Times Cryptic 28622


My solving time was 24 minutes for all bar one clue at 9ac which I was unable to resolve after an extensive letter trawl. Eventually I gave up and revealed the answer, which turned out to be one that I had considered even before the trawl but had been unable to justify. I still can’t fully, as the tense in the definition seems wrong, but at least whilst writing the blog I managed to decipher the wordplay. My edited comment in the blog contains an update on this.

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 Record of Spooner’s instruction to beat up chef (4-4)
Spooner would say: BASH (beat up), COOK (chef)
5 Leaves without wife — time to disappear? (2,4)
GOES (leaves) containing [without – outside] W (wife), T (time)
8 A cabinet member covering up daughter’s conduct (10)
A + MINISTER (cabinet member) containing [covering up] D (daughter)
9 Latest article in Le Monde providing biased view (4)
SP (latest – Starting Price), UN (indefinite article in Le Monde). The starting price when applied to horse-racing is the final odds on a horse at the time of starting a race. As mentioned in my intro I am struggling to justify the definition and I’m also not sure whether it’s supposed to include ‘providing’, but on the whole I think it needs to because the answer ‘spun’ is a verb and ‘biased view’ is nounal. However, we also have a problem with the tense as ‘providing a biased view’ would be ‘spinning’ not ‘spun’. All would be well if the clue read: ‘Latest article in Le Monde provided biased view‘. Note on Edit: My query appears to have been answered by Kevin Gregg and others in the early comments below. 
10 Typical of a backbencher perhaps (14)
Two meanings. All MPs are representatives of their constituents but some are also ministers as in 8ac (or shadow ministers) whilst the remainder are ‘backbenchers’.
11 Old church society in decline — the bishop’s responsibility? (7)
O (old) + CE (church) + S (society), contained by [in] DIE (decline)
13 Current row about check making you increasingly impatient (7)
I (current) + TIER (row) containing [about] CH (check)
15 Man and woman watching cricket here? (3,4)
THEO (man), VAL (woman). London’s other international cricketing venue.
18 Soldiers watch over protective gear (7)
PARAS (soldiers) then LO (watch) reversed [over]
21 Doctors backing a new locum for training — and a new paramedic (14)
BMA (doctors – British Medical Association) reversed [backing], anagram [for training] of A NEW LOCUM, then A, N (new)
22 Unfinished letter once appearing in The Thunderer? (4)
THOR{n} (letter once) [unfinished]. Thor is the Norse god of thunder, also war and strength. The letter has come up quite recently in one of the weekday puzzles.
23 Give new strength to crumbling Eire Greens (2-8)
Anagram [crumbling] of EIRE GREENS
24 Old socialist investors installing new leader (6)
‘ANGELS’ (investors usually in theatrical productions) becomes ENGELS when a new leader is installed
25 Teachers inhaling crack, source of comfort in retirement? (8)
BEDS (teachers – Bachelors of Education) containing [inhaling] SOCK (crack)
1 Vegetable for the Speaker overcooked? (7)
Sounds like [for the Speaker] “chard” (vegetable)
2 Signal change in atmosphere, temperature dropping (9)
Anagram [change} of A{t}MOSPHERE [temperature dropping]
3 Buddhist school at foot of mountain first to extract hydrocarbon (7)
BEN (mountain), ZEN (Buddhist school), E{xtract) [first]
4 Unintroduced lout on Panorama? That’s disgusting! (7)
{y}OB (lout) [unintroduced], SCENE (Panorama)
5 Giant gun at Agra destroyed (9)
Anagram [destroyed] of GUN AT AGRA
6 Irascible, like privileged American? (7)
A straight definition plus a hint relating to the acronym WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) used to refer to Americans descended from early northern European settlers.
7 A tight fit for one’s inamorata (7)
Two meanings, the second being slang originating in the USA.
12 Weapons that a toddler has? (5,4)
Another straight definition and a hint
14 A poor kipper (9)
Cryptic. ”Kip’ being slang for ‘sleep’.
16 Barbaric with fervour coming down on Scottish woman (7)
HEAT (fervour), HEN (Scottish woman)
17 Playwright’s an Australian native, by the sound of it (7)
Sounds like [by the sound of it] “Oz born” (Australian native). John Osborne, one of the Angry Young Men.
18 Spicy offering of Mississippi canteen (7)
Hidden in [offering of] {Mississip}PI CANTE{een}. ‘Offering’ could  be part of the definition as ‘picante’ can a spicy sauce.
19 Hesitation about The Guardian’s benefits (7)
ER (hesitation) reversed [about], WARD’S (The Guardian’s)
20 Stays on boat to welcome grand head of state (7)
LINER (boat) contains [to welcome] G (grand) , then S{tate} [head of …]

