Times Cryptic 28556


Solving time: 35 minutes

As my time would suggest I found this pretty straightforward but for all that it was very enjoyable.

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 Oddly, such waffle by Democrat is made unintelligible (9)
S{u}C{h} [oddly], RAMBLE (waffle), D (Democrat). When scrambled, telephone conversations and broadcasts are unintelligible unless relayed through a decoding device.
6 Distant area Charlie goes over (5)
A (area), FOOL (Charlie) reversed [goes over]. I wondered about the origin of ‘Charlie’ meaning a fool and discovered that it’s obscene CRS. Who knew? Yet it became an innocuous term used by many, presumably in total innocence. Now I need to know who Charlie Hunt was and what he did to deserve being commemorated in this way! ‘Berk’ is of similar origin, but I have long been aware of it, and its derivation is more obvious.
9 Noble Scot‘s computer not working (7)
MAC (computer), DUFF (not working). The Thane of Fife in Shakespeare.
10 One’s in the soup, hiding having punched crook (7)
ROUT (hiding – defeat) contained by [having punched] CON (crook)
11 Neighbour inhaling oxygen roughly (5)
ABUT (neighbour) containing [inhaling] O (oxygen)
12 Hobby that’s irrational entertaining husband recently (9)
PI (irrational) containing [entertaining] H (husband), LATELY (recently)
14 Little bounder devoid of ecstasy and elation (3)
JO{e}Y (little bounder  – baby kangaroo) [devoid of ecstasy]
15 Marxists may deplore this guy defending English left-wingers (5,6)
CHAP (guy) containing [defending] E (English), LABOUR party (left-wingers)
17 One may hold a light tin container, drinking beer around bachelor (11)
CAN (tin), DRUM (container) containing [drinking] ALE (beer) reversed [around] + B (bachelor). ‘Candelabra’ is better known, but we have had ‘candelabrum’ before.
19 Group of waiters said to be prompt (3)
Sounds like [said to be] “queue” (group of waiters – great stuff!)
20 Light sack carried in combat (3,4,2)
FIRE (sack – dismiss) contained by [carried in] SET-TO (combat)
22 Issue limited by antivirus program (5)
Hidden in [limited by] {antiviru}S PROG{ram}. A dismissive word for a child or baby.
24 Designer of scale model of car better off without it (7)
RICHER (better off) containing [without] T (it / model of car). The  Model T was the first mass-produced Ford that made car-travel affordable for millions of Americans.
26 Kind of inquiry about my competence (7)
AM I ABLE? (inquiry about my competence)
27 Royal house party covered by Heat the wrong way (5)
DO (party) contained [covered by] RUT (heat – mating season) reversed [the wrong way]
28 Low-emission vehicle departs, getting permit (5,4)
GREEN (low-emission), CAR (vehicle), D (departs). US Green Cards have been in the news here over recent years following disclosures that both the current PM and his wife held them, thus gaining tax advantages not available to ordinary UK citizens. I think he has surrendered his now, but I’m not sure about her.
1 Fare from India, not southern island nation (5)
SAMO{s}A (fare from India) [not southern]
2 Page put on line, showing official residence (7)
RECTO (page), RY (railway line)
3 E.g. Jerry covering Tom up with horse hair (9)
MOUSE (e.g. Jerry) containing [covering] CAT (Tom) reversed [up] + H (horse)
4 Long sentence poet’s always put in part of book title (4,7)
LIFE (long sentence), then E’ER (poet’s always) contained by [put in] PAGE (part of book)
5 Bones of fish from the south (3)
COD (fish) reversed [from the south]. ‘Bones’, perhaps a contraction of  ‘sawbones’, is slang for a surgeon or doctor.
6 Mostly oblivious to ethics, turning up nose (5)
AMORA{l} (oblivious to ethics) [mostly] reversed [turning up]
7 Working hard, I must keep time, being busy (2,3,2)
ON (working) + H (hard) + EGO (I) containing [must keep] T (time)
8 Cool cover of chimney on the house, not attached (5-4)
FAN (cool), C{himne}Y [cover of…], FREE (on the house)
13 At work, no spare time to take off (11)
Anagram [at work] of NO TIME SPARE
14 Salt fish for fussy eater (4,5)
JACK (salt – sailor), SPRAT (fish)
Jack Sprat could eat no fat,
His wife could eat no lean.
And so between them both, you see,
They licked the platter clean.
16 Letting in one single goal, including defender’s header (9)
A (one single) + MISSION (goal) containing [including] D{efender} [header]
18 How plain cakes may be picked up (7)
NOT ICED (how plain cakes may)
19 Upstanding City supporter keeps on showing brains (7)
EC (City of London) contains [keeps] RE (on) all reversed [upstanding], then BRA (supporter)
21 Powerless English playmaker in foreign team (5)
{p}INTER (English playmaker) [powerless]
23 OK after renouncing a vice (5)
{a}GREED  (OK) [renouncing ‘a’]
25 Taking off top, show off scruffy garment (3)
{b}RAG (show off) [taking off top]

