Times 28959 – it’s a wrap.

Nothing too tricky in this one, the unusual words can be worked out from the wordplay. Apart from the -OTIC bit, I’m not convinced I’ve sorted how 19d works. Liberia was a bit of a gimme clue.

Definitions underlined in bold, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, anagrinds in italics, [deleted letters in square brackets].

1 Master versus riotous characters in new form (8)
6 Former monarchy’s ideal is to lose power (6)
ARAGON –  [P]ARAGON. Old Kingdom in what is now northern Spain, where Catherine came from.
9 Electric light circuit disrupted by introduction of mains (4)
LAMP – M[ains] inside LAP.
10 Overdo funny extra gag in middle of speech (10)
EXAGGERATE – (EXTRA GAG)* inside [sp] E E [ch].
11 Instrumental interludes, right? One has any number in Torelli (10)
RITORNELLI – R[ight], I (one), TORELLI with N inserted. I did the wordplay and got a word I vaguely knew but couldn’t have told you exactly what it means. Torelli was an Italian Baroque musician so the surface is rather elegant I think.
13 Couple   object in detail (4)
ITEM –  I think this is a double definition, the second being ITEM as in a list of items, especially being read out repeatedly  in America. Or is it also a triple definition?
14 What’s wrapped in Cambridge burial place (8)
CATACOMB – A TACO is a kind of Mexican wrap, wrapped in CAMB[ridge].
16 Where plane could be no good in coastal fog (6)
HANGAR – NG inside HAAR.
18 Like an ancient civilisation on fringes of Argive Greece, Anatolian? (6)
AEGEAN – outer letters – A[rgiv]E G[reec]E A[natolia]N.
20 Strong warning leader’s upset right (3,5)
22 Nearly genius track from aspiring band (4)
DEMO – I think this is DEMO[n] where demon could mean a genius at a particular thing.
24 Preparing for war, bring up male soldiers in appropriate technology (10)
REARMAMENT – REAR (bring up) M[ale], MEN (soldiers) inside AT (appropriate, technology).
26 Western chance to remove leader following first of October (10)
OCCIDENTAL – ACCIDENTAL loses its A after O[ctober].
28 Willing   object of pursuit (4)
GAME – double definition.
29 One’s put out by train companies cancelling runs repeatedly (6)
ALWAYS – RAILWAYS “cancels” R (runs) and loses I (one). Does always mean repeatedly? Not really.
30 Nun chose to undergo training as one without equal (8)
2 At home, a casual night with mum staying in can be dull (9)
INANIMATE – IN (at home), A NITE with MA inside.
3 Pudding’s one conveniently run up with South American tuber (7)
TAPIOCA – I, PAT (as in off pat, conveniently?), reversed > TAPI, and OCA is a South American tuber (in the Spanish language). Tapioca is a pudding made from another tuber. I remember it as ‘frog spawn’ and I like it although it’s not everyone’s cup of.
4 Water round Cape with remains regularly seen (5)
OCEAN –  O (round) C[ape], [r]E [m]A [i] N [s].
5 Savoy served up peeled eggs (3)
OVA – reversed, [s]AVO[y}.
6 Wretched article quickly issued covering India (9)
ANGUISHED – AN (article), GUSHED (quickly issued), insert I for India.
7 Fall holding good after a king’s put on trial (7)
ARRAIGN – A, R (king), RAIN with G inserted.
8 Extraordinary journey when queen is delayed (5)
OUTRE – journey = ROUTE, move the R to a later spot.
12 Large peninsula in part of West Africa (7)
15 Unclaimed narcotic not started by bar (9)
OWNERLESS – [D]OWNER, LESS = bar in one sense.
17 Organic working outside over months of rural economy (9)
AGRONOMIC – O[ver], M[onths] inside (ORGANIC)*.
19 Unusual spectacles perhaps cut round outside of the ear (7)
EXOTICA – of the ear = OTIC, inside EXA[mples] perhaps, cut. EDIT as explained below by early commenters, it’s OTIC inside AXE reversed, and the definition is “unusual spectacles “.
21 Fine porcelain I am getting packed into boxes (7)
LIMOGES – I’M inside LOGES, which are boxes as in a theatre.
23 Be better than what’s caught in river and lake (5)
EXCEL – C[aught] inside the river EXE, L[ake].
25 Author, not English, that’s written about a city (5)
MILAN – our author is A.A. MILNE,  drop the E and insert A.
27 Make leather  to flog (3)
TAN – double definition.


52 comments on “Times 28959 – it’s a wrap.”

