Times 28855 – Follow the cryptic!

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Music: Charlie Byrd, Brazilian Byrd

Time: 34 minutes

This puzzle was unusually tricky for a Monday, particularly in terms of general knowledge.   If you had heard of all the answers, you might do very well, but otherwise you’re in trouble.    Years of solving Mephisto served me well, as I put in words I had never heard of, or only vaguely remembered.  The NE is particularly difficult, particularly if you don’t spell escalope right on your first attempt.

I also didn’t feel particularly well well solving, and had to force myself to concentrate.   I see from the SNITCH that most of the early solvers did well, but there are quite a few solvers with errors on the leaderboard.   So I am expecting mixed results.

1 Nice crop developed by American astronomer (10)
6 Country fellow opening note (4)
MALI – M(AL)I, the setters’ favorite fellow, a gangster.   Figures.
9 Cake shop originally included in postman’s short run (10)
PATISSERIE – PAT(I[ncluded]’S + SERIE[s].   The cryptic is useful for those dubious of the spelling.
10 A large number in service (4)
MASS – Double definition, a simple one.
12 Odd chap with a true claim to do with drugs (14)
14 Sally’s type, extremely imaginative (6)
SORTIE – SORT, I[maginativ]E.
15 Key work going into beer and meat dish (8)
ESCALOPE – ESC + AL(OP)E.   You may think this word should have LL, but not so.
17 Like certain pressure one thus accepts round pub (8)
ISOBARIC – I S(O,BAR)IC, and not SO as you might think as you are solving.
19 Mushroom I cooked initially with a fish (6)
AGARIC – A GAR + I + C[ooked].
22 Popular archer one bloke’s primarily identified among eggheads (14)
INTELLIGENTSIA –  IN TELL + I + GENT’S + I[dentified] A[mong].   Again, the cryptic offers spelling help.
24 Arduous journey, ultimately not for the weak (4)
TREK – Last letters of [no]T [fo]R [th]E [wea]K.
25 Bloomer made by tiny child inspiring key chamber work (10)
MIGNONETTE – MI(G, NONET)TE.   A flower that might be unknown to some – it was to me!    G seemed like the most likely key.
26 Gifted leader dismissed from board (4)
ABLE –     [t]ABLE, a Quickie clue.
27 Untidy woman’s hospital attendant (10)
1 Cod, for example — better choice ultimately (4)
CAPE – CAP + [choic]E.
2 Longing to fill a large earthenware jug (7)
3 Rare beast in loch unexpectedly responsive to calming (12)
4 Feature of Arctic upsetting Father Cecil endlessly (6)
ICECAP – PA CECI[l] upside-down.
5 Sphere of activity involving students’ literary output? (8)
7 A sailor mostly caught one over in Corsican port (7)
AJACCIO – A JAC[k] + C + I +O.   If you think of the right word for sailor, the cryptic guides you home.
8 Ruin pub importing crack cocaine yearly to begin with (10)
INSOLVENCY – IN(SOLVE)N + C[ocaine] Y[early].   You’re cracking the cryptic, right?
11 Made even, though impoverished, we hear (12)
13 Plant in raid is past reforming (10)
16 A couple of cash handouts securing tropical tree (4-4)
DIVI-DIVI – DIVI + DIVI, what we retirees like to receive.   Fortunately, I had seen the tree before in some puzzle or other.
18 Porridge ingredient principally offered at breakfast, say (7)
OATMEAL – O[ffered] AT MEAL.
20 Again bury first of items stored by landlord? (7)
21 Outhouse quietly removed from scene of battle (4-2)
23 Group of girls needing drink, one Victor rejected (4)

80 comments on “Times 28855 – Follow the cryptic!”

  1. 37 minutes with one clue unsolved. DIVI-DIVI has come up once before (2010) but I hadn’t remembered it and didn’t find the wordplay or checkers at all helpful today. DIVI is not a term I have ever used but having been reminded of it I have a vague memory of it being referred to as one of the benefits of shopping at the CO-OP in the 1950s and 60s.

    MIGNONETTE was unfamiliar but wordplay got me to it. It has appeared 3 or 4 times before.

