Times Cryptic 28598


Solving time: 33 minutes. Once again I was hampered by not being able to solve the first Across clue until nearly the very end, so I was working mainly from the bottom of the grid upwards. One of the danglers from 1ac was my LOI. However, 3 minutes over my target half-hour was not too bad for a puzzle that contained several words that one doesn’t see every week.

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 Circle of stones Charlie left in Italian city church (8)
C (Charlie – NATO alphabet), then L (left) contained by [in] ROME (Italian city), CH (church). I eventually assembled this from wordplay and checkers but still didn’t recognise the word so was pleased to find it was correct. Its last outing was in a 15×15 puzzle in 2021.
5 Wearing rings, left for wine-exporting city (6)
PORT (left) contained by [wearing] OO (rings)
9 Dying to bury bone in mass of earth (8)
RIB (bone) contained by [bury…in] MOUND (mass of earth)
10 Solitary member of island group meeting Italian (6)
HERM (member of Channel island group), IT (Italian)
12 Freezing foreign terrain, mostly wild (13)
Anagram [wild] of FOREIGN TERRAI{n} [mostly]
15 Tightfisted son’s resources (5)
MEAN (tightfisted – miserly), S (son)
16 Gloomy, having a fit during function (9)
A + TURN (fit) contained by [during] SINE (trigonometric function)
17 Baseball player’s two garments (9)
SHORTS + TOP (two garments)
19 Controls tropical weather, so it’s said (5)
Sounds like [so it’s said] “rains” (tropical weather). Collins: rains – the season of heavy rainfall, esp in the tropics.
20 Day old American head grasps book’s superficiality (13)
FRI (day) + O (old) contains [grasps] VOL (book), then US (American), NESS (headland]
22 Clown about in protective cover (6)
COCO (clown), ON (about). Nicolai Poliakoff (1900 – 1974) as Coco the Clown of Bertram Mills Circus may have been the UK’s most famous clown.
23 French poet in US city, one visiting literary compatriot (8)
LA (US city) + I (one) contained by [visiting] VERNE (literary compatriot of Verlaine). What with Flaubert in the QC yesterday and these two today, I seem to be attracting French writers in my blog puzzles at the moment.
25 Passionate little Dickensian girl switching day and time (6)
DORRIT (little Dickensian girl) becomes TORRID when D (day) and T (time) are switched
26 Greedy European, one admitted by certain conservationists (8)
E (European), then I (one) contained [admitted] by SURE (certain), then NT (conservationists – National Trust)
1 Firm undertaking to accept Mike’s trade-off (10)
CO (firm) + PROMISE (undertaking) containing [to accept] M (Mike – NATO alphabet)
2 Your and my time on radio? (3)
Sounds like [on radio] “hour” [time]
3 Pushes for    places to meet, perhaps (7)
Two meanings, the first perhaps in the sense of promoting a policy
4 Talk about losing heart in adaptation of building (12)
A{bou}T [losing heart] contained by [in] CONVERSION (adaptation of building). I think it’s more usual for ‘losing heart’ to indicate the removal of only the central letter of a word.
6 Empire damaged by Republican head of government (7)
Anagram [damaged] of EMPIRE, then R (Republican)
7 Idealise Catholic connection, thus rising internally (11)
ROMAN (Catholic), then TIE (connection) with SIC (thus – Latin) reversed [rising) and contained [internally]
8 Reluctant to abandon leader: you can swear it (4)
{l}OATH (reluctant) [to abandon leader]
11 Spoilsports quietly start to reveal mistake in new operas (5,7)
P (quietly), then R{eveal} [start] + TYPO (mistake) contained by [in] anagram [new] of OPERAS
13 Tire at workplace, initially receiving naval chief (4,7)
FLAG (tire), OFFICE (workplace), R{eceiving} [initially]
14 Dogged sibling endlessly dipping into a set of books (10)
SISTE{r} (sibling) [endlessly] contained by [dipping into] PER (a) + NT (set of books – New Testament)
18 Capital outing, on Long Island principally (7)
TRIP (outing), O{n} + L{ong} + I{sland} [principally]
19 Stocktaker’s way to occupy governor, perhaps (7)
ST (way – street) contained by [to occupy] RULER (governor, perhaps). I think the definition has to be cryptic because if ‘stocktaker’ (one word) exists as an agent noun – and I can find no evidence that it does – it has nothing to do with rustling.
21 Small wound in rabbit’s tail (4)
S (small), CUT (wound). Hares and deer also have scuts.
24 Fury when head avoids sack (3)
{f}IRE (sack – dismiss) [head avoids …]

