Times 28864 – what the Dickens?

Time taken: 10:11. Most of the early starters found this tough going, I made pretty steady progress until hitting the Dickens reference, which I had to piece together from the anagram with all other checking letters in place, and a sigh of relief when it came back correct.

There’s some crafty definitions, but I can’t put my finger on what makes this one so tricky.  Several fantastic surfaces among the clues.

How did you get along?

1 A bit more, but not all about that one facing charges? (7)
MATADOR – A TAD(bit) surrounded by MORE but not all of it. Very nice clue to get us going.
5 Benito’s right wing view (7)
OPINION – the last letter of benitO and PINION(wing)
9 Fall on mountain — see man in pain (9)
AVALANCHE – V(see), ALAN(man) inside ACHE(pain)
10 Shared place (5)
JOINT – double definition
11 Dickensian school line on health body so spurious (9,4)
DOTHEBOYS HALL – L after an anagram of HEALTH,BODY,SO. My last in – I’ve never read Nicholas Nickleby
13 No closed range? Start shooting (4,4)
OPEN FIRE – OPEN(not closed), FIRE(range as in hearth or oven)
15 After reflection, nothing brought to attention in row (6)
LINEAR – NIL(nothing) reversed then EAR(attention)
17 Aslan to start with, Universal God for Lewis? (6)
AUTHOR – the first letter of Aslan, U(universal), THOR(God)
19 Lugosi perhaps in lift shortly finding satirist (8)
RABELAIS – the original Universal count Dracula, BELA Lugosi inside RAISE(lift) minus the last letter. I started reading Pantagruel once, but I don’t think I finished it.
22 Tricky to do, anagram is for Luke’s brick (4,9)
25 Substance used to treat Liberal Party Secretary (1-4)
L-DOPA – L(liberal), DO(party), PA(secretary)
26 What held up fleet heading for Troy? (6,3)
AEGEAN SEA – cryptic definition
27 Bone in grave Greek character returned (7)
STERNUM – STERN(grave), then MU(Greek character) reversed
28 Here lies Rovaniemi, a place bathed in light (7)
LAPLAND – A, PL(place) inside LAND(light)
1 Bird that was finally caught in ditch (4)
MOAT – MOA(bird) and the last letter of thaT. Verb form here
2 Garbage close to street — move awkwardly (7)
TWADDLE – last letter of streeT, then WADDLE(move awkwardly)
3 Duke and king behind plan (5)
DRAFT – D(duke), R(king), AFT(behind)
4 Applied science, setting temperature in garden feature (8)
ROCKETRY – T(temperature) inside ROCKERY(garden feature)
5 Old fool conserving energy spotted cat (6)
OCELOT – O(old), then CLOT(fool) containing E(energy)
6 All the rage, perfectly cool, causing offence (9)
INJUSTICE – IN(all the rage), JUST(perfectly), ICE(cool)
7 Flatter one couple embracing the ne plus ultra? (7)
IMITATE – I(one), MATE(couple), containing IT(the ne plus ultra, extreme perfection)
8 Allergy symptom spreading threatens to devour learner (6,4)
NETTLE RASH – anagram of THREATENS containing L(learner)
12 For city new galleons are French (3,7)
LOS ANGELES – anagram of GALLEONS, then ES(are, in French)
14 Make face consuming good spring eggs in jelly (9)
FROGSPAWN – FROWN(make a face) containing G(good), SPA(spring)
16 Furious cook with extremely antisocial air (8)
MADRIGAL – MAD(furious), RIG(cook), and the external letters of AntisociaL
18 Game in scholarly book including piggy back? (7)
TWOSOME – TOME(scholarly book) containing SOW(piggy) reversed. A golf game where you play as a team of two.
20 Recalling trouble seaman moves to curb current (7)
AMNESIA – anagram of SEAMAN containing I(current)
21 Business graduate lying in wood — prepare for burial (6)
EMBALM – MBA(business graduate) inside ELM(wood)
23 Miles to be covered in carriage, or long walk (5)
TRAMP – M(miles) inside TRAP(carriage)
24 Poor houses left unlocked? (4)
BALD – BAD(poor) containing L(left)

63 comments on “Times 28864 – what the Dickens?”

