Times Cryptic 28400

Solving time: 29 minutes

My solving time confirms that this one didn’t present very many problems but there were two or three unknowns where I had to slow right down and work through the wordplay to arrive at the answers.

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 Note rebel’s affectation? (6)
FA (note – music), CADE (rebel). Jack Cade (1420–1450), leader of the Kent Rebellion.
4 Bishop to go on in the pulpit perhaps where there’s something thorny? (7)
B (bishop), RAMBLE (go on in the pulpit perhaps). Commonly another name for the blackberry bush, but can be applied to other species.
9 Forced to let daughter off rent (5)
{d}RIVEN (forced) [let daughter off].  Rent as in ‘torn’.
10 Bits of fur in Spooner’s undecorated rooms? (9)
“Bare” (undecorated) + “Halls” (rooms) as Spooner might say
11 Mistake about eating vegetable and fish (9)
SLIP (mistake) reversed [about] containing [eating] CHARD (vegetable). Who remembers the early TV commercials for Glenryck Pilchards?
12 Round French resort, becoming delayed (2,3)
O (round), NICE (French resort)
13 Men meeting one unknown, then another, beast (4)
OR (men – Other Ranks), Y (one unknown), X (another unknown). One of the many types of antelope that inhabit Crosswordland.
14 Opposing information from boffins causing moral sensitivity? (10)
CON (opposing), SCIENCE (information from boffins)
18 Sporting, and newly prepared for defeat (10)
Anagram [newly prepared] of FOR, then LICKING (defeat)
20 House by a river that’s cold (4)
HO (house), A, R (river). It’s a type of frost.
23 Head in charge of lesson’s theme? (5)
TOP (head), IC (in charge)
24 Mistreat a special collection of bones (9)
Anagram [special] of MISTREAT A. A set of five bones in the foot.
25 Harsh scorn concerning social worker (9)
DISS (scorn), ON (concerning), ANT (social worker)
26 Source of fibre that is served with butter (5)
RAM (butter – sheep), IE (that is – id est). SOED: a tropical Asian plant of the nettle family aka ‘China grass’. I didn’t know this one but trusted the wordplay and moved on.
27 Language in school? It’s discordant (7)
CREE (language) contained by [in] SCH (school). The language appeared very recently in one of my blogged puzzles.
28 Tasks on election night for noble fellows (6)
Two meanings
1 Indestructible female with anger and power getting on top (9)
F (female), IRE (anger), P (power), ROOF (top). Literally indestructible by fire, but ‘fireproof’ can also be used figuratively and applied more generally.
2 Yell when a girl is trapped — troops to the rescue? (7)
A + VAL (girl) contained by [is trapped in] CRY (yell). In traditional Westerns the cavalry often arrived at the very end usually to see off the ‘Indians’.
3 Husband boarding dirty-looking boat (6)
H (husband) contained by [boarding] DINGY (dirty-looking)
4 Sir Arthur‘s great happiness (5)
Two meanings. Sir Arthur Bliss (1891 – 1975) was an English composer and conductor and Master of the Queen’s Music. Here’s his Fanfare and arrangement of the National Anthem as written for performance at the Coronation of our late Queen.
5 A rising desire to entertain brothers providing heavenly food (8)
A, then AIM (desire) reversed [rising] containing [to entertain] BROS (brothers). Glenryck pilchards followed by tinned Ambrosia rice pudding was perhaps a typical supper for some in the 1950s and 1960s when both were being promoted extensively on TV. In mythology Ambrosia  food and drink of the gods.
6 Account with something charged, a large amount (7)
BILL (account), ION (something charged)
7 Follow measures of the upper-class English (5)
ENS (printing measures), U (of the upper-class), E (English)
8 Cleaner with cluster of hair is a weedy type (8)
CHAR (cleaner), LOCK (cluster of hair). I constructed this from wordplay but the result was something I’d vaguely heard of. It’s other name is ‘wild mustard’.
15 Holiness and good sense spreading outside walls of convent (8)
SANITY (good sense) containing [spreading outside] C{onven}T [walls of…]
16 Sequences covered by organs, coming before the service, say? (9)
LINES (sequences) contained [covered] by EARS (organs). We have a DBE here signalled by both ‘say’ and a question mark.
17 Bring out record and fail to achieve success (8)
DISC (record), LOSE (fail to achieve success)
19 Work with affected type who may not cooperate? (7)
OP (work), POSER (affected type)
21 Crew of terrible moaners (7)
Anagram [terrible] of MOANERS
22 Holy person, before getting halo, must be kind of sound (6)
ST (holy person – Saint], ERE (before), O (halo – ring)
23 Items on work schedule creating fusses? (2-3)
Two meanings. To-do lists and fusses.
24 County hotel needs delivery of food first (5)
MEAT (food), H (hotel). NHO this, but then my knowledge of the geography of Ireland is somewhat restricted.

