Times 28861 – A woman to be reckoned with

Nothing too much to frighten the horses here, though it helps if you are familar with the Bible, the wives of Henry VIII and legalese.


1 Do for one bishop and cleric, looking back (4)
VERB – reversal of B REV
4 Performer, one sensible about places like London, not half (10)
9 Pub about to sway with English song (10)
BARCAROLLE – BAR CA ROLL E; normally spelt with just one l
10 Veg, not quite enough for a feast (4)
BEAN – BEANo; you might have got there by taking by taking feast off BEANfeast, but I think this works better
11 Prisoner with fantastic chatter (6)
12 Scottish town hospital attended by a poet (8)
HAMILTON – H A MILTON; best known for its football team, Hamilton Academical
14 Royal survivor giving what is expected to an audience (4)
PARR – sound like PAR; Catherine Parr was Henry VIII’s last wife, surviving him by a year and a bit. Claims to fame: with four husbands, she is the most-married English queen; she was the first woman to publish an original work under her own name, in English, in England.
15 Is part-time working offering a sense of togetherness? (4,6)
17 Oliver’s college? (10)
GOLDSMITHS – The Goldsmiths’ College (commonly called Goldsmiths) is part of the University of London. Although playwrights and novelist Oliver Goldsmith (She Stoops to Conquer, The Vicar of Wakefield) was educated in Dublin and Edinburgh, in a whimsical universe, he might be considered to have something to do with this place.
20 Member turning to entertain a Highlander? (4)
GAEL – A in LEG reversed
21 Fool was unwell, being attacked (8)
23 Strip joint vulgar, first to go (6)
24 Diary about daughter is something precious (4)
GOLD – LOG reversed D
25 Excessively severe maidens possibly conned, we hear (10)
OVERSTRICT – OVERS (maiden overs in cricket are those in which no runs may be debited against the bowler – simple game, isn’t it?) sounds like ‘tricked’
26 Annoys sides playing with interrupting requests (10)
27 Report of solitary advance (4)
LOAN – sounds like ‘lone’
2 Old evil upset speakers — they may go into further detail (11)
ELABORATORS – reversal of BALE (archaic word for ‘evil, woe, injury’) ORATORS (speakers)
3 Support given to female, one Socialist, worked out badly (9)
4 Food that is eagerly sought by numismatist? (7)
RAREBIT – a coin-collector might be on the lookout for a rare bit, a bit being a small coin
5 Lack of concern shown briefly by Vicky and Priscilla (15)
COLDHEARTEDNESS – C (the abbreviation for cold) is the medial letter of the two girls, who therefore show ‘coldheartedness’; I wanted this to be halfheartedness
6 Jolly lot with very big drink container? (7)
THERMOS – THE RM (jolly lot, AKA the Royal Marines) OS (outsize)
7 That is the day for assassination, foremost of tragedies (2,3)
ID EST – IDES (of March, when Caesar copped it) Tragedies; id est is commonly abbreviated to i.e.
8 Musical group turning up that may be in the groove (5)
TENON – reversal of NONET; a tenon a projection on the end of a piece of wood
13 Legal opinions in old rambling diatribe enthralling court (6,5)
OBITER DICTA – CT (court) in O (old) DIATRIBE*; an observation by a judge on some point of law not directly in issue (often made with a faint smile masking a tremendous sense of inner satisfaction)
16 Popular army officer usually (2,7)
IN GENERAL – IN GENERAL; not difficult
18 Bloke holding drunk up is a sugary type (7)
MALTOSE – reversal of SOT (crossword drunken guy) in MALE; also called malt sugar
19 Scorn during school tests — they inflict unnecessary pain (7)
SADISTS – DIS (scorn [verb]) in SATS; I know SATs as US tests (examinations taken by those wishing to enter a college or university: ‘Scholastic Aptitude Tests’), but I see they also have them for seven-year-olds in England and Wales to test ability (‘Standard Assessment Tasks’)
21 Cold? It’s good to wear a hat (5)
ALGID – G (good) in A LID (slang for ‘hat’)
22 Sarah is turning up as apostle’s companion (5)
SILAS – reversal of SAL (diminutive of Sarah) IS; Silas (who accompanied Paul on some of his journeys) pops up in the ‘Acts of the Apostles’ and a few other places in the New Testament.