105 comments on “Times Cryptic 28622”

  1. I also ground to a halt on SPUN since the tense didn’t match and I assumed it had to end “-UN” but I couldn’t really see how SP (which I knew meant “starting price”) justified “latest”. I fully expected it to come back pink and I’d see something else that I’d missed, so pleased when it was green.

    31.54 overall but about 25 minutes to get to everything except SPUN and the rest trying to justify it.

    Also, here in Silicon Valley, “angels” are also early investors in startups (before venture-capitalists get involved). There is even a famous investment group known as “band of angels”.

  2. Ditto on 9ac. Unlike Paul, I don’t know that I was even pleased it was correct! On top of the past/present tense problem, I’m not even sure SP is “the latest”!

    1. I think “sp” is the final price, not the latest price. Coming up to the race, the latest price is whatever it is, which is not yet the starting price. Although I see below that it is British slang for “the latest” which I did not know.

      1. I think the sp evolves – if you lay the sp well ahead of the start you get whatever the then current odds are; those might change, but they are the latest right then

        1. The SP is the single price that applies at the start of the race. If you bet SP that’s the price you get, irrespective of the prevailing market price at the time you place your bet. So effectively if you bet SP you don’t actually know what odds you’re getting.

          1. So starting price, is that the same thing as single price? No gambler, me. Collins has only the former

            1. Not as an abbreviation. What I meant was that it is *the* (single) price that applies at the beginning of the race. It’s not something that varies over time: at the point of placing an ante-post bet it doesn’t yet exist.
              So if the odds for a particular horse for a race tomorrow are 8-1, I can bet £1 on a fixed odds basis, and if the horse wins I will get £8. If I bet SP, I don’t know my odds at the point of betting. If at the start of the race the odds are 6-1, I will get £6, as will every other punter who bet SP, irrespective of the prevailing odds at the time they placed their bets.

                1. Not according to any dictionary I’ve found. Where the relevant definition is in dictionaries (e.g. Collins ‘the latest information’) it’s generally in the same entry as ‘starting price’ so I think that’s the most likely explanation. When I’ve heard the expression ‘what’s the SP?’ that’s certainly what I’ve always assumed but I confess I’ve never really thought about it before!

  3. 16:26
    Biffed 21ac, never tried to sort it out. SPUN took my last 3 or 4 minutes, with alphabet-trawling turning up nothing else. I finally thought of SP, which I sort of remembered as the latest odds in a horse race. I think the def is ‘providing biased view’, and I think it works: ‘providing’ and ‘spun’ are both participles, and a spun report/article/account is one providing a biased view.

      1. I have it slightly different: the definition is just “biased view”, as in: spin = (to) bias (someone’s) view; so spun = biased view.

    1. I think ‘spun’ in this instance is a gerundive, sometimes described as ‘middle ground between verb and adjective’. As for ‘latest’, it fits in with the vernacular question ‘What’s the SP on a (topical) situation?’

    2. Kevin, I agree entirely, but had the setter included that little indefinite article -providing A biased view- it becomes phrase that can readily be substituted for spun, and so avoided much head-scratching here.
      I’ve found a reference that some may like, but will have to post it here later.

