Times Cryptic 28538


Solving time: 42 minutes


I had all but three answers in half-an-hour but needed another 12 minutes to polish them off. Needless to say they intersected so that when one fell the others followed on immediately.

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 Hard negotiation tactic succeeded in doing rather badly (5,7)
S (succeeded) contained by [in] anagram [badly] of DOING RATHER
9 Puzzle about what American restaurant staff may do (5)
RE (about), BUS (what American restaurant staff may do). I’m not over-familiar with the Americanism but I vaguely remembered it as something that has come up before, to do with clearing tables etc.
10 Surveys short public struggle with introduction of sanctions (9)
OVER{t} (public) [short], VIE (struggle), W (with), S{anctions} [introduction]
11 Cheeky kid given teddy occasionally played around (8)
TINKER (cheeky kid), {t{E{d}D{y} [occasionally]
12 At the end, pour in sauce quickly (6)
{pou}R [at the end] contained by [in] PESTO (sauce)
13 Range covered by a minister (8)
REACH (range) contained [covered] by PER (a – so much per person)
15 Couple drinking pub’s Australian beer (6)
TIE (couple) containing [drinking] INN
17 Trendy food lacking the first hint of anything natural (6)
IN (trendy), BRE{a}D (food) [lacking the first hint of anything]
18 Bakers can use these good sieves (8)
G (good), RIDDLES (sieves)
20 Penny-pinching company secures great deal (6)
CO (company) contains [secures] HEAP (great deal – happy memories of Jay Silverheels as Tonto!)
21 Children primarily linger outside small arcade (8)
C{hildren} [primarily], LOITER (linger) containing [outside] S (small). Rather conveniently I had read up on all the meanings of ‘cloister’ only last week when it appeared in another puzzle. On that occasion it was defined as ‘monastic life’ but I remembered seeing ‘arcade’ too.
24 Belfries designed to incorporate a type of sculpture (3,6)
Anagram [designed] of BELFRIES containing [ to incorporate] A.  A sculpture, moulding, carving, etc., in low relief.
25 Bottle used for pre-dinner vermouth (5)
Hidden in [used for] {pre-din}NER VE{rmouth}
26 Peanuts, for example, are shelled inside fancy cast iron pot (5,7)
{a}R{e} [shelled] contained by anagram [fancy] of CAST IRON POT
1 Lease removed from particular sort of car (7)
HARD TO P{lease} (particular) [lease removed]
2 Bird bones and bare dirt scattered alongside river (5,9)
R (river), then anagram [scattered] of BONES BARE DIRT
3 Follow it out of bathroom, often? (5)
EN SU{it}E (bathroom) [it out]
4 Old hutch hidden in tall grass is unlocked again (8)
O (old) + PEN (hutch) contained by [hidden in] REED (tall grass)
5 Heartfelt, extremely distinctive collection of songs (4)
D{istinctiv}E [extremely], EP (collection of songs – Extended Play record)
6 Hole flipping full of rats? Don’t worry about it! (5,4)
DEN (hole – e.g. of a fox) reversed [flipping] containing [full of] VERMIN (rats)
7 Machine enabling you to put your own pop into cans? (8,6)
A brilliant if somewhat dated cryptic clue. ‘Cans’ is slang for headphones.
8 A playwright read out On The Beach (6)
A, then SHORE sounds like [read out] “Shaw” (playwright). In the surface reading On The Beach is a novel by Neville Shute later made into a feature film.
14 Spectre flying around that is frightening in the extreme (9)
Anagram [flying] of SCEPTRE containing [around] IE (that is)
16 Very productive expert has most of career in charge (8)
PRO (expert), LIF{e} (career) [most of…], IC (in charge)
17 New, inexperienced journalist overwhelmed by two oppressive people (6)
N (new) + CUB (inexperienced journalist) contained [overwhelmed] by II (two). SOED: incubus – an oppressive nightmare; a person who or thing which oppresses or troubles like a nightmare.
19 Operator certainly bored by nothing ultimately working (7)
SURE (certainly) containing [bored by] {nothin}G [ultimately], then ON (working)
22 Private person who’s offended possibly rejecting society (5)
{s}INNER (person who’s offended possibly) [rejecting society]
23 Pasta spot close to Bari (4)
ZIT (spot), {Bar}I (close to…]. NHO this. Before today it has been confined to a Club Monthly and Mephistos.

