Times Cryptic 28316


Solving time: 70 minutes with assistance  from aids on a couple of clues. I found this really hard work and not very enjoyable.


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 Live on a B road outside English town (8)
A, B + RD (road) containing [outside] E (English), then ARE (live). This makes use of The Times convention that ‘on’ indicates ‘after’ in Across clues.
5 Flirt’s game, drawing out Romeo (6)
C{r}OQUET  (game) [drawing out Romeo – R in NATO alphabet]. I  needed help with this as it’s not a word I recall seeing before although I am aware of the female counterpart, ‘coquette’.
8 Being very firm — or cracking? (10)
Two meanings with ‘cracking’ as a noun for the second one – e.g. the cracking of the code.
9 Quickly shifting the blame — in vain (4)
{rap}IDLY  (quickly) [shifting the blame – the rap]
10 Saying what will be unusual if not urgent about measure (7-7)
Anagram [unusual] of IF NOT URGENT containing [about] ELL (old measure of length)
11 Boring maybe,   with no goals (7)
Two definitions of sorts
13 US singer’s term coined for foul-mouthed radio presenter? (7)
Another clue I needed help with as I have never heard of the American bird. I assume the second part of the clue is a cryptic hint and the word doesn’t actually have the meaning ascribed to it there. The only term that I know for such a person is ‘shock jock’.
15 Delivery coming down from Scottish town, that is leaving before work (7)
AIRDR{ie} (Scottish town) [that is  – i.e. – leaving], OP (work – opus]
18 Struggle to get words out of Frenchwoman in leading role (7)
MME (Frenchwoman – Madame) contained by [in] STAR (leading role)
21 Lively music, I agree, and singular — we weren’t bored in vain! (9,5)
DISCO (lively music), VERY WELL (I agree), S (singular). A cryptic definition. These are the first successful oil wells in new fields. Another answer unknown to me, but I got to it from wordplay.
22 Regularly visited retired bushman on island (4)
{b}U{s}H{m}A{n} O{n} [regularly visited] and reversed [retired]. The third largest of the Hawaiian islands.
23 Former champion to consider touring British compound (10)
EX (former), ACE (champion), then RATE (consider) containing [touring] B (British)
24 Bone set as rust forms (6)
Anagram [forms] of AS RUST. A set of seven small bones in the foot.
25 Steroid used by escort is Olympian’s (8)
Hidden in [used by] {es}CORT IS OL{ympian’s}
1 Hardly occupied with loot (1,6)
AT (occupied with), RIFLE (loot). A trifle can be hardly anything but I’m having difficulty finding a context for a direct substitution to validate the definition here, adverb to noun.
2 Not demanding extra requirement for film (4,5)
EASY (not demanding), RIDER (extra requirement). I never saw the 1969 film about bikers.
3 EU doles willy-nilly: treat for parasites! (7)
Anagram (willy-nilly) of EU DOLES
4 Informing people   of killer dog? (7)
Two meanings. An informer is more usually a ‘rat’ but can also be a ‘ratter’. For the second meaning, as the definition is in the singular I think we have to imagine an apostrophe S in the answer, clued by ‘of’.
5 Dim, cold and ultimately dismal: best left unfinished (9)
C (cold), AND, {disma}L [ultimately], ELIT{e} (best) [left unfinished]
6 Brief tremor keeping sextet alert? (3,4)
QUIVE{r} (tremor) {brief], containing [keeping] VI (sextet). Another clue that required assistance as I had no idea what was going on. SOED: qui vive – an alert or watchful state or condition. Chiefly in ‘on the qui vive‘, on the alert or lookout. NHO this.
7 Lots of praise for smashing United goalie (7)
Anagram [smashing] of U (united) GOALIE. DNK this one either, but I knew ‘eulogy’ so it didn’t take much working out.
12 Ceases to accept deliveries incurring delays getting there? (9)
STOPS (ceases) containing [to accept] OVER (deliveries – cricket). Overnight interruptions to journeys.
14 Appear suddenly surprised by clues, for starters! (4,5)
JUMP (appear suddenly surprised), LEADS (clues), as used for starting engines of cars with flat batteries. I’m old enough to remember cars with starting handles and at various times I owned two of them.
16 State home a charity set up (7)
IN (home), then AN (a) + AID (charity) reversed [set up]
17 Talk over ways to speak ill of (7)
DIS + CUSS (two ways to speak ill of)
18 Hot air from teacher and officers meeting Heads? (7)
SIR (teacher), then OC + CO (officers) [meeting heads]. OC (Officer Commanding) and CO (Commanding Officer) are both valid in their own right so we didn’t need the ‘meeting heads’ device, but since it’s there the parsing is  CO + CO with the first one reversed.
19 Rank “two star”, being most pessimistic (2,5)
Anagram [rank – arrange in order] of TWO STAR
20 Director of football’s getting promotion (7)
RU’S (football’s), SELL (promotion). I assume this refers to the film director Ken Russell. This is Rugby Union football rather than soccer.