80 comments on “Times Cryptic 28400”

  1. About as easy as yesterday’s. Didn’t know CHARLOCK before, nor the Irish county, nor RAMIE, that I can recall, but all quite straightforward. The NW was last to fall, as I was thinking at first that BROGUE might be an “affectation”!

  2. 12:11. I always find it amusing when my times for main and quickie are comparable (8:10 on the quickie today).

    At first I thought this one was going to be hard — then I ran into a string of clues that I knew all the answers to and it all came open. Nevertheless, at the end I didn’t know what to make of FACADE, FROLICKING, and MEATH, but what else could they be? (Except for MEALH.)

    Glad to redeem myself after yesterday’s embarrassing DISCOMPOSE.

  3. 27 minutes. Had “string” for STEREO at 22d which held me up, but oddly enough it was the unknown RAMIE that set me right. Had forgotten CHARLOCK for which the wordplay was v. helpful, but just remembered the doubly ‘unknown’ ORYX. Still only sort of see what EARLINESS is about.

    Slow on the uptake for a few others, but with no pink squares, no DISSONANT SCREECH necessary when the completed grid was revealed.

    1. I had originally written more about EARLINESS because I didn’t think it was very satisfactory but the more I wrote the less clear I was of the point I was trying to make, so I ditched it and settled for what I’ve written above. Your comment has confirmed it wasn’t just me, and I’m wondering if we are perhaps missing something. If anyone else can make more sense of it, please feel free to say so.

      1. I didn’t care much for the clue–line=sequence seemed weak–but I parsed it as you did and can’t think of any other way.

        1. ‘Line’ has a lot of meanings, including ‘a chronological or ancestral series, esp of people a line of prime ministers’ (Collins) which seems pretty close to me.

      2. The Neurodepartmental Special Service is abbreviated to NeSS.
        Thus ‘coming before the service, say?’ is EARLI-NeSS!
        Improbable, but the setter had me fooled for a while.
        This is not, as suggested a Mephisto-ish extra words concept, but a
        very obscure clue, nontheless!

        1. Your attempt at an alternative explanation does not deal with the actual wordplay—actually obliterating it by chopping off the S of the EARS and robbing three-fifths of the LINES)—and provides no alternative wordplay for EARLI-.
          So, obscurity aside…

          1. Not so! This is a secondary, stand alone definition.
            Say (Sounds like) early (EARLI) ness (NeSS) the obscure UK service.

            1. I felt like a fool for even doing it (though it was just to prove you resoundingly wrong), but I actually Googled and found no “Neurodepartmental [strange compound!] Special Services,” and no corresponding listing for “NeSS” [strange way to acronymize that!] as an abbreviation.

              Google teased me, asking if I didn’t mean “Neuro Departmental Special Service.” Well, that would be NDSS, but sure, let me see. But Google had nothing for that either.

              If a secondary level of wordplay were wanted here, it would be quite odd to clue NESS that way, though the usual ways are a bit shopworn.

              EARLI isn’t much of a “sound-alike” for “early” since it is really the same word, with the spelling merely altered as is conventional before a suffix.

              So, no, sorry. I’m not buying it. And if you persist, I’ll pull out Occam’s Razor.

              1. Sir, you are a cad and a bounder!
                In which case I will be obliged to defend myself – uzing Hickam’s dictum! Meldrew

                1. Ha! I looked that up. Nice riposte, and apt. Can you tell me where to find the Neurodepartmental Special Services?

                  1. In Google – type in service = ness

                    My display shows a world map under which are few notes. Ignore those and count down to the seventh entry with bullet points.
                    The address is Nottinghamshirehealthcare.nhs.UK

                    On opening you will find the relevant text and even the ‘NeSS’ logo.

