is commoner and somehow less ugly
3 Doing well, friend lacking airs and graces (10)
INFORMALLY – IN FORM (doing well) ALLY (friend)
4 I will start to cheer on team, looking embarrassed and foolish? (3-10)
ILL-CONSIDERED – I’LL Cheer ON (on) SIDE (team) RED (looking embarrassed)
6 Greeting  that comes from above (4)
HAIL – double definition
7 Went berserk in rave outside port (3,4)
8 I attempt to follow gang in criminal activity (8)
BANDITRY – BAND (gang) I TRY (attempt)
11 Criticise act to sell multiple raffle tickets? (4,1,5,3)
TEAR A STRIP OFF – if you tear off a strip of raffle tickets, you might be able to sell a bunch more efficiently, so long as you count them carefully, which you could do before tearing them off, I think
14 Religious rite in river is working (10)
FUNCTIONAL – UNCTION in the River FAL (in Cornwall); the only other Cornish river that pops up from time to time is the Tamar, but there are two separate Allens, so perhaps that (they?) is ready for an appearance
17 Puts up with relations in furry attire (8)
19 Instrument old character used to accompany Jolson? (7)
ALTHORN – AL [Jolson] THORN (þ – a letter in Old English representing the unvoiced ‘th’ sound, as in ‘this’); ‘a valved brass musical instrument belonging to the saxhorn or flügelhorn families’
21 Smart English member meeting one from a colony? (7)
22 Little old gentleman is a god (6)
OSIRIS – O (abbreviation of old) SIR IS
25 Island‘s broadcaster picked up (4)
SKYE – sounds like SKY (the oft-plugged company in the same stable as The Times)


73 comments on “Times 28849 – Spinal tap”

  1. 40 minutes. Much of this was very easy and for I while I thought I was on course for an early finish but I was delayed by two answers in the 5th row and several more in the SE corner.

    My LOI was SUPERWOMAN where I was fixated on ‘star’ being something astronomical, but SUPERNOVA was too short for the spaces available and I was unable to resolve the wordplay for a long time.

    TITI was unknown and looked a bit unlikely but I plumped for it eventually because it fitted the wordplay. It’s not the easiest of words to search in the archive but I tracked down a single previous appearance in a Sunday puzzle in 2009 when I also didn’t know it.

    My main problem in the SE was AFFLATUS which I had to construct form wordplay. I was planning to claim it as another unknown but to my shame I discovered it has turned up 3 times over the years, and most recently in the Sunday puzzle on 14 January this year when its slightly unusual presence went without comment from me. Perhaps I found the wordplay on that occasion more straightforward than today’s.

  2. 12:57. A few bits to chew on but no great scares. Some vaguely-known words I had to construct, like ARTIFICERS and AFFLATUS, but they rang bells as the wordplay went in. KNOCKED DOWN and SUPERWOMAN both required penny-drop moments – for some reason I could only see KIOSKED for a while, and I was another thinking of supernovas, or perhaps the non-existent supernoman.

    Thanks setter & ulaca.

  3. 20:30 and seemed harder than the average Mondays I’ve seen, personally.

    BROADS was my LOI, just after I had scrapped KIWI for TITI. One to add to the list of monkeys I guess.

    COD to ABUTTER, which made me chuckle. 15a had me thinking of a word beginning with W for the longest time, though, so another highlight. Thanks setter and blogger both.

    1. Yes, but should it be? My daughter spent a year there as part of her French degree, so we got to know the place quite well; and it definitely considered itself to be the capital of Brittany. According to Wikipedia, placing it in the Loire was highly controversial. Perhaps Ulaca knows a bit more than we thought!?

      1. As Martin says, Nantes is on the river Loire and very much in Pays de la Loire, about 50 km from the Brittany border. The capital of Brittany is Rennes, another pleasant place.

        1. 70km actually Pip, but:
          “Loire-Atlantique including Brittany’s ancient Duchy capital of Nantes, was separated from the rest of Brittany partly in retaliation for a large number of Bretons supporting the Free French National Council of Charles de Gaulle and also as an attack on Bretons who supported the independence of Brittany.”
          See also the Wiki article : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reunification_of_Brittany
          .. this was a big issue when i was in Nantes

        2. We used to live at almost the most northerly point in Mayenne/Pays de La Loire. The border with Orne/Basse Normandie was a little stream 300m down the road. Sue was an avid IKEA fan and for a while, the closest branch was at Nantes. Eventually one opened just outside Caen, much closer.

