Times Cryptic 28268

Solving time: 30 minutes exactly, with 18dn as my last one in.

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 Little bird, one moving around Baltic capital (10)
BUDGER (one moving) containing [around] RIGA (Baltic capital – of Latvia)
6 Character on staff in bicycle factory (4)
Hidden [in] {bicy}CLE F{actory}. The signs in musical notation that indicate the name and pitch of notes written on the staff or stave.
10 Extremely savvy academic backing church council (5)
S{avv}Y [extremely], then DON (academic) reversed [backing]. This comes up a lot in news reports of the activities of the C of E leaders.
11 Free, but worried by old ruse, we hear (9)
EX (old), TRIC sounds like [we hear] “trick”, then ATE (worried)
12 Physicist gets back, carrying article for monarch (5,3,6)
HENRY (physicist – Joseph) + SECOND (back) containing [carrying] THE (definite article)
14 Complex woman‘s chosen academician (7)
ELECT (chosen), RA (Royal Academician). The complex involves sexual attachment of a female child to her father. It was handy that she turned up in yesterday’s QC where the wordplay was ‘chosen to join Royal Academy’.
15 Fixes    high-backed benches (7)
Two meanings
17 What we learn by securing established award (7)
ROTE (what we learn by) containing [securing] SET (established). I thought the past tense (learnt) might have been more appropriate here as learning by rote was discredited by educationalists and  went out years ago – or perhaps it’s had a revival? It had its uses though, as I am still able to recite whole tables of Latin verbs and nouns having learnt them by rote at school nearly 70 years ago.
19 Sadly pensive husband leaving game, for unhurried lunch, primarily (7)
W(h)IST (card game) [husband leaving], then F{or} U{nhurried} L{unch} [primarily]
20 Comparison made by petulant judge before new church (5-9)
CROSS (petulant), REF (judge), ERE (before), N (new), CE (church of England)
23 Stage work the writer’s penning finally about worker (9)
OPERA (stage work) + I’VE (the writer’s – I have), containing [penning] {abou}T [finally]
24 Host reading out a couple of letters (5)
Sounds like [reading out] “M C” (a couple of letters), but actually the letters M and C can be written EM and CEE so the homophone reference is not required other than for the surface.
25 American   tug (4)
Two meanings
26 Be leader of school group, finding source of river (10)
HEAD (be a leader of), STREAM (school group)
1 Play for cash, initially beside Welsh river (4)
B{eside} [initially], USK (Welsh river)
2 Officer surrounded by mounds of sand on southern headland (9)
GEN (officer – General) contained [surrounded] by DUNES (mounds of sand), S (southern). A beautiful headland on the coast of Kent that’s home to two nuclear power stations.
3 Eminent politician, say, cutting shrubs on island (5,9)
STATE (say) contained by [cutting] ELDERS (shrubs), MAN (island)
4 Sluggishness of one on illegal drug in train, tripping (7)
I (one) then E (illegal drug) contained by [in] anagram [tripping] of TRAIN
5 Unfeeling Cockney lacking skill, we hear? (7)
Put simply, ARTLESS (lacking skill) sounds like “heartless” (unfeeling) as spoken by a Cockney, but the setter also gives us a homophone indicator [we hear] which seems misplaced as it’s remote from ‘unfeeling’ the word to which it applies. We also have a definition in the middle of a clue which goes against convention. In my view ‘we hear’ is redundant, and the first four words alone would be a neater clue.
7 Everyone turns up? Not at all — that’s plain (5)
ALL (everyone) reversed [turns up], NO (not at all). A treeless plain in the south-western US and the northern parts of South America. A word I know only from crosswords.
8 Diabolically his vacillating stops amiable Republican leaving (10)
Anagram [vacillating] of HIS, contained by [stops] F{r}IENDLY (amiable) [Republican leaving]
9 Musical interlude Verdi composed: it’s transmitted around Maine (14)
Anagram [composed] of VERDI, TIS (it’s), then SENT (transmitted) containing [around] ME (Maine). Aka Divertimento.
13 Unmanageable soldiers, spanner finally thrown in works (10)
RE (soldiers), then {spanne}R (finally) contained by [thrown in] FACTORY (works). I didn’t know this. If I have come across the word I imagine I assumed it had to do with refraction of light or radio waves.
16 Series of changes demanding energy on bike? (4,5)
LIFE (energy), CYCLE (bike)
18 Solitary responsibility welcomed by Europeans (7)
REMIT (responsibility) contained [welcomed] by E + E (Europeans)
19 Specific time tiny fellow meets daughter (7)
WEE (tiny), KEN (fellow), D (daughter). I don’t know why ‘specific’.
21 Main old container touring east (5)
O (old), CAN (container) containing [touring] E (east)
22 Steering equipment made from hard wood (4)
H (hard), ELM (wood)

