Times 28951 – I don’t know, I’ll ask her!

Time: 18 minutes

No music today, this was an outdoor deck solve, finished an hour before the thunderstorms came through.   It certainly didn’t take long; this has got to be the easiest puzzle ever for those who have the general knowledge to solve these things.   Even if  you don’t know a bit or two, biffing is certainly possible.   I wrote in advocates, regardant, tontine, Artemis, demigod, and just now; of course, they would be easy enough to parse, but I saved that for the blog.

The times so far are looking pretty good, although a couple of solvers had an error – one I can easily imagine.


1 Recommends a party including very small titbits? (9)
6 During course of day one gets quiet, blanked out? (5)
9 Financial scheme sound for saving money (7)
10 Platform where you see some hero’s trumpeted (7)
ROSTRUM – Hidden in [he]RO’S TRUM[peted].
11 Plan to have the French national symbol (5)
MAPLE –  MAP + LE.   The symbol is actually a maple leaf.
13 Robin maybe turning glitzy, acting like a football player? (9)
DRIBBLING –  BIRD backwards + BLING.
14 Tiger seen moving? Not here, where lions are! (9)
16 Moderate leader being upturned — uncivilized! (4)
WILD – (-m,+W)ILD.   You will have to rely on the word order, where the literal is clearly set off from the rest of the clue.
18 Son swamped by stream of water? It’s fun (4)
19 Ending in danger, say, a road worker looking back (9)
REGARDANT – [dange]R + E.G. + A + RD + ANT.   A write-in if you know heraldry.
22 What able person is up to with little hesitation, being a scorer? (9)
SCRATCHER – SCRATCH + ER, if you are up to scratch, you will spot the literal literal.
24 Affect part of London (5)
25 Is duck invading old Greek region offensive? (7)
NOISOME – NO(IS,O)ME.   Nome is a bit of a Mephisto word, not often seen in the regular cryptic.
26 There’s flooding with river unwanted in Cambridge college (7)
DOWNING – D[r]OWNING.   Many solvers will probably try to remove an R from a Cambridge college.
28 Wife, healthy swimmer with lots of blubber! (5)
29 Dry bed at start of evening — somehow it may help child rest? (5,4)
TEDDY BEAR – Anagram of DRY BED AT + E[vening].
1 Goddess with skill is luring them in (7)
2 The vehicle in front (3)
VAN – Very simple double definition.
3 South Americans in church on island (is like Pisa’s tower) (8)
4 Shift doctor’s ending with nurse around (5)
TREND – T([docto]R)END.
5 Son doing physical exercises — overdoing them? (9)
6 Plant one graduate noticed shooting up (6)
WASABI – I B.A. SAW, upside-down.
7 Trip captain organised for one to join in? (11)
8 Beast, this writer’s editor, set up as no mere mortal! (7)
DEMIGOD – DOG + I’M + ED,  upside-down.
12 What makes airport seek new economic model? (11)
15 Most jovial, but with husband descending to become most crude (9)
EARTHIEST – HEARTIEST with the H moving down.
17 Sibling gaining promotion with style in NY location (8)
18 Fair number wanting bit of work recently (4,3)
JUST NOW –  JUST + NO + W[ork].
20 Bird gets brown with time, right? (7)
21 Struggled to get supper finally into oven (6)
23 Looking embarrassed, I had performed again (5)
27 Regularly fierce, showing strong emotion (3)
IRE – [f]I[e]R[c]E.

68 comments on “Times 28951 – I don’t know, I’ll ask her!”

  1. Don’t remember coming across CATE before, but guess I must’ve.
    Took some time to remember TONTINE.
    But yeah, pretty much a breeze.
    (Oh, and I thought DRIBBLING was just a basketball thing.)

  2. Yes. A nice Monday puzzle that mostly went in without too much effort. I took the ‘M’ in MILD to be turned on its head (upturned) to create a ‘W’. Is that the way you mean in the blog?
    Thanks setter and vinyl.

  3. 13:58
    No problems, but some queries: 6ac never seen just ‘wiped’, only ‘wiped out’; 13ac never seen ‘bling’ as an adjective. NOME appeared in a recent Mephisto, which is the only place I’ve ever seen it. ‘cates’ is marked as ‘archaic’ in ODE; I’ve only seen it in Shakespeare. I think TONTINE appeared here a while back; I knew it from the novel of the same name; never read it, but shelved it often when I was a high school student working in a public library.

