Times 28859 – and me, a poor competitor


I made heavy weather of this, but I don’t think it’s too hard for a Friday, tailless primates and tailed water channels excepted.

Definitions underlined in bold italics, (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, deletions and [] other indicators.

1 Recite the rosary, holding a rope (6)
TETHER – hidden in reciTE THE Rosary.
4 Spread stories backing daughter: record is very good (8)
GOSSIPED – reversal of D (daughter), EP (record), IS, SO (very), and G (good).
10 Ad-libbing station jingle is foolish (11)
IMPROVIDENT – IMPROV (ad-libbing) + ident (station jingle).
11 Curious old method of payment (3)
ODD – O (old) + DD (direct debit, method of payment).
12 Improve painting that’s thoroughly wet: what a pain (7)
RETOUCH – RET (soak, thoroughly wet) + OUCH (what a pain).
14 Popular champion throwing kid jokily into the air (7)
TRIBUNE – RIB (kid jokingly) inside TUNE (air).
15 Woman martyred with stiletto or revolver perhaps during annual festivities (9,5)
CATHERINE WHEEL – CATHERINE (woman martyred) + W (with) + HEEL (stiletto).
17 Drink that has naval ratings finally bouncing wildly (9,5)
SAUVIGNON BLANC – anagram of NAVAL + ratingS + BOUNCING.
21 Drink too much? That’s a coincidence (7)
OVERLAP – cryptic hint, “lap” too much.
22 Close match, one’s rarely worn out (7)
NIGHTIE – NIGH (close) + TIE (match).
23 Person regularly taking tablet (3)
ONE – ON (regularly taking) + E (ecstasy, tablet).
24 A bible going out for primate in Asia (5,6)
26 One missing a work meeting told to go inside (8)
ABSENTEE – A BEE (work meeting), with SENT (told to go) inside it.
27 Security on door vital at flat (6)
KEYPAD – KEY (vital) + PAD (flat).
1 Article bobbing around a water channel (8)
TAILRACE – anagram of ARTICLE surrounding A.
2 Take advantage of endless ribbon (3)
TAP – endless TAPe (ribbon).
3 Old king got up on pick-up truck to make careful speech (7)
ELOCUTE – old king COLE reversed, then UTE (utility vehicle, pick-up truck).
5 After some deliveries, article is on shelf for unrestricted purchase (4-3-7)
OVER-THE-COUNTER – OVER (some deliveries) + THE (article) + COUNTER (shelf).
6 Drunken Caledonian clubs ejected (7)
SOTTISH – ScOTTISH (Caledonian) with ‘c’ (clubs) deleted.
7 Proud, fervent speech praising the railway? (11)
PROTUBERANT – PRO TUBE RANT (fervent speech praising the railway?).
8 Birds no longer suffice as stuffing for cooks (6)
DODOES – DO (suffice as) contained by DOES (cooks).
9 Around sunset, fag break? (8-2,4)
LIGHTING-UP TIME – cryptic hint, time to light a cigarette, or time to switch one’s lights on.
13 Four-footers balance unsteadily, suspicious at first around vehicle (11)
TETRAMETERS – TEETER (balance unsteadily) + first of Suspicious, all containing TRAM (vehicle).
16 Shown veiled (8)
SCREENED – double definition.
18 Bad boy’s two homes (7)
VILLAIN – VILLA (home) + IN (home).
19 Soil is black, say, except initially round the edge (7)
BEGRIME – B (black) + EG (say) + Except initially, all containing RIM (the edge).
20 Capital of a country in Africa British wanted back (6)
BOGOTA – A + TOGO (country in Africa) + B (British), all reversed.
25 Bowled over by quiet dance (3)
BOP – B (bowled) + O (over) + P (quiet).

62 comments on “Times 28859 – and me, a poor competitor”

  1. I didn’t find this at all easy and needed a full hour to fill the grid but only after resorting to aids for 20dn BOGATA because I was completely stumped by the clue.

    I battled with CATHERINE WHEEL and got it eventually mainly from checkers before making the revolving firework connection. I have learned that it is named after St Catherine of Alexandria whose touch is said to have shattered the wheel on which she was due to be tortured to death.

    TETRAMETERS was another beast, but I took some satisfaction from constructing it successfully from wordplay

    I never heard of AGILE GIBBON, so when I unravelled it from the anagrist I checked Collins and found it’s not listed there. A more general Google search confirmed its existence and I later discovered it in SOED

    DODOES with an E looks completely wrong and the dictionaries confirm it is only an alternative spelling.

