Times Cryptic 28370

Solving time: 33 minutes.

Not a bad effort from me considering there were a few things unknown or forgotten along the way.

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 Plant found in March maybe, hidden in grass (8)
JO (March maybe) contained by [hidden in] MARRAM (grass). I had the J-checker from my FOI and for some reason ‘marjoram’ sprang to mind almost immediately as the plant. But I couldn’t see the parsing so it didn’t go in until much later when all the checkers were in place and I was left with no alternative. After completing the puzzle I returned to the clue and remembered MARRAM as grass. That left me with JO and March to account for and eventually I recalled ‘Jo March’ as one of the sisters in Louisa May Alcott’s novel Little Women. She came up in the discussion of a clue as recently as 3 August but her surname wasn’t mentioned.
6 Case of fruit, one very small inside (6)
I (one) + V (very, small – i.e. it’s an abbreviation) contained by [inside] DATE (fruit). One of six cases I first met in Latin classes.
9 Relation expressing unorthodoxy with dismissal of monarch as an aside? (13)
PARENT (relation), H{er}ETICAL (expressing unorthodoxy) [with dismissal of monarch – ER]
10 Inaction of holy person, a nun half forgotten (6)
ST (holy person – saint), A, SIS{ter} (nun) [half forgotten]
11 Signs of sorrow when rebel interrupts masters? (8)
 CHE (rebel – Guevara) is contained by [interrupts] TEARS (signs of sorrow)
13 Drug of French worker containing iron? (10)
DE (of in French) + ANT (worker) containing PRESS (iron)
15 Make merry, losing heart in dance (4)
RE{v}EL (make merry) [losing heart – v]. After just watching this Eightsome Reel I need to have a lie down!
16 Bunch of notes one found in gully (4)
WAD (bunch of notes – loadsamoney!), I (one)
18 Old money in decline? The opposite — it brings advantage (10)
EX (old), then DIE (decline) contained by [in] PENCE (money). The containment is ‘the opposite’ of what’s indicated in the first part of the clue.
21 Comfy position of English priest after what’s confessed to him? (8)
SIN (what’s confessed…),  E (English), CURÉ (priest). A neat misdirection here as curé is a French priest.  This is a position or office requiring little or no work actually originating within the church but now used more widely.
22 Star having time in a retreat (6)
A, then T (time) contained by [in] LAIR (retreat). DNK this or had forgotten it, but the wordplay was helpful.
23 Pieces of equipment added in depots, involving everyone (13)
IN, then STATIONS (depots) containing [involving] ALL (everyone)
25 Member drowning in river? How awful! (4,2)
ARM (member) contained by [drowning in] DEE (river)
26 Longing to be picking up information after new start (8)
LEARNING (picking up information) after being given a new start becomes YEARNING (longing)
2 One who has been ”disarmed”? (7)
The cryptic relies on a heavily signalled pun
3 Jack and I curse very badly organised public duty (4,7)
J (Jack), then anagram (badly organised) of I CURSE VERY
4 Characters could be extras possibly around edge of scene (5)
RUNS (could be extras possibly – cricket) containing (around) {scen}E [edge of…]. Ancient letters.
5 Sage in Derby, say, entertained by the old woman (7)
HAT (Derby, say – American for bowler hat) contained (entertained) by MAMA (the old woman). An honorific title as awarded to Gandhi.
6 Transported to the north, tough delinquent is taken away (9)
CARTED (transported) reversed [to the north] TED (tough delinquent). Until yesterday I thought we’d got away from the idea that ‘Ted’ (short for ‘Teddy Boy’) was synonymous with delinquency, but no, and here it is again already. It’s made worse by describing Teds as ‘tough’ which some may have been, but it was not a defining feature which was first and foremost dress-sense and style. Jerry pointed out in yesterday’s blog that setters are supported by a definition Collins —  any tough or delinquent youth —but this may be more to do with how they were perceived by older people at the time rather than whether their behaviour actually warranted it.
7 Irregular movement with sign of approval reportedly (3)
Sounds like [reportedly] “tick” (sign of approval)
8 Girl John tipped over on lake (7)
LAV (John – U.S. slang), reversed [tipped over], ERIE (lake)
12 Vast moor with hen flying — a feature of autumn night sky? (7,4)
Anagram [flying] of VAST MOOR HEN
14 Take a chance fish will surface in flood (9)
LUCE (fish – pike) reversed [will surface] contained by [in] SPATE (flood). DNK or had forgotten the fish.
17 Stupid, resembling one that’s ”one over the eight” (7)
AS (resembling), I (one), NINE (one over the eight). ‘One over the eight’ means ‘drunk’.
19 The King almost killed — victim taken outside (7)
SLE{w} (killed) [almost] contained [taken outside] by PREY (victim). I liked his ballads.
20 Murderer, dangerous ultimately, therefore kept in special chamber (7)
{dangerou}S [ultimately] + SO (therefore) contained by [kept in] CAIN (murderer –  in ‘The Bible’ Cain murders his brother, Abel). I didn’t know this word and it came up once before 10 years ago when I also didn’t know it. It’s a watertight chamber open at the bottom from which water is kept out by air pressure. I was aware of the principle learned at school in Physics, but not the name of he device.
22 Slogans sides put out? They are hollow (5)
{m}ANTRA{s} (slogans) [sides put out]. In anatomy these are cavities, especially with bony walls.
24 Knight is up before queen (3)
IS reversed [up], R (queen)