  1. MOAT: I read that as ‘bird that was’=MOA, + ‘finally caughT’. ‘ditch’ being the def.

  2. 17:06
    DOTHEBOYS HALL was a gimme, but then I read the book. It’s Dickens’s picture of the notorious Yorkshire schools of the time. Tony Sever used to refer here, I hope jokingly, to his school as Dotheboys Hall. DNK TWOSOME; I thought it was a generic reference to games played one-on-one. NHO the Lapp town. As George says, some great surfaces among the clues (11ac wasn’t one of them): I especially liked 20d (recalling trouble) and 24d.

    1. The original Dotheboys Hall (now a set of flats) is in Bowes (see here), quite close to where I went to school in Barnard Castle.

  3. Clever cluing made this thoroughly enjoyable. I particularly liked the ‘bird that was’ and ‘ recalling trouble’. The most trouble I recall with this crossword was the allergy symptom , for which the crossing S in the second word had me searching for ‘something like runny’-NOSE.
    (I have often wondered if 25a might benefit the current POTUS)

  4. What a terrific crossword, even though some parts were a real struggle for me and I finished in 45-ish having been interrupted a couple of times. Found it hard to get started and FOI was OPEN FIRE. Ended with MATADOR and MOAT. Some great definitions and elegantly crafty clueing. COD probably GOOD SAMARITAN (Luke’s brick! Ha!) but there were many others that I liked, among them RABELAIS, ROCKETRY and OCELOT.

  5. 55 minutes. I didn’t know DOTHEBOYS HALL (though remembered Mr. Squeers) and had trouble identifying some of the clever defs such as ‘one facing charges?’ at 1a. I didn’t fall for the “fascism” trap at 5a but tentatively put in SPLIT for 10a which mucked up the NE corner. I agree with Kevin about the parsing for MOAT.

    Favourite was GOOD SAMARITAN for the ‘Luke’s brick’ def and having ‘anagram’ as part of the anagram fodder.

  6. Another hour-long solve. I found this very hard and several answers went in with fingers crossed.

    After a quick scan through all the clues looking for easy pickings, only DOTHEBOYS HALL leapt out at me, and that was from the definition alone – the wordplay came to me later. My prep school bore many similarities to Dickens’s fictional school and our headmaster might have given Wackford Squeers a run for his money when it came to tormenting his charges.

    NHO L-DOPA so that went in from wordplay and checkers. TWOSOME might have been any game, but if pushed I’d have guessed cards. NHO Rovaniemi but LAPLAND fitted.

    I don’t think ‘flatter’ and IMITATE are remotely synonymous without reference to the saying ‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’ and thought perhaps the clue at 6dn should have alluded more clearly to that.

  7. Excellent crossword. Thanks setter. Luke’s brick, bird that was, to do anagram is, one facing charges, recalling trouble and others were very clever.

  8. Defeated by TWOSOME – didn’t know the game, and more to the point, SOW didn’t occur to me, so I went for a parsable but unlikely TEOTOME.

    Thanks both.

  9. 45m 39s
    Another enjoyable puzzle. NHO L-DOPA but I enjoyed the likes of 26ac AEGEAN SEA, 28ac LAPLAND and ‘piggy back’ in 18d TWOSOME.
    Interestingly, there is a dental practice in a town near me run by a John TWADDLE. One of his sons is also in the practice.
    Also interestingly -at least I think so- the MOA in 1d was hunted to extinction by early Maori. In turn the huge bird, the Haast’s Eagle also became extinct as the Moa was its main source of food.
    BTW, I agree with Kevin G’s parsing of 1d.

  10. 39 minutes with LOI OPINION. I’d biffed TICKLY NOSE before grasping the nettle.I had most of the knowledge but not L-DOPA, which was constructed with a shrug. COD to RABELAIS, not that I know any other LUGOSIs. Isn’t TWOSOME a normal game of golf and not necessarily something more personal? I enjoyed this. Thank yoU George and setter.