    2. My words ‘Britanny’s largest city, or not, as you prefer’ were intended to reflect Nantes’ history and the fact that many people still consider it to be part of Brittany – indeed, its capital.

      My wife and I spent a very enjoyable fortnight a little further northwest (in ‘Celtic’ Britanny) a couple of years ago.

  4. Same comments as Jack, really. 40 mins and held up by SUPERWOMAN, TITI (NHO) & AFFLATUS also worked out from following the wp closely.

    I was convinced that, in order to sell more raffle tickets, you would sell a book, not tear one (ticket) off! I couldn’t obviously work that into the answer though.

    I liked 1d.

    Thanks. U and setter.

    1. There’s a difference between the specially printed raffle tickets that show the prizes, good cause etc. and come in “books” of 5, and the little ones that come in pastel colours with big numbers and a code. The latter you’d tear of a strip vertically, leaving a duplicate ticket in the book which then goes into the hat to be drawn.

      1. As one who regularly sells the little raffle tickets, I offer a helpful hint. Download one of the many random number generator apps and use it for the draw: this saves a lot of hassle folding up counterfoils, and gives the added bonus that the counterfoils can then be used as tickets in a future raffle. You have to keep a note of the first and last ticket sold, of course!

  5. 17:15
    My LOI was also SUPERWOMAN having had supernovae on the brain for some time
    I was also slowed down a bit by initially putting EIRE (airer) for 25 down.
    Also had to google the NHO TITI to make sure it existed.
    Thanks setter and blogger

    1. EIRE would’ve made it a far better clue. What we were given was one of the lamest cryptic clues I’ve seen in a proper cryptic grid for a long time. Hardly even worthy of a QC. (Sorry, Setter!)

  6. 26 minutes with LOI FUNCTIONAL. COD to TEAR A STRIP OFF, which I got from crossers and then had the necessary PDM to parse it. I liked the RITZ too. I’m not sure if you’re allowed to say you liked Al Jolson now, but as a kid I used to love listening my Dad’s old 78s. Good Monday puzzle. Thank you U and setter.

  7. 20:38
    Mostly standard fare but I was held up in the end by the SUPERWOMAN/INFORMALLY and TUCKER/FUNCTIONAL intersections.

    TITI, AFFLATUS, and Tommy TUCKER were unknowns but all generously clued so no issues.

    Thanks to both.

  8. 12 minutes or so. Didn’t know the TITI monkey; recently sang a hymn at my church where the tune was called AFFLATUS, which proved very helpful here; took a while to piece together ARTIFICERS; and for 19d thought of ‘alphorn’ first, until RITZ made clear it had to be ALTHORN.

    I can never hear FILET MIGNON without thinking of that wonderful scene from Blackadder Goes Forth…

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Roc
    LOI Superwoman
    COD Emailed

  9. Straightforward today, except for the bits that weren’t… afflatus, one of that huge list of words I vaguely recognise but don’t know the meaning of; titi, nho or if Jackkt is correct, not remembered; superwoman, so nearly supernovae… ran riot, so not ran amok or ran wild

  10. A veritable doddle except as with others I could only guess at TITI and construct AFFLATUS (which I agree does sound like a source of embarrassment) from the wordplay. Thanks for the blog!

  11. How is ‘star full of power’ Superwoman? I’m just not seeing this at all. I see the parsing but am unclear how the definition works.

        1. One of my favourite Private Eye front pages showed the hapless President Jimmy Carter sitting in the Oval Office at the height of the Iranian siege of the US Embassy and looking incredulously at his adviser telling him “But Mr President, there’s no such person as Wonder Woman!”

      1. Exactly my thoughts – perhaps a little bitter at having a 10:28 pink squared because surely it had to be supernovae even though I couldn’t parse it.

        Superwoman is a character, either in film or in comic book. She may be played on screen by a star but in no way can superwoman be described as a star- or am I missing something Nietschzean?

