Times Cryptic 28654 Fortunately no Cockney Rhyming Slang


20.20 for my time, if not for my vision. After yesterday’s oddity with little regard for surface readings, I thought this one was a fair representation of how it should be done, if for the most part the cluing was pretty straightforward and especially helpful for the two or three words not in common use. I guess the Vicar at 1d might puzzle a few, but the original is actually in Chambers where he’s named as Simon Aleyn.

Definitions underlined in italics


1 Tricky account is hard to keep in line (8)
TICKLISH – TICK is the kind of account you want, add IS in plain sight and H(ard), the whole keeping in L(ine). In the days when we used to use cash and didn’t always have it, your friendly corner shop or even pub would allow you to put your purchases on tick, a list behind the counter, against the day you won the pools.
5 Part of London well-liked, but not for top people (6)
POPLAR – Making a welcome return after only 3 days, and with a much more familiar clue. Well-liked  POPULAR, without the U because top people and Nancy Mitford don’t like it.
8 Folly and rudeness — there’s little right in that (10)
IMPRUDENCE – Rudeness is IMPUDENCE insert a little R(ight)
9 Thought to bring article forward for assistant (4)
AIDE -Thought is IDEA, advance the indefinite article to the front.
10 Financial specialist in car, hard worker and certain winner? (8,6)
MERCHANT BANKER – Perhaps the setter hopes product placement will be noticed by the Stuttgart marketing department. MERC is your car (hopefully), then H(ard) (worker) ANT, and BANKER is the dead cert filly you bet on to cover your losses on the rest which turn out to be elderly carthorses.
11 Cook putting out a drink talks from here? (7)
ROSTRUM – Cook is ROAST, put out the A, add RUM (often a sound idea for a drink)
13 Stand up, somehow, ground level collector (7)
DUSTPAN – Cute definition, and an anagram (somehow) of STAND UP
15 County girl has performed at the front (7)
DONEGAL – GAL for a slightly disguised girl, with DONE for performed ahead. The largest county in Northern Ireland, so still enjoying the benefits of the EU, while having no government to speak of.
18 Walk backwards across a road to find explosive devices (7)
PETARDS – As far as I know, the only thing you can do with one is to be hoisted by it. Walk backwards is PETS, insert A R(oa)D
21 Friendly mixing is reason rift ain’t spreading (14)
FRATERNISATION – An anagram (spreading) of REASON RIFT AIN’T. Local church ministers and theological colleges are still debating whether they have fraternals now most of the participants are from the monstrous regiment.
22 Excellent moneymaker (4)
MINT – Two definitions, the second mildly jocular.
23 Very worried daughter is given lesson about e.g. writing (10)
DISTRAUGHT – D(aughter) IS (hello again) given lesson TAUGHT with one of the three R’s, two of which including this one aren’t.
24 Liqueur given a sign of approval (6)
PERNOD – Tastes of aniseed, more hopeful product placement. A gives you the PER (tuppence a/per bag) plus NOD for a sign of approval.
25 Evidence of editorial changes certain to be found in Times? (8)
ERASURES – SURE for certain inside ERAS for times.
1 Vicar of Bray perhaps less fat (7)
TRIMMER – From an 18th century song, the earliest version of which was entitled “The Religious Turncoat; Or, the Trimming Parson” The Vicar of Bray humorously (take my word for it or follow the link) adjusted his churchmanship and politics to suit the prevailing fashion. At a stretch, we have two definition, one by example, hence the perhaps.
2 Ornamental cloth and headgear being worn to hide a knight turning up (9)
CAPARISON – Usually on a horse but with a derivative meaning nearer to our definition. Headgear: CAP, being worn: ON insert A and a backwards (turning up) SIR for knight.
3 One finds things funny? That’s horrible in genuine upset! (7)
LAUGHER -REAL for genuine “upset” with UGH for “that’s horrible” inserted.
4 Bone in bird swallowed by tot (7)
STERNUM – Your bird is a TERN, taken in by SUM for tot.
5 What baby may be — innocent, clutching mater excitedly (9)
PREMATURE – Innocent gives PURE, insert an anagram (excitedly) of MATER
6 Cat perhaps with need to chew piece of material (7)
PLACKET – My what?! word of the day. Cat Is a generic PET (though they don’t think so), insert LACK for need, and hope for the best. As well as several archaic meanings, a placket is that bit of material  that forms the back of your pocket in you shirt or skirt.
7 An artist holding stick up in the country (7)
ANDORRA – A small country tucked away in the Pyrenees, most of whose population turn out to form a football team, when they’re know as Andorra Nil. AN plus RA for artist, holding a stick: ROD backwards
12 Girl put right or left alone? (9)
UNAMENDED – Random girl UNA is put right: MENDED
14 Vessel in harbour, almost one that could be mistaken for another (9)
PORRINGER – An Elizabethan pudding basin, usually made of wood or pewter, but here of POR(T) for harbour almost plus RINGER for a doppelganger.
16 Out-of-form team wrongly positioned on field (7)
OFFSIDE – Out of form is OFF, and team SIDE. The offside rule is very simple. It’s when Manchester City score a winning goal at Spurs in the Champions’ League and VAR takes pity on the long suffering Tottenham supporters.
17 Something fibrous turning up in eggs — and beer! (7)
ELASTIN – Contained in your tendons and sinews. Eggs are NITS, beer is ALE, reverse the whole lot.
18 Playwright entertaining a man of colour? (7)
PAINTER – The playwright is Harold (long silence) PINTER (a drip splashes in a bucket). Insert A.
19 What you’d find in the kitchen — Aga best for cooking? (3,4)
TEA BAGS – Well I’ve got one in the mug on my desk, but there are indeed more in my kitchen. Anagram (for cooking) of AGA and BEST
20 Governing bodies in London region given additional seat (7)
SENATES – London region is I suppose, just SE. NATES  being but-tocks are a singular seat in case you thought it should be plural.