63 comments on “Times Cryptic 28268”

  1. 8:34, but my last two were right up the top with BUDGERIGAR leading to BUSK.
    I’ve seen both REFRACTORY and REFRACTION and a quick trip to Chambers shows that they come from different Latin roots. REFRACTORY from refractarius, stubborn, and REFRACTION from refractum, to break. You learn something every month.
  2. Finally gave up when OPERATIVE and EREMITE refused to reveal themselves. For the former I guessed opera at the start but failed on the I’ve at the end. Similarly for the latter I had e’s at beginning and end from Europeans and wanted a word for responsibility in between but couldn’t think of remit. Oh well, pleased to get the rest -thanks, jackt, for explaining wordplay so clearly.
  3. Thanks, jackkt, Tric indeed. I wasn’t sure of Headstream but what else could it be, and I took an embarrassingly long time to sort out the TIVE at 23a. Thanks for the Refratory refraction, George
  4. Fairly nondescript puzzle. I wondered about ‘specific’, too, and found the ARTLESS clue confusing, or confused, for the reason Jack points out. BUDGERIGAR from RIGA. Only knew DUNGENESS from the crab. The enumeration for 12ac suggested X THE Y, ‘physicist’ suggested HENRY, and LLANO determined which one.

    Edited at 2022-04-19 06:16 am (UTC)

  5. 22 minutes. I had the same doubts about ARTLESS which made me wonder if I was missing something but apparently not. No problems with REFRACTORY, eg as in a disease which does not respond to treatment; maybe not exactly the same but close enough. EREMITE only ever encountered in crossword land.

    No problems with ROTE either. Never did me any harm – sto, stare, steti, statum is one useful practical example. I suppose children still learn their times tables by repetition?

    Thanks to Jack and setter

    1. We learned do, dare dedi datum, which we automatically concluded with dum didi do. Thanks for the memory!
      1. Ferio, ferire, percussi, ictum

        No huge problems today, although like many I took far too long to see the ‘-ive’ on OPERATIVE. COD ROSETTE.

    2. Oh what a bore the berries are bitter, bimmer bimini said Billy Bunter.
    3. And for me REFRACTORY brought back happy memories of frango frangere fregi fractum.”Wrecked” was a popular slang term of derision at the time so we Latin students enjoyed throwing around various forms of frango as insults.
  6. Went quite smoothly, until I got hung up for a while on OPERATIVE and (full disclosure: because I’d misspelled LLANO) HENRY THE SECOND. NHO DUNGENESS but the wordplay spelled it out.
  7. Weekend is a word that specifies a period of time, so no problem there. Hadn’t heard of the sciency blighter and dithered a bit over REFRACTORY (nice word). Not quite such a bifffest as yesterday, as reflected in the result.
    1. I didn’t know Joseph Henry, but ‘henry’ cluing the letter ‘h’ is standard crossword fare with reference to the SI unit of inductance named after him. The unit takes lower case so setters have to make sure they put Henry at the beginning of a clue.

      Edited at 2022-04-19 06:24 am (UTC)

        1. Actually, now I come to think of it the capital H rule doesn’t apply as setters are allowed to put them in to mislead.
  8. I finished just behind Jack, at 31 minutes. I got bogged down on a few things here and there, especially the unknown HEADSTREAM, which I should have got more quickly, and the barely-remembered SETTLES and EREMITE. I should probably have got WISTFUL and WEEKEND a bit faster, too.

