Times 28915 – What’s in a name?

Time: 23 minutes

Music: Delius, North Country Sketches, Groves, Bournemouth SO

I did not find this particularly difficult, although there were a few tricky bits and never-heard-of answers.   I got enough of the across clues to get started, although the downs did not prove as helpful as they usually do.    Some solvers will not be happy about the particular technique that appears in quite a few clues, but here at TftT we take on all puzzles.

The SNITCH is very low, but I think a few part-time neutrinos have gotten themselves into the mix.   It will probably go a bit higher as more solving times come in.


1 Proposal held back by aristocratic medical specialist (13)
9 Sword belonging to Ernest O’Casey (5)
ESTOC – Hidden in [Ern]EST O’C[asey]  A word I should know as a Mephisto blogger, but don’t.
10 Extrovert Swede’s capital expenditure (9)
OUTGOINGS – OUTGOING +S, with a rather loose literal.
11 All-knowing scion met in travels (10)
12 Stainer’s daughter, the old composer’s last (4)
DYER – D + YE + [compose]R.
14 Young Girl Guide initially welcomed by supporter on course (7)
TEENAGE – TE(ENA, G[uide])E.    Girl number one.
16 Record what a tennis player hopes not to be (3,4)
SET DOWN –  A jocular cryptic hint.
17 Virtuous as the laic may become (7)
ETHICAL – Anagram of THE LAIC.
19 Ghost of dog enthralling most of southern county (7)
PHANTOM – P(HANT[s])OM, a Pomeranian dog.
20 Female English graduate embracing head of maths (4)
EMMA – E(M[aths]]M.A.   A book we read in the Austen/Dickens seminar in grad school
21 Stoical heavyweight boxer attracting a lot of flak (10)
FATALISTIC –  FAT + ALI +STIC[k].   The Greatest is not really fat – you have to lift and separate.
24 Rich confection set beside woman crossing river (5,4)
LARDY CAKE – LA(R)DY + CAKE, another NHO for me, but the cryptic is simple enough.
25 See about trainer regularly entering college (5)
ORIEL – O([t]R[a]I[n]E[r])L, where the enclosing letters are LO backwards.
26 Member of educational order — Charity Pecksniff perhaps? (6,2,5)
SISTER OF MERCY – A cryptic hint – I knew that Pecksniff gave his daughters these unctuous names.   Another novel we read in the Austen/Dickens seminar, along with about twenty other Dickens novels.
1 Old Spanish coin’s equal — mark, or noble? (4,2,3,5)
2 Like courses taken in college for speakers? (5)
EATEN – Sounds like ETON.
3 Single girl torn apart by old tax: it’s never-ending! (10)
INCESSANCY – I N(CESS)ANCY, girl number two.
4 Cheat excessively when talking over date (3-4)
TWO-TIME – Sounds like TOO + DATE.
5 Popular fellow succeeded, possessing new means (7)
INTENDS – IN + TE(N)D + S, boy number one.
6 Sacred representation your present compiler studies (4)
ICON – I + CON.   At least he doesn’t cheat!
7 Girl in US city understood to keep a domesticated animal (5,4)
NANNY GOAT – N(ANN)Y GO(A)T.   Girl number three.
8 Hugely how one enjoys one’s food? Not at first (14)
13 Like some rock artist cavorting before class? (10)
15 Celestial model peer is reassembling across border (9)
EPHEMERIS – Anagram of PEER IS around HEM.   If you know the word, you will have a much easier time.
18 Greenery a bind when invading shelter (7)
LEAFAGE – LE(A + FAG)E, where bind and fag are verbs.
19 Site old boy set up, producing psychological medicine (7)
PLACEBO –  PLACE + O.B. upside-down.
22 German city judge (5)
TRIER – Double definition, a bit of a chestnut.
23 Reportedly splashes out for extras (4)
BYES – Sounds like BUYS – extras in cricket, that is.

92 comments on “Times 28915 – What’s in a name?”