                    1. I went straight to the link. Not seeing it on the homepage, I searched “Special Services..”
                      It’s “Neurodevelopmental.”
                      I see the logo too. “NeSS” remains to my mind an odd way to abbreviate that, but the reason may simply be to distinguish it from another acronym, and, hey, maybe that very oddness would explain why it’s become stuck in the collective consciousness so that virtually any educated subject of the Crown stopped on the street would be familiar with this odd acronym. And so it is quite appropriate for a London Times cryptic clue.
                      If that’s the case.
                      But I have my doubts…

  4. A SCREECH is a species of owl
    Am I paranoid if I call “Fowl”?
    Our setters’ TO-DOS
    Should include “Never use
    Birds that make Astro-Nowt howl”

    1. Astro_Nowt is raising a stink
      But his RADAR must be on the blink
      If you see birds everywhere
      When there are none in the air
      I think what you need is a shrink!

  5. A fairly quick 33 minutes here, certainly quicker than yesterday for me. I could only think of two Sir Arthurs—Conan Doyle and Quiller-Couch—and I didn’t know CHARLOCK or RAMIE, either, though at least NEATH rang a bell. Still, although I seemed to be on the brink of running aground several times there was always some more accessible clue nearby to get me started off again. FOI 1a FACADE LOI 8d CHARLOCK. COD 16d EARLINESS.

  6. 29:13 – orderly solve despite quite a few unknowns. Ended up in the NW which was unlocked by DINGHY, then finally MEATH, where like PJ, I briefly considered MEALH but found it too improbable. Also wondered briefly about CHARNOCK – a word I know only from the name of a motorway service area. I used to hate the mental gymnastics involved in Spoonerism clues – but these days they’re beginning to seem like fun, and easy to bag. Thanks J and setter

  7. 18:43
    It took me a while to recall CADE–I dithered too long over CHE and WAT. DNK RAMIE, CHARLOCK–my LOI, needing an alphabet trawl to finish CHAR_.

  8. She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy Bliss,
    For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!

    25 mins mid-brekker. NHO Charlock, nor Ramie. And I too did not care for Earliness.
    Thanks setter and J.

  9. 28 min but had to cheat on 19a Still not sure I like this nor 16d which several people have commented on
    The rest I thought were ok
    NHO charlock not ramie but not too difficult to sort out

  10. 11:09. I would have been a lot quicker if I had known the word CHARLOCK. It took me an embarrassingly long time to get LOCK from ‘cluster of hair’.
    Small point but in 7dn I think ‘of the upper-class’ gives U.
    The clue for EARLINESS seems fine to me.

    1. Thanks. I agree about 17dn. ‘Upper class’ on its own would suffice but as the other words are in the clue they need to be included.

    2. EARLINESS wasn’t too hard to get, but I still can’t see what role “service” plays. No doubt I’m just being dim.

      1. It’s just a definition by example. It could as well be ‘coming before the tennis match’, or ‘class’, or ‘driving test’. The setter just chose ‘service’ because it links to the organ reference in the first half of the clue.

  11. 16 minutes with LOI EARLINESS.Like others, I didn’t know RAMIE and CHARLOCK but the cryptics were helpful. Thank you Jack and setter.

  12. 15:11. Like others I didn’t know RAMIE or CHARLOCK. I was held up most by the NW corner, taking a while to see RIVEN to unlock CAVALRY and FACADE. I didn’t care much for “coming before the service” as a definition, or the surface for 16D, for that matter, but I did like CAVALRY. Thank-you Jackkt and setter.

  13. I spent an eternity trying to manufacture a military loss that fitted the crossers for 18a. That and the several NHOs created an epic time for what was actually a straightforward and enjoyable puzzle. Thanks Jack and setter.

  14. 20:58

    Some unknowns in RAMIE and CHARLOCK.

    Wasn’t keen on EARLINESS for reasons already stated.

    Heard of County MEATH but not Jack CADE – bunged in with all three checkers.

  15. Same unknowns for me as for many others: the Cade in FACADE, RAMIE, CHARLOCK, plus ORYX. But I got there in about 20 minutes.

    FOI Ensue
    LOI Facade
    COD Cavalry

  16. The border of county MEATH is just a mile north of where I sat and solved, so I’m enjoying the perplexity of some of you. In old Ireland royal Meath was the fifth province and the seat of kings at Tara – now it barely survives as a crossword clue. How dynasties pass . . .