    I knew DUNGENESS from the nuclear power stations (funnily enough, they’re often stuck out on headlands…)

    Edited at 2022-04-19 06:11 am (UTC)

  9. Found this a lot more challenging than yesterday but managed to make my way through without any mishaps at a rather sedate pace. Astonished to learn that REFRACTORY isn’t even a second definition for light-bending, NHO LLANO or LOI EREMITE (which needed a lengthy alpha-trawl of -E-I-).

    In the end I was very pleased to make it through to a success outcome, though I expected this to be a 100-plus SNITCH. Anyway – if you can win even when you’re not playing at your best, that’s good for the bigger picture. Thanks Jack and setter

  10. 29:44
    Okay puzzle. Eremite took a bit of remembering. The artless clue is hopeless, really.
    Thanks, jack.
  11. I got through most of this quickly until I was held up a little in the bottom half, in particular with EREMITE and OPERATIVE. For the latter I got a bit hung up on looking for our usual three lettered worker friends, ant and bee.
  12. 25 mins pre-brekker.
    No ticks, no crosses.
    A temporary MER at Eremite, thinking is Eremite an adjective, or is Solitary a noun?
    The latter.
    Thanks setter and J.
  13. 16 minutes with LOI EREMITE. COD to DUNGENESS for the fond memories of the CEGB, like the KGB without the glasnost, as Private Eye once said about us. The old magnox station there was a good ‘un. Mind you, the time taked to commission the AGR B station was Kafkaesque, and now it’s being decommissioned. Live long enough and you see your whole career dismantled. I dredged SETTLES up from the recesses of my mind. Enjoyable Monday fare even if it is Tuesday.Thank you Jack and setter.
    1. “Live long enough and you see your whole career dismantled.”
      A friend of mine in the UK might yet come to sympathise with you there. He spent the best part of his career working on the planning of Terminal 5 at Heathrow. That is still there, though…for now.
      1. I don’t think Terminal 5 is going anywhere. It’s those who’ve spent their careers planning the third runway we should think of!
        1. Imagine what the future might have been had the government gone ahead in the early 1970s with an estuary airport at Foulness/Maplin Sands!
  14. ‘Disorderly’ suggested itself first for 13d; otherwise fairly straightforward. I agree with you, Jack re ARTLESS.
    My LOI was DUNGENESS. Derek Jarman, the late film director used to live in a cottage at Dungeness.
  15. Steady enough solve, though I got HEADSTREAM the wrong way round for a while as I didn’t know the specific term. Also didn’t know who the physicist was in HENRY THE SECOND, or the second meaning of SETTLES. Eventually moved away from ‘divertimento’ to get DIVERTISSEMENT once enough checkers were in place.

    FOI Clef
    LOI Headstream
    COD Elder statesman

  16. Thanks setter and blogger. Your note on 5d convinces me that it was a mistake maybe. I think “Lacking skill, cockney unfeeling we hear ? works
  17. 35 mins so reasonably chirpy, just like 1ac. Last 10 mins spent on REFRACTORY (DNK that meaning, like others), and OPERATIVE. I dragged EREMITE somewhere from the dark and distant past.

    Generally enjoyable but I agree with Jack, that there are one or two superfluous words in some clues. I liked BUSK and LIFE CYCLE.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

  18. Thanks, Jack, for eloquently articulating my thoughts on 5dn and for unscrambling 23ac, where I was struggling with EVITA backwards as a second stage work.
  19. 7:11. No hold-ups this morning. There are quite a few unusual words in here but I happened to know them all.
    It looks like the setter was considering a couple of possibilities for 5dn and ended up using them both.
  20. A few unknowns. Divertissement and Llano. Sort of knew eremite. Looks a bit like hermit.

    “Happy Eater” everyone. Or as a friend of mine liked to say when driving past one of those erstwhile roadside cafes, “Merry Chritmas”.