    SOTTISH, BEGRIME and ELOCUTE all from wordplay as they’re not words within my everyday vocabulary.

    1. Much to my surprise, Merriam-Webster has “dodoes” as the first choice for the plural. American.

    2. Same. Had to use aids for BOGOTA; I didn’t have ONE, either, which might have helped.

      Thought this was tough; astonished that some found it easy.

  2. No idea of the time, as I did most of this waiting for, or riding on, the train; finally finished, to my surprise, with only one error: For some reason I thought the vehicle in 13d was reversed, came up with TRAC, which I didn’t believe but didn’t pursue; never got close to the actual definition. DNK IDENT, DNK DD, DNK AGILE GIBBON, DNK TAIL RACE. Agree with Jack (and the dictionaries) about DODOES. Are CATHERINE WHEELS associated with an annual festivity? COD to TRIBUNE.

  3. I took my time on this, distracted by current events. Found it pretty solid. FOI was OVER-THE-COUNTER, landed last in BOGOTA. PROTUBERANCE is funny. Don’t know if I’d ever seen TAILRACE before—worked that out from the anagram, like our simian cousin.

  4. 65m 50s
    Well, I found it tough. For 13d I became fixated on ‘totter’ for ‘balance unsteadily’. Took ages to sort out.
    Completely missed the containment clue in 1ac but got there in the end. With the initial T I was thinking of an alternative word for saying the rosary which is ‘tell’. Pleased to have nutted out BOGOTA.
    Thank you Will. i. am.

    1. As I meant to say in my post below, yes the hidden at 1ac was very well disguised and I didn’t see it for quite a long time.

  5. O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
    So haggard, and so woe-begone?
    (La Belle Dame… , a bit of Keats tetrameter)

    35 mins pre-brekker, but worth the extra. NHO the Agile Gibbon, and had to guess what a Tailrace was.
    I liked Catherine Wheel.
    Ta setter and W.

      1. I remembered it from that specific puzzle, where it was clued using a rather obscure term (‘trace’ for a small amount of rain). I moaned about this, as is my wont, and got a sympathetic response from our much-missed Dorset correspondent. The much more frequent appearance of the related MILLRACE helped fix it in my memory I think.

        1. I put in TAILRACE smugly, remembering it from several previous appearances. Only now do I realise I was thinking of ‘millrace’, which I’d conveniently, as it turned out, misremembered.

  6. 46 minutes with LOI ELOCUTE. Really? LIGHTING-UP TIME and PROTUBERANT were brilliant clues to start the morning with a smile. I thought all gibbons were agile, but maybe the rest are just funky. This was a terrific puzzle. Thank you setter, and William.

  7. DNF

    I would have been only a minute or so behind Verlaine but I had TETRAPETERS at 13d, going for the wrong vehicle and the wrong sort of feet. There were enough other funny words in the grid for me to think it might be an obscure alternative to tetrapods.

    Despite that I thought it was a great puzzle.

  8. About half an hour.

    I was fixated on ‘tetrahedras’ for 13d, even though it didn’t work for various reasons, until I thought of teeters and corrected to TETRAMETERS. That then unlocked the short but (for me at least) tricky ONE.

    I misparsed the DD in ODD, thinking it was d as in shilling, but no matter; biffed SAUVIGNON BLANC once I had the B and the C; hadn’t heard of TAILRACE but it was the only option with the checkers in place; had to trust that there’s an AGILE GIBBON; haven’t come across ELOCUTE before.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Tether
    LOI One
    COD Bogota

      1. Then I was even more wrong than I thought 🙂

        It’s a good job we don’t have to show our working!

  9. 18:51.

    Pretty steady progress throughout. Didn’t know the monkey, but once I’d got GIBBON the rest couldn’t have been anything else. TAILRACE also the only viable candidate, although it was my LOI and I braced for it being something far more obvious that I’d missed.

    I too would’ve assumed it was DODOS, but then it’s been extinct for a couple of hundred years, so I was happy to take an alternative from wordplay on trust.

    Thanks William & setter.

  10. Gave up on the hour with four missing. I wanted ‘what a pain’ to be UGH! and wouldn’t let it go or PRO(line)RANT which is not a word. The correct answer and misdirection of the definition is truly sneaky. Couldn’t decide what was going on with the jokey kid. A shame because I unravelled much others found tough. I guess that’s me ‘sorted from the men’

    Thanks William

    1. If I’d stopped after an hour, I’d be in the same boat. Have no idea how long it took in the end – 3 sessions, ending this morning, triumphantly. My problem is I won’t give in; my advantage is I’m semi-retired and can afford to keep chewing away.