104 comments on “Times Cryptic 28538”

  1. Nice one, no problems or unknowns, except perhaps incubi as people. Tinnie brings back memories of the 1970 or 80s, when it was last heard. Also reminded of Ava Gardner during filming of On the Beach saying, “Melbourne is the perfect place to make a film about the end of the world.”
    Did like the personal stereo, not quite so old but still very dated. COD to NEVER MIND for spotting the vermin.

  2. It all went in in good order, but I wasn’t on the setter’s WL at all and had to think about more of these than seems warranted in review. I hadn’t heard that Ava Gardner story, so thanks Isla. vinyl will know for certain, but I’m pretty sure that personal stereos came about because a senior-ish Sony executive got fed up with the then-current portable music technology of boomboxes and set the engineers to work.

  3. I got the NW last. HARDTOP was last, and the one I never managed to parse. Otherwise, it was the UK terms that gave me pause. Figuring out TINNIE was like working a Mephisto, and until I found the proper definition of TINKER (mentioned above), I was thinking it must be the name of some particular spirited lad in British comics or TV or something… Not sure I’ve ever heard comic strips referred to as STRIP CARTOONS (sounds sexy! ha). And of course I don’t pronounce “shore” anything like “Shaw.”

    One MER: There might be a definition somewhere for INCUBI that fits it to “people,” but the original meaning of “incubus” is a demon and the more figurative meaning is anything oppressive.

    ENSU(it)E was late in coming.
    The ambiguity in cluing “sinner” as “person who’s offended” was appreciated.

    1. Re INCUBI, the SOED entry quoted in my blog mentions ‘person’ so by extension ‘people’ and Chambers (printed) does so too.

      TINNIE is very much an Australian thing. I’m not sure many people in the UK had come across it before the arrival of Paul Hogan’s TV shows aired by Channel 4 in the 1980s.

      1. Sorry, I tend to lump Australia in with the UK, for obvious reasons (there is a good bit of Aussie slang here), though the former country is a world away.

        Re INCUBI, I didn’t realize, with the absence of quotation marks and the apparently retyped “a person who or thing,” that you were quoting directly rather than paraphrasing. (I always cut and paste…) Well, that’s all right, then.

        1. Sorry if it wasn’t clear that I was quoting the definition of ‘incubus’ but I had preceded the quotation with SOED: which I hoped would serve in place of quotation marks.

          The entry was copied and pasted verbatim, and the relevant passage you mention actually reads ‘a person who or thing which oppresses’. If I’d been typing it I’d have placed commas after ‘who’ and ‘which’ to make the sentence construction easier to follow.

          1. Aha… yes, commas would have helped. I apologize for presuming an error. I very often have to change “that” to “who” when the writer is referring to people (and “they” to “it” when the writer is referring to a corporation!), but I guess, and I guess I hope, that a dictionary wouldn’t really use “that” to refer to a person. On a related… tangent, some Americans (and the house style of The Nation, which I stringently enforce all day long) distinguish between “which” (for nonrestrictive clauses) and “that” (for restrictive), “which” always being preceded by a comma. It doesn’t seem to be a British practice.

            1. I’m no expert on grammar but I remember being taught the different usage of ‘that’ and ‘which’ when at school but it either didn’t sink in or I have since forgotten it. I expect the distinction is still made in some circles but not by most.

              1. Yes, alas… It’s a rule that would force one to remember the important grammatical distinction between restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses, forgetting which usually leads to merely aesthetic imperfection and logical confusion but which in some circumstances (say, when a question of law is involved) could conceivably have more dire consequences.