  17. 20 minutes and no delays with this one, only RAMIE was unknown and deduced from the wordplay. We like obscure antelopes and Irish counties (lived there for 14 years). LOI FACADE.

  18. 14.00 almost to the dot. LOI frolicking and FOI fireproof. A couple of stumbles on the way with the unknown ramie and charlock but other than that pretty consistent progress. Thought it was going to be tougher than it turned out but a very fair puzzle.
    Thx setter and blogger.

  19. 38 mins. Stuck for a while on last two, CHARLOCK and FROLICKING. Quite fun with a number of clues QCish, I thought.

    Same comment as others re EARLINESS but I suppose it’s ok.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

  20. I was held up for several minutes at the end by CHARLOCK and FROLICKING. LOCK took ages to see, then FROLICKING was obvious. Didn’t know RAMIE but the wordplay was kind. CAVALRY was FOI. 22:06. Thanks setter and Jack.

  21. Eventually I entered EARLINESS since it had to be, with the checkers and the wordplay, but I never understood it so my 20 minutes was perhaps unsound. And I still don’t. Lots of people are saying how weak the clue is, but nobody so far as I can see has really explained it. Service? Is it just that if you arrive before a church service you’re early? I always thought that a good setter made every word matter.

    1. Yes that’s all there is to it. If you come before something starts, you’re early. The setter chose service just because it links to the organs in the first half of the clue and creates a little bit of misdirection, but the DBE is clearly indicated. I can’t seen anything wrong, or even particularly unusual, in it personally.

  22. An estimated 45 minutes.
    FACADE went in without parsing as I didn’t know the rebel.
    ORYX, HOAR, RAMIE and CHARLOCK are all unknowns and got from WP. The rest were all parsed along the way.

  23. I found this even easier than yesterday’s puzzle. In the early stages I was writing in answers as I read the clues. As the rebel in 1a eluded me I switched to 1d, bunged that in immediately, and everything flowed from there. Some required pause for thought – CHARLOCK (unfamiliar), EARLINESS and a few in the bottom half of the grid.
    18 minutes.

  24. 17:47. I can’t see that FROLICKING has much to do with sporting, in any of its senses, and the relevance of service in the EARLINESS clue eluded me, but I suppose both just about pass. If I ever knew RAMIE or CHARLOCK I had forgotten them.

    1. Chambers disagrees with you on the meaning of sporting. My dictionary confirms that one of the meanings of sport is frolic.

      1. Thanks. I looked up frolic and couldn’t see anything about sport but I neglected to look it up the other way round. Nevertheless, I am still not sure how the equivalence would work in practice.

  25. This was as easy as the QC was tough. My time recorded as 33.40 which was swift for me, but this included a few moments where I dropped off! The same as some others regarding the unheard of CHARLOCK and RAMIE but trusted the word play. As an England football supporter, METATARSI wasn’t a problem as our star players seem to regularly fracture them just prior to the World Cup. Don’t go in for too many fifty-fifties before Novembers World Cup Harry Kane. 🤞

  26. FIREPROOF proved pretty nigh indestructible, slowing me down horribly in the NW. Finally finished after an hour, but should have been more like 25 mins. Agree that FROLICKING isn’t the first thing that ‘sporting’ (fairness? chivalry? actual, you know, sport?) brings to mind. I suppose it’s meant to evoke the sport of Montaigne’s cat, but even that doesn’t really work.

    1. As an intransitive verb: playing around, sporting, frolicking. Second meaning in Chambers under sport: to frolic.
      Though it was my LOI with a bit of an alphabet trawl – the K looks out of place.

  27. 8:17, pausing in all the places where lots of other people had paused before me, wondering vaguely what sort of service we were talking about, and concluding it didn’t seem to matter, assembling the unknown RAMIE from wordplay etc.

  28. 40 mins to fail in SE corner where ‘string’ (Saint before ring), and I thought of orchestral section, went in for STEREO and from which I would not be budged because NHO RAMIE and biffed ‘agents’ over COUNTS.

    Getting slowly closer to more frequent solves of the biggie although the pace is glacial and the brain power required is frazzling.

    Thanks for the blog Jackkt, it is much appreciated

  29. I’ve been off the radar for a week, but glad to be back. My time of 41 minutes was nowt to write home about, but l did finally sort out 16dn, for the assembled!

    FOI 3dn DINGHY
    LOI 26ac RAMIE – Chinese nettles!?
    COD 16dn EARLINESS see my explanation above.

