Times Cryptic 28406


Solving time: 21 minutes


What a contrast with the puzzle I blogged last Friday! I needed over an hour more than today for that one. There were a few bits of possibly obscure GK required here but fortunately I knew them, and the words or meanings that were less than familiar didn’t prevent me getting to the answers quickly by other means.

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 Russian reformer disheartened monk disturbed by even his reforming (9)
Anagram [disturbed] of M{on}K [disheartened] EVEN HIS.  This went straight in so I was off to a flying start.

Revision: M{on}K [disheartened] contains [disturbed by] anagram [reforming] of EVEN HIS.  Thanks to keriothe for pointing out my error in parsing. I had it as two anagrams (which on reflection doesn’t quite work) not helped by my original version omitting the second anagram indicator [reforming] that I’d indicated on my print-out.   

9 Northern Ireland set originally labelling a flowering plant (7)
NI (Northern Ireland), GEL (set), L{abelling} [originally], A. A member of the buttercup family. I knew of the cook before I heard of the plant.
10 Diving duck observed by narrow promontory (7)
SAW (observed), BILL (narrow promontory e.g. Portland Bill in Dorset). Only vaguely knew of the bird but the wordplay got me to it quickly.
11 Hindu god featuring in Poussin drawing (5)
Hidden [featuring]in {Pouss}IN DRA{wing}. King of the Gods. Unknown to me but served up on a plate.
12 Eccentric having dance with prison officer (9)
SCREW (prison officer), BALL (dance). I’ve learned to avoid any film with the tag ‘screwball comedy’.
13 Joke framed by English chap promised in marriage (7)
GAG (joke) contained [framed] by E (English) + NED (chap)
15 Stubborn American soldier in Republican papers (5)
GI (American soldier ) contained by [in] R (Republican) + ID (identity papers)
17 Society journalist’s roughly-built hut (5)
S (society), HACK (journalist). Steady, Guy, ‘hack’ isn’t necessarily derogatory here and many writers are not averse to using it of themselves.
18 Spanish gentleman’s sister taking in opera company (5)
SR (sister) containing [taking in] ENO (opera company – English National Opera)
19 Open to view? About time (5)
OVER (about ), T (time). For example ‘They fell out over/about nothing’.
20 Own American writer’s story, primarily about steamship (7)
POE’S (American writer’s) + S{tory}[primarily] containing [about] SS (steamship)
23 Musical bloke retired, recalling memories (9)
EVITA (musical) + COVE (bloke) reversed [retired]
25 Serf’s fate attending governor (5)
HE (governor – His Excellency), LOT (fate). Dating back to Sparta and beyond.
27 Entering the lumberjack’s trade (7)
Two meanings
28 Daydream, one entertained by night rider (7)
I (one) contained [entertained] by REVERE (night rider). You can read about Paul Revere’s ‘Midnight Ride’ here if you wish.
29 Flipping snare by bridle path trapping tail of passing bird (9)
TRAP (snare) reversed (flipping), then RIDE (bridle path) containing [trapping] {passin}G [tail]. A bridle path (aka bridle road, bridleway) is a thoroughfare fit for riders but not vehicles. They tend to be in the country and are often ancient rights of way. I have one a few yards from my front door.
1 Ponder about island’s improper treatment (6)
MUSE (ponder) containing [about] IS (island)
2 Principally where one learns about the home of trad? (3,7)
Anagram [about] of W{here} [principally] ONE LEARNS. Indeed the home of traditional jazz. Here’s a sample from Sam Morgan’s band recorded there in 1927. Nice pics of the old city too. It takes a few seconds for the music to start. 
3 Musical composition — or craft involving thatch? (8)
HAIR (another musical), WORK (composition). I never heard of this but Collins defines it as the art of producing articles made of hair, or the articles themselves. ‘Thatch’ is used sometimes humorously to mean one’s hair.
4 Country house Liberals displayed in the Italian way (5)
L+L (Liberals) contained by [displayed in] VIA (Italian way – road)
5 Long week finally occupied randomly learning (9)
Anagram [randomly] of LONG WEEK {occupie}D (finally]
6 A drink good for arresting one’s final degeneration (6)
A, GIN (drink) + G (good) containing [arresting[ {on}E [final]
7 Make slow progress, being lazy at first in school (4)
L{azy} [at first] contained by [in] POD (school e.g. of whales or seals)
8 Plunderer’s damage poet briefly repaired to begin with (8)
MAR (damage), AUDE{n} (poet – Wystan Hugh) [briefly], R{epaired} [to begin with]
14 Broadcast refined git upgraded for the nobs (10)
Anagram [broadcast] of REFINED GIT
16 March past village shop at last, holding up tailors’ irons (5-4)
GOOSES (tailors’ irons), {pas}T + {villag}E + {sho}P [at last]. I knew about the tailors’ goose from researching another clue a few months ago. SOED defines it as a tailor’s smoothing iron (so called from the resemblance of the handle to a goose’s neck), and helpfully confirms that its plural is ‘gooses’ rather than ‘geese’.
17 Download maybe welcomed by county, a gem! (8)
APP (download maybe) contained [welcomed] by SHIRE (county)
18 Rum initially reviving unfamiliar caller, perhaps (8)
STRANGE (rum), R{eviving} [initially]. Another escapee from the QC perhaps.
21 Restaurant serving each man or woman right away (6)
EA (each), TER{r}Y (man or woman) [right away]
22 Member inspiring a posh English sporting association (6)
LEG (member) containing [inspiring] A, then U (posh), E (English)
24 Tanker’s heating device with top blown off (5)
{b}OILER (heating device) [top blown off]
26 Ultimately successful climber, a chronicler of Roman history (4)
{successfu}L [ultimately], IVY (climber). Real name ‘Titus Livius’ but ‘Livy’ is the Anglicised version.