79 comments on “Times Cryptic 28598”

  1. 11:49
    I thought that Stonehenge was a cromlech; anyway, 1ac was my LOI, it taking all the checkers for me to recall the word. POI LOBBIES from an alpha-trawl to get the L. Biffed FRIVOLOUSNESS, PARTY POOPER, never parsed them. OATH & IRE QC level; and in general this was an easy puzzle (SNITCH currently in the low 60s).

    1. I only got lobbies from cromlech. Odd given I knew the former but not the latter!

  2. I dug this a lot. Not hard, but entertaining. I am not sure I’ve ever seen ESURIENT used anywhere, yet somehow I immediately saw the word from only the S, R and T. Nice that it’s aligned symmetrically with CROMLECH, which I know I have seen in use, but is still a tasty treat.

          1. Just watched it. Very funny, especially when one of them says that after the daughter of the hotelier on whom Basil Fawlty was based had watched a couple of episodes she said: “Yes, that’s Dad!”

            1. I seem to have posted the wrong link; I thought I’d linked to the cheese shop sketch.

          1. I’ve just pulled up the YouTube link you posted earlier, Kevin. I’ll have to finish watching it later but after only 2 or 3 minutes it’s already hilarious!

  3. Just for something different, 1ac went straight in – built from the cryptic then recongnised. LOI the unknown ESURIENT, where I saw greedy and wrote USURIENT before checking the instructions and correcting it. In between not many holdups… FIRIVOLOUSNESS and PARTY POOPERS took a moment, HERM unknown/forgotten but it had to be.

  4. 18 minutes. Remembered CROMLECH and ESURIENT which helped in the NW and SE. Quite a few others went in from def with help of crossers, though all eventually parsed. The only forgotten was which ‘island group’ HERM belonged to.

    A welcome relief after a couple of tough ones elsewhere today.

    Thanks to Jack and setter

  5. Flew through, but dnk CROMLECH, and constructed ‘cromlace’. Otherwise 11′.

    Thanks jack and setter.

  6. 27 minutes here, helped by at least knowing the word CROMLECH from my researches into Edwardian ritual magicians, oddly enough. It turns out you can buy a house called Cromlech not far from here, appropriately on Druid Hill, with eponymous scheduled ancient monument in the driveway. Sadly I can’t find any photos of it on the estate agent’s listing and I don’t have a spare £1.85m to buy it… Must have a peer over the wall the next time I’m passing!

    Not much else to hold me up, and I even remembered that HERM was a Channel Island; I think SCUT was the only new word for me.

      1. Not quite that close; I’m in Hotwells but I’ve often passed Druid Hill on my way to see friends in Shirehampton and Combe Dingle…

  7. 23:55
    Didn’t know cromlech, but got away with it on the wordplay.
    Thanks, jack.

  8. Adieu l’Émile, je t’aimais bien
    Adieu l’Émile, je t’aimais bien tu sais
    (Le Moribond, Jacques Brel – worth a Youtube if you don’t know it)

    20 mins pre-brekker with LOI Verlaine.
    I vaguely knew Cromlech and Scut – and I remember Esurient coming up here before when someone pointed out John Cleese uses it in the Cheese Shop sketch (maybe it as Kevin G last time?).
    My MER today was at whether Hermit can be an adjective (I think not) or Solitary a noun (ok, it can, it means, er, hermit).
    I really liked it.
    Ta setter and J.

      1. Not really an adjective, although I suppose you could say it’s used adjectivally. *very hermit crab? *a more hermit crab than this one?