                1. Compare “She gave a tip to the waiter, who thanked her” with “She gave a tip to the waiter who thanked her”.

              2. The distinction between ‘that’ and ‘which’ is one of those artificial linguistic rules invented by pedants as an excuse to scold native users of the language for doing it wrong. See also split infinitives.

                1. Ha ha. I expected that. We talked about this before.

                  The “split infinitive” doesn’t even really exist in English; the construction is nowadays referred to as a “to-infinitive,” and it’s not a problem for anyone who doesn’t confuse English with Latin. Which would be, I agree, an example of overweening pedantry.

                  The which/that distinction was, I think, simply proposed as an aid to clarity, recommended by some style books and educators, though not universally adopted. It is a distinction observed by the house style of some publications, and certainly the personal style of some authors, for the reason that I’ve already mentioned here. In our earlier discusson in e-mail, you agreed that there is nothing wrong with such an institutional or personal “rule” of style (though I would unhesitatingly, nonetheless, recommend it to the world at large, I do recognize its arbitrary character).

                  1. I like to stay predictable 😉
                    Of course there’s nothing wrong with preferences of style. I personally think the which/that distinction creates a lot of confusion and absolutely no additional clarity whatsoever, but it’s still a lot less silly than the New Yorker’s diaereses.
                    It’s really the practice of inventing an arbitrary rule and then telling people off for not following it that I object to!

                    1. I really can’t imagine how reserving “which” for nonrestrictive clauses, with a comma, and “that” for restrictive could possibly be confusing!

                      But I’ve never seen anyone be berated for not observing that which/that distinction (though it may be part of the test—which I never took—for Nation copy-editors). Have you, really? I was assuming Brits were not even aware of it. Now, I have encountered a few “split-infinitive” people in my day. So ridiculous.

                  2. Replying here because I can’t to your last one.
                    It’s confusing for the writer, because it’s an artificial rule which most native speakers aren’t even aware of (let alone use in normal speech) and that just makes it hard to remember. Obviously it doesn’t create confusion for the reader but equally it doesn’t add anything in terms of clarity.

                    1. Well, I’ve never found it hard to remember, and I sometimes find a sentence unsatisfyingly ambiguous when the writer seems not to know the difference between a restrictive and a nonrestrictive clause, which can be betrayed merely by the placement of a comma.

                    2. I wondered why you couldn’t reply to the just-above comment, and now I see that I couldn’t (if I wanted to) try to explain restrictive/non- to Jack. Do you have an idea why this happens? I haven’t noticed any limit on the number of replies.

                  3. ‘The split infinitive doesn’t even really exist in English’. I’d say it only really exists – at least as a grammatical construction – in English. It isn’t even possible in many other languages. It’s a strict no-no in German, where at least it can be technically possible (with zu), but not even that in French, Spanish or Italian where infinitives are single words, as they are in Latin.

                    1. “Split infinitive” is a misnomer. English to-infinitives are not equivalent to infinitives in Latin.

                    2. There is a limit, which you have found, to the number of nested levels a thread can have.. I thought it was 5, but it seems to be more

                  4. How can it be a misnomer? Surely it was coined specifically to describe the placing of an adverb between the two parts of an English infinitive.

                  5. I’m replying to this because it’s the last reply of yours that seems to allow it. After doing this once I thought perhaps we should take it as a sign that we had given the matter adequate attention!

                    1. I think you make a very good point, keriothe.

                      Actually there’s a technical reason which johninterred has explained before. I can’t remember it exactly, but I think we get a maximum of 10 levels and then the Reply facility disappears.

                      Speaking for myself, interesting as this was to begin with, it ran its natural course some while ago and then wandered too far away from the subject of the crossword under discussion.

            2. Chambers indicates that as a relative term for humans is acceptable. I disagree, finding it at the very least impolite.

        2. My understanding of ‘incubus’ was that it’s a (male) demon who has sexual intercourse with a sleeping woman–just as ‘succubus’ is a female ditto who does with a sleeping man. If this be oppression, make the most of it.