    [Edit at 05:45. I’m amazed to find that my only memory of ‘DIVI’ is mentioned in the first definition in Collins: divi 1. British – short for dividend, esp (formerly) one paid by a cooperative society. I hadn’t realised it was that specific!]

    1. … and, having often been charged with small shopping errands in the 50s, I can still remember my mother’s Co-op number. Double-one-three-five-two-eight, since you ask. These days they’d ask for all kinds of security checks.

      1. At the age of 8, or thereabouts, I would be sent down to the corner shop to buy cigarettes for my parents. Simpler times.

  2. Two flowers, a tree, a fungus, and I didn’t think of the right sailor, so there you go. Thanks, setter, vinyl

  3. I didn’t have any trouble with this—it was going quite swimmingly—till the end, where my POI, MIGNONETTE, was simply the only word I could think of that fit the crossers and only parsed later, and then, damn it, I had to use Chambers Word Wizard to find DIVI-DIVI. And I still have to parse that, the blog having left me hungry (maybe I’d get it, if I had retired)… Ah, I see, short in Britain for “dividend.” Well, what else?

    1. Another one using Chambers Word Wizard here where I noted that (in line with Chambers Dictionary) it offers DIVIDIVI without a hyphen. I didn’t get the cash payment reference until some time later, so in the meantime I looked hard at CWW’s other offering PIRI-PIRI merely because it contained a hyphen.

  4. Silly-Billy! It wasn’t Lili-Pili, which I thought might be a variant spelling of the Lilly-Pilly (a tree here in Australia) , not that I could fathom how it would parse. Nho Divi-Divi, nor that a dividend would be shortened to a divi in the UK.
    15minutes with the pink-flowering lilly-pilly

  5. A fail. Exactly what Corymbia said. I didn’t know the ‘tropical tree’ or DIVI for ‘cash handout’ so that was one I was never going to get.

    1. Exactly what BletchleyR said. I almost stopped solving halfway through, so sure was I that it would be a DNF.

    2. Another nho. Tipi tipi biffed despite being aware of extraneous i i. And despite it being the season of half yearly dividends appearing in bank accounts.
      I think of handouts as gifts not earnings.

  6. Another PIRI-PIRI here as it was all I could think of that was vaguely tree-related. I do remember the unknown-in-real-life DIVI being mentioned here once before in the past, though, now I’ve seen it. Not heard of the DIVI-DIVI tree at all, though.

  7. Imponderable the dinosaur
    sinks slow,
    the mammoth saurian
    ghoul, the eastern
    Cape. . .
    (Cape Hatteras, Hart Crane)

    25 mins pre-brekker left the Tree/Bloomer crossers.
    If someone always seemed to be lucky (or “jammy”, we would say), my mother would comment, “If he fell in the co-op dam, he’d come up with the divi”.
    So I guessed that. And also, amazingly, guessed Mignonette. I thought it might end ..ette and the child might be a mignon or something.
    I see round=O today. I might use that.
    Ta setter and V.

        1. No, I don’t agree that disc = O. Speaking both as a mathematician and a pedant, letter O is a circle (give or take). A disc comprises all the space from its centre to its perimeter, not just the perimeter itself. If O is printed reversed out of some background, you see the background through it. If it were a disc you would not.

  8. Irritatingly, a DNF. 19 minutes for all but DIVI-DIVI. We’ve never shopped at the Co-op and in my business career we always paid the dividend out in full. Why does the BEVY only include girls? Otherwise, I zipped through this, if not totally confident about AGARIC. Thank you V and setter.

    1. According to Chambers, you can also have a bevy of larks, quails, swans or roe deer, so at least the girls aren’t alone…

  9. 27:12
    That would have read 15 minutes if DIVI-DIVI and MIGNONETTE hadn’t raised their heads. Both unknowns but I had NONET in quite early and after much huffing and puffing I engineered what sounded a likely flower. For DIVI-DIVI I guessed it was a repeat and a letter trawl came up with another reasonable sounding guess.

    A decent workout to start the week so thanks to the setter and to vinyl1 for the blog.

  10. 16′, but without the Corsican port, putting sal instead of jac, a bit of GK too far.

    I hadn’t heard of DIVI-DIVI, but like much of my generation used to know my mum’s divi number by heart, on the many occasions I was sent to the shops.