    1. I’ve raised an eyebrow when hearing people say they were “wiped,” meaning “wiped out,” but that doesn’t still doesn’t mean “blanked out.” But Collins has for definition 3 of WIPE “to eradicate or cancel (a thought, memory, etc)” and for definition 4 “to erase a recording from (an audio or video tape),” which is even more on the money. Even definition 1—“to rub (a surface or object) lightly, esp with (a cloth, hand, etc), as in removing dust, water, grime, etc”—suffices if you take the “surface” to be, say, a blackboard.

  4. Very easy. Around 35 minutes including 20 minutes writing them in. At times I was nearly continuously writing.

  5. 23 minutes. I had no major problems but there were some tricky bits and pieces here that may have caused difficulties for some.

    CATES is archaic and seems to be appearing for the first time. NOME completely unknown, and TANAGER and TONTINE are hardly everyday words. PERESTROIKA is probably only known to solvers familiar with current affairs during the Gorbachev era but being reminded of it this morning came in handy later when solving a puzzle elsewhere. DOWNING as a college may only be known to Cambridge locals and students past and present, or as in my case, followers of University Challenge on TV.

    MAPLE as a national symbol is clearly an error, but I’ve a vague idea it has been clued as such on a previous occasion, perhaps reflecting a gap in the GK of a particular setter.

  6. Mostly straightforward 16′. I didn’t quite know what was going on in 16ac, so WILD just about got the vote over Mild. TONTINE I knew from time working in a life insurance company. Never heard of CATES, nor TANAGER but easy enough to unravel. Thanks Vinyl1 and setter.

  7. NHO cates (I biffed the answer), or Nome (again an easy biff). I always think that a TANAGER is some kind of lemur, but it didn’t contribute to what I think is a disappointingly slow solve – which was more the result of being very slow to see ACTON and my LOI (duh!). TEDDY BEAR was almost COD.

    COD WILD (a clever device)
    TIME 8:09

  8. 16:55 of which the last 2 or 3 minutes were working out the PERESTROIKA anagram
    I knew nome but NHO cates
    Thanks setter and blogger

  9. 7:25. TONTINE and DOWNING College (along with nome and cates) all new. None caused me too much alarm, but TONTINE looked a touch unlikely.

    PERESTROIKA not new to me for some reason, though I’ve no especial knowledge of the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

    Thanks both.

    1. The P-word was hard to avoid in the British press at the time. It’s the policy that famously led to Mrs T saying that Mr Gorbachev was someone she could do business with.

      1. I think that and Glasnost have survived in the public memory – I was too young to read about either at the time!

      2. There was even an episode of the children’s cartoon Pingu, in 1991, in which there were signposts in the background of one scene, reading перестройка and гласность

    2. A tontine is the central plot conceit of the classic film, Kind Hearts and Coronets, in which Alec Guinness plays 7 (I think) parts and keeps on being bumped off by Denis Price.

  10. 12 minutes. Could have been a sub 10 without the unknown cates and nome pausing the process. At least I did know TONTINE, which I seem to recall being considered archaic in a thirties Agatha Christie novel. To compensate, COD to JUST NOW. A nice way to start the week. Thank you V and setter

  11. 19:06 with a typo.

    I made rather heavy weather of this for the most part for no particular reason. It took a while for the penny to drop for SCRACTHER, with TONTINE and TANAGER being the only unknowns.

    A decent start to the week so thanks to both.

  12. All known apart from CATES and Nome, I think, so nothing to scare the troika. Came in a smidge under 22 minutes. Enjoyed the MILD/WILD turnover.

    TONTINE always reminds me of the novel The Darkest Day, by the late Christopher Fowler, which apparently follows the quite common plot of members of the group being bumped off one by one, presumably explaining why they’re not that popular any more…

  13. 7:42. This would have made it into my top ten times if it hadn’t been for TONTINE which held me up for a minute or so at the end. Reading the comments here I wondered how I’d solved CATES without remembering it, then realised it was actually the end of ADVOCATES which I’d biffed with no further thought. I liked the clue for SERENGETI but have a sneaking suspicion we’ve seen similar before.

  14. 8:03. My fastest for a while, held up at the end, as others were, I see, by TONTINE which took a while to come to mind. I liked the device for WILD, ROSTRUM and, COD for the surface, WHALE. Thanks Vinyl and setter.

  15. A rare completion without aids and in what must be a PB.
    LOI TONTINE took a bit of working out as I’d not heard of the scheme before and I’d also NHO of ‘nome’ or ‘cates’ but the answers were clear. I particularly enjoyed WILD.
    Finished in 17.18
    Thanks to Vinyl

  16. 18:25 which puts it among my top ten times and means the whole list is now sub-twenty. I know most of you won’t be impressed, but I’m tickled pink. Surprising that with so many unknown or unusual words it was so quick. WILD was clever, WHALE was neat

  17. 29 mins with the same unknowns as others, mentioned above, but fairly easily worked out from wp. Did have a slight MER at MAPLE as national symbol.