      2. I believe David Boon, the Australian cricketer, still holds the record for the number of tinnies consumed during a UK-Australia flight.

      3. Never heard of tinnie, but it seemed the sort of brew an Aussie would have with a barbie.

    2. Almost exactly my experience, Guy, with the NW last to fall, especially frustrated by not remembering the first word of the term HORSE TRADING, or what was going on with the car. Never did get ENSUE , but clever, as was INNER , but a list of pasta types did not give ZITI.!

  4. 26 minutes. I couldn’t parse REBUS, never having heard of BUS as a verb in that sense or HARDTOP which went in from crossers and def. MER at TINKER for ‘Cheeky kid’ but it’s now been explained above – thanks. No problems with CLOISTER this time, unlike last week.

    There is some doubt, but Ava Gardner’s (in)famous quote about Melbourne was probably made up by a journo working for the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH). If you’re interested there’s an interesting 2019 SMH article about ‘On The Beach’ here.

    Thanks to Jack and setter

  5. 12:21. I finished with the unparsed crossers ENSUE and REBUS and fingers crossed. Also unparsed was HARDTOP, and now I see the parsing thanks to Jack, I think it an excellent clue.

  6. As one who sits Ashore and longs perchance
    To visit dolphin-coral in deep seas.

    15 mins mid-brekker. I had to guess Ziti and didn’t like Deep. I didn’t know Incubi as people and I couldn’t parse Hardtop. Two crosses, two QMs and no ticks.
    Ta setter and J.

  7. 18:50. Took longer than it should because of putting in MONKEYED (“cheeky monkey” is surely the thing that comes first to mind) and PERSONAL STUDIO. I read “put your own pop into cans” as recording your own music, and you certainly get things “in the can” when recording. Admittedly I call my own setup a HOME STUDIO…

  8. 8:57. No problems. ZITI rang a very vague bell but I did worry there might be another word for ‘spot’ I hadn’t thought of.

        1. I guessed pipi and then checked the dictionary and found ziti. It’s a bit unkind to have the 2 unchecked letters for an obscure (IMHO) foodstuff. If it had been Z_T_ then it would have been OK, if a bit obvious.

          1. Ziti is as much a chestnut in the Times as Tiepolo and Beerbohm Tree used to be? For me it is, anyway.
            Edit… did a search, and it seems to be its first appearance. Maybe just knew it from living in Italy, or from TV food shows.

            1. Never been in a Times cryptic before, so far as I can see.
              Two mephistos and a club monthly (which I blogged) but all three more than ten years ago. I never tried to remember the club monthly vocab, so feel no shame 🙂

            2. It used to be the most common pasta in the NYT (currently going through the archives from the early ’90s, though not for ziti-related reasons) but seems to have fallen out of favour in recent years.

  9. 32 mins with quite a few MERs. Not mentioned so far is natural for INBRED, which up to now I’d thought of as a description of people in Norfolk. Maybe that is natural?
    All done bar NW in 20 mins, so quite a holdup. In particular I thought the cryptics for ENSUE, REBUS and HARDTOP were a bit arcane, but ultimately clever.

    1. I also had the same MER, but then thinking about it, I realised that one can also refer to the word as being part of someone’s makeup, eg She possessed an inbred politeness…

    2. Possibly an ‘and-lit’ with the ‘anything’ doing double duty? The definition then being ‘lacking the first hint of. . .’

      1. No &lit here, I’m afraid, as ‘Trendy food lacking the first hint of anything’ is all wordplay . ‘Natural’ is the definition as stated in my blog and explained further by alto_ego.

  10. Found this hard to get started, for some reason, but once under way kept going ..
    I thought of incubi/succubi as demons too but Chambers is quite specific that by extension oppressive people can be so described.
    With zits and buses, I was wondering if we have our American setter again. At least the bussing was flagged as such
    1dn is a wonderful clue!

  11. 27 minutes, with the most time spent on whether ZITI was a kind of pasta or whether there was another three-letter word for ‘spot’.