  11. Really enjoyed this challenge, finishing in 23’11”. INJUSTICE / JOINT LOsI, after being fixated on endings of -ing and -ive.

    I too have read Nicholas Nickleby, and didn’t stop to parse it. Couldn’t get through Martin Chuzzlewit though.

    Thanks george and setter.

    1. Martin Chuzzlewit is actually okay after you get past the first 50 pages. As if it isn’t confusing enough already, having two characters called Martin Chuzzlewit is probably a Chuzzlewit too far.

  12. 31:16 with so many taken on faith of wordplay and a dash of hope that I’m amazed I made it through without catching a pink.

    DOTHEBOYS HALL was unknown, but guessing it ended in BOYS helped the first word.

    The satirist and L-DOPA were also DNKs as was the Rovaniemi reference (Rovaniemi is the official home of Santa Claus in Finland), so thanks George for the parsing.

  13. The broken sheds look’d sad and strange:
    Unlifted was the clinking latch;
    Weeded and worn the ancient thatch
    Upon the lonely Moated grange.
    (Mariana, Tennyson)

    Over 35 mins mid-brekker for this nice, tricky one. I liked ‘recalling trouble’ and Luke’s brick.
    Moat/Matador were last two in.
    Ta setter and G.

  14. I found this a lot easier than the average Thursday puzzle, but I wasn’t really solving the clues; I just bunged in what fitted the definition and any letters in place.
    I was having a snack at the time. The actual time spent solving was about 40 minutes

  15. Warmest compliments to the chef of this tasty fare. Some of the best surfaces and definitions you could wish for, as noted by many above. It’s hard to pick a COD from many, but BALD, MATADOR and MADRIGAL all had terrific surfaces and sparkling wit. A classy but challenging piece of work all round that gave me 40 minutes of great enjoyment. Thanks setter and blogger.

  16. A rare sub hour solve for me to my delight. I started in the bottom corner with BALD, enjoying the ‘un-locked’ definition, and working clockwise around the board. It was a bit sticky in the top corners but eventually everything clicked. I had many unknowns L DOPA, NE PLUS ULTRA, BELA Lugosi, who could also have been ABEL for me. The anagrams were fair, the school and the sea went straight in. Liked recalling trouble.

    Thanks both.

  17. 35:35
    Tricky. I always felt on the edge of crashing but never quite did. Very entertaining puzzle.
    Thanks, g.

  18. This was just my kind of puzzle with lots of clever clues and a good variety, though L-DOPA was something I had only vaguely heard of. I guess DOTHEBOYS HALL would either be FOI or LOI, for me it was FOI and got me going. My LOI just now was LINEAR though I think that was just where I happened to be in the puzzle. Liked AEGEAN SEA and GOOD SAMARITAN. Finished in 26:11 so inside my half hour target today.
    Thanks setter and blogger

  19. 41:29
    That seems to be about my time this week.

    There was much to enjoy on this one with a few unknowns (DOTHEBOYS HALL, RABELAIS, L-DOPA) and some excellent wordplay putting me off the scent.

    Thanks to both setter and blogger, and well done to the speedsters on this one.

  20. 31:56. Some splendidly devious definitions and wordplay. I’m not a Dickens fan, but DOTHEBOYS HALL is a memorable enough name and it went straight in. Finished when MATADOR finally clicked and gave me MOAT and ROCKETRY. I liked the ones everyone else liked, and BALD and AEGEAN SEA

  21. Beaten by MATADOR and MOAT. Had I got one, prob would have seen the other. Irritating, but rest of this was fun.

  22. I also invented a game called teotome. Although I play golf it never occurred to me that a twosome was a game: surely it’s singles? But I have heard of it and didn’t need to go down the path of thinking that a twosome was ‘an item’ and that ‘a game’ was also a word for this which has passed me by. L-dopa very far back in the recesses of my knowledge. Dotheboys Hall has surely become a general term for a certain type of school and I should have thought was part of anyone’s general knowledge. You don’t need to have read Nicholas Nickleby. But perhaps UK-centric. Very nice crosword, 41 minutes.