69 comments on “Times Cryptic 28556”

  1. “Straightforward”—you took the word right out of my mouth, Jackkt! But quite clever, especially the way the definitions are hidden in the surfaces. I think we’ve had this sense of “bones” before.

  2. 22 minutes. Not as tricky as yesterday, but the misleading surface of IMPERSONATE held me up and I didn’t know what was going on with AMIABLE until I had all the crossers. I thought “beth” might be a poetic term for ‘not working’ at 9a, so I was a bit slow out of the blocks as well.

    I found the doctor / surgeon sense for ‘bones’ in both Collins and Chambers (the apps anyway). There is also a separate entry for “sawbones” in Collins and under “saw” (noun) in Chambers. Of interest, the first quotation under “sawbones” in the OED is from Pickwick Papers: ‘What! Don’t you know what a Sawbones is, Sir?’ enquired Mr. Weller; ‘I thought everybody know’d as a Sawbones was a surgeon.’

    Thanks to Jack and setter

    1. Thanks, I have found ‘bones’ now as covered in Collins and printed Chambers. It’s not listed as an entry, but cunningly hidden away under bone (in the plural) and (in pl).

  3. 11:09 For “Bones”, I thought of Star Trek and Doctor McCoy. Rather a tricky puzzle, on the whole.

      1. I thought there was a Star Trek reference and was going to mention it, but wherever it was I looked it up I found nothing. Admittedly I didn’t look very hard as I have never seen the programme and have no real interest in it.

        1. Never watched Star Trek! That’s a splendid claim to make! There are numerous otherwise wildly popular programmes I can say that about.

  4. Thank you, Jack, particularly for ALOOF. I wasn’t aware of that derivation of ‘Charlie’!
    COD: 14d JACK SPRAT: I did lijke ‘fussy eater’.

  5. A very slow start followed by a sprint for me today, finishing in 13’10”.

    As noted, some surfaces misleading (ignore the surface!). Knew JACK SPRAT from childhood, nho RICHTER but wordplay generous, liked MACDUFF.

    Thanks jack and setter.

  6. 28:16
    Nice puzzle; good level of challenge. Macduff was good.
    Thanks, jack.

  7. 8:17. No problems this morning.
    I am sceptical that CRS is the origin of ‘charlie’. Collins says it is but Chambers (usually a good source for etymology) doesn’t, and the first entries in the OED for both this meaning and the related sense of just ‘a person, esp a man’ are from US publications. I suspect this may be another case like ‘dutch’, where a CRS origin has been reverse-engineered onto a word. CRS for wife should be ‘thane’!

    1. You may be right but my source for CRS was Chambers Slang Dictionary. The same entry goes on to mention from 1920+ Charlie became more generally used for ‘fool’ in phrases such as ‘a proper Charlie’ ‘a right Charlie’ etc, but it puts the CRS derivation first. Anyway it was news to me that it was even a theory, so I thought it worth mentioning.