  21. As the day after a Bank Holiday inevitably feels like Monday to my subconscious, this felt appropriately Mondayish for the second day in a row. Only brief delay was the unknown meaning of REFRACTORY; I remember being stalled on EMCEE, and indeed DEEJAY, in the past, but not today, setter, not today. All good.
  22. Becalmed in the SW over the 18D and 23A crossers, and in the end had to do a synonym search to get EREMITE (nho, even in crosswords!) which gave me OPERATIVE. Unfamiliar with HEADSTREAM too, but clueing was generous, and I was grateful also for the clueing for 2D, since I had no trouble getting the answer, having holidayed nearby as a child, but thought there was an O in DUNGENESS. Another who had to rethink DIVERTIMENTO when it didn’t fit.
  23. I agree with the many who are unhappy with 5dn, for the same reasons. Thought I was unhappy with 9dn as well, but now see that it isn’t as I thought a case of the setter using ‘composed’ to apply to both what comes before it and to what comes after it; TIS is not ‘it’s composed’, but stands in its own right. 24 minutes, fewer problems than usual. In fact none that stood out.
  24. 12:14. Held up by trying to write a biffed DIVERTIMENTO into 9D and running out of letters and becalmed for a while in the SW corner before finishing with a rush – LOI EREMITE. I agree jackkt about 5D – your version is a better clue. I liked WEE KEN. Thanks jackkt and setter.
  25. Like Paul, took a long time to sort out IVE in operative after 2LOI refractory, which I associated somehow with melting metals. Turns out it’s refractory bricks and crucibles, heat-resistant. NHO the man Henry but knew the units so an easy guess, no other unknown vocabulary for once. No problems with ‘eartless being clued as a homophone; if it weren’t people would be complaining there was an E magically disappeared. Pleasant Tuesday morning.
    1. Well it’s a point, and I had considered it when writing the blog, but I concluded the Cockney thing is how they say a word and not how it’s spelt. The ‘e’ is silent anyway.

      But leaving that aside, the homophone indicator is in the wrong place to be applied to ‘unfeeling’.

      Edited at 2022-04-19 10:23 pm (UTC)

      1. Apologies.
        I missed the fact that it was remote from unfeeling, and that that was you main comment. Reading other contributors’ comments they all seemed to say “no indicator needed” rather than “it needs to be next to the word it’s indicating”, so I led myself astray.
        1. Thanks. That’s fine, isla, it was a very confusing clue and I must have rewritten my comment in the blog five or six times trying to explain my misgivings about it and in the end was still not sure that I had succeeded.
  26. 17.13, with (sorry, everyone else) ARTLESS bothering me not a whit.
    REFRACTORY, on the other hand, took a while, and OPERATIVE didn’t finally go in until I had it. The rather unhelpful crossing letters, all vowels, had me searching for theatrical piece of some description and I was mildly disappointed when the mundane solution emerged.
    I couldn’t make 23ac work: the E at the end of REFEREE (judge, for sure) was missing, and I saw before as just a positional indicator. I should have known that, however cross he may be, the ref would keep his ere on. Thanks Jack for a fine blog and that de-duncing.
  27. My initial CUSK at 1d soon became BUSK when I re-read the clue after confirming the river with SYNOD. Like Kevin I needed LLANO to decide which HENRY was required. I shoved ARTLESS in at 5d, shrugged and moved on. WEE KEN led straight to WISTFUL, and LOI, DIVERTISSMENT was constructed when divertimento was a bit short. 17:46. Thanks setter and Jack.
  28. 9m 54s, with the last two and a half minutes spent on EREMITE – alphabet trawls for first the full word, and then the responsibility.

    I didn’t spot the error at 5D as I was solving, but yes, an error it clearly is. Not terribly impressed with EMCEE either, given its roots, but never mind. Otherwise a fine puzzle.

    A few unknown (or unremembered) words constructed from wordplay today, including that EREMITE, as well as DIVERTISSEMENT & DUNGENESS.