  1. 13:24
    I couldn’t have told you the names of Pecksniff’s daughters, but being given ‘Charity’, ‘Mercy’ was easy to come up with. (I know a woman, the daughter of a Lutheran minister, who was one of 6 siblings: Faith, Hope, Charity, Joy, Felicity, and Fred. But I digress.) I was puzzled by LEAFAGE: what is the ‘bind’ meaning of ‘fag’, or the ‘fag’ meaning of ‘bind’. (V, it’s Austen, unless your seminar read J.L.) DNK ESTOC. We had LARDY CAKE once (in a Jumbo?), which is how I know it; it took me a while to see how CAKE worked.

    1. FAG for ‘bind’ as a noun as in a nuisance, drag, bore, bother, hassle (Synonyms R Us):
      “Driving in peak hour traffic every day can be a bit of a bind/fag.”

      1. Ah, thanks. I didn’t find them in ODE, but I was looking at verbs. DNK in either case.

  2. 19 minutes. Not too hard but I couldn’t parse the second bit of SISTER OF MERCY, had NHO EPHEMERIS, had forgotten ESTOC and wasn’t 100% confident about INCESSANCY, wondering if there was such a word as INCESSANCE (there isn’t). The unfamiliar LARDY CAKE looks obvious now but seeing the dreaded _A_E was off-putting for a start.

    Favourite was PEER OF THE REALM; no spoilers but it could have come from Paul in today’s Guardian puzzle.

  3. I feel this would have been finished sooner if I hadn’t been watching Netflix.
    FOI was ESTOC, POI LARDY CAKE (have we had that before—in a non-Jumbo? Sounds awful unhealthy…) and LOI (of course, ’cause it’s cricket) BYES.
    Funny, I don’t find the meaning needed here for “fag” in Collins or Dictionary.com or even Chambers. But I assumed it to be derived from “fag(g)ot,” which means, as a noun, a bundle of sticks and, as a verb, to make such a bundle. And which is in our usual sources.
    Have never in all my born days heard or read INCESSANCY, and doubt if I ever will again.
    Never heard of the county in PHANTOM, half-biffed that.
    Still wondering what device Vinyl thought some solvers might object to…
    But I take objection to the identification of SISTERs OF MERCY as an “educational order.” It’s a religious order, which means it is rather the opposite.

    1. We used to make « fagots » out of vine stems bound with wire and used them as natural filters just inside the cuve doors and taps.

    2. ODE sv bind (noun) 1 a nuisance
      s sv fag1 (noun) 1 (informal) a tiring or unwelcome task
      Thanks to Bletchley (see above)

    3. The best LARDY CAKE I ever had was from the only bakery in Bourton-on-the-Water, incredibly unhealthy with some chewy bits if you were lucky. A sad day when the bakery closed and became a shop selling crystals, geodes and not-very-precious rocks to coach parties, the only known example of turning bread into stones.

      1. I agree. Bourton-on-the-water used to be a lovely place. Horror show now in the summer.

    4. Collins: ‘a boring or wearisome task’
      Chambers: ‘a tiresome piece of work’
      Chambers says it may derive from ‘flag’ in the sense ‘droop’ but the etymology is unclear.
      I think the device vinyl refers to is the use of random names.

        1. Chambers defines ‘bind’ as ‘a difficult or annoying situation, a bore’.
          Collins ‘a difficult or annoying situation’.

          1. Oh, OK. I had seen that in the ODE for “fag” that Kevin presented, but it didn’t seem to be in Collins or Chambers, where you have to realize that “bind” can be a synonym for what actually is there.

      1. For those unfamiliar, the conventional abbreviation is HANTS (eg on an address). ‘Most of’ in the clue instructs us to drop the final ‘S’.

    5. An order can be both religious and educational. Back in the day the Sisters of Mercy were known for providing schools for poor girls who would not otherwise have received an education.

        1. I had to Google that (too).
          Just about any capitalized phrase looks like a band name to me anyway (especially after Sunday’s puzzle).

  4. 23.03 and an enjoyable puzzle despite a few unknown such as EPHEMERIS, INCESSANCY and that fag thing. The long ones at 1ac and 1dn were not easy for me to get so I was held up by lacking a lot of starter letters. Thank you vinyl1, it was only after reading the blog that appreciated the complexity of a number I just biffed, like TEENAGE and NANNY GOAT. Btw I think at 10ac the def is just expenditure, the capital refers to the S of Sweden.