      1. Not saying it’s not worth mentioning – far from it! These things are always interesting. The earliest citation in OED is from 1946 so perhaps Chambers is more authoritative. Does it give any citations?
        (By the way I looked up the Chambers Slang Dictionary, which I hadn’t heard of, and the only thing available on their website is a three-volume edition costing £349! There seems to be a single-volume edition that is available second hand, is that what you have?)

        1. The Chambers Slang Dictionary is by Jonathon (sic) Green. Used copies available on eBay from about £3 including postage if you are quick. I got mine in a job lot of reference books (including the 2 volume SOED with gold-leaf edges + CD Rom) when I signed up to the Folio Society some years ago.

          It has no citation for Charlie other than 1920+ already mentioned which I think is intended to apply to the innocuous usage rather than the CRS. I would guess in that form it was used by comedians in the Music Hall and then on radio which was starting up at that time. Surely it was around on radio during WWII.

          [Having now seen Shem’s comment, I wonder if the one published by Cassells is the same.]

          1. I recall TV clown Charlie Carioli in the 1970s had his own TV show self-deprecatingly named ‘Right Charlie!’

            Occasionally during the show, he would call out to the audience of children finishing with the question ‘Right children?’ to which they would respond ‘Right Charlie!’

          2. I must say that in the absence of direct evidence I remain sceptical. The OED covers CRS and includes 19th-century references to terms like ‘plates’ or ‘apples’, so I would expect to see some reference to it there. The American use (although more recent that the 1920s) also makes me doubtful. But I keep an open mind!
            I’ve ordered a copy of the Cassells dictionary: it’s probably the same book and was available at a very reasonable price from what seemed a more trustworthy source than those that had the Chambers edition.

            1. Okay, but for future reference the cheapest copy on eBay was from World of Books who I have used many times and the service received was excellent. They also do DVDs.

              1. Thanks, good to know. I did see at least one offer from World of Books but I’ve never heard of them so I was a bit wary.

          3. What is CRS?

            Also, don’t confuse the single volume versions of Green’s slang dictionary with the magnificent three-volume Green’s Slang Dictionary, currently retailing for well into £ three figures. Got mine mine a few years back for £45.

  8. … Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
    Can burst Joy’s grape against his palate fine;
    His soul shalt taste the sadness of her might,
    And be among her cloudy trophies hung.
    (Ode on Melancholy, Keats. Worth a read IMO)

    25 mins mid-brekker. I liked it, mostly: Light sack …, Kind of inquiry… and Not Iced.
    Ta setter and J.

  9. 26 minutes with LOI SPROG. Another pleasant puzzle and a steady solve. COD to NOTICED. I hope at least there was marzipan. Thank you Jack and setter.

  10. 23.34 and agree with Mr Blogger this was a lot of fun. Some jolly clues- moustache, amiable, sprog to choose but three. However, my COD has to be Macduff. Classic!

  11. 15:23. Some tricky bits gave some nice PDMs. RICHTER, ON THE GO and FANCY FREE being among them. CANDELABRUM took me ages to parse, failing to separate ‘tin container’. Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  12. 44 mins. The two that held me up were RECTORY and RICHTER. Clever clue (among many) the latter.

    I always call my daughter “sprog” but obviously I don’t mean it in a derisory sense! I know all about GREEN CARDS as my stepson moved to the US many years ago.


    Thanks Jack and setter.

  13. About 20 minutes, without parsing FANCY-FREE or understanding how RICHTER (very clever) or JOY worked – the latter was an obvious biff, and joey never occurred to me. Took a while to see which meaning of ‘light’ was being used for SET FIRE TO, and only then did I get JACK SPRAT. Also wasn’t familiar with the exact equivalent of in rut and in heat, even though the connection was clear, so TUDOR didn’t go in straight away.

