Times 28963 – Take a walk on the mild side

Time: 20 minutes

Music: Sibelius Violin Concerto, Mutter/Previn

I found this a rather easy Monday puzzle, but I did have all the knowledge.   The two long answers should be obvious just from the enumerations and literals, which will give everyone a good start.    I just had to think a bit to remember Birdcage Walk, but everything else was very straightforward.

1 Seducer reluctant to have a port (8)
5 A bishop caught with horse outside church office (6)
ABBACY – A  + B + BA(C)Y.
10 Cameroon is in her travels, whatever the circumstances (4,4,2,5)
11 Stop supporting a group with no backing (7)
ABANDON – A + BAND + NO backwards.
12 Name a French poet’s sister’s calling (7)
NUNHOOD – N + UN + HOOD, i.e. Thomas Hood, the world-famous poet.
13 Where a flyer may go for a walk in London (8)
BIRDCAGE – Double definition.
15 American industrial leader, old and pale of face (5)
IOWAN – I[ndustrial] + O + WAN.
18 Additional passage from book court rejected (5)
20 A right pain around Ealing at first, like the bloody Tube! (8)
ARTERIAL – A + R + T(E[aling])RIAL.   Another one I biffed.
23 Trailblazer on expedition initially requiring external support? (7)
PIONEER – PI(ON E[xpedition])ER.
25 Famous actor originally involved in musical (7)
OLIVIER – OLIV(I[nvolved]ER, a bit of a chestnut.
26 Most of rite mother used to somehow endure to the end (4,3,3,5)
27 Tin containing damsons primarily in very small country (6)
SWEDEN –  S(WE(D[amsons]E)N, where SN is the chemical symbol for tin.
28 Tear about always, being vicar, perhaps (8)
1 Small expanse of water Belloc handled, partly (6)
LOCHAN – Hidden in [bel]LOC HAN[dled].
2 Male keyboard player releasing current for one in kitchen (9)
3 A brother helped, we’re told (scraped away!) (7)
ABRADED – A + BR + sounds like AIDED.
4 Rise of number one team, one bound to be permanently revolutionary (5)
IXION –  NO I + XI, all upside-down.
6 Graduate nurse once, one keeping judge’s dog (7)
BASENJI – BA + SEN  + J + I.
7 Friend has a turn crossing major road (5)
AMIGO – A (M1) GO.
8 Surrendering crop in conclusion of farming (8)
YIELDING – YIELD + IN + [farmin]G.
9 Gloomy signal from one who knows the score? (8)
DOWNBEAT – Double definition, the second referring to an orchestral conductor.   I had put in downcast, but quickly erased it.
14 Fervour of Republican entering in civic style? (8)
ALACRITY – A LA C(R)ITY.   This clue probably would have been better with something like urban style.
16 Females endlessly grabbing attention is fatiguing (9)
17 This chap is a Pacific country’s star (8)
HESPERUSHE’S + PER + U.S.   HE’S PERU’S.   This shows the hazard of being a Mephisto solver, and automatically substituting PER for A.
19 A sign erected over Tyneside plant (7)
ANEMONE – A + OMEN upside-down + N.E.
21 Put out again about subject under discussion (7)
22 Hospital preparation military engineers paid to go without (6)
PREMED – P(R.E.M.E)D, a word that has a different meaning in the US.   Come to think of it, we don’t have the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers either.
24 Senior citizen flaying member of fighting force (5)
OLDIE – [s]OLDIE[r], a bit of a chestnut.
25 Pigment made from mineral aggregate surrounding church (5)

67 comments on “Times 28963 – Take a walk on the mild side”

  1. 15:41
    Biffed the two long ones à la Vinyl, although I needed a couple of checkers. Also biffed ARTERIAL & PIONEER, parsing post-submission. ‘One in kitchen’, beginning T, had to be TIMPANIST. DNK LOCHAN. OLIVIER is becoming the new TREE.

  2. About 50 minutes. Most enjoyable. FOI COME RAIN OR SHINE Got RIDE OUT THE STORM quickly. Had all the parsing.
    LOI BIRDCAGE Worried I could not find any reference to BIRDCAGE in London. Had it early on since I had a vague recollection about it but left it until last.

  3. If you don’t know about (or remember) Birdcage Walk in London, the wordplay will not take you all the way there.
    I checked before entering, my LOI. Otherwise, yeah, Easy Street.

  4. 43 minutes. I didn’t find this particularly easy. I had no problem with BIRDCAGE, although I agree with Guy that there’s no way to the answer if you don’t happen to know of the place.

    Do I detect a theme? REVEREND, ABBACY , NUNHOOD – the latter two not necessarily in the vocabulary of those outside religious circles.

    NHO LOCHAN which has appeared only once before, in 2007 when Foggyweb was on blogging duty. That was around the time I discovered TfTT but I was apparently absent that day.