        1. So in the phrase”the dark abysm and backward of time” from The Tempest would you say “backward” is an adjective(or adverb) but being used here as a noun? Or is it just a noun ?

  9. Quick but entertaining, this. No unknowns though esurient not part of my day to day vocab..
    Surprised at rain being tropical, specifically. Clearly Collins has not spent much time in the Lake District.

    1. “The rains” in the plural is certainly tropical – think monsoons etc.

          1. Ah, but that doesn’t count, since I’ve never heard of the place 🙂
            Mr Google says it is the wettest place on earth..

        1. It’s not the amount but the distribution through the year? Lakes it rains all year round. Tropics you have dry season, cool season and wet season – the rains.

  10. 21 minutes with LOI the unknown SCUT. Nice to see VERLAINE’s name on here again, and this could only be either him or Rimbaud if I was going to solve it. It was also as well that the instructions for ESURIENT were comprehensive. COCO probably is our most famous clown but I’m putting my vote in for Charlie Cairoli. Enjoyable puzzle. It does help if you have the knowledge and this time I did have enough.
    Thank you Jack and setter.

  11. DNF. I managed to put in RAINS instead of REINS for my second DNF in a row.
    My stretch target when solving is to get to no errors on the leaderboard and I find it very difficult – I’ve not managed it so far this year. Still, the difficulty is part of what makes it a good challenge.

  12. 24:52. I enjoyed this one. I remembered CROMLECH, but only after I had constructed it late on. I did not know ESURIENT (wondered if USURIENT was a word) but the wordplay was very clear. At the time, I liked RUSTLER but I will cross it off my list as “stocktaker” doesn’t work

  13. Helped by CROMLECH going straight in, I fairly whizzed through this. It seems more difficult in retrospect than my performance suggests though ! My LOI is a word I doubt that anyone would use in preference to frivolity.

    TIME 5:54

    1. I would say the words are not quite synonyms, since frivolity can mean lack of seriousness in a not necessarily negative way – fun and games, for instance, whereas frivolousness is definitely a negative description.

  14. A completed grid and for a change all parsed. I agree with the duty blogger that several less common words needed trust in wordplay with a little help from crossing letters. Prime examples are CROMLECH and ESURIENT that I did manage to put together. In the past PERSISTENT would have spoilt my 100% parsing but I had remembered PER for A.
    The building of FRIVOLOUSNESS from WP was very satisfying.

  15. 11:32. It took a while for me to remember CROMLECH and I was held up also by my last two in , with MORIBUND helping me to finally see LOBBIES. Neat puzzle. Good to see a former blogger get a mention. Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  16. 9:51. A few funny words but I happened to know them all. Like others I remembered ESURIENT from previous appearances and discussions about that sketch.
    19dn is a curious clue in that it doesn’t have a straight definition (just a cryptic one and some wordplay) but there’s nothing wrong with that. ‘Stocktaker’ is undoubtedly a word even if it means something different.

  17. About 20 minutes. CROMLECH, SCUT and ESURIENT were unknowns constructed from wordplay, and VERLAINE was a biff (even though the parsing wasn’t that tricky) who I’ve only heard of from Verlaine on this blog! I also didn’t know Herm Island, but HERMIT was clear enough, and SATURNINE is one of those words I’m aware of without knowing what it means.

    A nice crossword – thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Our
    LOI Verlaine
    COD Party poopers

  18. 22 mins and really enjoyed this one. DNK CROMLECH, but worked it up from wordplay. COD TORRID. I may have misremembered this, but wasn’t the reading of a Verlaine poem on BBC radio the signal to the French resistance that D-Day was about to happen?

    Les sanglots longs
    Des violons
    De l’automne
    Blessent mon coeur
    D’une langueur

  19. Careless ‘Cromlach’ instead of ‘Cromlech’ so a failure for me, but a puzzle I enjoyed nonetheless.

  20. This feels a bit like golf sometimes; just when you think of jacking in the game, you hit a 5 wood to 3 foot and have a tap in birdie!