83 comments on “Times Cryptic 28654 Fortunately no Cockney Rhyming Slang”

  1. 16:29
    This felt more difficult than it turned out to be. FOI POPLAR, thanks to its recent appearance; it would have taken me a while otherwise. TICKLISH took me a while, because I persisted in taking ‘account’ to be AC. DNK BANKER, and failed to see where ROST came from.

  2. 8:13 – my unknowns were THINNER and PORRINGER, fortunately there was clear wordplay for the latter.

  3. Like George, NHO PORRINGER or (unless I’m forgetting) why the vicar was TRIMMER, and have to add PLACKET to that list. LOI DONEGAL, and I wished there were a GAL around to whom I could announce that I was DONE.
    It was nice to see NATES.
    Z: I had to look up “monstrous regiment” to see what you were referencing. And I won’t go on about religion, now… maybe some Sunday (ha)

      1. Yes, that was my answer, bur reading George’s comment threw me off… for about five minutes.
        Nothing gets past you, though! 😉

    1. Monstrous regiment? The weirdest manifestation of its influence I have come across is at my alma mater (or should that be pater?), where some years ago they appointed a female ‘High Master’. Still I suppose I shouldn’t speak too loudly having chosen a female deity as my avatar…

      1. Winchester College has just appointed its first female head. She apparently has stated that she wishes to be known as Headmaster rather than Headteacher or Headmistress.

        1. Comments acknowledged. All I can do I think is quote Ray Davies: “It’s a mixed-up, muddled-up, shook-up world, except for Lola”!

          And I may be behind the times but I can’t imagine the Girls’ School ever appointing a male ‘High Mistress’.

          But OK the day might come.

  4. 38 minutes. I didn’t know the relevant TICK and TRIMMER senses at 1a and 1d but did remember having seen PETARDS, CAPARISON, PLACKET and PORRINGER before. Did a half-hearted alphabet trawl at 12d, wondering if there was an alternative to MENDED for ‘put right’ but I lost patience and bailed out, half expecting the answer to be wrong. Favourite was the surface for PREMATURE.

    Thanks to Z for the link to the ‘Vicar of Bray’ lyrics. Someone may have beaten me to it, but here’s a link to the song.