    I knew HESPERUS only from its wreck, not as a star.

    I didn’t know IXION which has appeared only once in a regular puzzle, in 2021. I was on blogging duty and didn’t know it then either.

    BASENJI is one of several breeds of dog I can never remember and have to construct from wordplay (if it’s friendly) every time they appear.

    Failed to parse ARTERIAL.

    10ac seemed odd as I know the expression only from the Harold Arlen / Johnny Mercer song title Come Rain or Come Shine recorded by so many, but never sounding better than in this simmering version by Billie Holiday.

  5. Mostly straightforward but for some tricky vocab and GK requirements, which held me up at the end to finish in 38. LOsI ABBACY and YIELDING.

    From Tangled Up In Blue:

    She was married when we first met
    Soon to be divorced
    I helped her out of a jam I guess
    But I used a little too much force
    We drove that car as far as we could
    ABANDONed it out West
    Split up on a dark sad night
    Both agreeing it was best…

    1. Or from another classic song (unaccountably left off Desire):

      One more time at midnight, near the wall
      Take off your heavy makeup and your shawl
      Won’t you descend from the throne, from where you sit?
      Let me feel your love one more time before I ABANDON it

  6. Thanks to the setter for Hesperus.

    If Vinyl is a perfectionist, the synonyms in 17D and 19D need underlining.

  7. Flew through this, possibly because I was lucky enough to have all the GK.

    Couldn’t tell you the stories of HESPERUS and IXION, but had heard the names. BIRDCAGE took a while, and I look forward to more examples. Pedantically noted that OLIVIER doesn’t have an !

    8’59”, thanks vinyl and setter.

  8. The caged bird sings
    with a fearful trill
    of things unknown
    but longed for still
    (Caged Bird, Maya Angelou)

    25 mins pre-brekker left me with the London walk, which I knew but took a while to remember. Maybe it is this sort of neuron pathway reinforcement which makes crosswords good for staving off dementia.
    I thought Birdcage was too tricky for those who don’t know it, Ixion likewise would be an assembly job, and Premed is dodgy.
    Ta setter and V.

  9. 14:03. I found that some tricky vocab made this harder than usual for a Monday – IXION, LOCHAN, HESPERUS – though none of the clueing was too difficult. Thanks to Jack for identifying the rarity of some of these. For some reason BASENJI has stuck in my head from previous outings – I remember it is the only dog that does not bark.

  10. 35 minutes. I was able to remember IXION so the top half went in quickly but then torpor set in and I needed far too long to solve the rest. I was initially mystified by 9d so was happy to finally see DOWNBEAT as my LOI.

  11. 14:02. RIDE OUT THE STORM took a while to drop, which slowed me down in the bottom half. Didn’t know IXION and only very vaguely knew HESPERUS, but the wordplay was helpful. Quite Mondayish, but living in London rather helped with BIRDCAGE.

    Thanks both.

  12. Surprised by Ixion which was a very accurate clue if you knew him, and gettable, just, if you didn’t. Had to look him up just out of nosiness.

  13. 25 mins so a breeze for me , for once! Now ensconced in Turin, I’ve found a printer so I can now do the crossie the « proper » (for me) way.

    No probs with BIRDCAGE WALK as I have a photo of me sitting on a horse, aged 2, with a family friend who rode there. Poshdog millionaire?

    Liked the two long ones but not so much the clerical references as Jack has mentioned.

    Thanks V and setter.

  14. Thanks to Vinyl1 for the parsing of my LOI, which I couldn’t see owing to the random chap. Not really a Monday puzzle in the accepted sense..

    TIME 9:09

  15. 9.05
    Fairly straightforward, with the two long acrosses accurately describing the weather forecast here this week (hopefully not 17d’s poetic reference).
    NHO BASENJI, only just IXION, but both workoutable.
    Apparently only the Royal Family and the Hereditary Grand Falconer were permitted to drive along BIRDCAGE Walk until 1828, after which it gained a different reputation.

  16. 06:24, so a week of enforced absence from crossword access has apparently left me sharp. Required knowledge all there apart from LOCHAN, which had to be what it was; mention of the kitchen made my solver’s ears prick up, of course, and it was nice to see I was today’s random man.

  17. 42 minutes and not at all easy to me. LOI ALACRITY, not solved with anything like that speed. COD to ARTERIAL I got HESPERUS from the poem plus crossers, not previously knowing it was a star and forgetting that Peru is on the Pacific coast. I went through all the island nations I knew first. Fortunately there aren’t that many walks that I know in London, but BIRDCAGE was late in. Thank you V and setter.