88 comments on “Times Cryptic 28370”

  1. 16m

    Thought the victim in 19d was going to be Abel, and then his brother shows up in the adjacent clue

    No idea how 1ac was supposed to work till I came here

  2. “An honorific title as awarded to Ghandi”…it’s a toughie, but in Gandhi (and Delhi) the H comes towards the end

  3. 16:37
    I thought of Jo (and Amy), but DNK MARRAM, so I needed the final M before the light dawned. I followed too many false leads–thinking ‘iron’ in 13ac was FE, ‘case of fruit’ was FT, thinking ‘old money’ was eg some pre-Euro currency like LIRE or MARK, thinking (like Lou) that the victim in 19d was Abel. I knew CAISSON from childhood, though not having a clue as to its meaning, from an old army song containing ‘the caissons go rolling along’. DETRAC-TED has to be a coincidence, but still.

    1. That’s how I knew CAISSON which was a sort of wagon that carried artillery equipment. I also knew it as the carriage used to carry the coffins for the funerals of Lincoln, FDR and JFK (and possibly others).

      1. Didn’t know that … I only knew it as a way of building foundations for a bridge, by using a caisson to keep the water out … it turns out that there are all sorts of interesting caissons. You can float a sunken ship with one …

  4. Nothing too difficult. I spent ages trying to work some short version of ELVIS into 19D before I saw the light. Today is the 75th anniversary of India’s independence from Britain, so not sure if MAHATMA is just a coincidence or deliberate. **Actuallly that’s not true…well, it still is 15th here where I am but this crossword is for 16th.

    I filled in MORSE (characters + MORE around (the other) edge of “scene”) at 4D. Then I got MARJORAM and realized that MORE means “extra” not “extras”.

    One of the ARMs in 2D seemed to show up in 25A…not sure where the other one is.

  5. 34 minutes. I was able to parse MARJORAM once all the crossers were in, but I couldn’t see what was going on in SPECULATE, not knowing the ‘fish’. I remember hearing about CAISSON(s) and decompression sickness in a TV program about the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. No problems with ALTAIR as there is a galaxy of street names (Aldebaran, Arcturus etc) in a town not far from here.

    Loved the Eightsome REEL clip.

      1. Yes thanks Jack. I learned how to do one at Miss Ballantyne’s dancing class in Hans Crescent behind Harrods when I was 6 or 7 but never had occasion to put it into practice sadly.