    Thanks vinyl and setter.

  11. Recognised this setter and didn’t bother to finish it which is sad.

    Ultimately, initially, endlessly, extremely, primarily, first of etc … enough, thank you.

  12. DNF, gave up in the end on DIVI-DIVI
    I think even if I had thought of divi as the cash handout I’d have spelt it DIVVIE. NHO ajaccio but that was workoutable. I finished the rest in 25 minutes or so I think but after 15 minutes doing alphabet trawls on -I-I I had to admit defeat.
    Oh well!!!
    Thanks setter and blogger

  13. Unlike our blogger, I actually found this quite easy, with most answers going in on first pass. 23 mins. Easy, that is until I got to 16d of course which took an age to fathom out. I finally came to the answer from the expression « divi (divvy of course) up the spoils ». So more luck than judgement then.

    No probs with AJACCIO &MIGNONETTE thankfully. I liked the long clues and the crazy plant, ASPIDISTRA. Great stuff.

    Thanks v and setter.

  14. DNF – dutifully followed the cryptic for the unknown port, but alas my sailor was a salt. And I knew neither DIVI nor the tree, so I plumped for TIKI-TIKI for no particular reason. Both rather unforgiving tests of general knowledge, I think.

    Thanks setter & blogger.

  15. 17:22

    Nightmare. With a WITCH of 157 I am currently bottom of the table. I got completely stuck in the NE corner. With only the A checkers I couldn’t see MALI or MASS at all, thinking wrong kind of note and wrong kind of service. Eventually I spotted INSOLVENCY and was able to limp home. Mostly this was easy but there were plenty of stings in tails.

  16. After battling for over a minute with the anagrist for SLOI RESTRAINABLE I finally biffed the NHO LOI, having been aware that the Co-op actually made its payout using stamps, so wasn’t sure why cash was in the clue. Not the best puzzle I’ve ever seen here – I rather sympathise with Sawbill. A lot of errors on the leaderboard, including Mohn and George Heard (who has also failed on the QC which is equally error-strewn).

    TIME 8:22

  17. 12 mins. Thought this was a quickie until I hit the DIVI DIVI/MIGNONETTE crossers. I typed in DIVI DIVI, but then had to look it up as it seemed too unlikely

  18. DNF. I found this mostly straightforward but had zero chance with the tree, and I think it’s a pretty poor clue. Such an obscure term surely merited clear wordplay, but a dividend is not a ‘handout’. Harrumph.

    1. I think a Co-op divvy is a handout .. but they spelled it wrong!
      Or my parents and granny did, which leaves me no better off..

      1. The word ‘handout’ implies charity, which doesn’t really apply to the Co-op divvy as I understand it – it was more of a membership rebate scheme. A precursor to the modern loyalty card!

      2. Yes, JerryW, you and your parents spelled it incorrectly. It was a divi then and it’s a divi now. Funny how so many people are cross because they did not know the tree or know about dividends. Petulance cubed, I would say.

        1. I’ve been working in finance for thirty years, so I flatter myself that I know what a divi is. It’s not a handout.

  19. I was going to be really clever and cite the Witches “her husband’s to Ajaccio gone, master of the Tiger”, but that would have been stupid, not least because it doesn’t fit the iambic pentameter. Still, after thinking I knew nothing of Corsica except The Little Corporal, it helped me to remember the port and stick it in Corsica. If ever I get to do “Where is Kazakhstan?” I might stand a chance, even if Aleppo would pose a challenge.
    The idea of DIVI as a cash handout is odd, conjuring up images of shareholders in Shell BP queuing up at the front desk for their millions in used fivers. With the monkey of a few days ago, I toyed with TITI-TITI and MIRI-MIRI seemed an option. Bordering on unfair, I think.
    18.07 fearing pink.

    1. Ajaccio is the capital of Corsica, Napoleon’s birthplace, a holiday destination and home of a football Club in the French league so I think it’s fair game for a Times puzzle, regardless of what gets you there.

  20. 6:12 Easy peasy except for the unknown AJACCIO and DIVI-DIVI, both of which were well-signposted by the wordplay, though I would have thought it was spelled DIVVI, and I seem to recall the Coop one being (green?) stamps rather than cash. All a bit too biffable for my liking, but a nice gentle start to the week.