    From I’m Your Teenage Prayer:
    When it’s cloudy all the time, all you gotta do is say you’re mine
    I’ll come runnin’ anywhere.
    Take a look at me baby, I’m your TEENAGE prayer.

    1. Wow, Lindsay, that’s a deep cut, from the Bootleg Series release of the Basement Tapes!
      You’re right about the S in OUTGOINGS, of course. I didn’t notice that V missed that.

  5. Considering I needed the best part of 5 minutes to write in my first answer and with 30 minutes on the clock I had scarcely half the grid completed I, thought I did rather well to finish on 39 minutes. It had seemed a lot harder than that but as more and more checkers came into play I grew in confidence and started putting in answers I was less certain of that turned out to be correct.

    One of my doubtfuls was SISTER OF MERCY which went in more because it fitted the checkers. I didn’t know the literary reference (actually I thought Pecksniff was in Pickwick Papers) and I was distracted by ‘educational’, which as pointed out by Guy is not really right anyway.

    Other doubtfuls were EPHEMERIS which seems to be making its first appearance today, STRATIFORM and INCESSANCY, although I was helped with that one having recently been reminded of ‘tax / CESS’ in another puzzle.

    I knew LARDY CAKE but I have never eaten one.

    ESTOC has come up once before in a Sunday Times puzzle last December (hidden in BLUESTOCKING) when I learnt that it is a sword, perhaps more of a dagger. It stuck in my memory because it reminded me of an actor who appeared in just about everything on BBC Children’s Television in the 1950s called Humphrey Lestocq and I assumed his name was probably derived from the weapon, perhaps via L’estoc.

    1. I too remember Humphrey Lestocq – “HL” I think. Your etymological explanation of the surname is compelling….

      Liked TWO TIME a lot, but, knowing EPHEMERIS from astro-navigation am puzzled by “model”. As I remember it the EPHEMERIS is simply a table setting out the position of celestial bodies in relation to an observer on Earth who uses them to calculate a geographical position.

      I now tend to avoid carbohydrates so no recent experience of LARDY CAKE. But definitely not a NHO. When I baked one for the grandchildren a while back it didn’t last long. Basically two ingredients required: flour and lard. Yeast and water of course are also required.

      Oops: forgot about the sugar…..rather a lot!

      1. Turns out HL’s real surname was Gilbert and Lestocq was a middle name, but possibly a family name nonetheless.

  6. 14:33
    That counts as my fourth fastest time since I took to solving online a few months ago, and thanks to completing it immediately before going to bed, I found myself briefly at #2 in the top 100.

    Second of 2 doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

    In spite of some unusual vocab, I paused only to ensure that EPHEMERIS, OMNISCIENT, STRATIFORM, and INCESSANCY were doing what they said on the tin. ESTOC the only total unknown.

    Also, I don’t know if it is just me but there are 2 versions of what appear to be the same crossword on the crossword club page.

    Thanks to both.

    1. Yes, it’s very odd. The puzzles appear to be identical (although I haven’t checked every detail). The only difference I can see is between the urls when you open them.

      1. I suspect this is why the Snitch isn’t updating to include all the completers – it’s taking the results from one (the second?) and not the other.

        1. Weird,

          I completed the puzzle but don’t appear on the SNITCH.

          Picking a random solver, Deane Short has a SNITCH time of 10:40 and a Crossword Club time of 6:40.

          1. Just spent 15 minutes becoming increasingly baffled by the Snitch times not seeming to align with the Crossword Club leaderboard. Hadn’t spotted that there were two cryptics with the same number in the Crossword Club today.

            Rather disappointing because after a year and a half of trying to solve one of these in under 10 minutes, today was the day I finally succeeded but it won’t be included in my Snitch best times. Suppose I could fill in the other grid in the same time, were I sad enough to care (which I am).

            I now have a craving for LARDY CAKE, which I haven’t eaten for several decades and had pretty much forgotten about.

  7. Around 90 minutes Slower considerably by wrong assumptions and trying to put several clues in position of others. PAEDIATRICIAN assumed answer ended in IST. ASTRONOMICAALLY assumed began with OS. Tried to fit German city judge in 23d space.