57 comments on “Times 28861 – A woman to be reckoned with”

  1. The parsing at 4ac should be REALIST (one sensible) containing CIT{ies} (places like London) [not half].

    My solving times have not been too good recently so it was nice to have a slightly easier puzzle today. At 35 minutes I still missed my target half-hour but this was accounted for by two answers that gave me problems at the very end and added a good 10 minutes to my completion time.

    PARR at 14ac involved extensive alphabet trawling that on the first run-through came up with HAIR as the only word that struck me as vaguely possible, sounding like HEIR perhaps as ‘royal survivor’, but on reflection it was never going to work. Eventually I thought of PARR and made the ’royal’ connection.

    My second problem was having DISTRESSES at 26 but I was unable to justify it and had to think again to come up with DISPLEASES.

    BARCAROLLE would be my preferred spelling of the gondola song and both Chambers and Wikipedia list it ahead of ‘barcarole’. Collins and the Oxfords however favour the single L.

    My unknowns were ALGID (one previous appearance in 2021) and evil / BALE (first time out, apparently), but neither of them delayed me for more than a few seconds.

    1. Pretty much my exact same experience with Hair / Parr, Distresses / Displeases, Algid and Bale, Jack! Even our times matched 😊

  2. 34 minutes, with LOI DISPLEASES.First biffed and then parsed COLD HEARTEDNESS after solve while waiting for this blog to open up. COD to RAREBIT. HAMILTON came via the academical side of course, ALGID constructed from crossers.Thank you U and setter.

  3. I enjoyed this puzzle a lot despite taking 39 minutes to finish it. As with Jack I made steady if slow progress but a good 5 minutes at the end was taken up with an alphabet trawl for PARR – though I thought it was a good clue when I finally reached P and cottoned on.
    Thanks setter and blogger

  4. 12:46. Held up, like Jackkt, by trying to make 26A DISTRESSES, taking a while to see the PLEAS. LOI PARR only because I forgot to go back to it. Constructed OBITER DICTA from the anagram fodder. It vaguely rang a bell when I found it, but I had no idea what it meant. Maybe I’ll remember next time. Thanks Ulaca and setter.

  5. Thought this was harder than usual for a Monday, so very pleased to finish in 11’35”. I’m not that familiar with SILAS, who doesn’t get books or schools named after him. Nearly banged in ‘distressed’, like others. Previously thought OBITER DICTA was to do with eulogies, have learned something.

    Thanks ulaca and setter.

    1. Some came easily and some stumped me. Of the former, Obiter Dicta used to be the name of the staff magazine at Butterworth Legal in Kingsway when I worked for the Scientific sister company in Guildford. I understood it meant a version of ‘Voices off’ as it was pretty critical of management! Goldsmiths was my mum’s college in the WWII years, although the college had been evacuated to the University of Nottingham campus.

  6. 29.24 with a couple of roadblocks. Thought of powwow instead of confab at first until backfired emerged. Was held up by Parr- just got bogged down thinking it was something to do with hair/ heir. Fortunately, sense ultimately prevailed.

    Thx setter and blogger.

  7. A slightly odd puzzle, I thought – but enjoyable. Shame I turned my brain off when entering BACCAROLLE…

    Thanks ulaca & setter.

  8. About 20 minutes, but with no great confidence that BEAN was right – beano as a feast only rang the faintest of bells.

    Took a long time to see PARR (was on the verge of bunging in a desperate ‘fair’); was glad that the checkers for RAREBIT eventually meant I didn’t need to know what a numismatist is; OBITER DICTA was pieced together in stages, with dicta coming first; ALGID was remembered from previous crosswords; and I couldn’t explain the differences between all the various -tose substances but MALTOSE was generously clued.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Verb
    LOI Bean
    COD Team spirit

  9. 35′ with, like others, time lost on trying to parse “distresses” and changing “half” to “cold” after finally working out RECITALIST.
    After Airdrie recently and HAMILTON today, it seems setters have come across an old North Lanarkshire road map. Suits me!
    Thanks Ulaca and setter

  10. Found this hard. Had DISTRESSES instead of DISPLEASES – no wonder I couldn’t parse it. And beaten by PARR, which I now kick myself for.

  11. I don’t think we need to go into a whimsical world of education for GOLDSMITHS do we? Isn’t it just that ‘Oliver’s’ gives GOLDSMITH’S which leaves ‘college’ as the definition entering the grid as GOLDSMITHS?