    Wasn’t familiar with a tinker as a cheeky kid in TINKERED, but assumed it would be in a dictionary somewhere. Also didn’t know ‘bus’ as a verb in REBUS, but I knew that a busboy works in a restaurant so I didn’t hesitate too much over it. I didn’t parse HARDTOP until after it had gone in, and I nearly put ‘insubi’ instead of INCUBI (thinking that a sub is an inexperienced journalist…) until I figured out CHEAPO and corrected myself.

    Enjoyable stuff – thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Nerve
    LOI Ziti
    COD Hardtop

  12. 13:09 but 1 wrong. I guessed PIPI for the pasta – NHO ZITI. I hesitated over HARDTOP as I couldn’t parse it, but eventually just bunged it in. Thanks Jackkt and setter.

    1. Me too John, except I tried – with very little sense of hope – “pici”. Mrs P and I love our pasta but neither of us had heard of “ziti”

  13. Nearly the hour again so the new place must be distracting. COD to HARDTOP. I biffed the pasta and also REBUS, having not heard of what Americans do to tables. I found this tough, particularly the anagrams. Thank you Jack and setter.

    1. I find that when I go away walking, I can’t do crosswords properly; and continues until a day or two after I get back. Perhaps when we do something very different from normal, the cruciverbal bit of what is left of our brain cells is put out of joint ..

  14. 31 minutes. ZITI from wordplay, NHO it and I thought I knew pasta. REBUS likewise didn’t understand why US restaurant workers caught the bus. The rest was excellent and fair game.

  15. Thanks for explaining HARDTOP, my LOI and one I simply couldn’t parse. Also NHO TINKER in this sense, despite more than half a century living in UK. Liked INCUBI, ENSUE and REBUS. NHO ZITI, but it was a logical guess. 30 mins.

  16. Had vaguely heard of busboys (?). Am currently in a place where the cocktail Sex on the Beach is advertised (ni, I stick to beer). Parts of the discussion above remind me of Michael Gove’s infamous ‘fronted adverbial’ phase. Didn’t parse HARDTOP, LOI. Guessed ZITI.

    17′, thanks jack and setter.

  17. I found this rather easier than yesterday’s. The bulk of yesterday’s was no harder, but there were all those CD clues. I think there was only one here at 7d. My only hold-up was caused by stupidly entering PRONTO for 12. I did have a query against it, but I only reconsidered it when I couldn’t get 7d.
    I thought ‘Collection of songs’ for EP (no DBE question mark) was poor. Most of my EP collection in my teens consisted of non-vocal jazz numbers.
    22 minutes.

  18. 38 minutes with one wrong — biti, which so far as I was concerned, since I’d never heard of ZITI, was as likely to be a pasta as anything fitting _I_I . Pipi never even occurred to me. I liked the HARDTOP. REBUS entered with a shrug because I didn’t know that sense of ‘bus’.

    My view of who/which/that is that if a person is being referred to then it’s a bit callous and rude to use ‘that’. The distinction for restrictive/non-restrictive clauses is something I’ve never heard of. The Guardian/Observer Style Guide tells us not to use commas as ‘brackets’ within a sentence unless it really helps, which strikes me as silly and might encourage people to omit commas when they are needed. It’s a matter of whether or not they’re necessary.

    1. Been all downhill, since Fowler .. still my go-to source of grammary opinions (which is what they are: opinions, not rules or laws)

  19. I also found this more straightforward than yesterday’s, though it was still quite a time to get on the setter’s wavelength, with the first run-through giving just DEEP and GRIDDLES. I also put in PRONTO, before having doubts, which fitted with NEVER MIND and ASHORE, so it was quite a time before I revised it to PRESTO, which I then failed to parse! Liked SURGEON and PREACHER. NHO ZITI, but it seemed plausible. I failed to parse the excellent HARD TOP, thanks Jackkt! Re ‘tinker’, I know someone who refers to naughty children as ‘little tinkers’, so that wasn’t difficult. In fact, since tinkers no longer exist in the form of travelling pot and pan menders and sellers, in the UK at least, I would say the term has come exclusively to refer to mischievous children and has lost its connotations of one not to be trusted and its literal meaning.