93 comments on “Times Cryptic 28406”

  1. 12:12
    About as easy as they come outside the QC. I wasn’t sure about the parse of SENOR, but finally thought of ENO, which seemed vaguely familiar; and anyway it had to be SENOR. Biffed GOOSE-STEP, parsed post-submission. DNK the topographical BILL, NHO HAIRWORK, but as Vinyl said.

  2. Yeah, smooth sailing! (And I’ve long been accustomed now to this use of HACK, Jackkt, but I appreciate the mention.) LOI HAIRWORK. I had no idea about the tailor’s irons, but didn’t stop to think about it.

    1. Well time flies as one ages but it seems only a few months ago that you wrote about it in no uncertain terms and there was some discussion about its usage on opposite sides of the pond. But perhaps it was much longer ago than I have remembered.

      1. I may have joked about it more recently, en passant, but I feel quite sure it’s been quite some time since I engaged in any more lengthy discussion about it. Any later comment may have stirred the embers and reawakened that memory. But even if it has been only a matter of several months, that’s how many puzzles? And among them, how many “hack”s?

        I’m fairly sure, though, that it’s been longer than that… This morning, a longtime regular contributor to the magazine submitted something that was virtually identical to an earlier, and quite recent, contribution, and I had to gently inform him…  But I remembered the earlier piece as having appeared in the most recent issue, or the one just before, while it turned out to have been published in mid-May, for an early-June issue date.

        1. It turns out to have been much longer ago than I thought – 31 March 2020 #27626 – and it’s really scary how time has flown by since then! The conversation and points made are not quite as I remembered them either.

      2. ‘Hack’ is undoubtedly derogatory though. Journalists use it in reference to themselves ironically.

      3. My favourite is CS Lewis’s description of journalists as ‘those having an air of being experts in everything.’

    2. 25 mins for a straightforward solve
      NHO hairwork or Menshevik but both were easy to guess when the other clues were solved

  3. 27m 11s
    I echo both vinyl1 and Kevin about the lack of difficulty here.
    My only query was on GOOSE STEP. I didn’t know about tailors’ irons.
    With 1d I toyed with ‘misull’ for a nanosecond….
    You must have been glad of an easy ride after last Friday, Jack!

  4. This was a Monday on a Tuesday, as has happened a few times recently. It should bring a few competent QCers into play! My time was a nifty 18 minutes.

    FOI 11ac INDRA – the name of my old chum and highly awarded writer Indra Sinha, who now resides in France.
    COD 16dn GOOSE-STEP –
    WOD 1ac MENSHEVIK – proper menshes!

    At 7dn the ‘Plod’ is yet another underworld pejorative name for the ‘Rozzers’, the ‘Old Bill’, the ‘Filth’, The ‘Fuzz’ etc, in the UK. Constable Plod was the ‘Copper’ in Enid Blyton’s beloved ‘Noddy’ books, which are all banned from UK libraries. Copies are only available on eBay.

    1. Amazon.uk currently offer a set of 10 Noddy in Toyland books with the description : “As Per Original ISBN and Cover Image”, but some reviewers report that whole swathes of text have been omitted or rewritten and pictures have been changed to omit certain characters.

    2. Which supreme authority has ‘banned’ these books from UK libraries? I’m not aware of any official censor these days and the Noddy books don’t fall foul of the Obscene Publications Act. For reasons of taste, I accept that public libraries may have removed them as well as some of Blyton’s other books, but I doubt very much that they are banned, and I’m sure the British Library will have a copy if you really need to see one.