  12. 8:47

    Yes, very Mondayish, apart from the unknown TITI which was a hit and hope, I guess.

    I caused a bit of a hold-up at the end as I’d mistyped ESCAPER which meant I took too long to get LOI SUPERWOMAN.

    The reprimand at 11d I’d normally expect to see as TEAR OFF A STRIP. Speaking of raffle tickets, I got a right bargain the other day – I bought a whole book for £1 in the newsagent – they’re £2 a strip in the pub.

  13. DNF. Just couldn’t get 12ac. I see now that my problem was looking for a word that could in some way be defined as a ‘star’. Silly me.

  14. Definitely one of those puzzles where we all had the same issues. Now we know that AFFLATUS is nothing to do with windy issues, and a TITI is something you can monkey with without attracting a slap. Five raffle tickets is a lot (probably is if you’re going for the Million Pound House draw) and just because EIRE sounds promising as a broadcaster doesn’t mean we can eschew our dish-enabled (former?) stablemate.
    18.43, so not quick enough to blow my own ALTHORN.

  15. A quick one today, Monday tucker, 12 minutes, just had to check afterwards to see what sort of monkey was a titi. One to remember.

  16. 11:43
    Didn’t know the monkey; did anyone? But it didn’t seem problematical. Same supernova problem as everyone else; I might have got in under 11′ if I’d made up my mind. Didn’t we just have AFFLATUS? The ‘th’ sound in ‘that’ is voiced, U; eth, not thorn.

  17. 29 mins so definitely harder than usual but I’m in a hospital waiting room using my iPhone so I’ll excuse myself. OSIRIS held me up at the end, nice clue

  18. Screwed up royally by biffing RAN AMOK without checking properly; then mis-marked the numeration for 11 down as 4,1,3,5 instead of 4,1,5,3. Monday complacency or Monday arrogance? I got there in the end, tho’. COD for SUPERWOMAN with its well-disguised astronomical elephant trap, right into which I fell of course (it being Monday…)

  19. TITI for a monkey seemed terribly unlikely, but as I couldn’t work a sensible alternative I went with it. I was quite surprised to find it was right. A good finishing time for me of 27.28, but ruined when I discovered that, like Bletchley I had decided 12ac must be SUPERNOMAN.

  20. Went well but at about 25 mins got stuck on SUPERWOMAN, banged my head on various forms of invented astronomical things, got cross, gave up, revealed in a huff. Humph. Obviously I know Superman but is there really a Superwoman? Do all superheroes come in both male and female forms? Is there a Spiderwoman and a Catman too? Thanks for the entertaining blog.

  21. 17:26

    Pretty quick but some unknowns: TITI, AFFLATUS, ALTHORN all gettable from wordplay and checkers. Remembered UNCTION from somewhere (Extreme Unction – the last of the sacraments?). As with others, had some fun unscrambling SUPERWOMAN (definition a bit iffy I felt). Liked ‘top decorators’ = ICERS.

    Thanks setter and Ulaca

  22. 12:06, and I also spent a disproportionate part of that time not putting in SUPERNOVAS or something like it, before finally unravelling that one. Got there in the end, though

  23. I am obviously on my own having put “air” instead of “Ayr”. I looked at it for a while and felt it totally justifiable to go either way, and I still can’t really see why the answer should be the town rather than the song. Can anyone help me out with this?

    1. The word ‘this’ clearly indicates to me that the Scottish town is the answer. ‘Song which is heard in a Scottish town would indicate AIR.

    2. I think that the “song is heard” suggests that the song is the homophone, whilst “this Scottish town” implies that THIS is the answer?

  24. Same problems as others. Had to reveal LOI SUPERWOMAN and still not sure it makes sense to me. A few new words in TITI, ALTHORN and AFFLATUS (can’t wait to drop that one into conversation 😂) but otherwise fairly plain sailing. Thanks all.

  25. 13.15 but a few dramas along the way. I’m sure I won’t be the only one to put in hiya at 6 dn but fortunately filet mignonette saved my embarrassment. Remembered afflatus from somewhere and finally gave up thinking of supernovas to recognise superwoman.
    Good Monday workout, now for another. Off to torture my body in the gym.