  5. 23:58
    LOI PLACKET and exactly as today‘s blogger says, I had to put LACK inside PET and hope for the best. It seemed strange to put such an obscure word in a puzzle that was otherwise straightforward.
    Thanks everyone

  6. 34:43 , so fastest of the week for me, and well under my target of a Halfsnitch ( 42:30 today). Several NHOs : NATES, PLACKET, ELASTIN, CAPARISON. I never knew what a PETARD was, just that one can get hoisted by one’s own.

    I was born in Bray ( Berkshire), so I’ve heard of this ditty. My parents knew the Vicar of Bray quite well at the time.

    PORRINGER appears in AA Milnes’s “The Kings Breakfast”

    The cow said, “There, there! I didn’t really mean it;
    Here’s milk for his PORRINGER, and butter for his bread.”


  7. Re 15a, Donegal is not in Northern Ireland, even though a part of it is further north than NI. Thanks blogger and setter.

        1. Indeed, although the lack of functioning devolved government comment does not apply. Terminology is very important in that part of the world, in fact a significant proportion are not tremendously fond of “Northern Ireland” as a term, insisting on your compromise. “Ulster”, “Derry/Londonderry”, “Good Friday Agreement/Belfast Agreement”…it can be a metaphorical minefield, but thankfully no longer a physical one.

          1. I am much chastened, and hoping nobody either side of the border takes offence, especially the more active kind.

        2. Probably not. To the people in the Republic, it’s the North, or the Six Counties, or the Occupied Six, depending on your political view.

          Donegal is part of the province of Ulster, but was excluded when Northern Ireland was established after Partition, along with Cavan and Monaghan, in order to maintain a Protestant majority in NI. This majority has now gone, along with much of the gerrymandering and weird electoral rules – the old slogan was, ‘Vote Unionist, and Vote Often.’

          Don’t take it personally, Zabadak, because I genuinely missed your erudition and your wit, and am very pleased at your return, but this evinces a general lack of knowledge of – and interest in – anything that happens or originates in the UK outside England. Further evidenced by yesterdays Arbroath Smokies

    1. Donegal, the northernmost county in Ireland, lies in the province of Ulster. Ulster comprises 9 counties, 6 of which are in the Province of Northern Ireland… Not Donegal though! Do I detect a measure of misogyny among today’s solvers?

  8. I forgot to note my starting time but I’d estimate my solving time as 40-45 minutes.

    PLACKET was completely unknown and having constructed it from wordplay I didn’t have much hope of it being correct, so I was pleased to find it was.

    TRIMMER was an educated guess based on checkers and ‘less fat’ so I was fortunate in not thinking of ‘thinner’ first. I knew the song though, and what the Vicar of Bray was noted for, so having come up with TRIMMER I was able to justify it with reference to the expression ‘trim one’s sails according to the wind’.

    I had FINE at 22 instead of MINT for a while, placing an incorrect checker in 17dn which delayed me remembering ELASTIN, a word that was on the tip of my tongue. I thought it had come up here very recently as ‘something fibrous’ but I now think that must have been elsewhere because its most recent appearance in a Times puzzle was in a Jumbo in April when it was defined as ‘protein’ which I would never have associated with today’s definition.

    1. Glad to see I wasn’t the only one to go for FINE. I struggled to bring myself to believe it would be MINT having seen it in today’s QC (or tomorrow’s in the timeline of this 15×15). Hopefully not a spoiler this late in the day.

  9. PETARDS are bombs or mines, referenced in Shakespeare – to be hoist by your own petard meant to be blown up by your own bomb. I believe it may have also had a meaning associated with flatulence.

    I didn’t realise the word TRIMMER was that old, I hitherto have only associated it with craven politicians.

    10’39”, thanks george and setter.

    1. Not simply associated with, but derived from, French péter ‘fart’.

      1. Ha ha! It reminded of a French ‘entertainer’ known as ‘Le Pétomane’, a professional farter!

  10. … Would you like to try a little
    (I see Merlin beat me to it for the King’s breakfast Porringer)

    25 mins pre-brekker, with a few at the end on Porringer.
    Ta setter and Z.

  11. 18:11. I found this ticklish in parts, particularly the SW. I often feel dismayed when faced with a short answer with many possibilities such as _I_T. I considered FIST for a while, thinking that something might be excellent if you “make a good fist of it” and confusing moneymaker with haymaker, which is fist related. Fortunately MINT eventually came to mind and rid me of the tenuous temptation.