  8. Started by trying LORD OF THE MANOR from enumeration, but EMMA put paid to that – then blundered my way through with far too much biffing for an orderly solve. For instance, unable to work out why AIDE backwards in 1a was “proposal”. Regained my solving chops as I progressed through, so as I completed with LARDY, I was pretty sure I had a correct grid. 22:59, but not exactly fun or satisfying – thanks V and setter.

  9. 45′ only to end with INCESSANCe, having not taken the time to find yet another girls name. Agree the nuns in question are/were the antithesis of being “educational” given what’s come to light; unless the compiler thinks the rock band of that name are particularly instructive! Enjoyed PEER OF THE REALM once I worked it out but overall, as Vinyl hints, far too many random names for me. thanks Vinyl1 and setter.

  10. 11’, with the same ending as Gerry above, carried away by not bothering to parse PAEDIATRICIAN, OMNISCIENT or SISTER OF MERCY.
    They are not departed or gone.

    Thanks vinyl and setter.

  11. 29 minutes with LOI LARDY CAKE. I got the SISTER OF MERCY courtesy of Leonard Cohen. I hope you run into her soon. I didn’t know ESTOC so needed all crossers to see it for what it was. COD to ASTRONOMICALLY for its length and the knowledge that it’s shorter than it could have been. Quite enjoyable. Thank you V and setter.

  12. I found this pretty easy, 30 mins bang on. Of course ESTOC went in with fingers crossed but the wp was clear enough, and I had the crossers. The last few are all mentioned above several times! For once I remembered LARDY CAKE from its last outing.

    I generally liked the long clues.

    Thanks v and setter. Good start to the week. ( I know I’ll regret saying that!)

  13. I took exactly 25 minutes, so it seems I must have been on the slower side today.
    Nothing to add to the comments
    Thanks blogger and setter

  14. Vanish, ye Phantoms! from my idle spright,
    Into the clouds and never more return!
    (Ode on Indolence, Keats)

    30 mins pre-brekker. Mostly I liked Fat Ali.
    Ta setter and V

  15. 30:51

    This felt a struggle and I doubted myself initially on a couple of clues (e.g. ESTOC) until later solves confirmed my first thought.

    Thank you, vinyl1 and the setter.

  16. 9:01. Somehow I vaguely remembered ESTOC and EPHEMERIS seemed obvious with the HEM in the middle from the checkers, which helped. I wondered what was educational about the SISTER(s) OF MERCY, but I see “They also started many education and health care facilities around the world“. COD to DYER. Stainer the composer is rather out of fashion these days.

    1. I had not known that one our excellent local schools is in the long Wikipedia list of educational establishments they founded. Thanks for the clarification.

    2. Sir Thomas Beecham was asked what he thought of Stainer’s Crucifixion, beloved of parochial choirs all over the country. “I’m all for it”.

      1. And asked whether he had ever conducted any Stockhausen, Beecham (allegedly) replied, “No, but I have trodden in some”.

  17. 11.30, including a minute or so trying to get LOI PAEDIATRICIAN (despite the fact that I once was one, in a junior capacity).
    I knew SISTER OF MERCY from the (pluralised) Leeds goth band, fronted by the unconvincingly named Andrew Eldritch and named after the Leonard Cohen song.

  18. 18:31, quite chewy but all went in and for safety, all eventually parsed. Are any girls these days called ENA? Hmm. Also reached SISTER OF MERCY via the goth band.

    Liked PEER OF THE REALM, when it eventually dropped.

    Thanks setter & V.

    1. Ena Sharples? No girl, but well known. I have never seen a whole episode of whatever the soap is, the off button is always available. Oh, it is “Corrie”.

      1. Her last appearance was apparently 9 years before I was born, so I’m not sure how well-known she is these days…!

  19. About 12 minutes.

    Didn’t know ESTOC; not familiar with LARDY CAKE; biffed PEER OF THE REALM once I had a few checkers; didn’t know the cess tax for INCESSANCY; and constructed the unknown EPHEMERIS from wordplay.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Omniscient
    LOI Estoc
    COD Paediatrician

  20. 9:19. Steady solve this morning. I did remember seeing ESTOC before, and we used to eat LARDY CAKE when I was a kid. EPHEMERIS was new though.