  18. 6:52. No problems this morning, but I had my fingers crossed for IXION. The wordplay seemed unambiguous but if I’ve heard of the chap before I had forgotten him and had no idea why he might be either spinning or revolting. I thought it might be something to do with particle physics.
    I parsed 17dn as HE’S PERU’S, but vinyl1’s alternative works perfectly well.

    1. Agreed re. 17d. The US is as much a Pacific country as Peru – perhaps more so, given its annexation of Hawaii.

  19. 25:29
    Very slow for a Monday and slow off the mark for some of the easier clues.

    Didn’t know LOCHAN, HESPERUS, and IXION but all gettable from the wordplay. Luckily I know Birdcage Walk from giving Mo Farah a run for his money in the London Marathon. The photo finish was of the timelapse kind.

    Thanks to both.

  20. 11:46. Held up at the end by ALACRITY and taking a while to see how OLIDE worked. Thanks Vinyl and setter.

  21. About half an hour, with the last 10 minutes spent on the unknown HESPERUS. Silly as it sounds, I took a while to move away from the south east Asian countries and remember that countries on the west coast of America are Pacific too.

    Relied on wordplay for IXION; didn’t parse ARTERIAL; not familiar with LOCHAN; and can’t recall seeing ‘pd’ as an abbreviation for paid before, as required for PREMED.

    Thanks vinyl and setter.

    FOI Lothario
    LOI Hesperus
    COD Anemone

    1. impressed how quickly many of you complete these puzzles. I (very) occasionally manage just over an hour, but more often about two. Still I’m well into retirement so speed isn’t really an issue.

  22. You’d think with my new screen-friendly glasses and the crisper font I would have spotted an E whare a G should be, which put a dampener on solving in 10.33.
    Even those of us with a churchy background might not immediately recognise the clearly invented ABBACY and NUNHOOD. The former is obviously a good place to buy your cigars, and the latter one of the bad guys from Sister Act, just so you all know.

  23. A typical Monday, no problems. I don’t see anything wrong with PREMED. My brother-in-law was in the REME and I have often seen PD for PAID.

    Is the difference in the US as mentioned in the blog that it means premedical studies rather than premedication for general anaesthesia?

    Thanks setter and Vinyl.

  24. 29:54
    I thought an ixion was something spinning around in the world of subatomic physics.
    Thanks, v.

  25. 20:39

    Gentlish Monday though I did have a slow start on the acrosses – picked up on the downs. Agreed that BIRDCAGE might be tricky if you don’t know London. Wasn’t entirely certain that PREMED is a word, but the wordplay was clear enough. First track on Primal Scream’s album Vanishing Point is called ‘Burning Wheel’ – I wonder if it references IXION…

    Thanks V and setter

  26. 5:32 Perfect puzzle for the smug classicists among us, even though I couldn’t tell you much about Ixion or Hesperus. Luckily there is a lochan visible from my window but I don’t suppose that saved me more than a few seconds. I can see that BIRDCAGE WALK would be tricky if you weren’t from the UK, but hey, it’s a UK puzzle! There were quite a few biffable answers today, and the long phrases went straight in. Easiest for several months if you were on the right wavelength. COD to HESPERUS. Very neat clue.

    1. Ixion was a legendary king of the Lapiths who, for various misdeeds, was condemned by Zeus to spend his afterlife bound to a spinning, burning wheel for all eternity.

      Hesperus was the Greek word for the evening star, which, of course, we now know is the planet Venus.

      1. I’m afraid after 12 years of studying the classics I never managed to foster much interest in mythology. Google tells me that Hesperus was supposedly the son of Aphrodite. I think the HESPERIDES are something big in the myths too. I knew he was also the evening star as he’s still the base of the Greek word for evening (as in kaliSPERA). We also get VESPERS and WEST from the same root.

  27. 23:19
    NHO IXION or HESPERUS, so had to construct both from the wordplay.

    Thanks Vinyl and setter

  28. Very gentle indeed. The only clue that held me up for a while was ‘NUNHOOD’ – I could see that it was a possible answer, but Thomas Hood’s fame as a poet hadn’t filtered through to me, so I was hesitant. Once I’d convinced myself that must be right, my LOI was ‘DOWNBEAT’ – one of those where the penny didn’t drop until I had all the checkers.

  29. NHO of HESPERUS or LOI IXION, but relatively friendly wordplay.

    All 3 crosswords in 16:19 for me today, which feels like it must be a record but probably isn’t.


  30. 14:27 – as easy as they come although, like Keriothe, NHO of the unambiguously clued IXION and wondered if it was some sort of subatomic particle that spun a lot. Most of them seem to do something along those lines.

  31. Not absolutely easy — LOCHAN and IXION were only constructed from wordplay — 37 minutes. Wasn’t sure about fervour = ALACRITY, but I suppose the meanings overlap. In 24dn flaying for removal of the outside struck me as a bit of a stretch. HESPERUS no problem once I realised that there were other Pacific places but Fiji and places in that area.