  12. Had no idea about PORRINGER, PLACKET or that venal vicar but still managed this in 23-and-a-bit, happy with that. Somehow was able to negotiate CAPARISON and ELASTIN, and while I’ve never heard anyone described as a LAUGHER…well, why not? FOI POPLAR, LOI PLACKET, thank you Z.

  13. 17.29. Placket courtesy of ‘The Sewing Bee’ that I watch with the wife. If only I could be as suave as Patrick Grant.

  14. 10:41. Held up at the end by TRIMMER and TICKLISH. Although I knew the name I had no idea what the Vicar of Bray was famous for. Eventually I realised my guess for 1D, SLIMMER, was wrong when I couldn’t find a 1A to fit. Otherwise all flowed smoothly enough despite not knowing PETARD was a bomb or PLACKET a piece of material. Thanks Z and setter.

    1. All exactly the same as you, Johninterred, except that even though I felt my guess of slimmer was wrong when I could make nothing of 1a, I gave up!

  15. 25 minutes with LOI the unknown PLACKET. PORRINGER also new to me until someone tells me it’s been in several times before. COD to DONEGAL. It’s time POPLAR was losing its attraction. Regular puzzle. Thank you Z and setter.

  16. 33m 16s
    Very entertaining blog, Z!
    Thank you for SENATES and TRIMMER which I couldn’t parse in full.
    I particularly liked your description of ‘Andorra Nil’!
    I’m neither a Man. City nor a Spurs fan so I have no problem with your explanation of OFFSIDE.
    I was going to query the description of PERNOD as a liqueur. It’s an aperitif but Collins Online includes liqueur in the entry for it so that’s fine then. I did like your mention of ‘PER tuppence’. It reminded me of one of Stanley Holloway’s wonderful monologues, ‘The Runcorn Ferry’ in which the ferryman insists that it’s “tuppence per person per trip”.

  17. 25 minutes, with the unknown PLACKET, PORRINGER and ELASTIN constructed from wordplay. I didn’t know the tick=account connection for TICKLISH, hadn’t heard of the TRIMMER vicar of Bray, and was unfamiliar with nates=seat so hesitated over SENATES for a long time.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Aide
    LOI Trimmer
    COD Petards

  18. About 40 mins today but happy to keep up my completion rate this week. PORRINGER and LOI PLACKET were NHOs biffed from wordplay. I didn’t have thinner in 1 down but did have slimmer which worked with all the crossers except 1a. Then “tick” came to mind. Thanks Zabadak for a very entertaining blog, never heard of Monstrous Regiment and now find it’s from my old countryman and emancipator(!) John Knox taking aim at both Mary 1st and Mary Queen of Scots – though he published it in the year Elizabeth came to the throne. Every day’s a school day!

    1. Difficult to imagine how Knox would have reacted to women in leadership of the Church: he lived in a world where it was not an issue. I think it might not have been with a warm welcome. Personally, I prefer Terry Pratchett’s altogether more jolly version, where it really is a regiment and not just regimen (rule) with a T on the end.

  19. I thought ‘nits’ were the lice themselves, not their eggs, but obviously I’m wrong.

    There were some unknowns here, but none too difficult to sort out with wordplay. I believe PLACKET is in fact the front part of a shirt where the button holes are. At least, that’s what Hilditch and Key still thinks it means.

  20. 20 minutes plodding along steadily. PORRINGER rang a bell although couldn’t have told you what it was without the vessel definition. Mrs P said it was a porridge bowl, which is close. The rest was straightforward. Pernod isn’t really a liqueur, it’s an apero. Nice blog Z, very chatty.

  21. 24 minutes, several strange words that I dredged up from somewhere. I can’t imagine ever using the word LAUGHER, and I don’t expect to have much use for PLACKET. At 1dn Thinner was the first thing I thought of until I remembered the song, and I was going to say that Donegal isn’t in Northern Ireland (although it’s in northern Ireland) but see that The Caffeine Kid beat me to it.

  22. 08:13, so any delays were minor, and luckily I knew all the more crosswordy vocabulary required here, your CAPARISONs, your PORRINGERs. Also, PLACKET, thanks to being another solver with a wife who both sews and watches The Sewing Bee, as a result of which I have found myself surprisingly invested in the outcome of the series. They lure you in, these things.

