Times Cryptic 28364


Solving time: 32 minutes taken over my half-hour target by 10ac and 8dn. I had two unknown words at 16ac and 13dn but both were helped by clear wordplay.

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 Nanny’s tender love, coming in to collect daughter (8)
0 (love) contained by [coming in] GATHER (collect), then D (daughter)
5 River runs away from country houses (6)
G{r}ANGES (country houses) [runs – r – away]
9 Like “Hook”, say, pronounce the H (8)
AS (like), PIRATE (Hook, say – the pirate captain in ‘Peter Pan’)
10 Unsteady, twisted across wide street (6)
WRY (twisted) containing [across] AVE (wide street – avenue)
12 Most modern part of the US, regularly a vital part (5,2,3,3)
STATE  (part of the US), OFT (regularly), HEART (a vital part)
15 Spare time not disguised (5)
OVER (spare), T (time)
16 Army head acquires a second scar (9)
CIC (army head Commander in Chief), A, TRICE (second). SOED: The scar of a healed wound, burn, etc.; a scar on the bark of a tree. NHO this, or so I thought, but on checking I see that it appeared back in 2014 when I claimed I knew the word but not its meaning. I might have guessed it was some sort of bird.
17 Expression of revulsion in one heavily criticising carnage (9)
UGH (expression of revulsion) contained by [in] SLATER (one heavily criticising). I have my doubts that the agent noun ‘slater’ actually exists with this meaning so perhaps that part of the wordplay is intended cryptically.
19 Bird’s claw regularly in its beak? (5)
C{l}A{w} [regularly] contained by [in] MAW (beak). I’m also having a problem confirming MAW as ‘beak’. The  nearest I can find is: the throat, the gullet; esp. the jaws or mouth of a voracious mammal or fish (SOED).
20 Pattern of cloth vet put on canine perhaps after canine (3-5,5)
DOG (canine), TOOTH (canine perhaps), CHECK (vet). A popular pattern for tweed jackets and skirts.
22 Extra protection on helmet gets one almost cooked (6)
GRILLE{d} (cooked) [almost]. The bars in the visor of a helmet.
23 Observe Albanian money to be back in the frame (8)
NOTE (observe) + LEKS (Albanian money) reversed [back]
25 Prompt English journalist to probe possible traitor (6)
E (English) + ED (journalist) contained by [to probe] SPY (possible traitor)
26 For leader shortly cooked sponge (8)
Anagram [cooked] of FOR LEADE{r} [shortly]
1 Building in garden where a serving of wine is free? (10)
GLASS (serving of wine) on HOUSE (is free) – relying on juxtaposition in a Down clue
2 Killer insect wife brushed off (3)
{w}ASP (insect) [wife brushed off]
3 Gathering there’s no end of damage on tunic (7)
HAR{m} (damage) [no end], VEST (tunic)
4 Picked up suitable one to wear fancy raincoat for approval (12)
FIT (suitable) reversed [picked up] + I (one) contained by [to wear] anagram [fancy] of RAINCOAT
6 Inflexible barrier installed by a worker (7)
DAM (barrier) contained [installed] by A + ANT (worker)
7 Wonderful group of friends that takes the longest route round the world (5,6)
GREAT (wonderful), CIRCLE (group of friends). This is defined as a circle on a sphere whose plane passes through the centre of the sphere. I take on trust that this accords with the definition in the clue.
8 River gets clogged up in sound (4)
Sounds like [in sound] “sticks”  (gets clogged up)
11 One very meticulous stage work (3,9)
THE CARE TAKER (one very meticulous). This is a play by Harold Pinter also made into a film in 1963 starring Alan Bates and Donald Pleasence.
13 In refurbished inn, a relaxed six-footer (11)
Anagram [refurbished] if INN A RELAXED. A line of verse having six iambic feet. My only other unknown answer.
14 Brought round again, gunners tired, needing energy to rise (10)
RA (gunners – Royal Artillery) + WEAKENED (tired) becomes REA+WAKENED when the first E (energy) rises. Another clue that only works as a Down.
18 Laughed and shook her hips? Good for wife! (7)
WIGGLED (shook…hips) becomes GIGGLED when G (good) is substituted for W (wife)
19 Spots parent with a clue for resolving (7)
MA (parent), then anagram [for resolving] of A CLUE
21 Vanity cases? (4)
Cryptic definition
24 As well it’s where a countdown is heading (3)
TO 0 (where countdown is heading)

87 comments on “Times Cryptic 28364”

  1. The Time 30 minutes

    FOI 5ac GANGES
    LOI 8dn STYX

    BEAK & MAW are synonymous – Thesaurus Plus
    Au revoire Meldrew.