    Thanks v and setter.

  18. After four fabulous weeks in the Greek islands (hello all) I expected to struggle with this, and was pleased to come home in a shade under 20 minutes. Fortuitously we have a tontine element as a side hustle in our football-tipping competition, you have to nominate the one team you believe will not be beaten in the round and it’s a gradual process as tipsters are slowly eliminated. Then, often, there is a week of massive upsets, everyone goes out and the tontine restarts.

    There were quite a few foreign words in this puzzle and as someone who is NOT familiar with a lot of heraldry terms REGARDANT has to be assembled piece by piece. Thanks Vinyl.

    From Honest With Me:
    My woman’s got a face like a TEDDY BEAR
    She’s tossin’ a baseball bate in the air
    This meat’s so tough you can’t cut it with a sword
    I’m crashin’ my car trunk-first into the boards…

  19. About 12 minutes.

    Didn’t know cates=titbits for ADVOCATES; put the unknown TONTINE together from wordplay; don’t know my heraldry so REGARDANT was unfamiliar but very likely-sounding; and had to trust that Nome was a Greek region for NOISOME.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Artemis
    LOI Tontine
    COD Teddy bear

  20. 17 minutes. I confess to having biffed ADVOCATES and NOISOME, without knowing CATES or NOME. Otherwise no problems, though I was probably lucky seeing TONTINE quickly once all the crossers were in place. Might have been a bit quicker if I hadn’t persisted in trying to make “Brooklyn” fit at 17d.

  21. 12.27 with a typo.

    Never heard of TONTINE so that went in with fingers crossed (but a typo elsewhere rather spoiled the pleasure of getting it right).

    I like a gentler one now and again and this had some nice touches

    Ps Just been reading about tontines and suspect I have seen the term before. Apparently both the Theatre Royal and the Assembly Rooms here in Bath were funded by tontine schemes. You live and learn.

  22. 9.13 – I’ve only been quicker once in this current incarnation. The rash of fast times today seems surprising given the left-field vocab, but perhaps we’re all cleverer than we think.
    The WILD clue’s innovation reminded me of one of the more spectacular Listeners, where all sorts of inversions and rotations were possible, and the end result turned an M into an E as you folded your completed grid into a paper bird to produce the word WREN. The wow factor was pretty high on that one.

  23. 19:18

    Very straightforward- a blessing as I have hay fever. CATES, TANAGER and REGRDANT all new to me but easily gettable. There’s a TONTINE in The Wrong Box, one of my favourite films, thought it might seem a little dated now. PERESTROIKA seems like a million years ago.

    Thanks to Vinyl and the setter

  24. 5:38. As Z says it’s a bit odd that a puzzle with so many funny words can be so easy. I happened to know almost everything: even CATES rang a vague bell, probably from Mephisto. I had forgotten REGARDANT, which has appeared before.

  25. Personally I had no qualms with clueing MAPLE as a ‘national symbol’. OK, it strictly needs ‘leaf’ too, I s’pose. But you all got it, didn’t you?!

  26. Sadly I have to report a record time around 10 minutes. I prefer to be challenged rather more by this than the quick cryptic.

  27. 10 minutes for all but one, where I stared at T?N?I?E for 5 mins, couldn’t find a way in, so cheated and submitted off leaderboard. The other unknowns were biffable at least.

    Oh well.


  28. My last two or three answers had to be got fast so that I came in under 20 minutes, but I failed by 13 seconds. Lots of words that were quite obvious from the wordplay: that Nome is an old Greek region; that cates are very small titbits; that REGARDANT really is a word; that TONTINEs are financial things (actually I knew that but thought they were illegal and would have expected to be told that; but apparently they’re not illegal in parts of the world); that WASABI is a plant.

  29. 10:40 for everything but TONTINE which totally stumped me. I have since managed to half convince myself I have heard the word before but I don’t think I would ever have got it from the cryptic.

  30. A speedy time for me crossing the line in 18.38. Like others didn’t know CATES, but remembered TONTINES as being financial arrangements favoured by people from the Victorian era, sometimes referred to in wills or settlements. Misspelt PERESTROIKA with a fourth letter A, until thankfully checking the anagrist and rectifying the error.