  23. I was (unusually) in the zone for this one and finished in a PB 17 minutes. Recent memories of POPLAR helped, and while NHO ELASTIN or PLACKET the clueing was generous. I remember singing a song about the Vicar of Bray at school years ago without really understanding what it was about.
    Thanks to Zabadak and other contributors.

  24. My retired professional seamstress other half assures me that PLACKET is rather more than a mere pocket-back. It’s used for the flap behind a zip-fitting against which the zip-slider runs, and which protects the garment underneath from wear and tear.

  25. 12:58
    A jolly romp.
    No problem with TRIMMER, PETARDS, CAPARISON, PLACKET or PORRINGER but for some reason I took ages finding the DUSTPAN.

    Bastille day tomorrow ( though the French never refer to it as that). Because of recent difficulties, over 130, 000 police will be mobilised and buses and trams will stop running at 10.00 p.m. A day to stay at home with crosswords and a PERNOD .

    Thanks to Z and the setter

  26. PLACKET was a new one on me too, but the wordplay was clear enough. Didn’t know anything about the Vicar of Bray, but TICKLISH, IMPRUDENCE and MERCHANT BANKER together with the definition, got me to TRIMMER. POPLAR seems popular this week. I’d NHO CAPARISON before doing these crosswords, but now it seems like an old friend. FOI was STERNUM. LOI was UNAMENDED. 14:49. Thanks setter and Z.

  27. 27:07. PLACKET put the brakes on proceedings though TRIMMER, PORRINGER and other obscurities of a similar ilk and vintage (it seemed to me) sprang readily into place.

  28. PLACKET(s) appears 5 times in Shakespeare’s plays. The one I vaguely remembered was “Keep thy foot out of brothels, thy hand out of plackets” from King Lear. To a callow teenager this was highly suggestive.

  29. 9:28 but with an annoying typo that gave me two errors (MERCHANT BAMKER/STERMUM). Grr.
    PETARDS, TRIMMER, CAPARISON, ELASTIN, PLACKET, PORRINGER, NATES… somehow we solve these things without a care in the world, as if these were actual words. When they appear in clusters like this it’s a reminder of how very strange our little world is. Most people would look at that list and conclude that we’re all quite mad.

    1. 😊 Absolutely. They are all words I’ve come across, even though I don’t use them – except NATES (!) and LAUGHER… I fully expect never to encounter a written or spoken example of that outside a word puzzle or Scrabble board.

  30. Got through this fairly steadily. Thought THINNER until MERCHANT BANKER showed up, dredged PORRINGER from somewhere (maybe National Trust), held up a bit on MINT/ELASTIN then hit PLACKET – the A_K eventually led to LACK after which it was easy. Thanks for an entertaining blog.

  31. I found this much easier than yesterday’s. A couple of unknowns (PLACKET and CAPARISON). The latter took several minutes to tease out the wordplay even when I had all the checkers. Since POPLAR had appeared earlier in the week, that was my FOI without a moment’s hesitation. I didn’t understand the wordplay to SENATES, so even though I thought it was the answer as soon as I read the clue (I had the initial S and N) I held back until all the checkers were in place.
    32 minutes.

  32. Dnf. All done bar one in less than 15 mins. Placket was unknown and refused to reveal itself.


  33. Most of the crossword went in pretty speedily with only 15 minutes approx having elapsed till I got to the nw corner. For far too long I was trying to justify THINNER until the correct alternative occurred to me. I had no idea if it was right however, but it looked a better option. MERCHANT BANKER sealed it for me and I was able to complete. Two major interruptions means I can only estimate my time at circa 40 minutes.

  34. 55′ pour moi, aussi en France. FOI PERNOD, pure coincidence? LOI PLACKET, couldn’t see past BLANKET. Mrs B tells me that plackets were sown on original rugby shirt collars as a reinforcement. We didn’t discuss that before our matches.

  35. 27 mins. Nearly put PORRIDGER until I checked the cryptic. ELASTIN was a major block to completion, I was looking for the wrong literal., ie beer.