  23. L-Dopa as used for miracles in Awakenings, a twosome in golf would generally describe the content of the timeslot only. The formats for two players are generally Singles, Foursomes (funnily enough) (incl scotch)or Fourball. There used to be a golf course in Scotland that insisted on foursome play only, at least I think there was! Thanks blogger and setter.

    1. And until recently Rye (Sussex) didn’t allow fourballs. The last I heard was that they’d relented for some of the days of the week. Perhaps by now it’s all the days of the week.

      Foursomes have two balls; fourballs have four. If you use an old edition of Chambers they had it wrong, OK now.

      1. Thanks Wil, just to technically correct you, I can play in a foursomes or Fourball comp with just one other, and have our card marked by another member who would not be in the comp for whatever reason. But obviously the norm would be that your marker would be part of an equivalent 2 person team in the same foursomes/Fourball comp, hence the name. But you know this anyway. Have a great day.

        1. This reminds me of the old explanation of the rules of cricket: ‘each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out, and when he’s out he comes in, and the next man goes in until he’s out’ etc etc.

  24. 9a AVALANCHE biffed. I saw the ache and thought I saw Lanc(e) but I was wrong. Wasn’t certain about the “see” part but V is OK I guess.
    DNF: 19a RABELAIS had forgotten BELA Lugosi, but he was in my cheating machine. Thought we were looking for an ABEL.
    25a L-DOPA added to cheating machine. A gimme clue for a forgotten (as opposed to a NHO).
    NHO Rovaniemi (added to cheats) but have heard of Lapland.
    1d MOAT As Kevin Gregg etc, I assumed it was last letter of caughT, and ditch=moat.
    18d NHO that def of TWOSOME, so was foxed. Don’t like golf; spoils a good walk.
    21d EMBALM I’m not sure how many more generations will recognise elm as wood, and ash will be added to that sometime. 🙁

    1. Ash and elm are both safe enough, if only on the Antiques Roadshow. Mind you, I did my bit while living in Epping growing a stately ash in my smallish back garden from serendipitous seed. Should be disease free, unless of course my successors have chopped it down.

  25. 25:40

    Enjoyed this a lot – two thirds done in quick time before having to fill in the gaps spread around the grid. NHO L-DOPA. Wrote in DOTHEBOYS then unscrambled the anagrist to see what the remaining letters were – I have the complete works of Dickens on my Kindle but have not yet read NN. Slowed down at the end by SPLIT for 10a (shared place – SPLIT being a place in Croatia) – needed INJUSTICE to rethink that then L2I IMITATE and LINEAR.

    Thanks setter and G

  26. Am I misremembering Tony Server saying he went to Dotheboys Hall? Or did he say his school was similar? Either way I knew it without having read Dickens. Otherwise a great puzzle, loved some of the definitions, like others.

      1. Damn auto-correct… even though Sever is a word. Did a quick google but couldn’t find it, remember baths being filled the night before and the boys having to break the ice sheet on top before they could get in.

  27. The only real difficulty with this one was reading the next clue through tears of laughter, what held up the Greeks following close on Luke’s brick, with “recalling trouble” crossing soon after. Then later for me) “one facing charges” and “bird that was”. Joyousness sustained for 17 minutes.
    Wonderful setting, and a challenge to future setters: bet you can’t get funnier!

  28. 35.56

    Terrific fun. LO’sI 1a and 1d after an age searching for an extinct bird and someone in the dock or a quarry.
    Thanks all.

  29. 26 – quite tricky, with quite a few of the answers seemingly materialising out of nowhere – subconscious working overtime, I suppose.

  30. 24.30 . Started slowly but steadily filled the gaps. Had no idea who Rovaniemi was but once I had led as the light, it yielded. RH corner took most of my time , right down to Rabelais who I hadn’t realised was a satirist. Last ones in opinion, joint, injustice, linear and finally imitate.

    Glad to finish. Thx setter for a good workout., not forgetting Mr Blogger.

  31. I had a bit of trouble getting started, FOI being OCELOT, but eventually things started to flow and I got on a roll. Lots to like in this puzzle as already mentioned, MATADOR, MOAT and AMNESIA being stand out examples. I haven’t read MC but DOTHEBOYS HALL rang a bell and the enumeration put me straight on to it. BALD was another lol moment. L-DOPA took a moment to extract from the depths. LOI was RABELAIS, who also rang a bell. The wordplay helped too. 19:20. Thanks setter and George.