    I thought slightly tougher than a usual Monday but very enjoyable so thank you setter and ulaca for the blog.

  12. Sadly I went for ORIBET DICTA on the unknown Latin; didn’t seem any more or less likely than OBITER DICTA to me. The fact that I knew I probably only had a 50/50 chance of success from there on didn’t fill me with joy when doing the rest of the puzzle, either.

  13. Three-quarter of the clues were giveaways, taking no more than 10 minutes. I couldn’t enter them quickly enough, but the NE held me up (THERMOS and HAMILTON), and the long entry at 5d held me up for some time, as did PARR. Like some others I went through the alphabet looking for a fit.
    35 minutes in the end.

  14. I thought I was heading for a PB when I pressed submit at 19:24, only to get pink squares in my LOI 26a, where I had put DISTRESSES.
    I wanted to fit SIDNEY SUSSEX into 17a, but it did not fit.

  15. The Royal survivor held me up until the end, though I was fairly confident that an alphabet trawl would sort it out, and so it did. Good clue, with no discussion needed for once regarding the homophone! The cryptic clue at 5D might have proved my undoing, but luckily, I saw what it must be with several crossers. ALGID was unfamiliar, but solvable and ELABORATORS worked fine once I’d separated the O from BALE and added it to RATORS. (BALE deduced from ‘baleful’.) HAMILTON, thank goodness, required no football knowledge, as the clueing was generous to us ‘footy-phobics’ and Goldsmith was the 3rd Oliver thought of after Twist and Cromwell (I did wonder if there were a Cromwell college). The legal Latin, usually my downfall, was luckily really only possible in that form. DICTA came in first, with crossers. Pleasant Monday solve.

  16. 42 minutes. This was a good example of The Times crossword: not all the clues were that easy to work out but once the solution arrived they were fairly obvious. PARR gave me most difficulty, and the alphabet trawl on the first letter produced nothing. It was only with the second letter that I was successful, although again I didn’t think I would be.

  17. Too hard for me, impressed by those who breezed through. Many NHOs, like ALGIS, the college, OBITER DICTA, SILAS…I won’t go on. Thanks Ulaca

    1. There were loads I didn’t know too, probably the same ones… but I decided to persevere and ended up with everything in, and only distresses wrong. Has to be said though, lucky guesses with obiter dicta, and silas, where I didn’t know silas or sal, and I think just went for ‘a’ as there was an ‘as’ in the clue!

      1. In my defence I was simultaneously watching an exciting test match where Oz, against the odds, chased down NZ to win a thriller by three wickets. But ok, there were still too many NHOs so well done Jon!

  18. Beat me – I bunged in Homerton, though I see that’s a hospital. NHO of either the college, or Oliver GOLDSMITH. Couldn’t get PARR, gave up on ALGID and DISPLEASES.

    A day to forget!

  19. 29 minutes. Same delays by potential trip-ups as some other commenters have noted, eg DISTRESSES and PARR. I have to confess I would also add BEAN to that list. I didn’t know ALGID and had only come across the singular -UM form of OBITER DICTA before.

    A few tricky ones and I was glad to have solved my first Monday puzzle in a few weeks.

  20. 23:06

    Fairly gentle Monday fare and very much enjoyed though there was stuff I didn’t know or failed to parse:

    BEAN – seemed the obvious answer from checkers but didn’t quite see how the parsing worked
    GAEL – NHO but pencilled in early on as a possible/probable
    ALGID – NHO and wouldn’t have got this without third last DISPLEASES which took some thinking about
    SILAS – bunged in from wordplay but no idea who he was
    MALTOSE – NHO but easy enough from the cryptic
    OBITER DICTA – from all of the checkers and likely placement of the second T, rearrange the remaining letters into something feasible

    COD to COLDHEARTEDNESS, LOI to PARR and thanks to setter and Ulaca

  21. 21:10 – wasn’t too sure about BIT as a coin (I was thinking about stamps for some reason anyway) and I’m another who would have gone for a single L in BARCAROLLE, but the rest fell into place okay except LOI PARR, which took some alphabet recitation.

  22. Good fun.
    Being picky I could say that a beano is more of a pissup than a feast, derived as it is from the Spanish Vino, wine, commonly pronounced as Beeno.
    Was pleased to remember the little jingle about H VIII’s wives:
    Divorced, beheaded, died,
    Divorced, beheaded, survived.
    Of course in “1066 and all that”, the only history I can remember, he had VIII wives so the jingle doesn’t scan….