      2. In the book “The General Danced at Dawn,” by George Macdonald-Fraser, the general comes to visit, has too much to drink, and builds up from an eightsome reel to a 128some reel, involving the entire regiment … allegedly, the only one ever performed

        1. By coincidence, there is an article in today’s Times by Max Hastings on MacDonald Fraser’s creation, Harry Flashman.

  6. Guessed at the grass for MARJORAM.
    LOI CAISSON. Must’ve come across the sense relevant here before, but I couldn’t help but think of the term’s military application, in particular as heard in the previously alluded to (somewhat silly-sounding) song…
    Then it’s hi! hi! hee!
    In the field artillery,
    Shout out your numbers loud and strong,
    For where’er you go,
    You will always know
    That the Caissons go rolling along.

    Hi! hi! hee!

  7. Always thought Mahatma was his name, not an honorific… learn something new every day. Also learnt LUCE, and relearnt MARRAM – couldn’t parse 1ac. Altair another NHO/forgotten, but none of them held me up, so a very speedy time. Caissons known from work offshore.
    Liked the King being Presley, I was another whose first try was Elvi (the plural of Elvis?). Also liked iron being PRESS, not Fe, but COD to TEACHERS.

  8. FOI STASIS, and a steady plod through this one with a fair few unknowns where I had to trust the cryptic or (MARJORAM) simply biff. For a while I had RETRACTED, thinking of the eponymous tough-guy in “Get Carter”.

    Ended up with LOI 16a as -A-I, feeling like there were simply too many possible permutations, given the ambiguities of the clue. Didn’t parse “bunch of notes” and went for musical ones, eventually going for CADI. Should have taken a step back, because I’ve done a bit of 4×4 wadi-bashing in the Arabian peninsula. 33m fail, thanks J and setter.

  9. A fairly plodding 37 minutes for me—I thought I’d be much faster until the bottom half came along, as I found the top pretty plain sailing. Nothing unknown apart from the luce. Anyway, off to walk to work now, and on my way I shall pass a portable CAISSON in the Bristol Harbour Master’s storage area that I last saw used for installing new gates at Junction Lock, I think.

  10. Never ending or beginning on an ever spinning reel

    20 mins pre-brekker. Didn’t care for ‘edge of’, nor the Antra clue.
    Ta setter and J.

      1. And that’s precisely where I first came across ANTRA, the vague remembrance of which made today’s clue much easier! Also, only encountered LUCE in the Times crossword (a ‘xword fish’, as we refer to such otherwise-unheard-of species) so I’m surprised that it’s not familiar to some here. MARJORAM suggested itself very early on, but I couldn’t parse it until it was written in and the penny dropped. CAISSON unknown, but fairly clued.

  11. After two and a half weeks, JURY SERVICE is wearing thin in a windowless, un-airconditioned courtroom. Hopefully it will end today or tomorrow. DEAR ME.

    Straightforward crossword I thought (which was good because my brain is frazzled).

  12. 37 mins in a stop start puzzle
    Couldn’t parse 1a even though I knew marram!!
    Never heard of antra
    LOI 21a and I had to check the cure part

    1. I read Balzac’s “Le cure de Tours” many years ago. As it happens, my daughter is in that town now.

  13. Found this straightforward… MARCH usually means Jo, Amy, Meg or Beth
    ANTRA .. came up only last month in a Sunday cryptic by Myrtilus
    LUCE .. is another name for pike
    Two delinquent teds in two days!

  14. 13:48. I was disheartened when I got almost to the end to be left with _A_I and no clue as to what the answer might be. Indeed I considered throwing in the towel as I was so convinced it was something I didn’t know, so I was pleased when I moved beyond thinking the notes were musical ones and the penny dropped.
    Elsewhere I came close to error when I thought of EXPEDIENCY before EXPEDIENCE but something made me stop and parse rather than biff the answer. ALTAIR gave me some trouble as I assumed I was looking for something beginning AST, along the lines of astral or asteroid.

  15. 50 mins. NHO of Jo March or marram, so MARJORAM was guessed from crossers. Also NHO ALTAIR, but it seemed logical from wordplay. Liked PRESLEY and CAISSON, a word scuba divers are familiar with from history of decompression sickness.

