Times Cryptic 28658


Solving time: 40 minutes

I didn’t find this easy but I enjoyed its occasional quirkiness and was pleased to finish without resorting to aids. It also gave me more trouble than usual when I came to write the blog as there were two clues (24 & 25ac) that took me an age to work out the parsing.

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 Man’s town house? Head for the country no longer (7-4)
DOUGLAS (Man’s town), HOME (house). Douglas is the capital and largest town on the Isle of Man. Sir Alec Douglas-Home (pronounced “Hume”) was the Conservative Prime Minister for a year (1963/4) following the retirement of Harold MacMillan and before Labour came to power under Harold Wilson.
7 Robert Browning’s beginning Ring and Book (3)
B{rowning} [beginning], O (ring), B (book)
9 Clot got a clue, surprisingly grasping answer (9)
Anagram [surprisingly] of GOT A CLUE containing [grasping] A (answer)
10 Fictional Amerindian soldiers leaving Canadian city (5)
T{or}ONTO (Canadian city) [soldiers leaving]. Faithful sidekick of The Lone Ranger whom he always referred to as Kemo Sabe which is believed to translate as ‘trusty friend’ or ‘trusty scout’, or something like that, but there’s no definitive answer. Most famously, Tonto was played by Jay Silverheels, but others have taken the role, including Johnny Depp in a Disney version.
11 Run away from an exhilarating experience in colony (7)
AN, TH{r}ILL (exhilarating experience) [run away]
12 Completely right to eat for example nothing in fast (7)
ALL (completely) + R (right) containing [to eat] EG (for example), then 0 (nothing). Perhaps one of the better-known musical directions imported from Italian.
13 It may make basket cases of reclusive isolates, over from the east (5)
R{eclusiv}E + I{solate}S [cases of…], + O (over) all reversed [from the east]. Young shoots of the willow tree.
15 Stop and see changes on journey in March (5-4)
GO (journey), then anagram [changes] of STOP SEE. Don’t mention the war!
17 Current opposition that is limiting politician and party (9)
IE (that is) containing [limiting] MP (politician), then DANCE (party). I remembered the word from O-Level Physics and that it’s something to do with resistance affecting the flow of electric current, but it’s all a vague memory now.
19 Insulating layer perhaps seals edges of glasshouse (5)
POD (perhaps a group of seals), G{lasshous}E [edges]. I knew ‘podgy’ for being fat, and ‘podge’ as a rather rude word for someone who may be considered overweight, but this is the first time I’ve come across ‘podge’ meaning ‘excess body fat’ or ‘insulating layer’ as the clue has it. I don’t think this definition is in all the usual dictionaries but I found it in the printed edition of Chambers and SOED.
20 Head of Langley called for houses to get bugged (7)
NEEDED (called for) contains [houses] L{angley} [head of…]
22 Time for delivery of French fruit, around 2nd of June (3,4)
DE (of, French) + DATE (fruit) containing around {J}U{ne} [2nd of…]
24 One single Spanish vehicle, moving back, is lost (2,3)
A (one single) + SEAT (Spanish vehicle – make of car) moving its back (T) becomes AT SEA. I wondered about ‘single’ which seemed redundant. All I can think of is that because there’s a convention in Times crosswords that ‘one’ cannot clue ‘A’, using ‘one single’ perhaps avoids breaking that custom. It all seems a bit odd so if I’ve missed something I remain open to other suggestions.
25 Review things like fashion label worn by son (4,5)
TAKE TO (like) + CK (fashion label – Calvin Klein) contains [worn by] S (son). I spent ages trying to parse this before realising that TO belongs with TAKE rather than with CK.
27 Fool, maybe, in party doing a pirouette (3)
DUP (party) reversed [doing a pirouette]. Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland. I just about remember a time when ‘pudding’ was a rather rude term for someone considered overweight or stupid. I don’t recall ever hearing it shortened to ‘pud’ in this context but I suppose there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be.  What with Puds and Podges I wondered if there was a theme going on here. On edit: Thanks to Kevin G for the suggestion that ‘fool’ could be a reference to the dish sometimes eaten as the ‘pudding’ course of a meal. This may well be what the setter had in mind, although it would be a definition by example such as many setters tend to avoid, but at least it’s qualified by ‘maybe’. It hadn’t occurred to me.
28 Favouring the right time to invest in retailer, one providing accounts (11)
TORY (favouring the right) + T (time) contained by [to invest in] SELLER (retailer)
1 Brought up fake text for a PC? (3)
COD (fake) reversed [brought up].  I assume the definition refers to text files on a personal computer (PC) which if one is using Microsoft Word will have the filename extension .doc  .
2 Jacket from upmarket clothing pile not fitting (5)
U{pmarke}T [jacket from…] containing [clothing] NAP (pile – the surface on a fabric such as velvet)
3 Worse French ruler putting down one former ruler (7)
Louis (French ruler) becomes LOUSI when I (one) is put down, then ER (former ruler)
4 Shock about secretary turning on one fired in the office? (6,3)
STUN (shock) containing [about] PA (secretary) reversed [turning] + LEG (on – cricket). We’ve had this erroneous definition before. A staple gun is a tool used in building construction and maintenance – hardly something one would find in the average office. That’s called a stapler.
5 Oscar for each actor? Just the lead in dramatic work (5)
O (Oscar – NATO alphabet), PER (for each), A{ctor} [just the lead]
6 French miss typical ending for superlative fashion mag (7)
EST (typical ending for superlative), ELLE (fashion mag)
7 Receive a royal honour after king’s left knowing nothing (9)
BE {k}NIGHTED (receive a royal honour) [king’s left]
8 Energy firm keeping trademarks present in group of posters (11)
BP (energy firm – British Petroleum) containing [keeping] LOGOS (trademarks), HERE (present)
11 Hear pianola playing, or a wind instrument (7,4)
Anagram [playing] of HEAR PIANOLA. You can hear and learn more about Aeolian Harps here.
14 Showing admiration, I really have very little time! (9)
I’M PRESSED (I really have very little time)
16 Fine day to get into repeat of Love Island (4-5)
D (day) contained by [to get into] O (love) + KEY (island)_O+KEY [repeat]
18 Guys’ partners crossing a river in foreign capital (7)
DOLLS (guys’ partners) containing (crossing) A + R (river). The clue refers to the 1950 musical Guys and Dolls by Frank Loesser.
19 Offering squash with ice, but not cold (7)
PRESS (squash), I{c}E [not cold]. One of those popular diminutives that I hate. ‘Uni’ is another one.
21 Repeat short, simple song on love (5)
DITT{y} (simple song) [short], 0 (love)
23 The main feature of the first dozen letters on line (5)
A TO L (the first dozen letters), L (line). ‘Main’ because it’s like the answer at 24ac.
26 First Labour leader picked up mixed drink (3)
Sounds like [picked up] “Keir” (first Labour leader – Keir Hardie). If it wasn’t for the living persons rule we could have had ‘first and latest Labour leader’.  Keir Starmer was named in honour of Hardie  but I wonder where his middle name ‘Rodney’ came from. He was born 20+ years too soon for his parents to have been fans of Only Fools and Horses.