    1. Similar with me, always associated alacrity with speed but looks like I have been labouring under a misapprehension.

  32. I found this pretty straightforward finishing in 27.40. Only held up with my LOI which was DOWNBEAT, otherwise it would have been nearer the twenty five minute mark.

  33. Easy peasy, after I stopped trying to fit Aortal in some form in where Arterial needed to go. I’m used to seeing Pre-med hyphenated when it’s medication and not when it’s a `student.

  34. 28:37
    Enjoyable puzzle that took longer than it should because I’d mistyped ABRADED.

    IXION and LOCHAN were both new to me. I knew HESPERUS from the Wreck thereof, and I knew that from the Procol Harum song rather than Longfellow’s poem which I have just read. To paraphrase Mr. Wilde: “One must have a heart of stone to read The Wreck of The Hesperus without laughing.”

    Thanks to vinyl and the setter

  35. I enjoyed this one. NHO IXION or ABBACY but the clueing was generous. TIMPANIST took a while. From LOTHARIO to ARTERIAL in 14:40. Thanks setter and Vinyl.

  36. 17.50 held up by alacrity my LOI and timpanist. A recent puzzle which explained percussion in terms of the orchestra “kitchen” ( or something similar) helped me see the light.
    Nunhood seemed a bit awkward but couldn’t be anything else .
    Good puzzle, thanks setter and blogger.

  37. NHO IXION or HESPERUS, except for the ‘wreck’, but had heard of the Hesperides, which led to a lazy HESPERIS, failing to notice the lack of a country… Otherwise all straightforward, including LOCHAN, which I must have been aware of, since it was FOI. For the top half of the puzzle I thought I was doing the Quickie, which I believe helped, since I expected the answers to go in smoothly, and indeed that was the case until I realised it wasn’t! I took a bit of time trying to arrange the components of both ABBACY and SWEDEN to tease out the answers, but was helped by the two long clues being multiple words, which I find much easier than very long words. COD to ARTERIAL.

  38. I didn’t find this so easy – the general knowledge required not overlapping with my general knowledge. Nearly 1 hour to complete.

  39. 18’50”
    Smartly away, clear run, stayed on well.

    Fortunately all fell within my ken, so all were parsed, but I have to admit to the two long, and rather apt for today, anagrams went in on trust. I can tell when things are going fairly well when I have to avoid smudges; which was never a problem on newsprint.
    Thank you Vinyl and setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

  40. Quite a few unknowns but I managed to finish in a couple of sessions with tennis in the background.
    LOI HESPERUS after OLDIE, SWEDEN and PIONEER ( Forbear preceded it) -my problems were mainly in the SW.
    DNK IXION and LOCHAN but parsing friendly. Slow start with FOI ABRADED.

  41. 31 minutes, while perched uncomfortably outside the toilet on the London-Ipswich train, which was surprisingly full.

    Decentish Monday puzzle, but with too much stitching together of engineers, roads, nurses, motorways, churches, football teams and other stock abbreviations for my tastes. I liked HESPERUS.

    Actually, it was technically a DNF because I put BASANJI, but since I’ve never heard of the dog or the nurse I’m not even counting it.

  42. Late to this after a tiring day. 40′ maybe. Like others LOCHAN and IXION both NHOs and taken from wordplay assuming IXION to be a particle of some sort. ALACRITY has always meant eagerness or quickness to me though I do see fervour as a synonym in Collins. Should have been quicker, but then I always should be… thanks Vinyl1 and setter.

  43. NHO IXION nor HESPERUS (but I’d heard of Hesperides so that was close enough). In both cases I just trusted the wordplay. I did know BIRDCAGE walk, although I couldn’t say where it is. Otherwise very Mondayish with a weird set of churchy words.

  44. 34.23 LOCHAN, IXION, ABBACY and NUNHOOD (and HOOD) were NHO. BASENJI and LOI HESPERUS were dimly remembered. CANADA for SWEDEN held me up for a good while. It nearly works but the clue wouldn’t need both “containing” and “in”. If I hadn’t learned “kitchen” from a recent puzzle I would have struggled with TIMPANIST. I found this tough and was pleased to finish. Thanks vinyl1.

  45. 21.03. Rather late to tackle even a gentle puzzle – which is my excuse for a slow time.

  46. A pleasant Monday puzzle, all done in a leisurely 25 minutes over a lunchtime pint. NHO LOCHAN, but the clue left no alternative. BASENJI is a dog I have only ever met in crosswords. As vinyl says, the early resolution of the long answers at 10ac and 26ac was a great help. 11ac reminded me of a clue I saw in the crossword in my student days: ‘smoked with abandon’ (5).
    Thanks to vinyl and other contributors.


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