68 comments on “Times Cryptic 28316”

  1. This was hard. I took 1.5 hours, although with a couple of breaks. But all correct, to my amazement. I had IDLE for 9A and went to check it when I realized the RAPIDLY thing. Nice catch! We call JUMP LEADS as JUMBER CABLES around here.

  2. Ugh. 34.43, a real slog. And I got 4D wrong, after considering and dismissing the actual answer, telling myself it had to be a single dog and somehow convincing myself that ROTTERS was a slang term for a Rottweiler.

  3. 34:13, but with aids. Very hard, indeed. DNK DISCOVERY WELLS, JUMP LEAD (like Paul, I knew ‘jumper cable’), CORTISOL. Once I finally saw how IDLY worked, the I gave me QUI VIVE, which gave me COQUET, which gave me CANDLELIT, but it was a slow process. Jack, at A TRIFLE: You mean (occupied with) not (hardly). I can see a sort of equivalence of hardly/a trifle, e.g. he’s hardly/a trifle busy now, but as the example shows, the negative/positive difference makes intersubstitutability unlikely.

  4. I just assumed BLUE JAY was a pun with blue replacing d or dee in dj or deejay( short for disc jockey). BLUE JAYS are the name of Toronto’s professional baseball team and blue jays are very common in eastern Notth America. Striking in appearance-blue ,black ,and white- but disliked by some as they bully smaller birds at feeders.

  5. 37 minutes. A few only half-parsed (eg DISCUSS) or unfamiliar variations on a known word (eg COQUET). Eventually worked everything out from def, wordplay or crossers, but I still can’t see RESOLUTION as the correct part of speech for ‘Being very firm’ at 8a. I parsed BLUEJAY in the same way as curryowen.

    Good to have the EASY RIDER and Ken RUSSELL reminders of the late 60’s.

  6. 13ac ‘BLUEJAY Way’ was written by George Harrison for the Magical Mystery Tour, which this puzzle somewhat emulated. DNF!

    FOI 24ac TARSUS
    (LOI) 25ac CORTISOL

    Not enjoyed. Mood Meldrewvian

  7. 45 mins but never got into a flow and didn’t enjoy it much.
    Usually seen 6d as an abbreviation: on the QV.

  8. DNF 50m. Felt like I was properly on form today, really enjoying working my way through this – until I found myself bogged down around 32m and 90% completion.

    – 12a appeared to be A-L- …eventually realised that there was an error in 6d and fixed that
    – That left me with 1a and 3d to deal with – never got there. I did actually consider ABERDARE as a possible, but failed to decode the “live” = ARE device – a clueing subtlety that’s tripped me up multiple times before (maybe commenting here will finally teach me)

    Anyway – I’m taking the positives from this. I feel like the first half-hour was actually one of my best solving performances for quite a while, and fun into the bargain – thanks Jack and setter

  9. Threw in the towel with a few minutes left of my hour to go, as I rather thought I wouldn’t either get to the end of it or enjoy it if I did. About a half-dozen left. Oh well.