  36. 7m 04s with some tricky vocab but all very fairly clued. ‘Man of colour’ was nice.

  37. 17d DNF, couldn’t find ELASTIN although I think I’ve seen it in Xwords before, so very poor not to find it. I never had anything to do with “bilge” at school so it wouldn’t be familiar.
    20d had totally forgotten about NATES, and now think I will start to use it almost daily. I decided London was SE, and the N crept in from under a stone whilst the seat was anagrammed without any anagrind. Humph!

  38. 26:18

    Quite a lot of knowledge missing here: Vicar of Bray; PLACKET (ignorance is bliss – pleased to say that the thought of watching The Sewing Bee fills me with ‘Kill me now’ thoughts); the exact location of DONEGAL; NATES = seat (who knew?).

    The vaguely-knowns included CAPARISON, PETARDS as explosives, PORRINGER – all seen somewhere before (possibly here?)

    Thanks setter and Z as always for the entertaining blog

    1. I forgot to mention earlier that CAPARISON was an answer in the ST puzzle 28632 blogged here only a couple of weeks ago. I’d met it before but in the ST it was defined as “bard” a word for an ornamental cloth that I had never come across.

  39. DNF as I had reversed ASIR in CAPON to give me CAPORISAN! Drat. Foiled again! Otherwise all nice.

  40. No dramas. 41 mins. Managed to work out the unknowns, as mentioned several times above. Nice to see the popular POPLAR back!

    I liked TICKLISH.

    Thanks Z and setter.

  41. I nearly did what Notreve did, but fortunately, the construction reminded me of the correct word, which I would never have bifd. I found this quite ‘ticklish’, especially as I had SLIMMER for most of the time, having forgotten the contents of the vicar’s song. POPLAR was easy, coming straight after a clue the other day, and that gave me ‘pet’ for the cat perhaps, otherwise PLACKET would have been a very unlikely biff, though I did recognise the word. ELASTIN, PAINTER, ANDORRA and PERNOD went in from the cryptic, as did the awful LAUGHER. LOI PORRINGER, referenced by my parents as a metal ‘bain marie’ style double pot we had for slow-cooking porridge – whether accurately or not, I have no idea. Thanks Z, for a lovely, entertaining blog.

  42. 24’40”
    Slowly away, stayed on well.
    All parsed, but trimmer entered on the grounds of the likelihood of trimming parsons; perhaps I’m too cynical.
    Enjoyed this, blog and contributions.
    Thanks to all.

  43. Went quite well until (as with jackkt) fine instead of mint held me up on elastin. Sorting that out took ages, almost as long as all the rest. Didn’t understand why Senates but remembered nates on being reminded here. On the whole not too ticklish a puzzle but don’t know if it could be called a laugher.

  44. Needed a bit of help for a couple and and didn’t get past GILT for the moneymaker (excellent being gilt-edged). Pleased to get most of the rest, in a not too extended time for me. I seem to remember The Vicar of Bray as a simple tune when learning to play the piano (or was it the violin?) – not that that helped with the answer which for a long time I thought was Slimmer. Brilliant blog, Zabadak, for which many thanks – well worth the read even if you hadn’t done the crossword.

  45. In good king charles’s golden days, when loyalty no harm meant …
    Anyone else sing that at school?

  46. I liked CAPARISON – especially as it can go on an elephant as well as a horse – PORRINGER and PETARDS, but didn’t get SENATES. I knew the Vicar of Bray could be a trimmer, but got completely stuck with TICKLISH. I wanted it to be TACTLESS, using the usual “ac” for “account” and sort of carrying a meaning of not being “in line”; and I’m still not convinced that, as words, “tick” and “account” work in quite the same way. Anyway, nates to that, but otherwise an enjoyable puzzle and great blog. Thank you.

  47. 45m but suspected PLANKET was wrong but it rhymes with blanket and if you’re LANK you need to masticate more often. I think a CAPARISON is worn on a cataphract: one of my favourite words along with hoplite.

  48. I enjoyed this puzzle even though several words (all well clued) were new to me. If plackets back pockets, I seem to spend my life mending them. If they back zips then according to today’s paper I’m in the majority in having no idea how to mend them. Thanks for the blog.

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