    A nice puzzle, so thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Cue
    LOI Richter
    COD Cheap labour

  14. I had a careless SAMOS at 1dn, sort of worked but obviously no good since the island in the Aegean Sea isn’t a nation state. And anyway S = southern should have been seen ahead of A = the southernmost part of samosa. So this slowed me on 10ac until I’d realised my mistake, taking me to 34 minutes. For 24ac I had the definition as ‘Designer of scale model of car’ and ‘t for it, because the Richter Scale never occurred to me so I assumed that there was a Mr Richter who had done some designing of dinky toys. Silly really.

    1. Maybe Samos is a nation state in the same way that Baluchistan is. Ah, the romance of these far flung places, however brief the encounter with them may be.

  15. 08:47, so on the wavelength. Some nice touches, especially the scale-maker and getting both Tom and Jerry in the same clue. I, too, muttered to myself at one point “Dammit, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a lexicographer”.

  16. 21 minutes, so for me a good time. Didn’t know candelabra was plural till now. Apart from that nothing to add.

  17. Straightforward today but with some very nice touches, I thought. Particularly liked the Scot, the irrational hobby and my namesake at 3dn. Good stuff!

  18. 28:02

    One of those pleasing crosswords that seems a little like wading through mud at first, until halfway through, it suddenly seems easier. From being perhaps halfway through on twenty minutes, the remainder fell into place in a further eight minutes. No quibbles with any of the vocab today – all parsed and no NHOs!


    Thanks setter and Jack

  19. 30 minutes. Didn’t know that “Recto” = page. Similar to Mike H above, enjoyed “Philately” and “Richter”.

  20. Fairly straightforward with this one, crossing the line in 37.05. Held up a fair while at the end by my last two CEREBRA and finally AMIABLE, which I make my COD. An enjoyable crossword today.

  21. I guessed 1a would end with D, so 5d duly went in first as Sawbones popped into view. An enjoyable ramble around the grid ensued, with the SW holding out longest, until RICHTER opened it up. SET FIRE TO was LOI. 20:05. Thanks setter and Jack.

  22. Was going happily through this then got stuck in the SW. JOeY broke the deadlock and the rest followed smoothly. Several definitions caused pause and then enjoyment – DOC (not real bones) Jack (not equivalent to Jerky) but all were surpassed by the wonderful collective term for Waiters.

  23. I’m afraid I did far too much biffing to gain much enjoyment. I didn’t like the QC much either, so I’m probably just more than averagely grumpy today. A slow start didn’t help.

    TIME 10:47

  24. 31:48 with one pink square. Some clever clues I enjoyed solving, then spoiled with a silly typo.

    CEREBRA: I thought it was only the city reversing (EC to give CE) then: CE BRA keeps RE

  25. Never felt entirely in the groove with this one but managed to complete it in 31 minutes all the same. Held up for too long in the SW corner. Some very ingenious clues, which I was pleased to unravel, including MACDUFF, NOTICED, and CUE.
    FOI – JOY
    COD – MOUSTACHE (not difficult, but a clever assembly of the elements).
    Thanks to jackkt and other contributors.

  26. 6m 56. Not tricky, but an absolute delight – JACK SPRAT was excellent, and COD to AMIABLE. Topical…

  27. Most not too tricky, but was flummoxed by the AMIABLE/CEREBRA nexus for a long time. Never did parse the latter, so thanks for that. Liked RICHTER, INTER and AROMA.

  28. 23 minutes-ish. Like some, AMIABLE took me a while and, yes, I was embarrassed when I finally got it. MACDUFF and JACK SPRAT both fun.

  29. the “richter” and “noticed” crossover had me for a while but I should have solved not-iced much earlier. otherwise steady and enjoyed Macduff and jack sprat. Easier for me than yesterday! Thanks setter and blogger

  30. Snap with Gerry above, sped through until held up by the last two, the crossing Richter/not iced. Should have got them quicker.
    Enjoyable puzzle.
    Wondered if philately was a nod to Horryd.