  4. Another vaguely worried by SPUN, after needing a trawl for the P. The article is providing a biased view / the article is spun? Almost. I also thought ward/guardian was the wrong way round? But it was Engels LOI for me, again totally stuck, went away, solved it in my head and wrote in ANGELS without rereading the clue to see which was the definition… idiot. Otherwise sped through the puzzle with nary a problem – nice puzzle.
    Edit: I see I’ve repeated Kevin’s comment, which wasn’t there. Great minds, etc. No problem with SP being the latest: as Shylock said to Bassanio, What’s the SP on the Rialto?

  5. I was all done under 10 minutes except for SPUN and put it in from the definition after nothing better came to mind at 15:59.

    Collins has “latest information (British slang)” as a definition for sp. Probably tied to the starting price definition, but it is there.

    I think the clue does work as is since you can read it as once something has been spun it is providing a biased view.

  6. I didn’t have trouble with Spun – political policy which has been interpreted by whatever talking head is providing a biased view, and it’s Spun. (On edit – looks like I’m following a couple earlier people who read it that way too, but who apparently type faster than me). I did have trouble with Thor, assuming that Chas Lamb(da) had probably written for some early version of The Times (or other) known as The Thunderer.

  7. Was seduced for a bit by case-book for 1ac but fortunately couldn’t justify ‘base’ meaning to beat up. Agree with comment re guardian / ward, seems quite a bad mistake.

  8. 13 minutes. For 9a, I parsed the ‘biased’ in ‘biased view’ as the past tense of the transitive verb to bias, with ‘providing’ as a link word, such that someone who biased the view of others on a (usually political) topic might be said to have SPUN. No, not really convincing and I think the explanation given above by Kevin et al is better. Collins has one sense of WARD as “a less common word for warden” so maybe ‘Guardian’s’ can be justified.

    Otherwise no quibbles. I liked THEO and VAL enjoying the cricket at Kennington and the comforting BEDSOCKS.

  9. Half-biffed AMBULANCEWOMAN. Had three quarters filled with THOR all alone in the SW until things there suddenly cleared up. For WARD, Collins has an archaic sense of “a garrison; the guard or watch.”
    Really liked PICANTE.

    1. That’s how I saw it. SP = Stop Press = Latest. Then un for article in Le Monde.

  10. I liked GO WEST, AMBULANCEWOMAN and the cricketing couple THEO and VAL. The latter might be a bit tough if you have never heard of the ground.

  11. 11:10. I was fortunate to read the definition for SPUN the right way so as not to have to spend too much time on it. I can see how on another day it might have completely thrown me.

    AMBULANCEWOMAN is for me a typical clue that I leave late because there’s so many parts to it, and then end up biffing or semi-biffing. Having now seen the parsing for it I think it a great clue for the medic related surface.

  12. 24 minutes with very few holdups. In particular I’m more familiar with S.P. in the meaning of “the latest info/gossip” it apparently evolved into rather than the original betting sense, so that went in quickly.

    No problem with “ward” for guardian; the wards of a lock, of a castle, or even a magical spell or talisman of protection spring to mind. (I’ve just read the latest Charlie Stross and it’s replete with magical wards being used for protection/as a guardian.)

  13. Reasonably straightforward, especially the top half – where I was reminded of Arthur Daly asking Terry “what’s the S.P. on… ?”. Down below, I found the going a bit stickier – THORN as a letter was completely unknown to me, as was HEN for Scottish woman. LOI ENGELS took a few minutes, springing into view out-of-sequence whilst alpha-trawling. Phew…

    …except that I carelessly pluralised AMBULANCEWOMEN. 28:40 fail – thanks J and setter

  14. 14’38” today.

    Fine with guardian / ward – you have warders, and you ward off something.
    Also just about fine with SPUN: as noted, ‘what’s the SP?’ is modern jargon.

    THE OVAL took a while, inexplicably. Looking forward, as ever, to the Ashes.

