Times Cryptic 28262

Solving time: 27 minutes. There was lots of interesting stuff here and nothing that gave me major problems.

As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions and substitutions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]. I usually omit all reference to positional indicators unless there is a specific point that requires clarification.


1 I’d exposure badly in tragedy (7,3)
Anagram [badly] of I’D EXPOSURE. A write-in as we had this answer clued as an anagram (including the word EXPOSURE) only last Friday at 1dn instead of 1ac!
6 Mostly sound mistake (4)
GO OF{f} (sound (vb)) [mostly]. The answer was obvious from definition and checkers but it took me a while to parse it.
9 Persuasive son frequently gets work over in South Ken (4-6)
S (son), OFT (frequently) then OP (work) reversed [over] and contained by [in] S + KEN. For anyone who may not know, ‘South Ken’ is local shorthand for the ‘South Kensington’ district of London and its underground station. What I didn’t know is the second meaning of soft-spoken as listed in Collins:  2. able to persuade or impress by glibness of tongue.
10 God sculptor’s not got right (4)
{r}ODIN (sculptor), [not got right – r]
12 Food is something eaten with biscuits by penguin (8,6)
MACARONI (crested penguin), CHEESE (something eaten with biscuits). I didn’t know the penguin but was trying to make a connection between ‘macaroni’ as a ‘dandy’ and the ‘penguin-suit’ finerysometimes worn by men on formal occasions. There may indeed be a link as to how the penguin acquired its name.
14 Disquiet from blood type being associated with fingerprints (6)
AB (blood type), DABS (fingerprints). Collins has this as: British old-fashioned –  a case of extreme anxiety. I knew it has ‘habdabs’ but the wordplay directed me to the alternative spelling. It’s slang from the1940s and 1950s and I’m pretty sure that ‘the screaming habdabs’ featured in The Goon Show along with their other favourite ailment ‘the dreaded lurgy’. ‘Dabs’ for fingerprints will be familiar to followers of crime fiction and drama of the same era – very Dixon of Dock Green!
15 Plane is cutting weight in offload (8)
JET (plane), then IS contained by [cutting] TON (weight)
17 Stomach jewellery rapidly losing value (8)
TUM (stomach), BLING (jewellery)
19 Jungle Book role‘s cut line in private (6)
MOW (cut), then L (line) contained by [in] GI (private)
22 Funnily metamorphose in …. this? (9,5)
Anagram [funnily] of METAMORPHOSE IN. ‘This’ as definition presumably refers back to what’s gone before but I don’t quite see how,  and I have no idea what the ellipsis is doing. Perhaps somebody can explain it all better? Edit: Now explained in the comments below, although I still don’t see why the ellipsis is needed.
24 Report about mass ceremony (4)
POP (report – as in 6ac), containing [about] M (mass)
25 What unemployed Parisian does embroidery? (10)
An unemployed Parisian speaking Franglais may NEED ‘LE WORK’ !
26 Outfit introducing new phone (4)
RIG (outfit) containing [introducing] N (new)
27 Worker in print company ordered import covering operating system (10)
CO (company), then anagram [ordered] of IMPORT containing [covering] OS (operating system)
1 River rodent, the first to go extinct (4)
{m}OUSE (rodent) [the first to go extinct] There are three or four such rivers in England. My town is on a tributary of one of them that’s called the River Ouzel.
2 Farming authority regularly destroyed suede and fleece (7)
DEFRA (farming authority), {s}U{e}D{e} [regularly destroyed]. A little hard on our overseas contingent, DEFRA stands for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. I think in my time as a civil servant I was briefly under its banner during a Machinery of Government  reorganisation but a couple of days later the changes moved on and I was somewhere else. Not physically, as I was still at the same desk doing the same job.
3 Means of voting after Scotland raised tax (6,6)
POST (after), ALBA (Scotland), then TOLL (tax) reversed [raised]. The BBC’s Gaelic TV service is called ‘Alba’.
4 Excellent drug lad’s brought round (4-2)
SON (lad) containing [brought round] POT (drug)
5 Preparation for viewers to look at ship (8)
EYE (look at), LINER (ship)
7 Uneven quality of empty devotion in poems on saint (7)
D{evotio}N [empty] contained by [in] ODES (poems), S (saint)
8 Digital growth if learning is distributed (10)
Anagram [distributed] of IF LEARNING
11 Book   a specific couple of planes that take up gliders (3,3,6)
A straight definition and a cryptic one with ‘specific’ referring to the definite article, THE. It’s the second book in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
13 Conflict about action copy discarded daily? (10)
WAR (conflict) containing [about] STEP (action) + APE (copy). A somewhat loose definition, I think.
16 Literary character, another I altered (8)
Anagram [altered] of ANOTHER I
18 Islander with French mother outside New Cross (7)
MAMAN (French mother) containing [outside] N (new) + X (cross). For anyone who may not know, ‘New Cross’ is an area of south-east London and its Network Rail station. Its underground station is called ‘New Cross Gate’.
20 Travel diversion in Hampshire town (7)
GO (travel), SPORT (diversion). It’s on Portsmouth harbour opposite the city.
21 Parody finishes with the raising of spades (4-2)
ENDS UP (finishes) becomes SEND-UP when S (spades) is raised
23 Curdled milk runs under container for fantastic pie? (4)
SKY (container for fantastic pie – Pie in the Sky), R (runs). I didn’t know this word or get the ‘sky’ reference until I was writing the blog, so SKYR was a lucky guess. For some reason it rang the faintest of bells. It’s an Icelandic dish made from curdled milk.