  31. Yes, I remember Peter Cook and Dudley Moore shouting ‘tontine, tontine’ repeatedly in the Wrong Box. Always trying to use it in Scrabble, but for some reason it never comes up
    15 mins, mostly write ins, but NHO CATES.

  32. 1a ADVOcates. NHO cates. Added to Cheating Machine.
    11a MAPLE; from Wiki:
    “The use of the maple leaf as a Canadian symbol dates to the early 18th century. The maple leaf is depicted on Canada’s current and previous flags and on the Arms of Canada.”
    19a POI regardant not a familiar word. I also found reguardant (looks archaic to me, but added to CM.)
    25a Noisome DNK nome but did know Nome, Alaska. nome and nomes added to CM.
    17d As BR tried to shoehorn BROoklyn in. ACTON set me right.
    20d Tanager, a bird seen only in crosswordland, although quite a lot exist, but not in UK.

  33. Was on for a 25 minute solve, very fast for me, but for TONTINE, which I had never heard of, and couldn’t see TIN or TONE. Frustrating, my alphabet trawls came up with TENSILE but nothing else. Before all the checkers I thought PENSION, as it sounds like PENCE-SHUN (saving money).

  34. ” En tontine” is the French equivalent of English and Welsh joint tenancy. I assume the term is also used in Scots law, since there is a “Tontine Hotel” in Greenock, so called because of the financial arrangement made when it was founded.
    Less than 10 minutes. I like to have an easy one occasionally.

    1. A surprising number of buildings etc. were funded by tontines, eg Richmond bridge. Subscribers receive interest but the capital is never repaid, hence their funding potential.

  35. 16:08

    Same as many others: NOME and CATES unheard of; TANAGER, TONTINE, REGARDANT all heard of, but unsure of definition. Clueing very clear though – anything under 20 mins is a good start to the week.

    Thanks V and setter

  36. 30.17 A quarter of which was spent on a lengthy alphabet trawl to dredge up TONTINE. I never did parse it. Like others, CATES and NOME were new to me but we had NOISOME a few days ago. Thanks vinyl1.

  37. 30 minutes, slowed up by all the unknowns as mentioned above.
    My COD to Wild – unusual to select a 4-letter clue as COD.

  38. 28’0″
    Dwelt at the start, failed to stay on, despite the perfect going….

    …much like many of my selections last week.
    My edition of Chambers has nome as a division of modern Greece, but of ancient Egypt.
    Whereas Cambridge benefited through multiple dead husbands (Clare), snobbery (Robinson) – despite being very generous and philanthropic, The Jockey Club would not accept the ‘in trade’ founder of Radio Rentals, so he spent his money in Cambridge instead, things got cut short at Downing’s “forum”. The fourth side was never built; the widow pulled the plug as soon as the old man died.
    Thank you setter and Vinyl for a very pleasant start to the week.

    1. Collins says ‘former provinces of modern Greece’, and Wiki confirms that they are defunct as of 2010.

  39. 31:34
    Started fast, but held up by my lack of general knowledge. TANAGER and TONTINE (LOI) both NHO, and had to be pieced together from checkers and wordplay.

    Thanks Vinyl and setter

  40. Enjoyed this puzzle and nice start to the week – no major issues and could easily parse words I didn’t know – 22 minutes which I know is slow compared to many but one of my quicker times so I’m happy

  41. NHO CATES or NOME, but TONTINE was familiar as I’ve seen a murder mystery featuring one and we have a nearby pub a few miles from Northallerton(where Myrtilus’ gin and lime marmalade is available) which goes by the name The Cleveland Tontine. VAN and ARTEMIS were first 2 in and I then took a punt on ADVOCATES. REGARDANT was assembled as per instructions too. LOI was DOWNING. 15:02. Thanks setter and Vinyl.

  42. A gentle start to the week, all done in 24 minutes while watching the tennis. I agree that the answers which could not be immediately parsed were normally biffable. NHO CATES or REGARDANT, but it did not seem to matter. TONTINE was remembered from ancient Law Reports, but the only thing I recall about it is that I did not know the meaning of the word then and have forgotten it now. A MER at 13ac as I thought BLING was a noun and not an adjective, but no doubt language and usage move on.
    LOI – SCRATCHER (as I was expecting to find a (musical) composer)
    COD – WILD
    Thanks to vinyl and other contributors.

  43. 28:23 pretty straightforward but took an age to get started. NHO TANAGER or CATES. Knew TONTINE from an episode of Archer…

    thanks V and setter.

  44. A new PB, done late in the day, 7 minutes 12 seconds, watching the football so knew the exact time (kicked off when Italy did). CATES guessed, the rest went straight in.


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