  20. Quite enjoyed this apart from ZITI and REBUS as mentioned above throughout. Got a real PDM when I spotted HARTOPlease as I was BIFfing it.
    My mother-in-law uses TINKER, usually Little T frequently and it sounds sensible to me, but then I am 73 so my English may well be dated. Wiktionary has:
    “3) (usually with “little”) A mischievous person, especially a playful, impish youngster.”
    as its third def.

  21. I knew ZITI but it is not a word I have ever heard in Italy. I think it is purely American. When I first came to the US forty years ago, somebody knocked over a waterglass one of the people at the table suggested getting some cloths from the “bus station”, which was hilarious since I didn’t know the verb for bussing tables.

  22. 07:37, so clearly on something today. I liked the cryptic PERSONAL STEREO definition, but I guess I’m in exactly the right age group for that to land well; and I had a very nice penny-drop moment when I worked out the wordplay for HARDTOP.

    Conversations with an Italian have taught me that ZITI is the long pasta which it’s fine to break as you chuck it in the pan – doing the same with spaghetti is liable to cause more than a minor eyebrow raise from that quarter.

  23. Long interruption for the boiler man, so no time, but about average for time and above average for inventiveness, I thought. Quite a lot of post-solve parsing to do – aided, as ever, by a helpful blog.

  24. I miss the simpler days of the PERSONAL STEREO. Goodness knows how many I went through in the ’80s. Remember those awful headphones with the foam bits?

    All told, quite a jolly one today.

    NHO – ZITI
    LOI – TINNIE (Reminds me of Fry & Laurie’s “Neighbours” spoof -“Want some fresh air, mate? There’s a tinnie in the coolie”)

  25. 17:18 but…

    Had MONKEYED initially but that didn’t work with 1d so had to think again.

    NHO ZITI – my wife’s a quarter Italian and had never heard of it either. Had to look it up to be sure…

  26. Thanks for the excellent blog. One question ENSUE is a very nice clue and my LOI but could not get the function of “often” in the wording. Any thoughts?

    1. A good point that hadn’t occurred to me, but now that you have raised it I imagine it’s to stave off protests from solvers who might otherwise say that ‘en suites’ don’t necessarily have baths in them and are in fact more likely to have showers. Of course this may not apply on the other side of the pond where everything containing a lavatory and/or basic washing facilities may be termed ‘bathroom’.

    2. Bathrooms can be attached to the bedroom – ensuite. They often are, nowadays. Or they can be down the hall a bit – they often were in the old days. It’s not so much the often/not often, as to whether a bathroom is ensuite or not ensuite, which nowadays might be half and half? Often or not often? Who nose, not an architect or real-estate agent.

      1. Well I was an architect, and as far as I was concerned, the simple definition was that a bathroom attached to a bedroom would be termed en-suite, and one accessed from a communal circulation area would be defined as a Bathroom. All are effectively Bathrooms, hence the use of the word ‘often’ to make the point that not all are en-suite. An en-suite could be provided with any combination of wc, shower, washbasin(s) or bidet, and still be considered en-suite if it was in a room adjoining the bedroom.

  27. I spent almost half of my solving time over the NW corner, where I took far too long in deciphering ROBIN REDBREAST, and then had to come here for Jack to explain HARDTOP.

    TIME 10:05

  28. Pretty sure I first heard about ZITI from The Sopranos. Tony was a big fan. And rightly so, it’s tasty. Chef recommends.

    Many thanks to all for the comments so far. Much appreciated as always.

  29. Just under 23 minutes which for me is very good so feeling smug now
    NHO either ZITI or TINNIE but both were guessable from the clue
    LOI was PERSONAL STEREO and i would have been below 20 minutes without that one…

  30. I live in the UK but am of Irish heritage. Therefore, I pronounce most Rs when I see them, so for me the clue for ASHORE was a very poor. Times crossword compliers must all speak RP, ignoring a large swathe of the population.