  26. Finished this morning ahead if my tee time but before the blog came up. 40′ though not sure why it took so long.
    Maybe time spent prior to the eventual biff of SUPERWOMAN, having tried to make something out of supernova. Like others I don’t think the clue works. Also spent time on the TUCKER/FUNCTIONAL nexus, mainly trying to add “for one” into the mix rather than realising it was an example indicator. Thanks Ulaca and setter

  27. I started with 1d, ACROSS and finished with TITI, having spent quite a while on an alphabet trawl, but not coming up with a viable alternative. EIRE held up KNOCKED DOWN and SUIPERWOMAN took an age to cobble together. ALTHORN and AFFLATUS had to be assembled from the instructions. Liked APERITIF. 18:47. Thanks setter and U.

  28. Like some others I failed by putting SUPERNOMAN as my LOI but I was surprised that AFFLATUS was a word so not too disappointed.

  29. I took a while to get going and then collected all the mistakes everyone else made and put them in one puzzle. So I had air for AYR like Koppite, Ran amok like Bazzock (until ABUTTER sorted that out), and finished with a flourish with Supernoman like Bletchleyreject. Not only does it fit the cryptic but is clearly an excellent word for a powerful star. I consider myself in good company.

    Thanks for sorting me out Ulaca.

  30. 16.20 if I hadn’t plumped for ‘supernoman’. I know it’s not a word – but it could have been – and ‘star’ to define ‘superwoman’ does not impress me favourably.

  31. Well, I put in Supernovan as an adjective describing a star full of power (although, admittedly, van = staff doesn’t make sense).
    I also needed aids for Althorn.
    So, a DDNF (double did not finish) – not the easiest Monday puzzle.

  32. 31 minutes. Enjoyable Monday crossword, a bit harder than usual I thought.

    Now for supper. I’m thinking an aperitif, a filet mignon, some broad beans with butter, and finally some afflatus.

  33. A pleasant Monday stroll, all done in 15 minutes. Was pleased to see an ESCAPER and not the awful ESCAPEE – though this is not as awful as STANDEE, which was common for a time in warnings in London buses not to get too close to the driver. I ummed and aahed for a while between TITI and KIWI for 13ac before plumping for the first as it seemed better suited to the clueing.
    LOI – RITZ
    Thanks to ulaca and other contributors.

  34. I definitely considered putting in SUPERNOMAN, before ‘without’ alerted me to the possibility of it being a word I’d heard of. Likewise the half-forgotten AFFLATUS held me up a while. We had Sky as a broadcaster quite recently, so that went straight in, unlike LOI -I-I, where I seriously considered whether a Kiw was a monkey before going for the only bird I could think of as -I- to get the unlikely TITI. Mostly on the simple side, except for the above-mentioned. Liked ACROSS that wasn’t and 22D – OSIRIS.

  35. 16’58”. Same as everyone above on SUPERWOMAN. For me, there was confusion added by the fact that the word contains an anagram of POWER. But what’s a SUMAN? NANTES definitely historic capital of Brittany. Here is Jonathan Sumption in the first part of his history of the 100 years war: “Eastern Brittany, roughly corresponding to the modern departments of Ille-et-Vilaine and Loire-Atlantique was a fertile and densely populated plain given over mainly to vineyards and to cattle-farming and possessing in Nantes and Rennes the only two truly important towns of Brittany. This was Gallo-Brittany, speaking French and belonging to France as recognizably as the neighbouring provinces of Maine, Anjou and Poitou, which it physically resembled. West of this region lay the massif of lower Brittany, ‘Bretagne Bretonnante’ demonstrably different and overwhelmingly Breton-speaking.”

  36. DNF

    Another absurd (in retrospect) SUPERNOMAN. Main problem was typing in ESCAPEE which meant half a dozen unsuccessful alphatrawls to try and solve BROADS. Also wanted HIYA

    Nice puzzle. Thanks all

  37. Yep, nearly fell into the Hiya trap, but retracted the pen as HAIL dawned on me. Not saved by the FILET MIGNON – another anagram for a (unknown to me) foreign phrase. Bah.


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