  32. Struggled home in half an hour while watching Cheltenham racing. Some excellent clues here, very elegant. Loved bald = unlocked

    Thanks G and setter

  33. 11:20. Great puzzle this, as others have noted, with some lovely definitions. However also some crashingly obvious things – fall on mountain, Dickensian school, Lugosi perhaps – and a barely-cryptic definition at 26ac.
    I assume the idea at 22dn is just that the GOOD SAMARITAN is a jolly good chap, it seems unlikely that the word ‘brick’ has a biblical connection.

    1. “Luke’s brick” was probably my favorite definition here. “Unlocked” and “What held up the Greeks” had me guessing longer, if memory serves, but I didn’t even look at GOOD SAMARITAN until most of the crossers were there and then I didn’t parse before writing it in.

  34. At first sight this seemed impenetrable, with only RABELAIS and TRAMP going straight in. Then I realised that with a cocked ear for deceptive definitions – unlocked, ho ho – I would get most of the answers from following the wordplay. And so it proved, including the NHO L-DOPA. The bottom half went in first, with the NW holding out on 1A and 1 and 4D. Once I realised the definition for 1D was ditch, not ex-bird, that all fell into place. LOI LINEAR, once I thought of nil. An excellent and entertaining puzzle, particularly after Tuesday and Wednesday, with all the favourites named above.

  35. DNF

    Gave up with several missing in the end, two of them not helped by putting ‘Split’ for 10d and failing to consider that it might be wrong. That stymied INJUSTICE and IMITATE, though I’m not convinced I would have got the latter anyway. I also didn’t know DOTHEBOYS HALL, and though I guessed Hall might be the second word, Dotheboys looked so unlikely that I didn’t put it.

    I was utterly perplexed by GOOD SAMARITAN, and only now (having looked it up) do I see that a ‘brick’ can be a generous, helpful person. I didn’t know that a pinion is a wing either, though OPINION was the only plausible option. I eventually remembered Bela Lugosi (more specifically that it’s Bela and not Bella) in order to get RABELAIS, and I had to hope L-DOPA is a drug of some sort.

    Tough stuff (for me at least). Thanks setter and blogger.

    COD Bald

  36. Another DNF here. On the hour, gave up and looked up TWOSOME. No mention of golf in my online dictionary. Never heard of it and I play the game!

    Otherwise, as mentioned, some super clues.

    Thanks g and setter.

  37. Just inside 30 mins, but I had to come here to understand OPINION and IMITATE. NHO NE PLUS ULTRA.

  38. 15:45. Solved amid the hubbub at the St. Neots Beer Festival before I had too many. I enjoyed this, particularly for bringing to mind passing through Rovaniemi on my way home from a summer job in southern Finland via Kilpisjarvi to visit the point where Norway, Sweden and Finland all meet. NHO L-DOPA so that went in from the wordplay. Nice puzzle. Thanks Setter and George.

  39. Agree with the majority that this was a superb puzzle, with lots to enjoy. 44 minutes well spent. More please!
    Thanks to george and other contributors.

  40. Rocketry duplicates in 12 across in today’s concise crossword too! I had never before heard this word used to describe a science.

    1. What a great crossword. I knew immediately that the Dickensian school would be the one from Nicholas Nickelby, and I knew the second word was HALL. But I had to assemble the first word from the kit of letters once I had crossers. Last 3 were MATADOR MOAT and ROCKETRY.

    2. Well, there is a well-known “rocket equation” which surprisingly was developed in 1903. That sounds pretty scientific, although I think of rocketry as engineering more than science.

    3. I remember hearing someone from NASA explaining that rocket science is really very simple – it’s not, er, rocket science.

  41. 43’0″
    Workmanlike performance, never troubled leaders.

    Relieved to be sub-45.
    Cracking puzzle; I spent the rest of the day repeating the Aegean Sea wisecrack.
    Thank you setter and George.


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