    Thanks jack and setter.

  15. Struggled in a few places, eventually came in at 32.38. The long across answers took their time coming, and psychologically I prefer an indication that several shorter words are required rather than a single intimidating 14-letter beast. Ditto everybody on SPUN, if an answer requires that much unpacking and analysis maybe that’s a sign the whole thing is flawed. Gargantuan is a common word but until now I never knew there was a guy named GARGANTUA. The book was by Rabelais – they named ‘rabelaisian’ after him. I hope THEO and VAL will be at The Oval tomorrow to watch the world’s two best cricket teams slug it out for the championship…

  16. “there are more fools than wise men in all societies, and the larger party always gains the upper hand”
    (Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel)

    25 mins pre-brekker with a couple on LOI Bedsocks. I wasn’t keen on, nor sure about, Spun.
    Ta setter and J.

  17. Quick again today.
    No problem with spun, though it was loi.. less happy with ward’s = guardian’s. Struggling to find an adequate substitution there.
    I tried to read Gargantua and Pantagruel once, but failed .. they are C16th books, and hard going. Might try a more modern translation one day. Or not..

    1. I read Gargantua in the original Urquhart translation when I was about 12, my curiosity having been piqued by “The Music Man”, where it’s one of the smutty books in the library (“Chaucer! Rabelais! Balzac!”). I loved it. I still remember the delighted shock of seeing, in print, ‘his shit-streaked beard’, and thinking, “Can they do that?”

      1. I found that developing an interest in Greek mythology was even better than just “smutty” … what Zeus got up to beggars belief, even now. At 14 I was green with envy 🙂

  18. 30 mins but fell at the last with SLUR for 9 ac which I couldn’t parse, of course, but didn’t see SPUN. Bah. On edit: looking at my printed out sheet I see I had even written down S-UN and STILL not got it!! Must be something in my tea this morning.

    I liked the spoonerism and THE OVAL.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

  19. I had no trouble justifying SPUN once I’d seen it (having earlier toyed with SPIN). As for SP meaning “the latest”, nobody has mentioned the phrase “What’s the S.P. on [such-and-such]?” Not a phrase I use myself but I’ve certainly heard it. It sounds vaguely 1960s-ish to me.

  20. 13:49. But one wrong as I had a careless CASE BOOK for 1A. I took a while to get THOR as I saw HETH hidden and wondered how it could be unfinished. Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  21. 32m 32s
    A puzzle that just fell into place for me, including SPUN.
    CASH BOOK and INSOMNIAC went straight in.
    With 4d, I thought it might be a word starting with [L]OUT.
    17d OSBORNE. From time to time I re-read his volume of memoirs entitled ‘Almost a Gentleman’. The chapter on Wife #4, the actress Jill Bennett, is just wonderfully vitriolic.
    Row 15: ENGELS BEDSOCKS sounds like a good name for a rock group!
    Thanks, Jack!

  22. About 20 minutes. Didn’t parse THE OVAL though it was a straightforward biff, like one or two others I thought of ‘case book’ before getting CASH-BOOK, and I misparsed LINGERS for a while – I thought ‘head of state’ was the definition, with stays=lies on SS for ship (I know that gives one S too many) including G to produce ‘liegess’. It wasn’t until I figured out AMBULANCEWOMAN that I realised I was barking up the wrong tree.

    Again like others, SPUN took a very long time to come, and sock=crack wasn’t an obvious equivalence to me, which held up BEDSOCKS for a while.

    FOI Charred
    LOI Spun
    COD Ambulancewoman

  23. 21.27 though I can’t really claim it as I did not realise that I had not solved ‘spun’ until my solving time failed to appear. I quickly entered it and the ‘congratulations’ message duly came on the screen. It’s not the first time that I have failed to remember that I intended to return to a clue and forgot to do so. Back in the day, at the Crossword Championship, in his introduction, John Grant always advised competitors to spend a few moments checking that they had completed the grid. Perhaps I’ll learn one day.