    1. I, for one, will badly miss the graphic King of High, Pop, and Ad Culture. I feel like Joey: “Shane! Come back Shane!”

      1. Me too! (No hashtag) – half the joy of doing this crossword is reading the very varied responses – including the odd “telling-off” from Meldrew (not Horryd). I’ve enjoyed his knowledge and humour for about a decade now: please make this an “au revoir” only.
        Btw: my first quick (for me!) finish for a long time – about half-an-hour, with the occasional aid.

  2. 23:57. Once again a relatively fast solve spoiled by the last few clues: CICATRICE, THE CARETAKER, and SKELETON went in with the speed of cold honey.

  3. 11:48
    MER re MAW, and a lesser one re OFT=regularly. I never did parse REAWAKENED. Biffed CICATRICE (thought of COCKATRICE at first; luckily it’s too long), SKELETON, parsed post-submission. A d’oh! moment when I saw how HOUSE worked in 1d. 4d RATIFICATION was my LOI because it took me some time to notice that I’d typed in GOATHEAR at 1ac.

  4. I loved ALEXANDRINE (CICATRICE is nice too, n’est-ce pas ?). The original French alexandrine is not iambic, of course, being counted out in syllables rather than feet.
    Didn’t know the play before.
    Happy to learn that a greenhouse can be called a GLASSHOUSE.
    Gotta be the cleverest clue for TOO I’ve ever seen.

  5. 41 minutes. Knew CICATRICE and see that I had come across ALEXANDRINE before, but was taken over 30 minutes by the humble WAVERY and STYX in the NE corner. (Maybe not so humble having just seen Guy’s comment above). EGOS sounded more likely than EGGS, but I still wasn’t confident.

    I wonder what Myrtilus will have to say about DOG-TOOTH CHECK, his favourite fashion item.

    GLASS is on the HOUSE. Very good.

  6. Good time, on the hour. Plenty of unknowns especially ALEXANDRINE. Tried several endings -IAN -INA, guess I should have written out the letters.

    LOI WAVERY which I “parsed” as VER inside WAY (wide street). Also tempted by WATERY, of course neither VER or TER made any sense, but I’m at the stage when I can’t be parsing every clue, or I’ll never finish. Thats where this blog comes in.

    COD TOO. Brilliant.

  7. Clever and fun. GOATHERD, CICATRICE, MACAW, GLASSHOUSE and TOO were very good. Thanks all.

  8. 26 minutes with LOI HARVEST safely gathered in. I hesitated about WAVERY even with all the crossers. The unknown ALEXANDRINE fitted the crossers best, and CICATRICE was clued kindly. DOG-TOOTH seems to be the cloth of the month. COD to TOO. A pleasant puzzle. Thank you Jack and setter.

  9. 15:09. CICATRICE took me straight back to my youth and the song Leave Scars by Dark Angel with its lyric “I cicatrise myself upon your mind”. I always knew an early penchant for heavy metal would come in useful. It didn’t help with ALEXANDRINE though, which I presumed was a type of insect until the blog put me straight.

  10. 22:09
    Steady solve. LOI freeload. Alexandrine took me back to student days and Racine.
    Thanks, jack.

  11. O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
    So haggard and so woe-begone?
    The squirrel’s granary is full,
    And the harvest’s done.

    25 mins pre-brekker. I liked it, mostly the six-footer.
    Thanks setter and J.

  12. Enjoyed this .. not too tricky and some clever clues. I didn’t parse 1dn until now and a very clever clue it is too .. There once was a lonely goatherd, earworm of the day I fear

  13. At the risk of appearing a bore
    Was there no better choice than MACAW?
    This birdy fixation
    More diversity please. This is poor.

  14. 45m fail. Started well enough, but progressively slowed down to an eventual standstill – my least favourite sort of puzzle.

    Ended with GRILLE, then the incorrect EGGS, and finally the unknown CICATRICE – dependent on an unknown decode for “army head” – which never came. Mood a bit peeved.

  15. 28 mins all done and dusted. Last two in WAVERY and STYX. I am staying in the Cotswolds and the two « Slaughters » are just down the road.