  16. 50m 30s. I got really held up in the SE corner. All my LOIs were there: ANTRA/ALTAIR/YEARNING.
    Thanks for YEARNING, Jack. When it said “new start”, I was looking to place an N somewhere.
    I also had difficulties with 18ac. I was looking for a word for ‘decline’ to go inside just PENCE.
    Anyone who has been to Arromanches in Normandy has seen CAISSONs. They are still there in the remains of Mulberry Harbour.

  17. My first electronic solve after finally being lured away from the newspaper before a house move. I took 43 minutes apparently as a private solver, and I hated every moment. Nothing to do with the puzzle, which was fine, but my dislike of using my fingers on my iPad. It’s left me all shook up. I’m typing this with just my thumb right now in rebellion. Sawbill’s tales of woe made JURY SERVICE a write-in. COD to PRESLEY of course. I’m printing the PDF tomorrow. Thank you Jack and setter.

    1. I’ve never mastered the use of my thumb on keyboards. Index finger for me every time !

    2. I print every day. Can’t stand doing it on the keyboard, with all that jigging about of clues!

    3. For the first time ever, an advantage of M$ windoze over iPad? Doing the puzzle on a computer I can use a physical plastic keyboard, not reliant on a screen keyboard. Hooray for Bill Gates (may he rot in hell).

  18. 05:46, one of those days when I found myself solving mainly on autopilot, and getting a (brief) glimpse of what the quickest solvers feel pretty much all of the time, I imagine. Coincidentally, as part of my ongoing campaign to learn everything in the world which might be helpful for quizzes, I’ve been listening to a playlist of all the UK #1 singles, so Elvis was literally singing as I solved. Uh huh huh.

    1. I admire your dedication as I imagine some of that playlist will be quite hellish. Stock, Aitken and Waterman come to mind 😱

      1. Thank you for your sympathy. It’s also a grim reminder of how much the British public love a novelty song 🙁

        1. Well at least you’ll be spared the Loadsamoney (Doin’ up the ‘ouse) song referenced above in my blog, as it only got to No. 4:

          Doin up the ‘ouse is my bread and butter
          Me bird’s page three and me car’s a nutter
          Loadsamoney is a shout I utter
          As I wave my wad to the geezers in the gutter

          1. Still an absolute masterwork when compared to Mr Blobby. It has reminded me of one of my favourite trivial nuggets, that while he was #1 in the charts with Grandad, the famously-younger than the characters he played actor Clive Dunn celebrated his 51st birthday, so I can also celebrate having long passed that milestone without surrendering to the pipe and slippers yet.

        2. I have never forgiven Joe wossname for the song “shaddap your face” which prevented “Vienna” by U2 from being the No.1 it so richly deserved. Something died in me, that day ..

          1. ‘Twas Ultravox tho

            (Had also been kept off the previous week by John Lennon, but that’s not such an interesting pub question :-).

              1. As an Australian, I despised Australian joe wassisname and his song. Quite like Vienna. My favourite crap song is from when Charlie & Di married: some chancers sang “Charlie’s getting married at last, to a pretty girl without a bust” but even though I was way underage I realised she had quite a big bust; so i was affronted!

      2. I personally can’t hear the opening seconds of “You Spin Me Round” without getting a stupid grin on my face but, yes, atrocities like “Especially For You” would soon wipe it off.

  19. FOI was RUNES and LOI AMPUTEE. Towards the end I had a log jam which was cleared by DATIVE, with DETRACTED and PARENTHETICAL then dropping in and allowing me to finish with DEPRESSANT and the aforementioned AMPUTEE. 18:09. Thanks setter and Jack.

  20. 39 mins so average speed. V enjoyable. Another who saw JURY SERVICE and immediately thought of sawbill. DNK the grass so 1 ac unparsed, nor the star but, like Jack, found the wordplay helpful. Liked the Presley clue.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

  21. At the time of solving I thought (L)YEARNING was going to be one of those baffling double helix clues but on closer reading it turned out to be clear. Some very nice stuff here which atones for the TED. 18.02

  22. 30:46

    Started well, a lull in the middle, then a splurge of inspiration, and finally an alpha trawl for WADI.