  24. A quick one, no problem with SPUN here but held up for a minute or two on ENGELS my LOI, 17 minutes. Likewise, thought WARD’S for Guardian’s was dodgy.

  25. 6.47 – flowed really nicely today for some reason. That might be the first time I finished one faster than Verlaine!

    Paused over AMBULANCEWOMAN to check it was singular as that would have been an annoying pink square

    Thank j and setter

  26. Flummoxed somewhat by this one, adding many minutes working out BEDSOCKS and SPUN (of course), and not being able to spell OSBORNE (essaying Osbourn) and therefore wondering if there really was a letter thE THUunderer and why it was unfinished, and what socialist fit the crossers _N_N_S.
    I was also going to raise a slight objection to Scottish woman for HEN, thinking it’s more a Newcastle thing, but I see Chambers has it as an adjectival Scottish for female, so I’ll let it go.
    Then there’s the plural BEds which was a slow pick up for teachers, instead of NUT or sirs or lots of other common substitutions. Crack to SOCK is a bit of a 3 point turn too. Both of which made me wonder even more about REWARDS: was the definition hesitation, and the wordplay about RE and Guardian’s benefits something I couldn’t work out?
    So 24.41 with a slight feeling either of being cheated by some imprecise cluing, or simply being had by some crafty misdirection. Still not sure which.

    1. I haven’t seen you post for a long while. Have you reappeared out of excitement about Ange Postocoglou?

      1. I was internetless for a few months, and I’m now recovering from a stroke, though unaffected in solving capacity (I think). I kept going with a book of puzzles from 2017, none of which I remembered, and a book of Jumbos. I’m now re-established.
        My only excitement about Ange Postocoglou is anticipating Harry trying to pronounce his name, even if it’s just to say goodbye!

  27. Similar issue with SPUN and LOI. Biffed THOR but never parsed it, NHO thorn in that meaning. Otherwise quite straightforward (which means about 35′ for me!). Nice to see HEN as Scottish woman, haven’t heard it in ages! Thanks blogger and setter.

  28. 21:55 today. I find spun OK – if something is spun, it‘s providing a biased view. My LOI was SQUEEZE. As mentioned above, I always though the ward was the person guarded but I didn‘t let it worry me!
    Anyway 22 minutes is a good time by my standards, so I think it was probably an easy puzzle as noted already by others.
    Thanks setter and blogger

  29. 8:50 with a bit of hesitation at the end over SPUN. It seemed fine to me once I’d figured it out.
    I’m less sure about 19dn: the required meanings of WARD strike me as a bit arcane so I wonder if it isn’t just a mistake.

  30. 44 mins which pleased me, then saw CASH BOOK not my CASEBOOK. Now displeased. Grr. Thanks everyone, always enjoyable to read.

  31. 24 mins with the much commented several minutes spent on SPUN. Embarrassingly I had to biff AMBULANCEWOMAN and SEMAPHORE, missed both anagrams.

  32. 20 minutes with two to go in the NE corner, but then held up by 9ac and 7dn, which took another 5 minutes to sort out. Then SQUEEZE dawned on me, so the last one in had to be SPUN, though I would echo others’ hesitations on this clue. I recall some recent discussion here on THORN, one of our ancient letters.
    LOI – SPUN
    Thanks to jackkt and other contributors.

  33. 08:43, held up, like a lot of other people on SPUN, but I was happy with my answer once the alphabet trawl yielded it (I am another who immediately pictured Minder for that meaning of SP).

  34. For once I saw the Spoonerism straight away and 1a was FOI. My main hold ups were THOR, ENGELS and LOI, SPUN. No problems with the latter once I’d seen UN as the article in Le Monde. 19:07. Thanks setter and Jack.

  35. Toddlers do have SMALL ARMS but until the crossers made it impossible I had entered their more infamous SHORT FUSE.
    Not quick again today but no dilemmas for me and correctly finished. Still my main objective.