  21. DNF. Decided Piri-piri didn’t mention money at all and tipi-tipi was a better guess. Never thought of DIVI so that was silly of me.

  22. 13:53. Another who guessed DIVI-DIVI from Co-op days. Couldn’t parse my LOI MALI but bunged it in anyway. Misled at first by the A at the start of the clue for MASS thinking the wordplay had to be A + (large number). I liked the misleading Cod for cape. Thanks vinyl and setter.

  23. DNF, relieved to come here and find others didn’t know DIVI-DIVI. Then less relieved to see I’d messed up the spelling of STRAIGHTENED, leaving me with _H_R_C for 19a and inventing ‘charic’.

    Reasonably quick (15 minutes or so) until then. Pieced together the unknown MIGNONETTE from wordplay, though even once I got it I thought it was some kind of bread; didn’t know ASPIDISTRA either, though the checkers left little option; and took a while to separate ‘crack’ and ‘cocaine’ in 8d to get INSOLVENCY.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    COD Lean-to

  24. As with many others, I failed on the tree, whose parts, which looked like being repeated, were also not clear. A divi is a cash handout? I didn’t like the clue because if you’d never heard of the tree then you were stuck with an indication that was less than obvious, as it should have been for such a hard word. Otherwise very nice I thought, but having spent four minutes on the tree I reckoned I wasn’t going to know it so used aids. 32 minutes.

  25. 07:26 though I freely admit my time should be ruled out by moral absolutists, as I checked that DIVI-DIVI existed before submitting (which is obviously different to coming up with the word out of thin air using a solving app, but this feels like dancing on the head of a pin). Anyway, I am in the club who felt it was a word which didn’t belong in a relatively straightforward Monday puzzle without much clearer clueing, so there we go.

  26. Another DNI here, Divi-divi being the chief culprit. No problem with Ajaccio which comes up on my weather forecast, nor with mignonette which I often see when I’m out walking. MER at escalope being described as a dish rather than a cut

  27. 26:09 for a very un-Mondayish puzzle. I was lucky enough to stumble on the NHO DIVIDIVI, but couldn’t quite believe it until checking post-solve.

  28. 23:43 but…

    …you’d probably have to be of a certain age to know of Co-op dividends let alone that the word could be shortened to DIVI meaning a cash handout. Dividends these days certainly do not seem to be paid in cash, nor even by cheque – they go straight into your bank account. As for the tree, no chance! So, sorry setter, but that clue was bonkers. I had to look it up so a DNF for me.

  29. A quite reasonable time seemed to be on the cards until I came to my LOI which of course was 16dn. After giving it three minutes or so I decided enough was enough and stopped the clock at 31.23 with an entry of TIPI TIPI. It was either that or PIRI PIRI, but either way it was wrong.

  30. Failed on DIVI-DIVI (needed an aid) when I should’ve been able to guess it from my co-op experiences. Couldn’t parse MALI but bunged it in, thinking the fellow was MAL, (but then how could ‘I’ be ‘note’?)
    At first I thoroughly disapproved of ‘IC’ for ‘accepts’, until I read the blogger’s parsing. This is very complex for a Monday puzzle.
    Liked CAPE and LEAN-TO.

  31. DNF DIVI-DIVI and MIGNONETTE, but seem in fairly good company. I thought of divvy (didn’t know ‘divi’ spelling) but dismissed it as there didn’t seem to be a homophone indicator – oh well. AGARIC was also new but wordplay was clear enough. Knew AJACCIO. Many thanks for the blog V.

  32. DNF

    I found almost everything relatively straightforward and was well within 25 minutes (including MIGNONETTE from wordplay), apart from that tree. I’m old enough to recall the Co-op “divi” as an expression and even remember seeing the booklets of light blue sticky tokens, but we were strictly a Green Shield stamp household (I blame the parents).

    Thank you to vinyl1 and the setter.

  33. DNF with unknown tree missing after 40 mins. Otherwise plenty to biff and others easily constructed.

    Thanks V and setter

  34. Tricky one today as MIGNONETTE, AJACCIO and DIVI are all VHOs and DIVI-DIVI is a NHO. Not a normal Monday puzzle and DNF but fun all the same and quite quick on the bit I did do. Thank you to the setter and blogger!