  5. Yup. QC-er here, done in 42:56, with LOI HELOT.

    NHO MENSHEVIK so inserted vowels to rhyme with Bolshevik, which worked. Was originally thinking of an individual.


  6. 25 minutes. Sluggish, but at least everything was parsed, including just being able to remember the ‘tailors’ irons’. Whenever I see HACK for ‘journalist’ I think of Sandy Longford from “Frost” – great character.

    The only SCREWBALL comedy I remember liking (admittedly a long time ago) was the Peter Bogdanovich film “What’s Up, Doc?”.

  7. One wrong in 13:42. Menchevik for Menshevik. Silly of me not to check the anagram letters.

    Nice to see a regular here getting a mention at 10 across.

    COD. KNOWLEDGE. I was looking for an anagram of K and learning with the definition being “long”.

  8. A snappy 18 minutes here, despite knowing neither MENSHEVIK nor HAIRWORK. I did wonder whether this was going to be a lot harder than it was when it started out with those two clues crossing, but everything else seemed quite straightforward and gave me enough crossers to sort them out. It’s quite rare that I have coffee left over at the end of a puzzle…

  9. Another QC-er here, delighted to have got all but SAWBILL and HAIRWORK in under 30 minutes, by far my best ever effort at a 15×15. Many thanks to those who posted in the QC blog that this was on the easy end of the spectrum.

  10. Then disturbing my calm REVERIE
    Comes this Big Birdy Bastard, I see
    Just one bird makes me sad
    Spotting two makes me mad
    And it’s utterly pants to find three

  11. 19 minutes with LOI AGEING. I didn’t know the tailors’ irons or that NIGELLA was also a plant, but there was little alternative. Otherwise, regular fare.
    Thank you Jack and setter.

  12. Started off by successfully descrambling MENSHEVIK despite not knowing the word, and mostly a merry romp through the grid with the SW holding out longest. Paul Revere’s horse-riding known only from his Bobness (BW copyright acknowledged) and a few incompletely parsed – notably POI GOOSE-STEP and finally OVERT. 19:09 – thanks J and setter

  13. No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
    Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
    Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.

    25 mins mid-brekker becoming increasingly cross. I cannot believe the editor has allowed this to go on for so long – the start/end indicator fiend, again.
    I count 12. Originally, primarily, tail of, principally, finally, final, first, begin with, at last, initially, top blowing, ultimately.
    I know Sawbill and I usually moan about this. Maybe that is why he got a shout out today.
    Thanks setter and J

  14. 13:44. I am in a minority of solvers who thought this wasn’t particularly easy. Not particularly hard either, but it did give me pause for thought a few times. Maybe I was off the wavelength as for my LOI, HAIRWORK, I thought the definition was “musical composition” and “craft involving thatch” was a humorous double definition. My POI was SAWBILL, and though I knew of Portland Bill and Selsey Bill I never thought what a bill was until now.
    Whilst I don’t know what a NIGELLA plant looks like I’m familiar with its seeds. They are the little black ones you find on nan bread.

  15. Two biffs too far for me: I guessed SAWTAIL which led to HEADWORK, which I shoehorned into the definition ‘musical composition’. Spoiled a very fast time, though with the number of biffs it was rather lacking in nutritional value for me.

  16. 6:56. No problems. HAIRWORK the only unknown but the wordplay was clear and the checkers particularly helpful.
    I think in 1ac MK (disheartened monk) is ‘disturbed’ – split up – by an anagram of EVEN HIS. ‘Reforming’ is the anagram indicator and otherwise unaccounted for in the wordplay.

    1. That’s surely how 1a works, and how I got it.
      I confess to usually skipping bloggers’ parsings (though I read their further remarks) unless I (am aware that I) didn’t get something.

    2. Thanks, k, and I have amended the entry. I had actually taken this as two anagrams indicated by ‘disturbed’ and ‘reforming’ but then omitted to mention ‘reforming’ in my parsing. However I see now this doesn’t work.

  17. Exactly the same time as our blogger. Very Mondayish as has been mentioned. I enjoyed it though. SAWBILL will be pleased, I’m sure, at getting a shout. Mrs R uses NIGELLA seeds in her spicy biscuits, so no probs there. MENSHEVIKS also worked out by thinking of Bolsheviks.

    You just can’t help thinking of A-N when you see a crossword like this, and sure enough…..

    Thanks Jackkt and setter.

    1. I solved this sitting in a riad in Marrakech. I went through Smew, Scaup and Scoter before the penny dropped. Doh!

  18. 8:32. Another who didn’t know the tailors’ irons and I hadn’t heard of HAIRWORKS before, but it had to be once I realised I had to split “musical composition”. Thanks jackkt and setter.

  19. 14 minutes or so. Didn’t know about tailors’ gooses or Paul Revere, but GOOSE STEP and REVERIE were clear enough. INDRA and HELOT, my other not-sure-ofs, were helpfully clued too.

    FOI Villa
    LOI Reverie
    COD Evocative

  20. 22:03
    Middling sort of puzzle, I thought. Slight reservation about 1ac – the usual issue. But got through it with no dramas.
    Thanks, jack.

  21. Didn’t find that easy but only really struggled on menshevik, hairworth, and goosestep.

    COD Nigella, looking forward to the Christmas specials!

  22. It’s Monday! A new PB for me in 10 minutes, with only HAIRWORK getting a “must be” MER. I can’t write them in any faster, I don’t know how the speed merchants can do it in half that time.

  23. One or two unknowns which had to be. My time of 28 minutes was I thought quite good until I saw how many of the people who are usually around the same time as me did far better. Was vaguely aware of the ends indications as I went along, but when Myrtilus pointed out how they were overdone I agreed — one could add ‘disheartened’ in 1ac. I suppose one advantage for the solver is that it all becomes a bit easier. If indeed that is an advantage; I’m sure Verlaine doesn’t think it is.

  24. Brain was slow to get in gear this morning but got there in the end at 14.55. Part of the trouble was that I thought 5d was an anagram of LEARNINGK and “long” was the definition. Did the MENSHEVIKs dishearten Rasputin? HAIRWORK reminded me that the Victorians had odd tastes in jewelry. Somewhere stashed away I’ve got a “mourning brooch” with a lock of the deceased’s hair coiled in the back – I don’t know who in the family it belonged to.

  25. 7:15 The KC took me only 2 mins less and my time easily beaten by many. MENSHEVIK had to wait for enough crossers to render it biffable, NHO gooses and interesting to know that that is the correct plural form (why, I wonder when the birds are geese? Bit like MONgooses, I suppose). Too many initials/finals and disapprove of “chap” for NED, and “man or woman” for TERRY, as just too many possibilities. But minor grumbles in a gentle romp. Thx to blogger and setter.

  26. 11 minutes so much more like a Monday puzzle for me. I expect I’ll find that replicated in other contributors comments when I take a look. Thx setter and blogger .

  27. Only managed to eat one round of toast before I realised I’d finished this one. Couldn’t parse 16D as I’ve never heard of Gooses nor actually used an iron. Still living in cheesecloth and linen from 1976.

    1. As Bing Crosby so famously replied to Frank Sinatra in High Society: “you must be one of the newer fellas”.( in my experience it is the under 40s who’ve never used an iron!) On the other hand, your mention of cheesecloth would seem to counter that…my favourite gear too, going back a bit.

  28. Thanks for the heads up that this was on the easier side Jack because I approached this with a positive attitude. The result was that I comfortably achieved my best ever time of 12.18, beating my previous best by nearly two minutes.
    I had my fingers crossed for MENSHEVIK (never heard of him) particularly as I so often choose the wrong order of letters in an anagram, and I wasn’t sure about HAIRWORK. COD definitely goes to GENTRIFIED for me which I thought was brilliant.

    1. Menshevik isn’t so much a “him” as a “them” – as others have observed they were one of the groups of Russian socialist revolutionaries in 1917, alongside the better known Bolsheviks. But it does rather look as though our setter shares your view that it is the name of an individual!


      1. Any particular member of the group was, indeed, a Menshevik, and the clue implies nothing else.

  29. V straightforward today, as most have noted. Nothing particularly clever or satisfying, but I enjoyed ‘night rider’ for Paul Revere.

  30. 08:39, never quite hit top gear, but still quite Monday-ish. That said, I had to stop and think about HAIRWORK, which is a new one on me. Fortunately, if you watch TV sports channels as much as I do, you find yourself seeing a lot of adverts in which sportsmen of a certain age flog their various hair replacement clinics, and inevitably their appearances in the commentary box involve words like “thatch” appearing regularly.

  31. 6m 35s, all rather straightforward, even if I’d NHO MENSHEVIK. 13a a particular escapee from the QC, given the definition.

  32. MENSHEVIK was unknown, and a late entry as I waited for crossers to aid the decryption. MISUSE got me off the mark. HAIRWORK was another unknown deduced from wordplay. Lots of answers dropped in and then parsed. 17:17. Thanks setter and Jack.

  33. Rocking horse poop sub 10 for me.

    Pretty easy, but NHO HAIRWORK, like everyone else it seems!


  34. 12′ 08″, was busy this morning.

    Staggered by many having nho MENSHEVIK – written out of history on all sides? It means ‘minority’ as opposed to Bolshevik, which means ‘majority’.

    Thanks jack and setter.

    1. From Britannica.com:
      Menshevik, (Russian: “One of the Minority”) plural Mensheviks or Mensheviki, member of the non-Leninist wing of the Russian Social-Democratic Workers’ Party, which evolved into a separate organization.
      As far as I can see the setter thinks that Menshevik is a person.
      Alternatively the DEFINITION should simply be “Russian,” which works.
      As far as I remember they suffered bad fates after the 1917 revolution.

      1. You may be drawing a very fine distinction here, Andy, that’s beyond my ken, but we all (I think) understand that in political terms a Bolshevik is/was a supporter of a particular political faction, so therefore similarly a Menshevik was a supporter of a different one. In that context a Menshevik is or was a person.

        SOED defines Menshevik as: A member of a minority faction of the Russian Social Democratic Party who opposed the Bolshevik policy of non-cooperation with other opponents of the tsarist regime and violent revolutionary action by a small political elite

        1. When reading about the founding of the USSR, I decided that if I had been a Russian revolutionary (and if I had been in Russia at that time, that’s a likely supposition), I would have been a Menshevik (some of my comrades will be shocked!), rather than a Bolshevik… because I tend to oppose violent insurrections.

  35. 18.20. Very Quick Crosswordish – apart from the unknown GOOSES and HAIRWORK. Fast even fat-fingering my way round an iPhone keyboard.

  36. 14:58

    Biff fest for me.

    MENSHEVIK recalled from Russian O Level forty years ago.
    GOOSE STEP – didn’t know the reference to tailors’ irons but bunged in anyway.
    HELOT, LIVY from checkers.

    Suspect would’ve shaved a few mins off if on laptop rather than phone while walking around Lancaster.

  37. 25 minutes, exactly the same time as I spent on the QC., though had to come to the blog for some of the parsing. Enjoyed the easy ride. Hairwork held me up momentarily. Certainly NHO and, I think, never seen.

  38. Another interloper from QC-land, sent over here on advice from others who deemed the puzzle doable today. And I am happy to report a rare completion, in just over 30 minutes. Not all parsed though – NHO Hairwork, and did not see how Eatery, Evocative or Goose-step worked. But all three getable from checkers and the definitions thankfully. Eatery in particular stumped me, and having seen that one was meant to find a random name and then take a letter out of it I can see why! I shall return to QC-land in awe of those who solve such clues without breaking sweat.

    Many thanks to Jack for the blog

  39. Just nudged and nurdled my way through this with a couple of biffs for good measure, so nothing to add.

    COD SAWBILL (David Jarvis rules OK)
    TIME 7:47

  40. After an appallingly slow QC in 22.30, and seeing some comments in the other blog suggesting that the 15×15 was easier than the QC today, I was trying to see if I could could complete this more quickly, and amazed myself by doing so with a minute to spare.

    A few put in without parsing -NHO the tailor’s irons. Thanks for the explanation.

  41. 8:29 this afternoon. Just back from a week’s cooking holiday with Mrs P, in Treviso – not far from Venice. Quite busy just now catching up on mundane things at home, so welcomed the chance to have a bash at a low SNITCH puzzle today.
    Luckily my GK was up to the various challenges (e.g. 1 ac “Menshevik” and 25 ac “helot”) and where it wasn’t, the generous wordplay left little room for doubt (e.g. 10 ac “sawbill” and 11 ac “indra” )
    COD 17 d “sapphire” and also liked 16 d “goose step”. Also amused to see that gentrified is an anagram of refined git.
    Thanks to Jack and setter

  42. All fairly straightforward for me, although I did have to ponder EVOCATIVE for a very long time. I also had to check the Russian reformer, after deciding where the vowels went, and the serf.
    All in all a pleasant puzzle. Thank you for explaining it, and thank you setter.

  43. Jerry’s avatar was in Monday’s puzzle. Sawbill was in today’s. Who is on tap for tomorrow? Nothing else to say which hasn’t been said above. thx, jack

  44. MENSHEVIK first one in, useful knowledge from O level history! Never heard of tailors’ irons as gooses, but GOOSE-STEPS went in effortlessly. Never heard of HAIRWORK, but again it slipped in easily enough. 28 minutes in all.

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