    Thanks all.

  36. 14:13 with the adjectival/gerund SPUN easily justified once I had convinced myself about the SP bit. Hesitated over REWARDS as I’d always thought of a ward as the one being guarded rather than the guardian, but Chambers has no such misgivings.

  37. 8m 12s with the last 2 mins or so spent on ENGELS. My least favourite kind of clue is one where we’re told to change a letter, but no indication of what it should change to – always seems rather lazy from the setter, to my mind.

    Aside from that, and the SPUN controversy that I think has been settled now, it was a nice puzzle.

  38. Couldn’t parse SPUN either so went for the other option SLUG which I seem to recall having something to do with headlines. Apart from that, not too much bother.

  39. 42.05 to complete, but like others was perplexed by SPUN. I eventually got there on the basis as someone else has already described it as ‘heard it on the sp’, which I’ve heard used many a time without fully understanding what exactly the sp stood for. I’m not convinced that starting price comes into it, but can offer no alternative.

  40. Solved via the app so just under 20 minutes this morning. Nice to see it all green, LOI BEDSOCKS – where I had been trying to use NUT.
    Pleasant solve, thanks setter and blogger.

  41. 18.52 for my quickest solve (and first under 20 mins) since I started timing myself 3 months ago. Hurrah!!

    1. Congratulations ! These milestones are important. I used to do the crossword with a pal over a coffee and cigarette many moons ago. I was the first to break an hour, 30′, 20′ and 15′, but for us the “4′ mile” was 10′. I played Chattaway to his Bannister; HE broke 10′ and I never have. Hey-ho.

  42. 23:40
    I thought this was pretty decent. I was sure that WARD was a mistake but now know better. AMBULANCEWOMAN looked too tortuous to work out so I waited till all the crossers fell into place and made it simple. SPUN was LOI but I thought the clue was fair enough.

    The author of GARGANTUA and Pantagruel is said to have gone to unversity here in Poitiers, though there is no definite proof, and once every year the student don fancy dress and go on a Rabelasian pub crawl around the town. A sort of French Bloomsday, I suppose.

    Thanks to Jack and the setter.

  43. If ‘bias’ can be a transitive verb – “I don’t want to bias you” – then I suppose the clue for SPUN works. But I think it sucks, as others obv agree. Finished this one in 45 mins, but somehow really didn’t like it. SPUN irritated me, as did the inclusion of the definition article in the 19dn clue.

    1. Re SPUN, that’s not how to spin that. Kevin Gregg et al. are correct, above.

    2. But surely bias only works as a transitive verb? Do spin doctors go out and just bias? “Honey, I’m home; did some good biasing today” – ???

      Don’t understand why everyone’s overcomplicating this clue
      Bias view = spin
      Biased view = spun
      “Provided” is just clue glue

      1. Biased view = spun view. There’s no way it equals “spun” tout court.
        If a news item is “spun” by a talk-radio host, that means listeners are “provided a biased view” on it.

        1. The definition of bias that I’m thinking of (that keeps the clue nice and simple) is “distort (a statistical result); introduce bias into (a method of sampling, measurement, analysis, etc.” which seems close enough to a non-pedant like me

          1. No one’s arguing that this isn’t the case. We’re only pointing out that the past participle acts as an adjective here in this clue. “Providing” is essential to the definition, not a mere connecting word.
            Which seems to me simple enough. Suppose that makes me a “pedant” to you. That doesn’t bother me.

            1. I’m probably not as smart as you or anyone else here because despite my best efforts, my poor brain simply cannot grasp how “providing biased view” = spun. Whereas “biased view” = spun makes perfect sense to me.

              But then again – I only spent a few seconds on the clue so maybe it’s smart to be dumb?

              1. You’re spending way more time on it now, Lou. I also worked it fairly quickly.
                “Biased view” could equal “spin.” That’s also a noun.
                But “spun” can only be a past participle or adjective. That’s why the clue has “providing,” to make a adjectival phrase.