  10. 49 minutes, finishing with the unheard of QUI VIVE when I finally went from quake to quiver. A good challenge, but not always a fair one, I didn’t think. I got BLUE JAY quickly, but have never heard the term other than for a bird. DISCOVERY WELLS sounds like the tourist office for a small Somerset city. And I refuse to call Rugby football until they do a lot more about the handball rule. COD to ABERDARE. Thank you Jack and setter.

  11. 35 mins but with Idle and Russell a guess.
    Too many dodgy ones for my liking.
    Thanks setter and J.

  12. 28:32. I was pleased to find I had all correct today after struggling to finish. I hadn’t helped myself with a half biffed ABERDEEN and a misspelled SIRROCO. After sorting them out I finally plumped for OAHU as my LOI, with serious doubts that it was correct but not seeing any alternatives. It’s always nice to learn something new in the crossword and now my geography knowledge has expanded by one island.

    1. You do sort of know OAHU Pootle because it’s where Pearl Harbor is. When a certain recent President was taken on a tour of the memorial to December 7, 1941 he asked – so what happened here exactly.

      1. Thanks Olivia. I’ve now learned some geography and tied in some history. Time for a lie down I think!

  13. Perversely enjoyed this toughie, with some rapid wavelength PDMs (saw RUSSELL, INDIANA, DISCUSS instantly) and helped by just having returned from OAHU, despite still struggling to recover from the brutal 11-hour time difference. Greatly slowed by the NHO ABERDARE which was confusingly clued. Very satisfied at a 41 minute all correct solve as this was a black run.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

  14. I thought I had made a mess of it by taking 25 minutes. Seeing these comments, I am feeling a lot better!

  15. Took a while to get going and struggled with the NE corner at the end
    Never heard of qui vive or the spelling of coquet
    Needed some aids and finally finished at 49 min

  16. 26:34. Held up most in the NW corner until I thought of CrOQUET then derived the unknown QUI VIVE and IDLY, but it was all a bit of struggle. Thanks Jack and setter.

  17. Hard, but enjoyable, even when I thought I might not finish. No problem with BLUEJAY, word known and clue joke appreciated. Eulogia easy to invent, NHO qui vive not so easy to invent, also guessing quaver at first. NHO the town Aberdare but Aberdare Road is just around the corner from here – one of the two is probably named after the other. Liked a trifle, but COD Easy Rider.

  18. Please don’t ask me how long it took
    So awful I just couldn’t look
    Mental perspiration
    But no inspiration
    In that time you could write a short book

  19. Gave up after 35 minutes with only 6 clues solved. Admittedly I was up early and solving on the train (not my usual practice these days) but this was like being back in the earliest days of solving with no idea what was going on.
    Most dispiriting.
    Not that it would have made any difference but surely a radio presenter is a DJ not a J and the expression for alert is ‘on the qui vibe’ not ‘qui vive’?
    Thanks to the blogger for all the explanations.

    1. I had the same thought as you regarding BLUEJAY at time of solving. However I’ve since thought that a video jockey is a VJ so the jockey doesn’t have to be tied to a disc.

  20. 14:51. This was definitely on the tricky side and I only had two answers in after my first pass through the acrosses, but after that I didn’t have any major hold-ups. I’ve spent enough time in and around Toronto to have heard of and seen BLUEJAYS. My only unknown was TARSUS which I think I did know as something to do with bones but not as a ‘set’.
    If someone asks if you’re busy and you say either ‘hardly’ or A TRIFLE the general meaning is the same. Seems close enough to me.