  1. I solved all but three clues in half-an-hour, but 30 minutes later (including nod-offs) I had added only one more answer having eventually worked out EXOTICA at 19dn. The two missing answers (22 and 29) intersected with this so I was hopeful the final checkers would help them fall into place but it was not to be so I abandoned them for the night.

    This morning I forgot I still had work to do and unfortunately I saw the answers before I’d had a chance to revisit the clues, but there was no ‘Doh!’ moment when they were revealed and I somehow doubt that I would ever have solved them even with a refreshed brain. I agree with Pip that ‘repeatedly / ALWAYS’ doesn’t work although there might be an argument for the other way round.

    I had ITEM as a triple definition. ‘The reasoning was correct apart from one small detail / item’.

    NHO OCA. NHO ‘appropriate technology’ let alone its abbreviation AT. Wiki has a page on it but Collins doesn’t list it.

    This seemed an excellent puzzle on the easier side until it (or this solver) suddenly went off the rails.

    1. Very well put — there has been a real spate of puzzles recently which were on the easier side until they (or the setter) suddenly went off the rails, often just for one pair of intersecting entries. Hard is not so bad, but being lulled into complacency and then getting hit with a sledgehammer is something else.

  2. My LOI was ALWAYS, reluctantly entered because of the mismatch with the definition, which our blogger duly notes.

    I took EXOTICA as AXE going up around OTIC, with “possibly” as—possibly—alluding to this being the American spelling (innit?), and the definition as “Unusual spectacles.” (EXOTICA is a plural noun.)

    I’d never heard of A(ppropriate) T(echnology) either, but utterly igored that when solving.

  3. 11’40”, delayed in SW with ALWAYS LOI. Parsed EXOTICA like Guy, (AXE reversed). Parsed ITEM like jack (triple definition). Similarly never heard of AT. Had heard of RIT but not the full version.

    TAPIOCA has a disgusting texture. I must reread Winnie the Pooh.

    Thanks pip and setter.

    1. (I could be wrong but I don’t think RITORNELLI are abbreviated to RIT. I’ve usually seen it for RITARDANDO)

      1. You’re right. A ritornello is when the full orchestra return after an interlude where a section (or soloists) play.

  4. Finished in 34 minutes, more by luck than judgement, and with insufficient knowledge.If I’d known more, I’d have taken longer. RITORNELLI was assembled with letters I wasn’t sure of, so I thought “what the hell.” I needed all the crossers for LIMOGES, not knowing the boxes but must have at some stage heard mention of the porcelain. TAPIOCA was half parsed, although my problems there may have been caused by the feelings of revulsion at the memory of school dinners.By this stage, I was perfectly happy with ALWAYS for repeatedly.It works if time is quantized. And I could say even in the classical world, “If you repeat the experiment you always get the same answer.” Thank you Pip and setter

  5. DNF. Whizzed through most of this but ground to a halt at 29ac. I see now that the mistake I made here was looking for a word that means ‘repeatedly’. Silly me.

  6. Good attempt, just three left in the SW corner after 20 mins. But EXOTICA would not come, and ALWAYS was too clever, I was trying LNE(R) B(R) GW(R) in different combinations.

    Camb is short for Cambridge ? I though Cantab was the abbreviation, and Cambs for the county.

    I’ve been in IT all my career and never seen AT for Appropriate Technology.

    DEMOn = Genius was tough, missed that one as well.


    1. Without giving too much away, “area around Cambridge” turned up in Friday’s Listener and clues CAMBS, short for Cambridgeshire. I think you’re right, Cantab being the abbreviation for Cambridge, and CAMB is neither one thing nor the other. In its ignorance, Chambers does allow CAMB., but what does it know?
      PS the Listener clue was slightly kinder, which doesn’t happen often: [def] & Mexican food in Cambridge area (9)

  7. Yesterday I failed to submit because I was unsure how to spell SISYPHEAN (I had it right as it happens), today I gave up flogging this particular dead horse after 15 minutes, having already biffed TAPIOCA, CATACOMB, and MILAN (thanks as ever Pip), but, being totally flummoxed by NHO Torelli, I also failed with DEMO/EXOTICA, and ARAGON/OUTRE. Finally I didn’t get ALWAYS because frankly I think the clue sucks.

    It’s shaping up to be a bad week.


  8. Too hard for me, DNF with ALWAYS, EXOTICA and ARAGON eluding me. I laboured over several sessions so no time but it would have been enormous. Unlike Nelson I found a lot here that were just too tricky, and I appreciate his explanations.