      1. Of course you are right. I tend to have a busy day planned and for complex psychological neuroses instilled in me in my youth feel the need to ‘do’ the crossword then move on. Since I am also now semi retired I realise that is something I can probably now let go. Following your encouragement, for which thank you, I persevered with my last few unsolved clues in subsequent crosswords last week and completed them over the course of the day. The sky did not fall in.

  11. DNF, beaten by TAILRACE and IMPROVIDENT, either of which might have helped get the other. I think I was never going to see the ‘ident’ bit of the latter. Oh well, nice challenge on a Friday.

    Did like BEGRIME.

  12. 36:46
    Self-induced thick head notwithstanding I made a bit of a meal of this.

    A couple of unknowns (TAILRACE, TETRAMETERS) and some nice surfaces but all fairly clued so no excuses.

    Thanks to both.

  13. 44:49
    Really good puzzle. Tailrace – who knew? Villain – a word etymologically rooted in disdain for the exploited peasantry.
    Thanks, w.

  14. 10:40, so found myself right on the wavelength for this. NHO the gibbon, but once I’d got the right sort of primate, the first word had to be what it was, despite the result looking a bit “green paint”-ish. Nice enough distraction from the cricket, which is a difficult watch for England supporters at present

  15. I might have been quicker if I hadn’t entered SAUVIGNON with a C where the V should be. Maybe I need a bigger keyboard. Left me contemplating CANAAN for the bad boy, thankfully resolved. I resisted BOGOTA for a while, thinking it’s not an African capital (with that evil inner voice saying “or is it?”
    Did anyone else waste time trying to anagram (is foolish) station jingle? You can get JOINT GENITALS, but only if your luck’s in
    Came in at 24.15

    1. I think I went so far as to think it might be anagrist; you could also, of course, get GENITAL JOINTS, giving new meaning to ‘More power to your elbow’.

  16. 18:40, including four or five minutes where I had to deal with something and somehow failed to stop the clock. And I had the same mistake as Penfold, for the same reasons. A bad end to a bad solving week.
    Add me to the list of those surprised by the existence of the AGILE GIBBON and a the extra E in the plural of DODO.

  17. 48 mins so on the tougher side but all gettable/guessable with concentration on the wp.

    My comments have all been echoed above. Same NHOs etc. It rests for me to say, COD, SAUVIGNON BLANC, yes please.

    Thanks William and setter.

  18. Several words that were pretty well unknown and I eventually resorted to aids as the hour approached; I finished in 63 minutes. Usually after the event I regret using aids and tell myself that I should have worked it out without them, but in the case they were necessary, except for TETRAMETERS, which I regretted. But it all seemed to be very good and I particularly liked the jokey kid and the pro-tube rant.

  19. A fail on the TETRA whatsit so a DNF but an enjoyably tough challenge to which I surrendered in about 45. I too am unconvinced by the rogue E, surely you have one dodo and two dodos. Anyway, upward and onward, a good weekend to all.

  20. 53 minutes. Hard work, though everything eventually parsed including the uncommon words like TAILRACE. I liked the misdirection of the ‘Capital of a country in Africa’ part of the surface for BOGOTÁ.

    Happy to see no pink squares after submitting and thought I would go for a gentle warm down with the QC. Little did I know what lay in store.

  21. 45′, thought it was going to be more but fell into place towards the end. LOI NHO TAILRACE needing all the checkers. Didn’t parse IDENT but should have; AGILE was a biff from remaining letters. Enjoyed getting BOGOTA so that’s my COD. Thanks William and setter

  22. 58:04. Hard, but nothing too arcane, so mainly down to the tough cluing. Well done Setter. I liked TETRAMETERS and the PRO TUBE RANT

  23. I too thought it hard in places but with some gimmes.
    As usual missed the hidden in 1a TETHER for ages. 10a IMPROV-IDENT missed the ident bit so biffed. 23a biffed, missed ON-E. NHO 24a AGILE G, or at least not in cheating machine. Was easy to find the Agile having the ape.
    As a pedal cyclist in the 50s & 60s we used to worry about POI 9d LIGHTING UP T, but nowadays the cars turn their own lights on and no-one worries the many cyclists who ignore it. The cyclists who do light up do it in the daytime as well; batteries last MUCH longer and LEDs use so little power.
    13d TETRAMETERS I was looking at the wrong sort of feet for AGES!