    I’ve been on such a bad run of typos and just not being able to finish these that I was tempted to call it a day and stop trying to be competitive as I was beating myself up a bit….and then today comes along and CROMLECH, SATURNINE and ESURIENT go straight in – words I only know from crosswords and then the gods shine on my LOI as it’s a name I’m only familiar with because he’s usually the first person I see on the leaderboard- VERLAINE – and I end up with a rare sub-6 minute time!

    Thanks setter (and J) for keeping me in the game….I think

  21. With a time like 19:22 I feel I should be on some sort of parliamentary committee! Whatever, definitely one of my all-time Top Ten times and again within 23ac x 5!
    Row 1 feels like a match in the early rounds of one of the European football competitions when you wonder where at least one of the teams comes from. Cluj Napoca anyone?

  22. I had to assemble ESURIENT and LOI, CROMLECH, from the instructions, but they seemed vaguely familiar. I visited some crannogs when I was on Coll in the Hebrides and wasted a bit of time trying to remember what they were called. I often get confused between SATURNINE and SATURNALIAN, but the latter is certainly not gloomy! I didn’t know HERM as a CI member, but there wasn’t much alternative for solitary. FOI was OUR. 22:54. Thanks setter and Jack.

  23. In the end I was 27 minutes before being correct: it kept telling me I was unlucky, so I assumed I’d got mixed up with DORRIT and TORRID, but fiddling with this only made things worse. Eventually I looked and it was a silly mistake with RE(a)INS. CROMLECH no problem really because it was vaguely familiar, and ESURIENT known mainly from John Cleese but also through Latin masses.

    For a short while I had trouble posting the comment: couldn’t find the site. But OK now.

  24. 35mins so on the easy side. Very enjoyable though. Last two in VERLAINE (nice to see O great one mentioned) and ESURIENT. The latter and CROMLECH (DNK) worked out from wp.

    I liked the 4 long clues and OPORTO, a gorgeous place.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

  25. I needed an alphabet trawl to get LOBBIES and thereby resolve CROMLECH vs CROLMECH.
    My lack of reading showed me up again on VERLAINE, the late Tom Verlaine being the only one I’ve heard of (apart from the esteemed crossword solver, that is.) Wordplay made it pretty clear, though.

  26. 18:14. A whizzy outing, with a short delay to ponder the mystery of why there is a D in “fridge” but not in REFRIGERANT.

    1. Pronunciation necessity? Refrigerator is soft G (sounds like a J). Fridge also a soft G. FRIGE would be a soft G, but the I would ryhme with I and Y, so that wouldn’t work. FRIG and FRIGGE would both be hard Gs, like in the word GAG. Hence: D needed.
      Though I’m sure many decades ago I’ve seen fridge spelled frig.

      1. I am sure that is right. The verb fridge (to fidget) also existed, though I doubt the person (presumably American) who shortened refrigerator to fridge was aware of it. Frige also just looks too Scandinavian to be an English word.

        1. I worked at East Frigg oilfield once, in the very Scandinavian country of Norway. Famous for when they launched a steel jacket into the water which they intended to float into position, except it sank in the wrong place.

          1. If I were launching a steel jacket into water, I would want it to sink in the right place, all right ..

            1. They have large flotation chambers built into them, so a 50,000 tonne steel structure actually floats. They manoeuvre it into positions then open the flooding valves, the flotation chambers fill with water, down it goes. Except that platform was engineered wrongly, the flotation chambers were crushed by water pressure and it sank immediately on being launched.
              Much more impressive was Gulfaks C (seagull c?) which was a concrete platform built in the very deep fjords then towed out to sea and sunk in 216 m (from memory) depths. At the time it was the heaviest ever manmade thing – one million tonnes.

      2. It’s surprising we’re happy with veg – fruit and veg – rather than vedge

      3. Yes, quite right; I first came across the word “frig” in an Enid Blyton book, somewhat surprisingly. Chambers has it as “informal”, but not archaic, and pronounced /frij/ as you’d expect.

    2. This was also the first time I had really registered this and went scuttling to investigate. The D in fridge appears to come from the abbreviation of the brand name Fridgidaire. So now I know.