    MARJORAM went in with only the J checker – first thing I thought of. Think there was a fad for MARRAM grass mats at some point in the past twenty years, and the addition of JO March confirmed the answer.

    Didn’t (fully) parse:

    PARENTHETICAL – bunged in with 6 checkers
    SPECULATE – saw SPATE but guessed LUCE must be a fish
    ANTRA – bunged in from checkers
    CAISSON – couldn’t have told you what it was, but built from cryptic

    Plucked from the depths:

    DATIVE – doh! those Latin tenses which I never learned
    ALTAIR – think back in the day (70s?), there was an early microcomputer by this name

    COD – PRESLEY – nice penny drop (watching out for CALLAS and BOLAN on 16th September 🙂

    1. Dative is an example of a “case”, referring to nouns; “tense” is used for verbs- past, present,future etc.

  23. Got lucky today as my unknowns ANTRA, CAISSON and ALTAIR all proved correct, and had no idea how to parse MARJORAM (not helped as I thought it was maram grass!)
    Thanks for the interesting blog and to the setter

  24. 34:50. Rather hard work, I thought, with CAISSON and ALTAIR holding out until the very last alphabet trawl before I was about to throw in the towel.

  25. Three missing after calling time at 30 mins, would never have got ANTRA. EXPEDIENCE seems like a very complex clue of opposites/insides/outsides, I still don’t get it. But was misdirected by “old money”.

    Thanks, Bill Gates, for reminding me that ALTAIR is a star.

    I though WIKI for “bunch of notes” was a good shout for WADI. 1a didn’t cause too much trouble once the J appeared, and March= MAR…. Whole Little Women thing passed me by.

  26. 22 mins with a typo. Spent ages on LOI ALTAIR, thinking that a star must begin AST…
    Otherwise steady and the unknowns were quite doable.

  27. 27:30. Yesterday I felt I struggled with an easy puzzle. Today it’s the opposite. My, this is a hard one, I said to myself, as I sped through it. FOI STASIS then WADI. 14ac had to be SPECULATE, but I don’t think I’ve come across LUCE as a fish before. One to remember. Of no relevance whatever, mrs k is called Lucy and hates being called Luce

  28. 7m 45s, with ALTAIR & CAISSON unknown, but gettable from wordplay.

    I figured out JO fairly early for 1a, but had to painstakingly piece together the rest from two half-remembered plants.

    2d would have been nicer without the speech marks, which I imagine were probably an editorial addition.

  29. Why the inverted commas in 1ac? You don’t usually see them in CDs when a word has to be read in an unexpected way. Again noticed the doubtful ted. Was Myrtilus’s dislike of the ANTRA clue for the same reason as Azed in a slip criticised my clue as being ‘a clue to a clue’? Surely if one goes down that road one is going to disallow many of the setter’s wiles?

    1. I wondered if in the clue may have been considered a little distasteful and the inverted commas an attempt to make it less so.

      1. I was not amused, inverted commas or not. I may be legless but have never been disarmed.

  30. 24.33 with LOI the unknown caisson. This was a bit of a relief after getting fixated with the impossible Crippen for a time.
    Lots to enjoy though perhaps not the grimly punning amputee. Liked dative, marjoram, valerie and COD parenthetical, which I was chuffed to work out.
    Thx setter and blogger.

    1. You weren’t the only one looking at Crippen (once I remembered his name).

  31. 28 minutes. Pleased to come here and find I got the unknown WADI, ANTRA, CAISSON and ALTAIR right. Also didn’t know the luce fish in SPECULATE, but with all the checkers in place it couldn’t be anything else.

    FOI Tic
    LOI Wadi
    COD Presley

  32. About 45 minutes and enjoyed the puzzle. Didn’t parse “Parenthetical” and didn’t know of “Jo March” but otherwise all ok.
    Thanks to Setter and to Jackkt.