56 comments on “Times Cryptic 28262”

  1. Not too hard but a few I had no idea about (the SKY bit of SKYR, the “this” in PANTOMIME HORSE). I used to live in GOSPORT as a kid so that was an easy one. DEFRA didn’t exist when I lived in the UK but I’ve seen it enough in places like The Economist that it seemed familiar. ABDABS was my LOI, since I’ve heard of “the screaming abdabs” but no idea if that is the same word.
  2. 9:17, but with some crossed fingers, as GOSPORT, SKYR, and ABDABS went in from wordplay, and MACARONI CHEESE, POSTAL BALLOT and DEFRAUD went in from definition with partial wordplay.

    I liked NEEDLEWORK.

    1. I really liked NEEDLEWORK too. As soon as the penny dropped I thought of Miles Kington.
      1. I got it, but wasn’t crazy about it. ‘What unemployed Parisian does’ seems to beg a third person singular verb, ie ‘needs’ if anything. Not sure how one is supposed to infer the franglais rendition, either. Well, others liked it so I’m probably the outlier.
      2. I made the mistake of thinking my wife and mother-in-law,seeing as they were of French extraction, would appreciate hilarious phrases from a Miles Kington book . Big mistake- they turned out to be extremely touchy on the subject of Franglais and warned me to just enjoy my silly book silently.
    2. I thought NEEDLEWORK was dire. My first thought was actually PETIT POINT, which I thought was an excellent clue, as it could be said to mean ‘small nothing-at-all’, which an unemployed Parisian could be said to do. However, I discarded it on the basis that it is two separate words, and moved on to the ‘correct’ answer.
  3. Indeed lots of crossed fingers and toes: like George GOSPORT, ABDABS, and SKYR from wordplay only. South Ken and DEFRA never heard of, assumed penguin suit->dandy->macaronmi like jackkt, though had heard of New Cross. Failed to parse GOOF, but what else could it be? As a non-French speaker maman/manxman wasn’t easy either, so overall it was on the tricky and slightly annoying side.
    No trouble with the pantomime horse – you metamorphose from human to equine in the horse suit. Slight trouble – I learnt I’d been spelling metamorphise (sic) wrongly all these years.
  4. I biffed POSTAL BALLOT, never got it. DNK DEFRA. DNK the penguin; ODE says it was indeed named after macaronies, its orange crest supposedly like a macaroni hairstyle. I also didn’t know the relevant meaning of SOFT-SPOKEN. ABDABS rang the faintest of bells, once I had the checkers. I thought SPOT-ON meant ‘accurate’, and ODE thinks so, too.
    1. Chambers has: spot-on adj, Brit colloq precisely what is required; excellent; very accurate.
      1. I had a teacher who would get irritated by a locution like ” very accurate”. She’d explain with heat that something couldn’t be “slightly” or “very” accurate. It was either accurate or inaccurate.
  5. 55 minutes, much of which was spent on SKYR. My experience mirrored that of our blogger, in that I vaguely recognised it and of the alternatives SKY seemed the most likely ‘container’, even if I didn’t cotton on to “Pie in the Sky”. Also held up by trying to make 18d more formal with “mère” instead of MAMA and thinking ‘Cross’ was the def. DEFRAUD went in without knowing the DEFRA bit. No problems with PANTOMIME HORSE as a semi-&lit.