    From Oh Sister:
    Oh sister when I come to knock on your door
    Don’t turn away, you’ll create sorrow
    Time is an OCEAN but it ends at the shore
    You may not see me tomorrow

  9. 36:28

    Not particularly enjoyable on the whole – the good moments were well outweighed by the unknowns: OCA, RITORNELLI, LOGES, genius=DEMON, AT (appropriate technology – really??). The second half of the clue for 13a didn’t appear to make much sense either. While I managed to scrape round, it was, on the whole, unsatisfying.

    Thanks to P for the elucidations

  10. 31:52 but errors

    I found this very bitty. After FOI LAMP, I was solving here and there, unable to build from previous solutions and uncertain on some of those (TAPIOCA, MILAN and OUTRE to begin with). I slowly developed a base with the SW last to fall (LOI OWNERLESS). A couple of silly errors on submission (one from fat fingers, the other from poor thinking).

    Thank you, piquet and the setter

  11. 32:29
    I found that rather hard going.

    I didn’t know what the heck was going on for the parsing of TAPIOCA, couldn’t think what AXE had to do with specs, and I was fazed by the clue for RITORNELLI, until realising it is quite straightforward when all the checkers are in place.

    For the most part I didn’t really enjoy it, but it was a test all the same.

    Thanks both.

  12. 44:40
    Not particularly enjoyable, especially the SW corner, three intersecting clues with poor definitions.
    COD I quite liked MILAN.

  13. DNF… 17:36 after giving up on 29A and using a word-finder to get it. NHO OCA or AT for Appropriate Technology but that didn’t stop me solving the clues. COD to LAMP. Thanks Pip and setter.

  14. I didn’t find this quite as straightforward, and invented the plausible AGRIMONICS by not counting letters in the anagrist, before grinding to a halt in the SW, ALWAYS being utterly impenetrable, “spectacles” in 19d suggesting the egregious OO, and “track from aspiring band” 22a threatening to be an intrusion from the New Order. With the error, all done eventually in 25.51, but it annoyed rather than entertained!

  15. Another DNF again failing on the SW corner with the DEMO/EXOTICA axis.
    ALWAYS went in from wordplay rather than the definition and NHO RITORNELLI was just made up of the remaining letters. I feel I’m in good company. Well done Piquet and thanks setter.

  16. Ha bloody HAAR!

    Beaten by DEMO and ALWAYS and not keen on either, same goes for CAMB. Biffed TAPIOCA and had never heard of appropriate technology. I liked ARRAIGN and EXOTICA.

    Thanks to Pip and the setter

  17. I finished in 23:57 having been slowed down by the NHO RITORNELLI, where I spent much too much time wondering who Torelli was, ITEM where I’m still not sure I understand fully the clue and my LOI and IMO rather clever ALWAYS (I was wondering about LNE(R) and suchlike for much too long!!!)
    Nice puzzle
    Thanks setter and blogger

  18. DNF
    Not feeling this one today. Couldn’t be bothered to unpick SW corner. Some pretty dodgy clues put me off, really.
    Thanks, p.

  19. Not my most enjoyable solve, some clues were a little too abstract and/or baffling for me. But some lovely misdirection caught me in COD – HANGAR. I spent way too much time wordplaying with the coast (the margins) of FOG, namely trying to manipulate the F and the G !

    1. Brings to mind the (apocryphal) story of the old weather forecast in TV which was done with magnetic symbols. The F kept falling off, leading to the announcer saying “sorry about the F in Fog”

      1. ooh, I’d forgotten about those lovely magnetic symbols – and how they’d slap them on, sometimes for them to fall off!

  20. 39:59

    Bunged in LOI ALWAYS with a shrug simply to beat 40’ and stop the pain.

    Thanks all.

  21. 35 minutes. Like several others I didn’t know AT, OCA or LOGES but the defs made the answers reasonably clear. Once I’d worked it out, my favourite was the clever ALWAYS.

  22. 29:30 – not the easiest, with some random letter juggling required for a number of the obscurer obscurities

  23. Surely there’s a NINA here? Didn’t Richard Rogan use ARAGON as his pseudonym in his Listener puzzles?

    1. You’re absolutely right about the Nina / acrostic and a very appropriate one it is too, given the recent sad event concerning someone you’ve referred to. I don’t know if we should give the game away just yet, probably not.

  24. 14:42, with a couple of minutes spent racking my brains for a better word for ‘boxes’ than the unknown and odd-looking LOGES, before going for it on the basis that LIMOGES is a tiny airport I once flew to so hey, maybe the town makes porcelain. Bit jammy there, I’ll concede.

    ALWAYS was very tricky. Chambers gives ‘every time’ and ‘continually’ as definitions, and I can just about imagine synonymous usages. But I needed a flash of inspiration to see that it fit, then backparsed.