    1. Well remembered ESTOC, as it was you who blogged the ST puzzle in which it appeared last December (ST5088). That seems to have been its only previous appearance.

  21. I started this one after a 5 minute solve on the Quickie thinking it was going to be a Monday Easy, and perhaps for that reason, at least for me, it was. Mind you, I did the one on the right, and found myself, with 12.24, 13th in a list of mostly unfamiliar names, so it seems you can do it twice.
    INCESSANCY is clearly made up for the occasion, but everything else was within my ken, and in the case of LARDY CAKE, in my cherished memory.
    FAG is surely derived from the public school ritual humiliation of younger boys at the hand of the Steerforths of this world, and is nothing to do with what the Americans think it means, dear me no.

    1. I always thought that one of the humiliations the younger boys underwent was precisely what might lead to the Americans’ interpretation.

  22. Groundhog Day. I biffed my way through yesterday’s Sunday Times and simply couldn’t be bothered to go back and parse the culprits afterwards, such was my lack of enthusiasm for the puzzle. And this was the same. Earlier commenters suggest I’m in the minority, but INCESSANCY? EPHEMERIS? SISTER OF MERCY? Give me a break!

    TIME 10:24

  23. 7:21 Nice gentle start to the week. I was definitely on the right wavelength today, i.e. no unknowns, though EPHEMERIS took a while to emerge, and some care was needed with INCESSANCY. I guess LARDY CAKE must be a UK phenomenon, well known to me though I’ve never tried it. I biffed quite a few (PAEDIATRICIAN, FATALISTIC, OMNISCIENT, etc.) but the clues all look good on reflection. The Sisters of Mercy are quite well known on this side of the pond, and not necessarily in a good way. It was nice to be reminded of the Leonard Cohen classic. COD to PEER OF THE REALM

  24. 17 mins. LOI INCESSANCY. Can’t imagine ever using such a word, but INCESSANCE, my first thought, didn’t work, and is just as barmy. Lots of unusual answers but all easily gettable. Nice crossword.

  25. DNF as I failed to get BYES and LARDY CAKE and it took me around 30 mins, so slightly greater than average difficulty IMO. Didn’t parse SISTERS OF MERCY as I haven’t read Martin Chuzzlewit, for some reason the Salvation Army lady in Guys and Dolls came to mind but, on googling, that was Sarah Brown.

  26. 9a ESTOC not NHO, just forgotten. I recognised the Wiki page when I looked it up after.
    POI 1d PEER etc, TBH never quite unravelled the wordplay.
    13d STRATIFORM taken on trust, silly word, but not as bad as 3d INCESSANCY.
    LOL 21a Fat Ali collecting stic(k).
    DNF, 15d entered EPHEMERaS, plural form is in the dictionary, and I took AS from “is resembling”. NHO Ephemeris as far as I know.

  27. A good time – 21:34 – but with one pink square for INCESSANCE. DNK CESS, but I still think I should have seen 1 NANCY. Never mind. FAT ALI made it all worthwhile

    1. I thought thought of you when tentatively entering EPHEMERIS.
      The 1983 and 1998 editions of Chambers both give a rather gnomic and possibly slightly misleading description of ephemeris time. However, The Times Dictionary gives the very pleasing “1 ephemeris second = 1/31 556 925.9747 of the tropical year 1900”; a measure that was ditched in 1983.
      As a constructor of sundials I prefer the orbital view, rather than than the rotational fudges.

  28. Was on 25 minutes with two to go, and spent another 8 minutes on INCESSANCY and TEENAGE, the first a silly word. I had the same discomforts as others on some of the words, but ESTOC dredged up from somewhere and STRATIFORM had to be.

  29. 23:58

    Seemed a trifle tougher than the Snitch would suggest (currently 75 which for me is 25 minutes) – unknowns included ESTOC, EPHEMERIS, STRATIFORM though all fairly clued. Eyebrow raise at ENA as a girl (guess even Ena Sharples was a girl once). Ummed and ahhed over ICON or IDOL eventually settling slightly unconvinced on the correct one.