    A number of French words today, and I didn’t know CICATRICE was a word in English, or the meaning of ALEXANDRINE for that matter.


    A gentle romp.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

    1. In that case you will know that The SLAUGHTERs don’t derive their names from any sort of carnage…..!

      1. I had no idea what the name referred to! Just looked it up. Interesting, old English for a muddy place. You learn something…..

        Sorry, just seen your comment below.

        1. In Lower Slaughter there is, or at least there used to be, a sign on the village green announcing that the village had won the Best Kept Village in Gloucestershire competition. I believe that competition no longer takes place but the trophy was called the Bledisloe Cup! Lord Bledisloe was a Governor-General of New Zealand and donated the trophy for the annual rugby competition between the All Blacks and Australia. He lived in Gloucestershire.

  16. 16 minutes – for me this is the first in a while with no silly errors – yeah!

  17. 30 minutes. Didn’t parse REAWAKENED, took a long time to figure out THE CARETAKER, needed all the checkers for the unknown ALEXANDRINE and finished with EGOS after ruling out all the other options and eventually realising that it was a cryptic definition.

    FOI Too
    LOI Egos
    COD Glasshouse

  18. 30m 29s
    No-one else seems to have mentioned it, apart from a reference by Jack, but GREAT CIRCLE doesn’t mean the longest route. It means the shortest distance between any two points on a sphere, the preferred route for planes and ships.
    Thanks, Jack, for GOATHERD, STATE OF THE ART (a reference to Paul Simon’s erstwhile partner), SKELETON and RATIFICATION (the introduction of alien pests into an otherwise pristine environment).
    For 16ac I did consider COCATRICE but then realised that word has a K in it.
    As I’ve mentioned to Rosédeprovence, The SLAUGHTERs in The Cotswolds do not derive their name from any sort of carnage. It comes from a term for wet or boggy ground, undoubtedly something to do with the River Eye which flows through both villages.

    1. I think the clue for GREAT CIRCLE is fine if you read it as the longest route all the way round the surface of a sphere. But you’re right as well: airliners ideally follow arcs of great circles as they do indeed represent the shortest surface distance between two points on a sphere.

    2. Thanks, Martin, I wasn’t sure about GREAT CIRCLE as I’d vaguely remembered from school about it being the shortest distance, then thinking further I was along similar lines to what Normo has just posted. But it’s really not my field so I didn’t feel it was my place to concern myself about it too much which was why I resorted to posting what I did.

      From what you say I guess Slaughter in the place name might be related to slough.

      1. Thanks, Jack. Yes, ‘slough’ is where Slaughter comes from.
        Regarding GREAT CIRCLE, I may be wrong, but I seem to remember learning that the shortest distance between the UK and Hong Kong and, say, Japan, is the Polar route. I once flew from Paris to Hong Kong via Helsinki and the journey time was quicker than I imagined it would be.

    3. That’s how I’d heard of the GREAT CIRCLE route Martin – I haven’t done it but I believe that’s how planes go from London to L.A.

      1. According to that nice Mister Google, the phrase ‘may come’ from the trenches in WWI.

    4. Hi Martin,

      In my study of non-Euclidean geometry, a great circle was always the full circle, right around the globe. The shortest distance between two points (“geodesic”) is indeed an arc of the unique great circle through those two points, as Normo states below.

    5. I’m with Normo on the reading of the clue on this one. And, while we’re at it, the earth NOT being a true sphere means the only true great circle is the equator. Ho, hum…

      1. Hate to be too pedantic, but the fact that the earth is an oblate spheroid doesn’t contradict the use of the technical term ‘great circle’: it carries the same meaning as for a perfect sphere, being the union of the two geodesics connecting two antipodal points.

        1. Can I have that in English?! 😀 After the Third Form in Grammar School, I specialised in arts subjects…..and that was 60 years ago!

    6. Jackkt has it right Martin. A great circle goes right round the earth, by the longest route. Planes only fly arcs.

      1. I’m not going to argue with people who obviously have greater knowledge than me but what I will say is that I believe Olivia is right. Planes flying from London to L.A. follow a Great Circle route.
        I once flew Paris to Hong Kong via Helsinki a route which I believe, followed a Great Circle.

  19. Bang on the wavelength and would have finished in 13 mins if the wretched EGOS hadn’t held me up for another 10. Not entirely convinced by it.

    Liked FREELOAD and TOO.