                “Watching the Murdoch channel biased my friend’s view of current events” can be rephrased using SPUN instead of “biased,” but SPUN by itself doesn’t include the object, the “view.”

                1. It’s the time on the crossword clock that counts

                  No idea what half of what you said means. Adjectival phrase – good grief. Spun is past tense, biased is past tense, what’s the problem?

                  1. I don’t time myself when I work the puzzle. That’s not the point for me. What’s the rush? What would I be trying to prove? To whom? If it’s taking too long, I put it aside for a while.

                    Your flaunted (feigned?) attitude of anti-intellectualism is somewhat incongruous with your repeated efforts to work crossword puzzles.

                    Yes, “spun” is past tense and “biased” is past tense too. “Biased” all by itself could actually have been used as a definition for SPUN, but this clue isn’t worded exactly that way. Almost, but not quite.

                    1. I mean this is “times for the times”, and yes I do have a good time when I have a good time.

                      Not anti-intellectual, just anti-obfuscation. Crossword clue explanations should not require an advanced knowledge in…anything, really.

                      You say almost, I say close enough.

                  2. I can’t reply below, we’ve reached our limit.
                    Nothing “advanced” in any field has been involved here.
                    If you really can’t see what we’ve been driving at and are not just being stubborn, OK, can’t help you.

  44. Like Zabadak I had OSBOURN and ETHU. ETHU – I told myself — was one of those old Anglo-Saxon letters. Thank God, 16 and 24 could only be HEATHEN and ENGELS so I set about finding my error. 16’19” all up

  45. 28:08 but…

    …had CASE-BOOK rather than CASH-BOOK – initially I’d bunged in COOK-BOOK but when 2d appeared to have two Os, revisited 1a – when CASE-BOOK gave the right answer at 2d, I looked no further.

    My spin on SPUN – I think that if when reading the clue after entering the answer, it isn’t clear, then it’s not a great clue – the clue should clearly point to the answer once it is known and clearly be nothing else. Other contributors’ comments may have helped to explain the answer, but I still get the sense that there has been some shoe-horning involved to make the clue fit the answer.

    NHO WASP = White Anglo Saxon Protestant.

    Otherwise my LOI was THOR – I’d initially tried to justify THET{a} but tore that up when OSBORNE filled itself in.

  46. 24 minutes, delayed at the end by SPUN like everyone else

    Sexistly it took me forever to think what five letter word might go after AMBULANCE.

  47. A DNF for me as I would never have got BEDSOCKS in a month of Sundays and AMBULANCEWOMAN was unparsed through a failure to recognise the obvious BMA. No liner I ever saw could be properly called a boat: they were very definitely all ships, and some of them quite beautiful as well – the original Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, the United States and the France (later the Norway) being among those I remember seeing coming up or down Southampton Water as a nipper. Boats are either submarines or vessels small enough to be carried on a ship, often for emergency use.

    1. The second definition of ‘boat’ in Collins is ‘(not in technical use) another word for ship’.

      1. Even so, I stand by my comment. Dictionaries are records of the language as it is used, not always the same as the way it should be used. Virtually every time I object to a word in the crossword, someone kindly points out a dictionary entry which somehow ‘validates’ the word to which I object. (Often this happens even when the ‘word’ is nothing more than a grunt or frustrated exhalation: I think a recent example might have been ‘harumph’ or some such nonsense.) Dictionaries have their uses, of course, and there are several of them on my shelves. But citing a dictionary entry, while perhaps being sufficient to bring a word within the ‘rules’ of crosswordland, will not do to excuse a word’s misuse in the real world. I made a similar comment recently on a puzzle in The Guardian which relied on ‘refute’ being a synonym of ‘deny’, which, widespread misuse notwithstanding, it is not. I think most crossword enthusiasts are, at least to some extent, lovers of language. As such, shouldn’t we be protecting it – or at least trying to – from the sort of devaluation of which this an example?