  35. DNF after 7m 50s, having correctly guessed AJACCIO but (like so many others) been unable to fill in DIVI-DIVI. I had come across an abbreviated form of dividend, but only in the ‘divvy’ spelling (I can understand why people wanted to move away from that!) and certainly hadn’t heard of the tree.

    Cross of AL and DI on your ‘random name’ bingo card.

  36. COPERNICUS went straight in as I read the clue. IRAN followed and held up AJACCIO and INSOLVENCY until I had an epiphany with AJACCIO from the wordplay and a vague feeling I’d heard it before. MALI was then deduced and that gave me 8d. POI MIGNONETTE was constructed. If I’d been asked to define the word out of context I’d said it was a small steak, but now I know it’s a flower! Mind you, I’ve just Googled it and it’s also a sauce for oysters. Who knew! That left me with the tropical tree. TIPI TIPI beckoned briefly but I couldn’t reconcile the extra Is. I then remembered the Co-op Divi from childhood days, although I can’t remember my mother’s number. 21:33. Thanks setter and Vinyl.

  37. DNF with the tree. Having grown up in the 60’s and 70’s, I was unaware of cash handouts of that nature, and the word Divvy was only familiar to me spelled thus, as in ‘divvy up’. So, faced with a multitude of possible combinations and not helped by an alphabet trawl, I had to come here for enlightenment. Pity, because the rest of the puzzle was easy enough if you followed the wordplay, with a few biffs along the way (PATISSERIE and PHARMACEUTICAL). I liked BEVY, in which I note that bevvy is spelled the way I would expect!

  38. 30:53 and all green. Lots of time spent on MIGNONETTE and DIVI-DIVI. I remember Mum’s Co-op number (one seven nine double eight three) and anyway thought DIVI seemed OK as a cash pay out (possibly thinking of divvy) but it went in as a total NHO longshot. Phew

  39. Had to cheat on Divi-divi. All done on 11 minutes except for that. Reached for online aid five minutes later. Not proud. But I doubt I’d have got it. 16’09 all up.

  40. DNF – failing on the mignonette divi-divi cross. Only knew nonet from crosswordland and only as a group of nine not as a work for a group of nine so was never getting the NHO flower. I knew divi as short for dividend but even with all the crossers would not have brought it to mind. Shame as I’d been lucky with the sailor choice for Ajaccio

    Thanks vinyl and setter

  41. I don’t routinely try the 15×15 unless one of you lot pops into the QC blog to tell us when it’s an easy one. But it’s been a slow day at work and I thought I’d give it a shot, managing all but DIVI-DIVI, MIGNONETTE and BEVY. Should probably have got the third, not bothered about the other two. It’s funny how words like “agaric” and “Lepanto” can slowly percolate up from the murky depths.

    Thank you for the blog!

  42. This is really the perfect example of what I dislike extremely about some puzzles: the whole thing is rather easy except for one clue which, as it turns out, almost no one gets right, because you either have to be an expert in botany or have shopped at cooperatives in 1950s Britain. Of course there are crossing letters: 4 I’s, really not very helpful.

    1. I don’t know where you live but the co-op is an international organisation with , according to Wikipedia, 60000 stores in the USA and nearly 2000 in Australia.
      And they still pay a divi.

  43. I remember taking my grandmother’s Co-op number with me on errands in the 1960s to be sure she got her divi, but I never thought of a dividend as a handout any more than I did my salary. And I’ve NHO the tree. Hence a DNF, annoying, as I didn’t find the rest of the puzzle especially hard going. About 25 mins before waving the white flag.

  44. Nothing original to add. Pretty easy until NHOs DIVI-DIVI and MIGNONETTE neither of which I could biff from wordplay though “divi” from the co-op is well known to me from my youth. thanks Vinyl1 and setter.

  45. Oddly I found the non-GK clues quite easy and expected to finish quite quickly. Then 7d, 25a and 16d brought me to a halt. Settled for piri-piri in the end but now know that was wrong. Thanks for the blog.

  46. Somehow I got the tree correct, but I didn’t get Mignonette which sounds more like the 16d meat dish than a flower.
    Ah, well.


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