  21. Jelly in one ear, custard in the other
    I’ve never felt quite so off the wavelength as here, and scraped in under 40 minutes, mildly disappointed that there was no Z or K to complete the pangram that would justify the odd bits. So may clues I just hit and bounced, not least my last, the tiny IDLY which had too many words for comfort. Perhaps the fact that “in vain” had already had an airing (from my point of view) blurred its existence as a definition.
    I was a bit disgruntled with A TRIFLE as just having the indefinite article on the front of an entry seems odd. A biscuit? A solution? Of course, Chambers has the indecency to list A TRIFLE as a thing. “Slightly” mollified.
    Brilliant, devious setting, shame it was such hard work to solve.

  22. 79m 45s but used aids to solve RESOLUTION and CANDLELIT so SWOL.
    I thought that was unsatisfactory. Like Jack, I find it hard to jump from an adverb to a noun. In 4d, I don’t think it right we should have to imagine an apostrophe. I think the clue should have said ‘dogs’ not ‘dog’.
    I did like JUMP LEADS, though. Thank goodness, it’s ages since I’ve needed to use any.
    I think Ken RUSSELL’s finest hour as a director was “Savage Messiah” which featured a young Helen Mirren walking naked down a grand staircase!

    1. Same here Martin – I concluded that the final S somehow got omitted from “dog”.

    2. We don’t have to imagine an apostrophe. It’s ‘of killer dog’ => RATTER’S (as jackkt says in the blog). Obviously the apostrophe gets lost on transcription to the grid, but that always happens with punctuation: see 20dn for instance.

      1. Thanks for clarifying, k. I’d hoped I’d conveyed that in my blog.

        As for Ken Russell, his best work was for the BBC’s Monitor and Omnibus culminating in the superb Song of Summer in 1968 about Delius. After that he went mad.

  23. Glad to see it wasn’t just me. 43.55 of torture only to discover my idle should have been idly. What a beast.

    Begrudgingly thank you setter and much less begrudgingly, blogger.

  24. 45 mins with a little help from my friends for the last 3. Had I but thought of using a Q…..
    I think unknown crossers in QUI VIVE and COQUET was tough, and I still don’t get IDLY as in vain. The rest was hard, but eminently doable.

  25. Similar experience to others and got all the way down to STAMMER before getting a toehold. I’d have had trouble with ABERDARE but I recalled that back in days when we had crossword championships there was a Lord Aberdare some notches above me in the lists. I believe QUI VIVE was what a French sentinel would say instead of – halt, who goes there. I saw both EASY RIDER and Ken RUSSELL’s Women In Love back in my salad days in 1969. A very hard fought 24.57

  26. I managed a scattered 50 percent in 20 minutes before going to sleep last night. But this morning, nothing more. I liked AIRDROP and DISCUSS

  27. Needed aids for RUSSELL and RATTERS, but was nevertheless pleased to do so well – this was tough. I had ABERDEEN instead of ABERDARE, which obv made the killer dog(s) rather harder to see… plus the need to imagine the genitive case to justify the apparent plural would prob have thrown me anyway. DNK QUI VIVE, but figured it out from wordplay. Enjoyed OAHU and COQUET, but can’t say this was huge fun. Mostly felt like ransacking a sock drawer in search of a shoelace.

  28. For BLUEJAY knew the bird which helps, of course, but didn’t find the cryptic very appealing. NHO QUO VIVE but the wordplay was clear enough to construct it and it sounded like plausible Latin. MER at A TRIFLE.

  29. 48:16

    Tough challenge, built up brick by brick until there were four unconnected answers left:

    A TRIFLE (what else would fit in the checkers? A TRIFLE would usually be quite satisfying but this one wasn’t)
    RATTERS (didn’t help having ABERDEEN for a long time before rethinking it)
    IDLY (IDLE? IDLY? ILLS? Eventually a PDM)
    RUSSELL (RU is not really football in my view seeing as for most of the action, the ball is being carried)

    Why do rugby players walk funny? Because they have odd-shaped balls.