  27. 24 mins. Struggled at the end with our friend VERLAINE because I’d assumed an S where the N was for some reason. Also struggled with MORIBUND and LOBBIED. Otherwise I’d have done it in half the time.

  28. Coco was briefly a patient of mine at Epsom District Hospital in the mid seventies. He told me of his family fleeing as refugees, him stuffed under a railway seat for hours, unfortunately directly in front of the heating vent.. He was 5 years old. He had a small suitcase that contained his most treasured possessions, plus plenty of photos to autograph for the staff.

    Mind you, the nurses had a hell of a job making the bed with this big shoes sticking up in the air.

  29. Having made a complete mess of yesterday’s puzzle, failing to finish after 45 minutes, I was pleased to dispose of this in 22 minutes. A lot of biffed answers, though CROMLECH held me up for a while. The French poet is almost always VERLAINE. I didn’t bother to parse the clue until the end. I did, however, study the wordplay for ESURIENT, one of those words that I know exists, but whose meaning, I’m ashamed to confess, I didn’t know.

  30. Quite pleased with my finishing time of 32.49 only then to find I’d fallen at the first hurdle by putting in CROMLACE at 1ac. A bit annoying as I think I have a memory of CROMLECH appearing before. An enjoyable crossword for me all the same.

  31. 14:09, nice to see Verlaine appearing. Like many others, the only person I have heard using the word ESURIENT is John Cleese.

    1. ESURIENT well known to Scrabble players, from the letters if not the meaning. Also anagrams to RETINUES, REUNITES and NEURITES.

  32. 24 minutes with LOI Verlaine – apologies to him.
    Like others had USURIENT at first but couldn’t make sense of the U so switched to ESURIENT.
    Thanks setter and blogger

  33. All the same NHOs for me but constructed easily from word play except for CROMLECH where I also had CROMLECE.

  34. 29:34 but…

    Nothing particularly difficult here except for CROMLECH which I’d never heard of and even with all of the checkers still had no idea – so used an aid.

    Must have taken the pretty route though as behind target time of 26:30 based on the Snitch (73 currently), though might have finished quicker if I’d been bothered to write out all of those letters for 12a – only when I eventually did so, did the answer leap out!

  35. Did this before golf match this morning, but only found time to comment now. 15 minutes, with CROMLECH FOI and the LOBBIES / MORIBUND crossers at the end. Nice to see our VERLAINE getting a mention, and a baseball clue for paul-in-london to relish (hope it is not the beginning of a World Series of baseball clues though).

    I agree with RAINS being tropical, the Lake District just has almost permanent RAIN.

  36. I confidently biffed COMMISSION for 1d but soon saw the error of my ways. Once that was corrected, the rest fell into place quite briskly, but I do hate having a “spoiled” paper. Perhaps I should revert to the on-line puzzle.
    Nice to see Verlaine make a welcome appearance.

  37. I also headed for USURIENT before realising it needed an “E”. Interestingly ODE suggests that USURIOUS (from a latin word meaning use) and ESURIENT (from a Latin word meaning hungry) are unrelated even though it would be easy to believe otherwise! A tidy puzzle. Thanks for the blog.

  38. Like one or two others I had CROMLACH which ruined an otherwise entertaning 13 minutes 18 seconds. And very nearly put CUCKOO in for COCOON.

  39. Nice one – I like it when the vocab is at the edge of my consciousness and has to be worked out from the cryptic – viz CROMLECH and ESURIENT. Only real unknown was SHORTSTOP, but the crosser neatly precluded SHIRTSTOP or SHIFTSTOP. Liked TORRID and VERLAINE. In fact, nothing to dislike.

  40. No time, since I solved this on and off over the course of two hours, whilst watching the Eurovision semifinal.

    LOI was Verlaine.

    Esurient was known to me only from the Monty Python cheese shop sketch.

  41. Never did get CROMLECH (NHO) nor ESURIENT (put in prurient!), but otherwise pretty straight solving with enjoyment. Knew SCUT, SHORTSTOP ; built up the long ones, liked especially TORRID, RUSTLER and MORIBUND.

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