    Thanks both.

  25. No problem with always/repeatedly: “you’re always/repeatedly going on and on about …”.

    53 minutes, with a few aids at the end — demon was hard to see in 22ac, EXOTICA a mystery, and AT unknown in 24ac.

    I suspect I’m being dim, because so many people seem to be quite happy with the reversal of axe in the EXOTICA clue. It looks to me as if it needs the word ‘back’.

    1. I don’t know if this is me getting the wrong end of the stick but round is the reversal indicator.

      1. I read it as AXE “round” and then “outside” OTIC (of the ear). I am often wrong on these things though.

  26. Very tricky if – like me – you don’t know LOGES and only half-remember LIMOGES. LIMAGES for me, alas.

    1. 27.39, only getting ALWAYS after setting the puzzle aside for a few hours. My brother is an ex-agronomist, so no problem with that clue. LIMOGES put in as a biff, intending to go back to it and figure out how the NHO LOGES could be assembled, but I forgot to do that.

  27. DNF due to ALWAYS.
    Agree with the view Cantab. or Cambs. Could not parse the AT of REARMANMENT.

  28. VIRTUOSO was FOI then it was steady away until I reached the SW corner, although I biffed TAPIOCA and REARMAMENT. NHO OCA or AT for appropriate technology. Of the 3 left, EXOTICA came first which I parsed as cut round = EXA, outside OTIC, of the ear. DEMO came next and for LOI, 29a, ALWAYS fitted the supplied letters and the wordplay, after I gave up dabbling with B as the first letter (BR minus the R but then I couldn’t come up with another train company to take an R out of). 20:31. Thanks setter and Pip.

  29. DNF, defeated by the unknown RITORNELLI and ALWAYS.

    Didn’t understand TAPIOCA at all; missed the taco part of CATACOMB; slowed myself down by assuming 24a would end in ‘-ing’ before correcting to REARMAMENT, though like many others I’d never heard of AT for appropriate technology; and didn’t know LIMOGES porcelain.

    Thanks piquet and setter.

    COD Hangar

  30. I won’t tell you my time as a) I am doing this in the lounge (well, bar really, with a nice glass of Italian Vermentino-don’t tell Sawbill) of my hotel and b) suddenly three jokers tip up and start playing the piano. What can a serous cruciverbalist do?

    However I did not find this enjoyable. Most of the MERs have been mentioned but are ROUTE and journey really synonyms? AT what! Never seen a clue before with two instructions to delete a letter. Do train companies have “runs”? Bah.

    Thanks pip and setter.

  31. 24.11. I’ll risk upsetting hopkinb again by saying that I dislike lesser known Italian musical terms as much as I dislike pretentious French ‘foodie’ ones and dodgy definitions. Super puzzle in the Grauniad today.

  32. Nice puzzle, even if it took me two Dunnies. Absolutely no problem with ALWAYS clued by repeatedly: Collins ‘2. continually; repeatedly’. ‘Some people repeatedly carp about clues like this.’ 🙂

  33. Had a go at this this evening after supper and was disappointed to find myself 3 clues short after quite a quick fill of the grid. These were ARAGON, REARMAMENT and, you guessed it, ALWAYS. The first two I eventually got, though ARAGON hasn’t been a monarchy since the beginning of the 18th Century and I couldn’t make sense of REARMAMENT as AT meant nothing to me. However, even an alphabet trawl and Mr Ego letting me know that I wouldn’t be very happy with the definition of 29a failed to get me the answer, so I came here expecting the badge of shame of a DNF, only to find a host of like-minded solvers. Consequently, I am pretty happy…

  34. 55 minutes, a bit longer than I really needed because I went off and did something else which I thought might be urgent when I got stuck near the end. At that point I had DEMO and EXOTIC left to do, which I filled in fairly quickly once I saw that it involved OTIC “of the ear” and not the outside of the ear, the O then leading me to DEMO, which made the aspiring band seem reasonable. DEMON as genius probably refers to a guiding spirit, not directly someone very capable at something. In my OED, one definition of DEMON is as a variant of DAEMON, an inner or attendant spirit or inspiring force, and there is a list of synonyms which includes “genius”. I liked the casual night in INANIMATE.

  35. 15:14 My my we’re a whingy bunch today. I quite enjoyed it. The clueing for RITORNELLI needed to be very generous, and it was. ALWAYS was my LOI but I thought the definition was close enough for engineering. Must admit the AT in rearmarment went in with a shrug.

    Never heard of the boxes, but always remember LIMOGES from having played a game of rugby there in 1983.

    Thanks setter and Pip.


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