  20. First, many, many thanks to the lovely people who created and maintain this marvellous website. It’s a joy.
    A plea: can anyone please tell me how to set up my iPad so as to stop my answers disappearing when I return to the news sections?

    1. Have you allowed cookies for the site? And do you have to log back in when you return?

  21. MartinP1, I had exactly the same impression but then thought, “hang on, this is The Times, surely not…” Turns out that great circles are both the longest and shortest simultaneously. Crikey!
    Gisgeography.com “Why are great circles the shortest flight path”

  22. 27 minutes, ending with STYX after WAVERY. I agree with MartinP1, the great circle is the shortest route not the longest from A to B on a sphere. Mr Setter is not a pilot! Nice puzzle. TOO was the cutest little clue.

    1. If your object is say to go round the world in eighty days then your shortest trip would be up to the nearest pole, a quick lap, and back home. By some definitions this is a round-the-world trip. The longest trip (assuming no deliberate diversions) would be a great circle.

    2. He may well be. Great circles go right round the earth, by the longest route. Planes fly only arcs, as a rule.

  23. 31:08

    Rather TOO much biffing for comfort.

    NHO CICATRICE and given the letters remaining with the checkers in, guessed ALEXANDRINE.

    Failed to parse GIGGLED which of course now seems so simple, and didn’t know where to start with REAWAKENED. Missed the trick too with GLASSHOUSE.

  24. I took a good 45 minutes on this, and was slightly surprised to finish, eventually working out that the improbable anagram fodder of 13d did in fact make a recognisable word, even if I didn’t know what it meant—like Pootle, I presumed a type of insect—which led me to GRILLE and finally EGOS.

    As with Martin, I was also going to query the GREAT CIRCLE definition, as I’m used to the GREAT CIRCLE distance being the shortest. Perhaps I’m just not prepared to tunnel through the earth to get where I’m going… Still, at least that answer went in quickly, unlike CICATRICE and a few others I could mention.

  25. 08:21, but felt like much heavier going, for reasons I clearly can’t explain. In fact, it’s possible the only real dithering was because I didn’t really understand EGOS, and not sure I do even now I know it’s right, to be honest.

  26. 39:46. Like others, I had to spend a long time on the last few. LOI WAVERY. COD GLASSHOUSE.

    PS. GREAT CIRCLE. The clue’s in the name. It’s the biggest circle you can put on the surface of a sphere

    1. And following a GREAT CIRCLE path also gives you the shortest distance between any two points on the planet. I think the discussion above is correct; the GREAT CIRCLE distance can be both the longest distance and the shortest distance, depending on context. As someone who’s occasionally needed to find the shortest distance between two points on the globe (using the Haversine formula), that’s the context I know it from.

  27. I got to 28 minutes with just the _G_S clue to complete. After six more minutes I entered EGOS with a shrug and it turned out to be correct. But goodness knows why. I can see that it has something to do with egotism and therefore vanity, but ‘cases’? Cases (= instances) of vanity? That’s feeble. The fact that many people have accepted it without comment suggests that I’m missing something here.

    Without knowing the proof of this statement I can easily believe that the shortest route from A to B on a sphere is along a great circle. And it’s also easy to believe that if one is to go ’round the world’, then there are many circles from A to A and the longest of these is the great circle. So I’m not quite sure about ‘Round the World in 80 Days’.

  28. Just noticed that we had references to ‘sponge’ in the same sense both yesterday and today.

  29. The one I got stuck on was STYX until I realized – oh that kind of river. In Can You Forgive Her Trollope describes one of his most unpleasant characters (George Vavasor) as having an ugly CICATRICE on his face that does alarming things when he’s angry. Yes EGOS was a bit meh unless I’m missing something but I enjoyed the rest. 16.18

  30. 18.40. LOI egos having almost succumbed to eggs! Wasn’t totally convinced by glasshouse but see it now. Cicatrice and Alexandrine dredged up from somewhere but generally a very fair puzzle with nothing so obscure it couldn’t be worked out. Liked goatherd and aspirate.
    Thx setter and blogger.

  31. 18 mins. I’m with Wil on EGOS, very poor clue IMHO. And yet another unknown (to me at least) clued by an anagram. Otherwise an excellent offering. So ‘good in parts’.