  31. 31 minutes on the case, but technically a DNF as the only pasta I knew which fitted _i_i was PICI. NHO ziti. I am still puzzled about what American restaurant staff may do but put REBUS in anyway as it looked right. Otherwise I just languished in the SW corner, where the penny was slow to drop for 12ac and 14dn, even though they should not have been so hard to work out. I would not have said ‘creepiest’ was frightening in the extreme, but I imagine it was just a signpost to a superlative.
    Thanks to jackkt and other contributors.

  32. 28 minutes, but failed to spot ziti. Unfortunately with a clue like that I can’t quite motivate myself to go through a complete alphabet trawl. My problem I know, but just feel the need to have a wee moan.

  33. I enjoyed this, especially 1ac and 1d, but had an error at 12 with BRISTO (!).
    Lovely surface readings to some of the clues.

  34. REBUS was my FOI, with the puzzle itself a regular visitor to these shaws(sic) and BUS boys being vaguely familiar. Calling someone a “Little Tinker” is quite common in these parts, so no problems with that one. Being only vaguely familiar with the concept of INCUBI, I followed the wordplay, recognised the word and moved blithely on. Totally familiar with TINNIES from watching the Paul Hogan Show. Had PERSONAL long before the STEREO hove into earshot. Noticed during proof reading that INBORN had become INBOEN, so slapped myself metaphorically on the forehead and changed it to INBRED. Then I noticed _I_I sitting forlornly in the bottom half and postulated the unknown ZITI from wordplay. 19:09. Thanks setter and Jack.

  35. I thought I had just about completed inside target at 44.25, but now discover my LOI was incorrect. I spent a couple of minutes on an alphabet trawl to come up with the pasta possibilities for 23dn, and came up with BITI and PIPI as potential answers. I opted for the latter, but now find my alphabet trawl didn’t extend as far as Z! Other than that all correct with the exception of the parsing to HARDTOP, and well done Jack for working that one out!

  36. 49:30, for which I, too, was off to a very slow start (I believe BAS-RELIEF was my FOI). Most of this puzzle didn’t leave much of an impression on me, but I’m glad I got the obscure clues (TINNIE and TINKERED, for example) and there were two really superb ones: ENSUE, after realising that IT and not SA or whatever was to be removed from something, and the splendid HARDTOP, with that particular meaning of “particular”. My first candidate for 23dn was BISI, since RISI are not pasta, but then neither are BISI (rice and peas). Finally an alphabet trawl yielded ZITI, which fit the wordplay and were vaguely remembered as pastarial (as opposed to pastorial, of course).

  37. In the CLOISTER, I knelt to insist
    The feathered fiends wouldn’t be missed
    I said “O Lord, I pray,
    Make the birds go away”
    ROBIN REDBREAST proves Gods don’t exist

    1. But on the other hand, consider William Blake’s take on our avian companions’ connection to Otherworldliness:
      “A Robin Redbreast in a Cage
      Puts all Heaven in a Rage.
      A dovehouse fill’d with doves and pigeons
      Shudders Hell thro’ all its regions.”

      1. If you can get away with rhyming pigeons and regions, maybe even I could be a poet!!

        1. I can imagine Mr Blake,reportedly a volatile grumpy chap, turning very irritably in his grave if he ever learns of your aspersions on his rhyming ability.

  38. Completed the ‘left overs’ today but couldn’t parse Rebus or Ensue and dnk Incubi – thanks for clearing them up.

  39. Happy to have mostly sailed through this in less than the half-hour, then hit a snag with 1a and 1d. Could not call to mind a phrase for ‘particular’, so thanks to our blogger for that explanation (clever clue). I too think ZITI a tad unfair, as it doesn’t appear in a (seemingly) exhaustive list of pasta types (Google I’m afraid🫣). Well-acquainted with TINNIE, as I’m now an Aussie, and CHEAPO too. Puzzle had a rather dated feel ( but then so have I!!), so maybe that’s why I felt it so much easier than yesterday’s.

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