    1. A lot has been said about EARLINESS but I find myself still in the do-not-understand camp. Your comment here and your note above suggest there is more here than just a weak clue. If that’s right, I am too thick to see it. If it is right, could you give us a note below to explain your note above?

      1. Dear kapeitro, but of course, please check it out online at:-
        It is not a matter of being thick, but is simply deliberate obscurity.

        1. I really don’t think you need to go there to make sense of the clue. It’s as simple as can be.

          1. Sandy, there were a host of people, including our esteemed blogger, asking for further enlightenment, were there not? I was, in all good faith, simply trying to explain the obscure last element of the clue. Could we possibly hear from the setter?

            1. I initially wondered if it could really be as simple as it is, so maybe that is where the mystification came from. But I don’t see anything mysterious about it now.

              What I can’t explain is what you meant by your comment below re “Dr. Phil a.c.,” though I won’t me creuser les méninges over it.

              1. Erm…..this is a direct response to MichelinPoitiers penultimate line
                ‘If that’s not affectation, then I’m a frolicking pilchard.’
                Taking frolicking as the anagram indicator, then ‘Dr. Phil a.c.’ is an anagram of pilchard.

            2. I thought EARLINESS was pretty obviously a reference to the Earl of Arline, who was a major patron of early research into DNA sequencing. Can’t understand all the confusion

  30. No silly one letter errors today. All correct. I had to check RAMIE and CHARLOCK in the dictionary- but wordplay was clear. At 1a I was looking at a new word- FACHES- as Guevara seems to be a more frequent rebel than CADE.
    18a and 22d were my last two in.
    Thank you for the blog and thank you Setter.

  31. 14:48
    I struggled with this at first, only getting ORYX on the first pass of the across clues, but then sailed through the downs and finished quickly, trusting the clues for RAMIE and CHARLOCK. EARLIENESS does seem a little strange.

    At the first performance of Edith Sitwell’s FAÇADE, she recited her poetry through a megaphone from behind a decorated screen. If that’s not affectation, I’m a frolicking pilchard.

    Thaks to Jack and the setter.

  32. Pleased to finish.

    Thorns on brambles are nothing compared to the scarlet firethorn which are poking through the metal railings in our new house, vicious.
    LOI stereo.
    COD Oarsmen.

  33. Interesting comparing start and end points. I started with MEATH as I often read the clues at the bottom of the page first. Then ON ICE. I finished with STEREO which confirmed that RAMIE had to be right. I was aware other butters might be available.
    A fun puzzle which did not take me too long

  34. Always delighted to finish. Various interruptions so didn’t time myself.
    Knew charlock ( my favourite book as a child was ‘ The Observer book of wild flowers ‘ 🥱) and I’m sure that I’ve bought clothes made from ramie ( a linen lookalike ).
    On the wavelength today. An uplift after the events of yesterday .
    Wasn’t able to get my paper yesterday either.
    Thank you as always to blogger, setter and contributors.

  35. All correct, with the same MER at EARLINESS, and the same unknowns got from the wordplay. I don’t think I have anything to add to what has already been said.

  36. 24 mins. Had to look up CADE and RAMIE before submitting. Not sure what all the fuss was about EARLINESS.

  37. And yet still we lick ourselves, as the cat in Stuart Little says after coughing up his fifth hairball. Good film if you have kidlets. Hugh Laurie breaking into the US market. 16’44” but judging from comments and scores that should have been quicker.

  38. May I present a better clue?
    Listening device attached to female duck is not in advanced state (9)

  39. I’d never seen DISS – though I find it’s in both Chambers and Collins (not OED) – just DIS, since it is short for disrespect.

  40. 20.27. I think I made harder work of this than was necessary. Charlock and ramie unknown of course and perhaps spent too long looking at earliness trying to see something that wasn’t there.

  41. Like IonaJ, was unable to get the crossword yesterday ( no reason given), so was raring to go today! And, like others, found it looking impenetrable on first pass, but the down clues got me started as I realised some clues at least were accessible. I think OARSMEN went in first, which confirmed HOAR, and things – apart from PILCHARDS andFROLICKING – went smoothly after that. Like others, NHO RAMIE, CHARLOCK or MEATH, but fair enough to guess, but EARLINESS just didn’t present itself! ( I think my ability to complete the TftT has declined with my advancing years, at the same rate!😩)

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