  24. 31:18

    Quite happy with this Friday challenge hitting the setter’s wavelength. Thoughts similar to those already expressed about the plural of DODO. Was less comfortable with ONE though it was a slap-head moment when the penny dropped. COD to ODD

    Thanks William and setter

  25. 37 mins, finished but never seen ON clued like that before, and major eyebrow raise over DODOES.

  26. TETHER was FOI. I resisted DODOES untill I had all the crossers as I’d never come across the alternative spelling, but the crossers and wordplay made it inevitable. NHO the GIBBON, but there was only one sensible arrangement of the remaining letters. TAILRACE and TETRAMETER were painstakingly constructed from the wordplay. POI, PROTUBERANT raised a smile. GOSSIPED was LOI. 33:12. Thanks setter and William.

  27. Two earworms today. I’m on E – Debbie Harry (23a). Do do do the funky (or agile) gibbon — The Goodies (8d and 24a). Enjoy. Done in noisy office. 26’24”. Don’t think I knew PROTUBERANT as proud. Many thanks.

    1. I think it is proud, as in a (for example) bolt-head or a nail standing proud of a surface

  28. I had exactly the same experience as William, taking 49:10 having definitely made a meal of several clues notably my LOI the TETRAMETERS which I must have taken over 5 minutes on in total.
    TAILRACE was a word I’d not heard of but I should have got it much faster.
    And so on …
    Thanks setter and blogger

  29. I liked Protuberant and Villain. Many of the synonyms were not the first word I would have thought of. Tricky that. And I just could not get Tetrapodals out of my head – I’d much rather have joined Leskoffer with a Blondie as my brain worm today. thx wm, thx setter

  30. A tough workout but made it in the end with a finishing time of 48.30. The clue that held me up for the longest time was my LOI BOGOTA, and eventually when I worked it out, I wondered why it had taken so long. I managed to convince myself that the reference to ‘capital’ meant the currency of a country rather than a capital city. A good crossword in my opinion

  31. This was definitely tough, but quite enjoyable. Even though I soon found the two long down answers, it took me longer than it should have done to master the rest. NHO AGILE GIBBON and expected the first five letters to be a place of origin. But soldiered on and completed in 51 minutes.
    FOI – ODD
    Thanks to william and other contributors.

  32. I’m not the most agile of gibbons today. For instance, I knew there was another word for ad-lib but I simply couldn’t put my finger on it. Too many cocktails last night, I suspect. Got there in the end but it took me over the hour.

    Decent Friday puzzle, for all that. Tough but fair.

  33. Great puzzle – tough but fair. Unfortunately, I’m a DNF because I completely missed that I hadn’t completed 20d Bogota – I was struggling with it, left it for later, conveniently forgot about it – what a dodo!

  34. About 45 minutes

    Not quick but enjoyed it. Classics and cricket a big help again

    Like Simon Anthony the clever TETHER was my LOI. Simple and effective. Mill race no problem for a former fan of the Cadfael books and TAILRACE worked out from there (excellent clue).

    I took LIGHTING UP to suggest that daylight was up ie ended, which was probably nonsense but not complaining

    Thanks William setter and everyone else for your comments

  35. E side solved quicker. Struggled with W side for ages until I got TETRAMETERS. I kept thinking about tetrapods with four feet.
    Then NW and SW slowly solved.

    In 1d I thought the anagrind was “bobbing around” since “bobbing” is simply up and down and doesn’t suggest rearranging. Thus it is the anagram of ARTICLE+A. Seems funny to have A inserted in an anagram.

  36. Wow, that was a Friday stinker for my part! Finished with tenacious stubbornness this morning. The ones that refused to yield were GOSSIPED, DODOES (thanks to the superfluous E!), PROTUBERANT (‘that’ kind of proud!), TRIBUNE (nho that sense of the word) and nho TAILRACE. I also failed to parse CATHERINE WHEEL, as I was fixated on stiletto as dagger. Time: off the scale, but all correct in the end and chapeau to a brilliant, devious setter.

  37. All already said, but I found it tougher than most solvers, having as I do (like
    Casey) a fixation on finishing the crossie before ‘getting on with’ the day. Should have taken a leaf out of alto_ego’s book. After all, most of us have found that a break from it really helps the subconscious to work on those toughies while doing housework, for example. PROTUBERANT an excellent clue, and my COD – a fine example of the Charade. Runner-up would be LIGHTING-UP-TIME, as I well remember the street lights coming on back in Pommie-land , to let us kids know we should be home by now!


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