    1. I’m reminded of the wag on Twitter (I think) who came up with this handy mnemonic for remembering what happened to Henry VIII’s wives: ‘died, died, died, died, died, died’.

  23. 11:13

    A slow start but got going eventually, then got held up at the end having to alphatrawl to get PARR.

  24. DNF

    Breezeblocked with _A_R so reached for the towel after half an hour. Do remember a similar clue but couldn’t get beyond the wrong types of “expected”.

    The long one down the middle also took ages. Eventually solved it bottom up to ___HEARTEDNESS and still couldn’t see it for an age with HALF finding it tough to be dislodged. Also wanted the Londons to be CAPItals. Shall I go on? No.

    Nice puzzle

    Thanks Setter and Ulaca

  25. 10:38. I found this quite tricky, particularly the top half which was almost completely blank for some time.

  26. Not timed, but after a slow start it all trickled in nicely. Coldheartedness went in with a smile once I saw it. In my neck of the woods a confab is called a conflab, but I see from the dictionaries that they mean the same thing.

  27. I breezed through most of of this but got held up at the end by a mis-biffed SALSA which held up DISPLEASES until ALGID arrived and I rethought the A and came up with SILAS as the penny dropped. That left me with -A-R at 14a and a full 5 minutes elapsed before multiple alphabet trawls got to R as the third letter. Another huge clang as the penny dropped! 27:24. Thanks setter and U.

  28. 41 minutes or so, held up by DISPLEASED and PARR. The latter resisting an alphabet trawl but instantly emerging after a Netflix break.

  29. Pleased to finish in a reasonable (for me) time of 38.24, with a steady solve through to completion. Like others I hesitated long over my LOI DISPLEASES, trying to convince myself that DISTRESSES must be right before the truth dawned. The legal phrase was unknown to me, but I managed to get it by arranging the letters to form something that looked as if was a legal term.

  30. 32’38”
    Found the going a little testing, stayed on doggedly.

    Silas was a little speculative, but it sounded biblical and so seemed fairly likely to have been chummy with an apostle. He must have been a patient man; wasn’t it Paul who brought back to life a young man who’d defenestrated himself from a window seat? It was the least he could do, given that his sermon had been so riveting that the lad had fallen asleep.
    Parr came to mind quite quickly; possibly because I’m trying to come up with a hypothetical but feasible scorecard that yields four different results in a round pitting my 28 handicap against my local’s landlord (scratch but rusty) using strokeplay, Stableford, matchplay and bisques.
    An enjoyable tussle; thank you setter and Ulaca.

  31. The thing I understand least about this puzzle is why everyone is saying it was easy, since I found it nearly impossible. But after an hour and a half, I had filled in everything more or less correctly. Unfortunately, I was so exhausted I didn’t do my usual proofreading before submission, so I left unchanged OBIRET DICTA, which I was planning to change (but perhaps to another wrong answer). That was my only mistake, so I did actually get a large number of unknowns right (BARCAROLLE, CONFAB [and not POWWOW], PARR just vaguely remembered, GOLDSMITHS, ALGID). On 3dn, I was held up by being certain the support given to female would be a BRA, but that conviction ceded to reason in the end. Nice puzzle, if somewhat of a torture.

  32. Well, towards the end of this I was hanging onto my mount for dear life. Having successfully remembered Barcarol(l)e from goodness knows where, and feeling similarly smug that Parr and Coldheartedness were write-ins, I crashed out with nho Algid as a no-show, and also had to check that Bale was valid for evil. My last pair, the Recitalist Rarebit, took forever, since I was starting from Capitals/London and looking for a food sounding coin 🙄. However, I did really enjoy 6d, Thermos. Invariant

  33. This was going swimmingly until the North East did for me. At this point after 40 minutes I usually give up and turn to the blog, but alto-ego nudged me into being more tenacious. So here I am with my night cap completing the puzzle. Despite the extended play I was pleased to finish despite all the obscurities others have mentioned, and feeling rather smug to have bunged Parr straight in this morning.

    Thank you Ulaca

  34. My horse was scared by NHO BARCAROLLE, on which I gave up. Guessed the Latin and ALGID. Pleased to work out COD PARR though.

  35. 21.21

    Expected the blog to reveal I had made up NHO ALGID, but pleasantly surprised. Thought it a good challenge; thanks all.


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