  33. “When no-one else can understand me” I get “All Shook Up”. And what got me shook up today was the appalling LOI. ‘Edge of’ ? Which edge ? Far too vague for my liking.

    COD JURY SERVICE (I thought of poor Sawbill as soon as I cracked it !)
    TIME 9:21

  34. 14’54”

    Enjoyed this a lot. AMPUTEE has poignancy for me as it’s 36 years to the day that I witnessed the triumphant return of Def Leppard at the old Monsters of Rock festival at Donington Park, complete with newly one-armed drummer Rick Allen, playing a specially adapted electronic kit with his left foot operating the snare. Best gig of my life. The rest of the bill included Mötorhead, Scorpions and Ozzy Osbourne, a headbanger’s delight!

    I wonder if I’m the only person wondering whether 5 Down would be a better clue without the word “in”. (Some of you may not be familiar with Sage Derby, an English cheese.)

    Good to see some Greek in STASIS, but my favourite was DETRACTED because of the misdirection caused by both DET and TED occurring in the answer.

  35. Happy to get to the end of this unaided, and learn a few new words: caisson, antra and Altair, all biffed with the help of wordplay. I had a vague idea caisson was some sort of cage, so was interested to find out the details.
    There’s nothing like a good eightsome reel for producing a feeling of exhilaration. The eightsome reel was one of the few things I learned at school which has come in handy.

  36. Only estimated times this week, so about 40 minutes I would guess. Had to be MARJORAM at 1ac but had no idea of the parsing. Remembered WADI from doing A Level Geography about a hundred years ago, or so it seems!

  37. No real problems – knowing Caisson and Antra helped – but there was a lot that was just past the point where ‘clever’ turns into ‘a bit loose and sloppy’ for my taste. I didn’t think Amputee passed the Times’s self-imposed “must be suitable for drawing room conversation” test.

  38. My first all correct finish since renewing my Times subscription recently. I found it easier than yesterday with clearer wordplay, and fewer whimsical cryptics. I still have a few grey cells left!

  39. 14:18 late this afternoon. I enjoyed this puzzle very much for the most part and found it satisfying to solve.
    Started slowly , FOI 15 ac “reel” and then gradually upped the pace as crossers appeared.
    In my haste, at 23 ac “depressant” I had “en” for “of” in french which held me up in completing the NW corner. Maybe I’m getting over sensitive in my old age but I felt a little uncomfortable with 2 d “amputee”.
    Otherwise I particularly liked several clues e.g. 1 ac ” marjoram”, 21 ac “sinecure” and 9 ac “parenthetical” which appeared inscrutable at first sight.
    Thanks to Jack for the blog and to setter.

  40. FOI: STASIS, like many others. NHO ANTRA, but went with it. 90% sure for ALTAIR and CAISSON. LOI PRESLEY once I got Y(L)EARNING the right way round. Two in a row without the use of aids is good for me.

  41. Finished for the second day in a row, which is rare for me. I was familiar with Caisson from descriptions of the building of the foundations of bridges using compressed chambers – probably from watching the same documentary as Bletchlyreject.

  42. 23.14. I was slow to see some of this, led astray by French and iron in depressant, couldn’t quite seem to put together the detracted and teachers crossers, caisson was unknown and made a hash of the parsing of marjoram where surely March had to indicate the first three letters, nope.

    Is what we’ve been YEARNING for here
    And then HARVEST MOON
    Oh, I think I might swoon,
    But before I pass out I will cheer!!

  44. Crikey. There was me feeling pleased with myself in managing to finish a ‘difficult’ puzzle, (albeit over two and a half sittings), only to find that the Snitch is 85. Luce and Jo March are way beyond my pay grade, so I shall just go back to my cell in the corner to write out ‘must try harder’ a hundred times. Invariant

  45. I’m with Invariant in that corner, I’m afraid: NHO ALTAIR, ANTRA, LUCE or CAISSON which made this one seem like a more difficult puzzle, in my book. ( which btw has many pages of “unknown words learned -or not – from the crossword”. The TTfT is the only one I have time for, so my general knowledge is perhaps more restricted than most.

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