    Thanks Vinyl and setter

  30. 42 mins. A mix of v easy and not so easy. NHO ‘cess’, so INCESSANCY took a while. Thought ‘cake’ was a bit of a stretch, and the girls’ names became tiresome.

  31. 21′ and 48 mechanical watch seconds.
    Smartly out of the stalls, stayed on gamely…

    …. but, being full of nicotine and coffee, dreading the dope test.
    Thank you Myrtilus for the Keats, and Zabadak for the Beecham quote; I now feel less guilty about not recalling a note of the Stainer, despite having sung it several times.
    I enjoyed this very much for the same reasons as Astro_nowt. My head is now spinning at 900 nautical miles an hour at having to look into another time scale.
    Many thanks setter and Vinyl.

  32. 22:55

    Final few minutes on NHO LARDY CAKE. Just couldn’t see the set=cake.

    Thanks all

  33. I quite enjoyed this, once I got into the swing of it. The rare words (INCESSANCY, STRATIFORM etc) were all fairly clued, so I was not held up for too long, finishing in 30 minutes. LARDY CAKE brought back happy memories of teas with my West Country mother-in-law, who obviously thought I needed fattening up. Perhaps I did in those days.
    Thanks to vinyl and other contributors.

  34. 23.24

    Anything with LARDY CAKE gets my thumbs up. Like PAEDIATRICIAN as well

    Thanks Vinyl and setter

  35. Only commenting to say it is great to see our age range: i was probably in my late teens nine years before Ena Sharples first appeared. Biffed estoc as my onlybwobble in 25 mins

  36. 5m 09s, and I’m one of the solvers who objects to the use of random people’s names in clues – especially when done four times in one puzzle (and especially especially when one of them is EENA).

    1. By way of slight mitigation, the name used in TEENAGE is Ena – the first E is part of ‘tee’. But I agree that the names in this puzzle were a little excessive.

  37. 23:25
    PAEDIATRICIAN went straight in; my mother was one, and so is one of my daughters.
    Liked PHANTOM and DYER.
    LOI was LEAFAGE, not a word I have ever used.

    Thanks vinyl and setter

  38. PEER OF THE REALM went straight in – we had peer quite recently and ESTOC was recalled from the Sunday puzzle it last appeared in. NHO EPHEMERIS or STRATIFORM, but both were fairly clued. PAEDIATRICIAN and INCESSANCY were the tricky ones, as it took a while after thinking of the word to parse the former, and INCESSANCY is a word never heard clued by a NHO tax, so took some teasing out. Otherwise, fairly straightforward.
    LARDY CAKE is indeed made mostly from fat and sugar, but is likely no more unhealthy than many other such confections – in any case, it is delicious when fresh and stuffed with sultanas, but difficult to find nowadays. I have made my own – not hard, actually.

  39. 18:31

    Decent start to the week. Both ESTOC and EPHEMERIS were new to me but fairly accessible. I liked PEER OF THE REALM and FATALISTIC. The DYER’s Hand by Auden is well worth reading I’ve never eaten LARDY CAKE but having seen on-line images, I am keen to track some down. Probably tricky here in France.

    Thanks to vinyl and the setter .

  40. 30 minutes, finishing with Incessancy and Teenage, where I didn’t know Cess and I didn’t think of Ena.
    Didn’t know either of the two definitions of Sister of Mercy, but it was evident enough.

  41. Having disgraced myself with a DNF on the QC, I have purged my sins with 13:43 on this. Thank you, kind setter, and thanks vinyl.

  42. 15’53” with the last three or four on INCESSANCY. My Robert dictionary (French language) says an ESTOC was a large, straight sword. Today in French, D’ESTOC means with the point of a sword, as in the expression FRAPPER D’ESTOC ET DE TAILLE – strike with both the point and the blade i.e. using all means. I did not know that.

  43. 32.18 WOE, but I wasn’t alone in biffing INCESSANCE at the last. INCESSANCE is a word and NANCE is a girl’s name so it looks fine to me. I saw PEER OF THE REALM immediately but never managed to parse it. Nor SISTER OF MERCY. ESTOC was NHO. LARDY CAKE is lovely but I wouldn’t want to eat it more than once a year. Thanks vinyl.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *