Times Cryptic 28454

Solving time: 29 minutes


Once again I took a while to get a foothold but the author at 1ac was amongst my first two or three answers and that helped enormously. There were some tricky things along the way but many easy answers and I was pleased to complete the grid within my target half-hour if only by a whisker. I was completely bamboozled by the unknown word at 15dn until all of its checkers were in place.

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 Writer honest about better books on race (6,6)
TRUE (honest) containing [about] MAN (human race) + CAP (better) + OT (books – Old Testament)
8 Bush supporter left, decorated with medal? (7)
BRA (supporter), then L (left) contained by [decorated with] MBE (medal – Member of the Order of the British Empire). Bramble is another name for blackberry bush.
9 Policy changed to invest millions — for such athletes? (7)
Anagram [changed] of POLICY containing [to invest] M (millions)
11 Consequence of complete change of attitude, giving up salt (7)
{ab}OUT TURN (complete change of attitude) [giving up salt – Able Seaman]
12 Made use of, as graffiti-covered wall has been (5,2)
A straight definition and a cryptic hint
13 Raced with vigour round back of course (5)
HARD (with vigour) containing [round] {cours}E [back of…]
14 Name Australopithecus, for example, one not quite a success (6,3)
N (name),  EARLY MAN (Australopithecus, for example). SOED: A person who is relatively successful but never quite reaches the top of his profession or wins the ultimate prize.
16 Prepared toast, free sample (9)
Anagram [prepared] of TOAST FREE
19 In no end of bother, compiler is in a rage (5)
ME (compiler) contained by [in] FUS{s} (bother) [no end]
21 These for clearing rubbish? Writer put back a lot (3-4)
NIB (writer) reversed [put back], BAGS (a lot)
23 One poor port returned to (4-3)
HAVEN (port), then TO reversed [returned]
24 At end of day, covering sign of tiredness (7)
{da}Y [end], AWNING (covering)
25 Part of Mexico coast ruined with a British incursion (7)
Anagram [ruined] of COAST containing [with…incursion] A + B (British)
26 Actor I run into oddly after short glitch in play (6,6)
BLI{p} (glitch) [short], THESP (actor – thespian), I, R (run), I{n}T{o} [oddly]. A famous play by Noël Coward.
1 Vehicle’s trail almost going over hill (7)
TRAC{k} (trail) [almost], TOR (hill)
2 Like Shelley’s Prometheus   in loose-leaf form (7)
Two meanings, the first with reference to Shelley’s lyrical drama Prometheus Unbound (1820)
3 A writer succeeded, welcoming all the Muses in range (9)
A, PEN (writer) + S (succeeded) containing [welcoming] NINE (all the Muses)
4 Host exulted, exuding energy (5)
CROW{e}D (exulted) [exuding energy]
5 This denies access always when initially entering the cloud (7)
AY (always) + W{hen} [initially] contained by [entering] PALL (cloud of smoke)
6 In Nine Elms, say, boy drops round sum of money (7)
TOM (boy) contains [drops round] PONY (sum of money – £25). A place name derived from a topographical or other feature of the place. Nine Elms is a district within the London Borough of Wandsworth, home to the New Covent Garden Market which relocated there in 1974.
7 Fine Irish lad, and what cannibal might make of him? (1,5,2,1,3)
An Irish expression I’d vaguely heard of. The cryptic hint may have been more helpful to those who hadn’t.
10 The ultimate church promotion, about removing one’s identity as it were? (12)
C (about), ANON-ISATION (removing one’s identity as it were). Dear me!
15 A very up-to-date record about people who ruled Egypt (9)
A + HOT (very up-to-date) + EP (record) containing [about] MEN (people). There were four Pharaohs of this name. I didn’t know this and constructed the unlikely-looking answer from wordplay and checkers, only to be amazed later when I found it was correct!
17 Overhaul Descartes for one, reversing axiom (7)
RENÉ (Descartes) for one, then LAW (axiom) [reversing]
18 No revolutionary dresses in identical shirts (7)
SARIS (dresses) contained by [in] T+T (identical shirts)
19 If brave crashing such a gate? (4-3)
Anagram [crashing] of IF BRAVE. Fortunately I’d heard of a five-bar gate, though why five-bar rather than four or six or any other number remains a mystery to me. It’s easy enough to find examples of its usage by Googling but Chambers is the only one of the usual dictionaries to list it.
20 Objects to alien ways of thinking (4-3)
MINDS (objects to), ET (alien)
22 Carry straight on undressing house guest (5)
{hou}SE GUE{st} [undressing]

61 comments on “Times Cryptic 28454”

  1. I hadn’t heard of FIVE-BAR GATE, so I looked it up. Cambridge (first Google result) says it is “a wide gate consisting of five horizontal bars and usually one or two bars going from corner to corner.” Also “FIVE-BARred gate.” I got AMENHOTEP from the crossers and forgot to parse. Like BLITHE SPIRIT. I saw the 1948 movie version years ago on public TV. The title comes, of course, from Shelley’s (is there a theme here?) “To a Skylark,” with its preposterous apostrophe, “bird thou never wert!”—as if that would be an inferior status.

    The clue to SEGUE posed no problem, but if you think about it, solving involves disrobing the answer, SEGUE, rather than the word containing the letters to the left and right that it is wearing. I think that usually it’s only the first and last letters of a word that are stripped when it is “uncovered,” “naked” or anything synonymous.

    1. I agree the clue to SEGUE is odd as it ought to be classed as a hidden word but I can’t think of any way to interpret ‘undressing’ to indicate that. Which leaves us with deletions – unsatisfactory for the reasons you have pointed out. But the answer is obvious so perhaps it’s best just to bung it in and move on.

      1. I don’t see the problem. ‘undressing’ could apply to either ‘segue’ or ‘house guest’ and in this case it’s obviously the latter that is being treated, in a perfectly conventional way so far as I can see.

    2. Oh deary, oh deary, oh dear
      I’ve misjudged this Tuesday, I fear
      The grid’s avian-free
      And that’s alright by me
      Then I find one is lurking in here

  2. 34 minutes. Fortunately I remembered A BROTH OF A BOY from an appearance in The Guardian last month; it’s also the title of a film that might be worth a look. I knew AMENHOTEP as the name of a Pharaoh, but wasn’t aware there was more than one.

    NHO ‘Nine Elms’ as a place so TOPONYM went in from wordplay. Being stuck on U TURN as a ‘complete change of attitude’ I missed the parsing of OUTTURN. I liked the possible comment as clue for OLYMPIC and the corny ANON-ISATION at 10d.

  3. Slight holdup on bramble (we haven’t had “supporter” for years) needed for the NHO broth, then another minute for LOI TSARIST. Otherwise no problems, steady solve. Was going to say we had Amenhotep recently, but it was 4 years ago, and Saturday so not everyone sees it. I knew it vaguely from Egypt docos, and I think the Amen bit optionally transliterated Amun is the same as the ending of Tutenkamun? Not sure. Wikipedia suggests Tut’s dad was Amenhotep IV.
    Lots of good clues but no real standout.

    1. Thanks for checking the previous appearance of AMENTHOTEP and I note I reported that puzzle as a DNF because I needed to look it up. Obviously it didn’t stick, but I take some consolation from managing to work it out this time.

  4. 37m 43s
    Another enjoyable puzzle and one that required the sort of level of GK that is necessary for The Times. Thank you, Jack, especially for OUTTURN.
    If you want another example of FIVE BAR in use, Jack, here’s one I heard once while dining in a Cotswolds hotel sometime in the 90s. A couple in their 60s, I would say, were a couple of tables away. The woman, a Hyacinth ‘Bouquet’-type was obviously not best pleased. She said several times that for the same money they could have gone to ‘The Holy Land’. Eventually, the man, a florid farmer type with a West Country accent, got a word in and said: “Well, all I want to do is lean over a FIVE-BAR gate and look at some sheep”!
    ‘ANON-ISATION’? Dreadful!
    NEARLY MAN? Michael Heseltine.

    1. Thanks for the anecdote. It occurs to me that there must be some advantage, perhaps something scientific, to having 5 bars in a gate rather than 4 or 6 or any other number. Why else would 5 appear to be the standard and the only number (as far as I’m aware) to be specificied, assimilated into the language and recorded in some dictionaries.

      1. Good point, Jack. I wonder if the folks who run the Weald & Downland Living Museum in Sussex -where The Repair Shop is filmed- might know?

      2. I reckon a sheep could squeeze through a four bar gate or the required height, and if five’s enough why waste wood on a sixth?

  5. Sluggish start to this one, FOI FORETASTE and moving mainly from bottom half to top, three of the 12-char solutions + BROTH were very late to arrive. Eventually got some top-half momentum after biffing TRUMAN C then steadily through to a relieved completion, with finishing sequence BLITHE SPIRIT (another biff), AMENHOTEP from the cryptic, and LOI TSARIST…

    …but disappointment lay in wait, I had TAPONYM at 6d – “boy *drops* round” gave me a reversed MAT. On reflection, the correct word was not entirely unknown to me (have often have I said that?). 36m fail – thanks Jack and setter.

  6. about 25′, I’d say, done over lunch
    NHO FIVE-BAR. Biffed a couple. Luckily we had (new to me) NEARLY MAN recently. AMENHOTEP no problem. I didn’t see a problem with SEGUE, and I’m not sure I do now. ‘Some house guest’ , or ‘Some Scouse guest’ for that matter, or ‘some louse guessed’, could all indicate that SEGUE was lurking inside; why not ‘undressing house guest’? Then again, as someone who is totally inept at hidden clues, I shouldn’t be talking about one.

    1. I think the point is that HOUSEGUEST is SEGUE dressed in HOUST, so the thing that is being undressed when you remove the latter is necessarily the former.

  7. Far from the madding Crowd’s ignoble strife,
    Their sober wishes never learn’d to stray; …

    After 25 mins I was left with two – deciding whether they were AmenHITep or HOTep. Clearly Hot. And how to explain Tradist. Clearly not.
    Thanks setter and J.

  8. 18:26. I was a bit delayed by having put in APPENINES for the hill range. Silly really, as I wouldn’t spell Pennines with one N. I finished with AMENHOTEP which I have seen before but not fully remembered and which led me to doubt myself today as it’s such an unlikely looking word.
    It was only last weekend that my wife realised that SEGUE was pronounced Segway. She knew SEGUE was a musical term and had heard Segway spoken but never put two and two together. I was able to smugly make the link for her having realised it myself as long as maybe a whole year ago!

  9. Good effort, but could not see BROTH, tried LUNCH. Few other misses in the NW an SW. COD TOPONYM.

  10. Maybe FIVE BAR gates are only British – that answer went straight in. Knew AMENHOTEP probably from Mummy films or similar.

    16’16”, thanks jack and setter.

  11. 47 mins. I had a number of unknowns today, all worked out finally, and miraculously, from wp, including, BROTH, PAYWALL. TOPONYM and AMENHOTEP. 10d is one pun too far methinks.

    I liked TABASCO (and I do) BLYTHE SPIRIT and TRACTOR. I am currently doing up an old (1968) John Deere.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

  12. 8:26. Slight hold-up today over the unlikely-looking broth phrase but otherwise a steady solve. I knew AMENHOTEP, not to be confused with IMHOTEP, the most honestly opinionated of the ancient Egyptians.

  13. 13:38. I was pleased to remember AMENHOTEP but needed the wordplay to get it right. I had no problem with BROTH OF A BOY which brought back memories… Many years ago I took part in a performance of the rather obscure choral ballad Phaudrig Crohoore by Charles Villiers Stanford. I think I can still remember the lyrics with which it starts… “Now Phaudrig Crohoore was a broth of a boy and he stood six foot eight….. His voice like the thunder was deep, strong and loud and his eyes were like lightning from under the cloud”. Has anyone here even heard of it? Far be it from me to comment on the literary merits of the text, but I seem to remember at the time thinking the whole piece was rather silly. Sorry. I digress. As for the rest of the crossword: LOI was CROWD and I confess to biffing a few and neglecting to return and parse them. COD to TSARIST. Thank-you Jackkt and setter.

  14. 19.28. Good going for me. No issue with ‘segue’, but didn’t parse ‘outturn’ or ‘blithe spirit’ as the solutions were pretty obvious from the crossers. Enjoyable puzzle: thanks to setter and blogger.
    Delighted to see that Arachne under her alter ego Rosa Klebb has appeared in the FT.

  15. Bottom left kept me going the longest. I had BROTH OF A BOY in mind, but only put it in when the checkers worked out. Can’t say I’d heard if it. LOI AMENHOTEP. Once I had the P I knew what kind of word it was, but also knew I’d have to faithfully follow the cryptic to get it right. 24’41”

  16. 36 mins

    All correct but the Irish phrase was an educated guess. Would welcome more experienced views but I reckon a clue needs to be solvable without checkers even if you don’t know the word (or phrase). It’s why I’ve always thought obscure words clued as anagrams were frowned upon. Here, the w/p is cryptic to the point of unguessable unless you know the phrase (or have sufficient checkers). So not my favourite clue.

    Some nice ones elsewhere though. TSARIST was very good.

    Thanks setter and Jackkt

    1. I agree on both counts – no way in to the BROTH unless you know the expression, and TSARIST is my COD. Sadly a second DNF for the week due to NHO AMENHOTEP.

      1. I got to BROTH without actually knowing the expression, but having arrived at it I vaguely recalled the expression from somewhere, as mentioned in my blog.

        So how did I get to BROTH? Firstly from checkers B?O?H – I can’t agree with the idea that clues should be solvable without checkers, as they are legitimate aids in the solver’s armoury, that’s why puzzles are called crosswords. Secondly ‘what the cannibal might make’ is a pretty strong hint that food is involved so we need a word associated with that to fit the checkers. What can go between B and O? Of the vowels only O is likely, and for consonants there’s really only L and R. It’s really not much of an alphabet trawl from there to the answer. As it turns out there are only 5 words that fit the checkers anyway, and 3 of them I’ve never heard of. The other common one is BOOTH.

  17. 30 mins
    Quite tricky. Had to rely on wordplay and take a chance on Amenhotep.
    Thanks, jack.

  18. Nice top-to-bottom solve, 1ac being a write-in. No problems with segue or our Egyptian friend, but nho a broth of a boy.
    Living in the countryside as I do, I ought to know why five-bar and not four or six .. but I don’t. The idea mentioned above that it is just enough bars to stop a sheep getting out, sounds plausible. The sheep will get out anyway, mind..

  19. Once again a mixture of very straightforward and baffling held me up longer than it should have. TOPONYM was slow as I couldn’t think of any description that included Nine Elms, so was looking for a sum of money as the answer, and ending in BY (boy drops round). OUTTURN horrible, clunky and NHO. It also held up the unknown BROTH, despite having all the rest of the clue except ROT written in. AMENHOTEP worked out from cryptic, though it did subsequently ring a faint bell. I never knew TABASCO was part of Mexico, so you learn something every day!

  20. I thought I was on for one of my better sub-30 times, but came to a halt on AMENHOTEP, which I had heard before, in retrospect, but it never came to me this time and I had to use aids. BROTH OF A BOY was nho but I entered it in the hope that the wordplay was leading to it. TSARIST was good and also defeated me until I used aids, so 43 minutes eventually.

    Funny how plays in crosswords tend to be either by Shakespeare or by Noel Coward. The latter has appeared quite a lot recently. I suppose Tennessee Williams also appears from time to time. But seldom John Osborne, who once was regarded as the real thing, unlike Terence Rattigan and Noel Coward.

  21. 44 minutes, but used aids to check that A BROTH OF A BOY was a real thing. Pleased to have worked out AMENHOTEP from the wordplay and some checkers. I tried confirmation first, but the I at the end of 14a (and ultimate promotion) made me reconsider. Some very satisfying stuff here. Thanks both.

  22. 17:42. Lots of enjoyably knotty clues and some obscure GK proving useful, if not required. A BROTH OF A BOY was familiar from Finnegans Wake “Jill, the spoon of a girl, for Jack, the broth of a boy”, a phrase which, unlike the rest of my ill-fated attempt to read the book as a student, stuck in my mind for some reason.

  23. I think of five-bar gates as being what convicts draw on their cell walls when counting the days to their release. (Well, they do in cartoons, anyway.) Four vertical stokes and a diagonal divides them into easily countable groups of five.

    1. named after a five-bar gate, I’m sure. A vertical version of it

      On edit. Oops. It’s a vertical version of a four-bar gate
      On reflection. I still think it must be named after a five-bar gate despite the mismatch

  24. 46:01. enjoyable but quite hard work. For AMENHOTEP I knew the kind of word I was looking for so I was OK when the wordplay delivered such a very odd one. I spotted SEGUE and just moved on; I didn’t notice anything wrong with undressing the house guest. LOI TOPONYM. I liked discovering that TABASCO is a place

  25. 7m 57s, with a slight detour to FUMER, which isn’t a word and isn’t really justified by the wordplay. NHO A BROTH OF A BOY, but fortunately I couldn’t think of any other dishes for B_O_H.

  26. I’m making a habit of needing two attempts to solve these crosswords, and that was the case again today. A BROTH OF A BOY was completely unknown to me, and I eventually put the ‘broth’ in as it was the only word that fitted and vaguely made sense. That wasn’t helped by taking an age to see OUTTURN, which isn’t a word I’m familiar with but clearly does exist. TSARIST also defeated me for a long time, and I was on the verge of putting in ‘tradist’ (as in a traditionalist?!) until I thought of a sari.

    FOI Tractor
    LOI Tsarist
    COD Amenhotep

  27. I started off by entering A _____ OF A ___ and then tried to justify it, BIN BAGS and YAWNING came along and eventually FORETASTE emerged, but it was much later when TRACTOR led me to HARED, and BRAMBLE appeared, with OUT being the likely start to 11a, and the unknown expression suggested itself. BLITHE SPIRIT and TRUMAN CAPOTE provided some helpful checkers, but it was 36:13 before I crawled over the line with TSARIST. Thanks setter and Jack.

  28. I hadn’t spotted the BIN BAGS yet, and was typing into Chrome’s search bar A BROTH OF A DAY, but Chrome supplied the boy before I had started on the day. So DNF. Never parsed BLYTHE SPIRIT, so thanks. Andyf

  29. I enjoyed this one, but found some of the GK a bit stretching (A BROTH OF A BOY, TABASCO, TRUMAN CAPOTE, TOPONYM), and eventually gave up after 50 minutes with 15dn unsolved. I didn’t know the word at all, so I’m glad I didn’t spend any more time on it, as I would never have convinced myself that AMENHOTEP was worth a guess even if I’d come up with the possibility from the wordplay! Thanks setter & Jack.

  30. 25:51

    NHO of LOI A BROTH OF A BOY so it was a bit of a damp squib at the end. Guessing that most without an Irish connection or not up on Irish literature might feel the same?

    Otherwise, it was reasonably plain sailing.

  31. Removing “one’s” about (ie “ym” – “my” about ) from “anonymisation” gives “anonisation”. Not a mistake by the setter but another clever clue.

    1. On this reading ‘removing one’s identity’ indicates ANONYMISATION, so there is nothing left to indicate ‘my’. And if ‘about’ is a reversal indicator then there is nothing to indicate the letter C at the beginning. In short the blogger has the right explanation, and I don’t think there was any suggestion of a mistake. Just that ANON-ISATION is a bit corny!

  32. FOI FIVE BAR. LOI TSARIST where I too toyed with Tradist. BLITHE SPIRIT was very late in which led to AMENHOTEP whom I have met often at the British Museum and in crosswords. Once you’ve seen the word, it keeps cropping up.
    About an hour.
    COD to PAYWALL, a word of our time. How often do you start an interesting article and then the guardian appears.

  33. I usually read Pharos’ and Assyrian kings’ and queens’ names as hieroglyphics – I recognise the shape and all, but never bother to try pronunciation or spelling. So I knew where I was going, and the clueing put it all in place. Out turn, Nearly Man, and Tsaritsyn with that definition were just odd enough to slow me down. Thx, jack

    1. You read heiroglyphics? Are the ‘Amen’ glyphs in Amen-ra, Amenhotep and Tutankhamen the same or different?

      1. Absolutely no ability to read hieroglyphs. I meant that I see the set of letters, don’t bother to break it down into syllables, sounds, or a proper word, and just read along recognizing that set as of letters the way you’d recognise a hieroglyph, and identifying it with a person, place, or whatever. If you’re interested, though, I happened to be at the British Museum a couple weeks ago, and saw a half dozen books on heiroglyphs for beginners, or similar. And I’m going to the Morgan tomorrow to see the Enheduanna material; I’m expecting their bookshop to have a bunch of cuneiform primers.

  34. More of a watery consommé of a boy here. Put Cloud instead of CROWD without pausing to reflect .
    Learning about AMENHOTEP made up for this.

    Thanks to Jack and the setter/

  35. Didn’t start this till mid afternoon, and then had numerous interruptions from the central heating engineer fixing our broken system. Would estimate about 45 minutes with TOPONYM my LOI.
    Needed the direction of the clueing to get the spelling of AMENHOTEP, although I’ve seen enough Egyptian documentaries to know of him. I was nervous about OUTTURN being correct as I couldn’t parse it, so thanks for the explanation Jack.

  36. Heavens- couldn’t believe my LOI AMENHOTEP could be correct so it was very much fingers crossed there, likewise but with considerably more confidence UNBOUND as the literary reference was above my pay grade. NHO TABASCO but guessed it from the letters and sauce. The broth was also a lucky guess- so quite felicitous today. Thanks setter and blogger.

  37. There was much not to like about this, which took me an hour, a strange mixture of very easy clues and strangely clued obscure ones (like OUTTURN or TOPONYM, just for examples).

  38. I gave up with 7 unsolved (and unheard of), plus TOPONYM, AMENHOTEP. Also BIN BAGS, which I should have got, as I was putting the rubbish out!

  39. Once I got a foothold with the easy OLYMPIC, CROWD and DRAWN ON, I was off to a reasonable pace. But should have seen 1a much earlier as the other literary references posed no problem. Liked TOPONYYM, the Irish phrase and the Egyptian king, but fell at the last FIVE BAR gate with OUTTURN and NEARLY MAN NHOs. Enjoyed what I managed without aids.

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