        1. There is no such thing as how words ‘should’ be used: their meaning is defined entirely by how people do use them so ‘widespread misuse’ is, linguistically speaking, a contradiction in terms.
          There is also no such thing as ‘devaluation’: the meanings of words evolve and change all the time, this fluidity, along with double meaning (almost all words have multiple meanings) and the resulting ambiguity, are inherent characteristics of language.
          ‘Boat’ is just an example of a word that has a general meaning and an (in this case I’d wager less-known) specialist one. There are thousands of words like this.

          1. It’s an argument, certainly, and one which was advanced for some time on a weekly basis by Oliver Kamm in his columns (now defunct) in The Times, but I’m afraid it’s not one that I’m buying. If language evolves (which I accept it does) in such a way that fine distinctions are lost (as in the ship/boat or deny/refute examples which started this sub-thread), I don’t see how that can be anything but a devaluation of the language – irresistible, perhaps, but a devaluation all the same. In the final analysis, if, as you propose, words’ meanings are defined entirely by how people use them, then we get to the position of Humpty Dumpty, and, taking his assertion (‘When I use a word … it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less’) to its logical conclusion leads to a situation in which every one of us is using words differently – at which point the language becomes useless as a means of communication. I don’t suppose we shall fall out over this – at least I hope we don’t – but I regret that I can’t agree with your position.

            1. I hope we won’t fall out by I’m afraid you’re simply wrong about this.
              People have complained about language ‘deteriorating’ for as long as language has existed (there are examples of ancient Greeks and Romans doing it!), but this phenomenon is simply a natural dislike of change: meanings change, certain distinctions are lost, others arise. Older people naturally dislike the way younger people speak.
              That language does not ‘deteriorate’ (in the sense of becoming less rich, precise, accurate, whatever criterion you choose) is simply an empirically observable fact. Modern English has developed over centuries from a language that is completely incomprehensible to us, and has at no point lost complexity. There is also no significant difference in the complexity of different languages. If anything the opposite happens: the creation of a creole from a pidgin is a process of spontaneous complexification of language as it develops from a lingua Franca of populations whose native languages are different to the native language of subsequent generations.
              As for your ‘Humpty Dumpty’ point, how do you think we get from Old English to Modern English over the course of a thousand years? People use words differently. Language is always contested: people use words in different ways, there is often confusion (think ‘disinterested’) but over time consensus will emerge (and then change again). This happens naturally: there is no point at which an authority says ‘this is the correct meaning’. No such authority exists, and when people try to create them (the Académie Française springs to mind) they inevitably fail. But at no point in this process – the transformation from Old English to Modern English say – has language ever failed as a communication medium. You are concerned about something that has simply never happened and never will.
              Again, all of this is simply a natural and inherent feature of all language. If you are a lover of language you should embrace it. If you don’t, what you are loving is not really language at all, but some abstract and fixed embodiment of your own preferences.
              Oliver Kamm’s book (Accidence will Happen) is excellent on all of this, I recommend it!

              1. Thanks for engaging – it’s great to have something to think about, but I am not convinced. And, with a university exam to complete tomorrow, I’m afraid I don’t have time at the moment to think about this much more. I haven’t looked at Oliver Kamm’s book, but I might pick it up if I find a copy in the bookshop one day. I say ‘might’ because I can’t promise to do so: his columns, as you might expect, tended to irritate rather than entertain and, although he made many points with which I agreed, there were rather more with which I was uncomfortable or just in disagreement.

                I need to move on to other things now or I may not even have time later to look at today’s crossword. Thanks again for your thoughts.

                1. I do recommend Kamm’s book when you have time to think about it, and if you’re interested. Linguistics is a science and one that Kamm understands well, and communicates in an accessible manner, IMO.

        2. “Harumph” is a great word. It’s even what I’m prompted to say by your screed.

          1. You may see it as a word; I don’t. I’m content to disagree on the point.

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