  29. 20:18. Bit of a time reconstructing DIVERTISSEMENT from its component parts but as soon as I got it straightened out on paper I gave up trying to sort it out in my head. Looking at the explanation, that was probably wise.
  30. Ratttled through this, then hit the buffers at HEADSTREAM, my LOI. I liked the misdirection at 1d, where I’d pencilled in a C at the front until even Astronowt couldn’t think of a bird for 1a which began with a C.
  31. I once saw a large table in an antiques market in Greenwich Village which was labeled a REFRACTORY table, which was probably how the monks felt at dinner during the Reformation. 12.11
  32. Storming start, a little lull, a booming blitz and finally a lengthy think for my last two EREMITE and FIENDISHLY both with all of the checkers.

    Early punt on the correct king with only the O in place proved worthwhile — might have been screwed if it had been JAMES.

    Only other slight issues were initially bunging in SETTEES and not knowing the correct spelling of DIVERTISSEMENT but these were quickly resolved.

  33. Rattled through this well ahead of schedule.
    Eremite and llano only exist in crossword land, I always think Llanos sound rather Welsh?
    1. The largest Welsh population outside Wales lives on the ‘llanos’ of Patagonia? Where is tehuelche (our Argentian/Welsh contributor). Apologies if I have mis-spelt his name.
  34. 19.04. Longest time spent on divertssement, thinking the anagram was interlude, Verdi and M for Maine. Sense eventually prevailed. DNK Henry the physicist but east enough from the spaces left after the second.

    Enjoyed the puzzle so thanks setter , not forgetting blogger.

  35. I found this very easy. I don’t normally play on line, but this time I did. I haven’t got used to the entry method where there are already letters in the grid, and ended up back-tracking to make corrections. Unfortunately I didn’t spot an error in the entry for INERTIA even though I scrutinised the final grid before hitting ‘submit’. 16 minutes 25 with that error.

    BUSK/BUDGERIGAR hld me up for several minutes

    I agree with Jackkt about the redundancy in 5a.

  36. Thanks for the link to the article. I visited Dungeness for the first time a couple of weeks ago (daughter is working in Kent). It is the weirdest place I have been to in the UK. There was a mist swirling round the power stations and around the huts which sprouted randomly from the shingle with the odd shipping container and ‘gypsy’ caravan attached. It felt like the set of a zombie movie.
  37. Enjoyed this. Reasonably steady solve. NHO llano. LLA-O was clear. ‘Not at all’ is one of those expressions which can have opposite meanings depending on the tone of voice. In response to ‘thank you’, it can mean ‘that’s OK’. When refusing, it is more staccato: Not.At.All. I opted for the former, without paying attention to the position of the reversal indicator. I reversed OK as well as All to give llako. Oh well. Must pay more attention.
    Thanks to the setter and to Jack for the explanations.
  38. Nothing here to frighten the horses, though EREMITE was a new word to me, but generously clued for my LOI. Like others, I found the clue for ARTLESS clunky, and thanks to our blogger I now know why – conventionally we don’t put definitions in mid-clue. Thanks for clarifying that.
  39. ….so I’m late on parade today. Biffed ROSETTE, and had to really work for my LOI in an otherwise straightforward puzzle.

    TIME 5:51

  40. DNF 18.56. Bit of a dull plod from me today. Not sure why, just felt slow. And a typo in laano.
  41. 38 minutes, not much to say about it. Originally I had EMERITE, but fortunately while proofreading decided MERIT didn’t really mean “responsibility” and REMIT would be better, especially since EREMITE is clearly related to “hermit”. So no mistakes after all.
  42. A few times recently ‘elect’ has formed part of the answer when the clue seems to indicate the past tense, in this case ‘chosen’. Is this acceptable?
    1. Elect isn’t a verb in this context, it’s an adjective so it doesn’t have a past tense as such although it refers to an event in the past.

      Elect – Chosen for an office or position; esp. chosen but not yet installed.

      We hear it most often when a new US President is voted in but has to wait 2 months (or whatever it is) to take over from the predecessor. Most recently we had President elect Biden for a while.

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