    Favourite was ABDABS, a word I’ve not heard since we did “The Long and the Short and the Tall” as a school play many years ago. NEED LE WORK? No comment!

  6. A racing start that slowly crawled to an excruciating finish as 6a added an extra five minutes on at the end because I just couldn’t see GOOF for the life of me.

    Also had some problems with SKYR, but I did very vaguely know the word (it’s come up here before, and I may even have tried the stuff after it did!) At least I’m very familiar with “pie in the sky” from the gently funny TV detective show starring the late, great Richard Griffiths. (My tastes in pabulum also helped with 2d, as I know DEFRA well from The Archers…)

    COD to 25a, beating the PANTOMIME HORSE by a nose; WOD ABDABS, which can’t really appear without the prefix of “screaming” in my mind. All told 38 minutes.

    1. I watched repeats of Pie in the Sky very recently. Most enjoyable. The restaurant location was in Hemel Hempstead.
  7. 24:53
    Skyr from wordplay. Steady solve, although paused at go off = sound, but then thought about an alarm going off.
    Thanks, jack.
  8. … 29 minutes with LOI SKYR, which I’ve seen on the side of yoghurt pots and thought was the brand. MACARONI CHEESE was a total biff. It also took me a while after finishing to parse GOOF. I was impressionable enough fifty years ago to read Lord of the Rings, time taken which I’ve never got back, and THE TWO TOWERS was nicely crafted as a clue, but COD has to go to NEEDLEWORK. I’ve often dropped the H on the screaming hABDADS, but I did think they contained one. PANTOMIME HORSE was a great place for the anagram to land. Not SPOT-ON but a good puzzle. Thank you Jack and setter.
  9. Thanks for your blog, jackkt. For me, 22a is an acceptable &lit in that two individuals would ‘metamorphose’ into a PANTOMIME HORSE by getting into the costume. And the objective of such a character is to provide fun and entertainment, so ‘funnily metamorphose’ is a nice bit of cryptic with ‘funnily’ obviously doing double duty as the anagram indicator as well.
    1. Thanks, flasky, and to others who have explained this although yours is the clearest so that I’ve finally ‘got it’… apart from the ellipsis – would the clue have been less effective in any way without it? I can’t see it’s needed for the surface reading.

      Edited at 2022-04-12 12:18 pm (UTC)

  10. As BW mentions, you can buy Skyr in Sainsburys, it is a yogurt brand.
    I do occasionally have the screaming abdabs, but never habdabs to my knowledge.
    The def. for 13dn does not seem all that loose to me, as it can be read in two different ways…
    1. Skyr is a generic name for Icelandic yogurt (some will tell you it’s a uniquely Icelandic thing “akin to yogurt”), which is distinguished from other types by the manufacturing process as well as its bacterial cultures. The brand of skyr I always buy is Siggi’s. Low in calories but high in protein. “It takes approximately four times the milk to make one cup of siggi’s skyr compared to non-strained yogurt.” (No, I am not being paid to push Siggi’s…)
  11. Nice to avoid typos for a change (yesterdays – DDPOT – was particularly annoying as otherwise it was a sub-10 minute solve).

    Not sure about GO OFF for sound so had to do alphabet trawl before entering GOOF.

    Heard of SKYR, used to work with Defra, on wavelength for LOTR, Jungle Book and Pie in the Sky.

    Thanks setter and Jack

  12. 11:51. It’s funny how a slightly-below-average puzzle (based on my times) seems tricky. Something to do with distribution of times in an average.
    No real problems with this though. I’ve heard the phrase ‘screaming abdabs’ somewhere, and I knew about SKYR (great wordplay for that one I thought). I was a bit puzzled by the definition for SOFT-SPOKEN but it didn’t slow me down. I just assumed MACARONI was a variety of penguin without thinking of dandies. The answer (a dish I cook every week) was obvious.
    22ac is a conventional semi-&Lit. Technically the definition (that which isn’t wordplay) is just ‘this’ but you need the rest of the clue (which is also the wordplay) for it to make sense. Two people getting into a PANTOMIME HORSE undergo an amusing metamophosis.