  32. 17:38. Same uncertainty as others about GREAT CIRCLE but I see now that an arc of a GC may well be preferred by fliers as the shortest route between two points while the GC itself is the longest loop of the globe. The mysteries of navigation. Didn’t see the cleverness of GLASSHOUSE until coming here and can’t quite come to terms with EGOS, even as a cryptic definition, unless I am missing something. Thanks to all for the multiple elucidations.

  33. “Babe I’m leaving, I must be on my way” (STYX : “Babe”). And it’s apparently goodbye to Meldrew again. Heigh-Ho….

    I thoroughly enjoyed this witty and beautifully constructed puzzle (EGOS apart).

    My LOI was due to simply not noticing that I hadn’t done it when I went to submit and found I was only 96% completed. The real LOI was STYX, where I shared Olivia’s “Oh THAT sort of river” moment (or quite a few moments in truth !)

    TIME 7:27

  34. Shared others’ reservation about writing in EGOS. I wondered if there was some incredibly clever secondary definition but it seems not. Wasn’t a fan of ALEXANDRINE (another obscurity clued as anagram) but with the checkers in what else could it be?

    I thought 20AC was a bit of a missed opportunity as far as the surface went. Maybe something like “Possible reason for bringing dog to vet, forming a pattern”.

  35. 32 minutes, so double yesterday’s time. I had to search for a clue to get me going – ASP – after which things proceeded fairly steadily.
    LOI – EGOS.

  36. I started with ASP and finished with GANGES and STYX. Had to build ALEXANDRINE and CICATRICE from the wordplay. Liked GOATHERD and GLASSHOUSE. 20:56. Thanks setter and Jack.

  37. 12’24”

    Enjoyed that a lot. I thought 1 Across and 10 Across were the most devious, and can’t really see a problem with 21 Down, since the presence of the question mark indicates a cryptic definition and vain people can surely be cases (instances) of egos, in common parlance.

    Favourite clue 1 Down: love a bit of lateral (or should that be vertical?) thinking.

  38. Thanks for the positive response about the EGO clue. I also thought it was okay. Ego can be defined (in Collins and elsewhere) as egotism and conceit, both of which fit nicely with vanity. As you have mentioned, there is a question mark at the end of the clue which suggests a bit of lateral thinking (or vertical, since it’s a Down clue) may be involved.

  39. Goatherd was brilliant. Egos, not to my liking. As Billy Pilgrim said: “So it goes”.
    My first guess at the NHO was Alexandrian, before I was stuck and actually looked at the anagrist.

  40. Too hot to go out-I’m not sure I’ve written that about the English coast before- so I stayed in and did this.
    Took under an hour with last two WAVERY and STYX (very much last in).
    Enjoyed the puzzle; by knowing CICATRICE.

  41. My head is spinning from all these trips around the globe by either the shortest or longest route. Don’t know enough to contribute any further opinion.
    EGOS was my LOI as I wasn’t sure, but on reflection I think it’s fair enough.
    GOATHERD took me back to my teens and seeing the 1965 premiere of The Sound of Music (or The Sound of Mucus as Christopher Plummer rather unkindly latterly described it). Sorry Olivia but I loved the song, particularly as it was sung by the fragrant Julie Andrews (boyhood crush!). Crossed the line in 39.15 so within target

  42. 11:45. My only significant problems today were EGOS, which seemed a bit weak, and WAVERY, which I couldn’t quite believe was a real word.
    I’ve learned a lot about GREAT CIRCLEs.

  43. FOI State of the Art
    LOI Styx
    COD Too

    But, unfortunately, I put Cicatrice and Macalue, which was sloppy. Having said that I was pleased to get the rest after initially thinking the puzzle was beyond me.

  44. 23:23 early evening, having spent 10 frustrating minutes at the end in the NE and SW corners.
    Eventually got 1o ac “wavery” once I had realised that “wide street” was “ave” as opposed to “wst”. Then it took an alphabetical trawl of the final letter of 8 d even with the “y” in place to identify “styx”. How hellish was that??
    Finally got 22 ac from the curtailing of cooked rather than the definition – I mean how many extra protections for a helmet can there be?? That left 21 d “egos”which was entered with a grunt!
    On the other hand there were several clues that I enjoyed, for example, 1 d “glasshouse” and 9d “aspirate”.
    Thanks to setter and Jack for the blog.

  45. DNF in 22.29. I had a typo in feeeloader and for that matter in The Caretakee. I found the top half more difficult than the bottom half. DNK maculae and thought egos a bit loose.

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