  31. Enjoyed this – took my mind off my dose of covid. Last one in was amiable, perhaps because I am decidedly grumpy at the moment. Thx to setter and blogger.

  32. Re 28A: I’m open to correction, but so far as I know a Green Card does not confer any tax advantages not available to other UK citizens. The main benefit of a GC is that it gives a permanent right to live and work in the US, without having to seek visas on each occasion, which may make it especially desirable for people like actors and jet-setters. GC holders are required to submit tax returns on their (global?) income to the US authorities, so the tax implications may not be favourable at all. Boris Johnson allegedly renounced his US citizenship for tax reasons, which is not quite the same as a GC, but similar considerations may apply. But as I said, I’m open to correction.

    1. Thanks, you may well be correct about Green Cards. I’m so tired of hearing about alleged (and actual) Government scandals over recent years that I probably didn’t give the matter my full attention when it was being reported.

    2. Tax advantage or lack thereof might depend on marginal tax rates and home country tax rules. When I was sent to work in USA (briefly – no green card) I paid my full taxes there, top rate was 30%. The Australian Tax Office was happy with that, didn’t ask for more, even though their top tax rate that they would have charged me was 46%. Time was a consideration – if I’d been out of Australia less than 90 days I would have had to make up the shortfall – pay the 16% difference. Considerable advantage for me.

  33. 29 mins but knock off 5 for a quick nap. Stared and stared at AMIABLE but never got it the cryptic. Am I dumb or what? Also similar problem with RICHTER, the hidden SPROG took far too long to see and I thought a FANCY must be some kind of chimney cover. Well, I got it all without any help from my friends anyway…

  34. A good Tuesday offering, not massively difficult, but really entertaining solving with well-hidden definitions. Particularly liked Designer of scale, FANCY-FREE and AROMA, my LOI. Having had candlestick a few days ago, I nearly bunged it in on seeing ‘tin’, but fortunately paused to parse!

  35. An enjoyable solve after lunch. Not all parsed when solving -struggled with RICHTER for example, but answers generally clear.
    LOI GREED after SPROG where I failed to see the hidden.
    Today’s QC produced some furious comments. Bob Dylan came to the rescue for some.

  36. My time (37 minutes) was similar to Jack’s and I also found it (mostly) straightforward but (very) enjoyable. And I did have a few false starts along the way: SCRIBBLED, INTER?O?A?E for 13dn, LORD P… for 4dn, before crossing words or the impossibility of finding suitable anagrams forced second thoughts.
    Many many excellent clues today, like the one with the group of waiters, MOUSTACHE, RICHTER, FANCY FREE, it’s hard to choose which was the best. And the surface readings tended to make more sense than they usually do. Thank you, setter!

    1. Totally agree with you, Hydrochoos: great fun once I got going, with all the definitions cleverly hidden but fair. Very hard to pick COD, with the collective noun for ‘waiters’ just edging out several others: MACDUFF (new name for my (comparatively) old desk-top, JACK SPRAT,AMIABLE, etc.

  37. For the benefit of the earlier commenter, CRS stands for Cockney Rhyming Slang.
    Alright me old china?

  38. This felt more difficult than yesterday, but some excellent clues. My favourite was MACDUFF.
    RECTO being a page was new to me.
    Many thanks for the blog and thanks Setter

  39. 23’44” but definitely slowed down by chattering in room. Need a good silent solve, me. I am another one who is sceptical of the CRS root of Charlie. A basic rule of thumb for any journalist/historian should be: if the story is too good to be true, it probably is.

    1. I always thought Charlie as fool just came from the fact that”churl” was a cognate of Charles. ( German equivalents Kerl and Karl).

  40. Got there in the end, but it was a close run thing, with loi Richter frustratingly dragging me towards a DNF. Having failed miserably to lift and separate, I was left trying to get Richer and It into a seven letter answer – not easy. CoD has to be Set Fire To, a real pdm when it came, after staring at s*t/*i*e/*o for what seemed ages. Invariant

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