    Edited at 2022-04-12 07:31 am (UTC)

  13. 42 mins but, had to look up the NHO SKYR. Just couldn’t see SKY from pie. FOI EYELINER, LOI NEEDLEWORK. I am afraid I disagree with BW, I thought 25 across was a dreadful clue. I know it’s tongue in cheek but really, a Parisian saying Need le work. Never. Possibly need ze work! Anyway, I’ll get off my PANTOMIME HORSE and move on.

    Never did parse MACARONI CHEESE.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

  14. Two clues, WASTE PAPER and POSTAL BALLOT needed a fair bit of work on the wordplay before confident entry, and the penny dropped late for SKYR after wondering how SKI might have to do with pies.
    I thought 9a looked like a clue in progress, with the rather clumsy South Ken and a definition that didn’t look quite right, but Mrs Z always claimed that dropping her voice in front of class was a sure fire means of gaining worried attention.
    I’ll drop just on the grinning side of NEED LE WORK.
    16.30 in all for a quirky piece of work.
  15. 13.43 today so definitely a wavelength thing. Really enjoyable though – thanks setter and Jack.
  16. The NW was a desert for some time, with ODIN FOI, and a few scattered entries around the grid. Gradually it all came together and after about 30 minutes, POI NEEDLEWORK loomed out of the mist, leaving 23d, which beat me. NHO the yogurt and failed to make the pie in the sky connection, so had to look it up. 35:26 with a lookup. Thanks setter and Jack.
  17. 38 minutes for this. Never heard of SKYR and needed aids for this — I couldn’t believe that anything fitted into _K_R; when I get my yogurt from Sainsbury’s I always buy a certain type and never look at the other ones; next time I will. Was amazingly goofy with GOOF: never realised it was two words until I did a search. The Tolkien book wasn’t at the front of my mind and took a while, as I knew I had to find one of those things that takes a glider up but couldn’t remember its name. Put me amongst those who can’t see why the ellipsis is needed in 22ac.

    Edited at 2022-04-12 10:25 am (UTC)

  18. DNK the yogurt or GOSPORT but they weren’t too hard to extrapolate. We can’t get Marmite in Rhinebeck, so it’s not surprising we don’t have SKYR. Some amusing images of a navel ring losing its appeal and the Academie Francaise clutching its pearls over NEEDLEWORK. 17.12
      1. Apparently Marmite Hot Cross Buns are a thing this year — but not for me thank you.
      2. Thanks much Pip – I can get my Brooklyn daughter to bring it when needed. She forgot last time so I’m deprived until the next visit.
    1. There were rare but painful periods in my small-town upbringing when vegemite was unavailable and the grocer saw fit to replace it with marmite in our delivery.

      Of the many privations we endured back in those days, this is the only one that haunts me still.

    2. Are you sure you don’t have Siggi’s yogurt? There are two places on my four-block street) that have it. I keep it stocked. All flavors are at least 30 percent of the RDA for protein and low in calories (110 for vanilla, 120 for mixed berries…). The skyr process removes most of the fat, but yet it’s very creamy.
  19. Enjoyed this and was clearly on the right wavelength (or possibly enjoyed it precisely because I was on the right wavelength). Brief pauses for thought in the same places as others; had seen adverts for SKYR without ever eating it, so assumed it was only a brand rather than the product, and hesitated over that meaning of SOFT-SPOKEN, but thought at the time that if I had an argument, it was bound to be with the lexicographers rather than the setter, and so it was.

    The book was at the front of my mind as we’ve had a couple of long drives lately which we filled with the BBC radio adaptation of LOTR. Holds up okay despite being several decades old, a bit like me.

  20. This went in top-down in just under 20 minutes, which is fast for me.
    Enjoyed the pantomime horse.
  21. No problems with this in 20 minutes. a MER at the franglais in 25a, and CoD to POSTAL BALLOT with the ALBA inside. No, I give it to MACARONI CHEESE for the penguin biscuit surface. SKYR has suddenly appeared everywhere in UK shops as a health drink and a yoghurt brand of Icelandic origin, @oliviarhinebeck it may well turn up soon in upper NY.
  22. ….was unknown, but obvious. Thanks to Jack for the usual excellent blog, and especially for parsing POSTAL BALLOT which I couldn’t see at all. I detest Tolkien with a vengeance, but luckily the cryptic was clear.