    1. In some circles (taking no sides here because I’m not brave enough) football is rugby, and the other game is ‘soccer’.

          1. I didn’t know that, but now that you mention it it makes full sense. Thanks, jack

  30. Retired hurt after about 49 minutes. I liked the ones I got.

    Thanks to Jack and “Thank you VERY much” (as Mr. Hancock would say) to the setter.

  31. 20:24

    Hard work but it looks like I found it more satisfying than most. I do agree that 1 down seemed a bit odd.

  32. Wagwan!
    Multicultural London English (MLE) will replace CRS in some 100 years time, according to Craig Simpson in today’s Daily Telegraph. Very interesting article that will slowly affect crosswords over this century!

  33. Well, fell at the last. Most entered in 30 mins but couldn’t see IDLY at all, had ISLE, and not helped either by having ABERDEEN at 1ac so 4d was impossible.

    Very unsatisfying. I did like Jump leads. Still use them for my old tractor.

    Thanks Jack for the explanations, a number of which I hadn’t really grasped..

  34. Well, you know you’re in trouble when the first one in is 25ac. Fortunately the downs were less resistant and I eventually got there in 20 odd minutes – double my usual time. I really wanted to put Aberdeen as it’s my alma mater but couldn’t make it parse. Liked airdrop.
    Thanks Jack and, I think, setter.

  35. 12:24 here but carelessly put in IDLE without looking at the clue properly. Must stop doing that! Didn’t find the rest of it too hard, but not much of it was biffable so I should’ve known better.

  36. Bluejay as the clue indicates is meant to be a cryptic coinage. I.e it is not a term we will have heard before but one we might ‘coin’ for a foul-mouthed radio presenter. A bluejay as opposed to a deejay!

  37. A 50 minute DNF, because all I could think of for 9 ac was IDLE (I never saw the rap in rapidly). A very strange but also strangely enjoyable puzzle, with an extremely slow start (my FOI was OAHU). Wasn’t sure at all about the RATTERS, but I did like A TRIFLE. Is the Times frantically looking for new setters? Judging by recent puzzles, it certainly looks like it.

  38. A slow but steady struggle here. I finally checked out at 54 minutes which, at the time, I thought was shamefully slow. I have felt better since reading these comments…
    I hesitated over IDLY/IDLE for some time and plumped for the right amswer without knowing why. I tried for a long time to make ABERDEEN fit 1A. I live quite near ABERDARE but it simply didn’t occur to me until I had all the checkers. I still can’t understand RESOLUTION. The 2nd definition was obvious but “being very firm” to me is RESOLUTE not RESOLUTION. Can someone explain exactly how it works? There’s no other word that fits the checkers so the answer had to be… But I’m still not happy with it.

    1. Collins has: Resolution is determination to do something or not do something. So by extension ‘being very firm’ about it.

  39. Strewth! This took me over an hour. A tough struggle where I had to fight for everything, including squaring the definitions with the solutions. Not the most enjoyable solving experience.

  40. Defeated by “Idly” and “Qui Vive”. Like Boltonwanderer I was fixated on Quake rather than Quiver – and I was also fixated on Latin rather than French, so was sure it must be Qua, possibly Quo. When will I learn?

  41. DNF after 50+ mins, with a despairing guess at DISCOVERY WALTZ and therefore an impossible R-z-e-l at the end. Great puzzle nonetheless.

  42. Can’t believe your solvers think Aberdeen is an English town. Up the SNP.
    Qui vive was and is normal parlance for “on the ball” so mystified that it was so little known.

    Having vented all that I thought it was rotten puzzle and I got nowhere near finishing

    1. No one thought Aberdeen was in England. E{nglish} is part of the wordplay, the definition is just town. Your beef should be that they thought it was a town rather than a city. For the record, Aberdare isn’t an English town either.

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