    TIME 10:49

  23. I tried Icelandic skyr once, think it tasted just like ordinary yogurt. Wasn’t sure about the missing H in ABDABS, must be an alternate spelling. However since it always goes with screaming, I wasn’t sure about the definition. Maybe it’s just disquiet without the screaming bit?
  24. 19 minutes. Pretty easy, with a lot of biffed entries. Ia really surprised me in view of last Friday’s puzzle (noted in blog). Seems an editorial oversight. I didn’t know the penguin in 12, and didn’t see most of the wordplay in the clue to POSTAL BALLOT, or any of the wordplay to MOWGLI. SKYR was a guess.
    I thought 25 was a bit silly. It only really works if you read Private Eye. Even then it seems a bit iffy. Shouldn’t the answer be NEEDSLEWORK?
    1. Private Eye now have an occasional column that uses it (though I’m not sure they ever mention the word), but Miles Kington is credited as the inventor of ‘Franglais’ and it became widely known through his columns in Punch where he worked for 15 years. He subsequently published several books on the subject.
      1. Yes, I’m aware of that, but apart from the final question mark there’s nothing in the clue to suggest funny goings-on. It’s also a pretty poor example of Franglais with only ‘le’ as the French component. My view of the clue has not changed.
        1. That’s fine, I wasn’t seeking to convert you or anyone else, and I don’t think it’s anything more than mildly amusing anyway. It was just that you mentioned Private Eye and I wanted to point out that Kington’s ‘Franglais’ was in Punch. You may well have known this already but others may not.
  25. I found this an enjoyable challenge. The unknowns were fairly clued, although ABDABS required a giant leap of faith in the wordplay.

    POSTAL BALLOT took seconds to solve, but minutes to parse. I’ll give it COD along with NEEDLEWORK.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

  26. Had this all done inside half an hour apart from ABDABS, which I’d never heard of. Got that one on the second go, though with no great confidence. Didn’t get the ‘sky’ in SKYR at all, but knew it as food. Also didn’t know of the Macaroni penguin, but having got the ‘cheese’ bit and with all the checkers it couldn’t have ben anything else.

    FOI Oedipus Rex
    LOI Abdabs
    COD Postal ballot

  27. DNF in 14.43. Thwarted by a typo in jeetison. Annoying. A nice puzzle to work through. Didn’t get stuck anywhere except perhaps goof which resisted attempts to parse until I tried adding a letter to the end of two words: go of, rather than one: goof. The macaroni penguin was unknown but I just thought penguin might be another term for dandy and moved on. Should’ve got Oedipus Rex a lot quicker than I did given its recent appearance, then again perhaps that made it more unexpected.
  28. ABDABS was my LOI, had to check, and glad to learn it. I never did parse GOOF(oops). NHO DEFRA, but what else could it be? I didn’t know the MACARONI penguin either but was eating CHEESE with biscuits last night (leftovers from a party Sunday). I’ve always got some Siggi’s SKYR in the fridge. Je trouve NEEDLEWORK plutôt goofy.
  29. Like Gideandre, I felt the franglais clue was a bit mer. Sometimes we have clues that require basic French, and that seemed to be what the setter was driving at here. But he wasn’t really – just the definite article. I loved Miles Kington too, at the time. Today the humour feels a bit tired. Whinge over. Otherwise much fun had. Never parsed goof, so thanks. I thought it might be because it was three-quarters good , meaning sound. But it would hgave been a very poor clue if that had been the case.
    1. Yeah, that’s what I settled for too.
      Et nous sommes en accord sur NEEDLEWORK.
  30. DNF, as ABDABS defeated me (I had ABDIBS, but I also had no chance at all of actually knowing this word, so I am not quite so dismayed as I would be if I had made a really stupid mistake). I did not enjoy this, as there was absolutely no reason to include so many obscurities and nothing particularly amusing or witty to act as a counterweight.
  31. …due to my inability to enter the letters of ANTIHERO in the correct boxes, I ended up with three pinkies.

    Enjoyed ABDABS — nothing really unknown here other than SKYR as an actual thing — I just thought that was a product name!

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