69 comments on “Times Cryptic 28658”

  1. Oof. That was a workout, made a bit more difficult by several synonyms or definitions needing a little squint for me to recognise. Since it looks like I might be first up, I guess I’m obliged to grimace at the multiple product placements. Nice blog, jack.

  2. 27:22 WOE
    For some reason–misspelling or typo, I don’t know–I put in IMPEDENCE at 17ac. I had no idea about AT SEA, which I put in and took out and finally put back in. I was really irritated at 18d when I finally realized that I had been looking for GALS not DOLLS. I had “def?” written by STAPLE GUN, and am glad to see Jack noting the error. Re 27ac: You might have fool for PUD, no?

    1. Thanks for the suggestion re ‘fool/PUD’ and I have added a note to my comment in the blog. Yes, GALS was my first thought at 18dn too.

    2. If someone had asked me how to spell IMPEDANCE I’d have said IMPEDENCE. It looks odd to me with an A, and I had to double check the parsing to make sure.

      1. My office had a staple gun, primarily for fixing notices to the Church notice board. Saved many a strained thumb trying to push drawing pins into wood with the texture of mahogany. Quite fun to target practice with, too, when no-one else was around – please don’t let on to the Rector.

        1. Storage is one thing, but it doesn’t sound like you fired it ‘in the office’!

          1. The tricky bit was making sure you’d picked up all the staples after shooting at the target of the day!

  3. 10:26 and with a sigh of relief that KIR, AT SEA and PUD were correct, as those went in without full understanding.Tricksy!

  4. 41 minutes, though I skimped on the parsing of TAKE STOCK and STAPLE GUN. Until I worked out the wordplay I was unsure about my LOI ESTELLE for ‘French miss’; one non-French example is Estelle Parsons who was in Bonnie and Clyde. I wasn’t sure about BENIGHTED meaning ‘knowing nothing’; I thought it meant “accursed” or similar. I see PUD for ‘Fool’ as an example of a “pudding” has now been cleared up. The misdirection in DOLLARS was my favourite.

    I don’t know if PRESSIE, “Uni” and “footie/footy” originally came to the UK from Australia and NZ; if so, ‘offering(s)’ to the English language of which we can rightfully be proud.

  5. 17m

    I don’t know about contemporary offices, but there were always one or two staple guns floating around the classrooms at my primary school. I assume the teachers used them for stapling papers to notice boards etc; we kids used them to fire staples at each other.

  6. Tricky, lots of excellent misdirection. Couldn’t parse take stock, forgot Keir Starmer was still alive for kir and NHO the other Keir. LOI the must-have-seen-before Douglas-Home after remembering Douglas, IOM. I’m with Kevin on pud, and with LouWeed on a staple gun (potentially) being an office tool – stapler has a base to bend the legs over, staple gun doesn’t.
    COD IMPEDANCE – took a bit of working out, needed the cryptic to spell it correctly.

  7. Aha! Myrtilus is not yet with us, so I can scoop him!

    And what if all of animated nature
    Be but organic Harps diversely framed,
    That tremble into thought, as o’er them sweeps
    Plastic and vast, one intellectual breeze,
    At once the Soul of each, and God of all?

    (Coleridge, The Eolian Harp)

    As for the crossword, pretty damn hard. Got there with interruptions in just under the hour, it was quite a work-out but no less enjoyable for that. OK, leaving aside words like PRESSIE, PODGE, PUD and some other clues about which I had no idea, especially AT SEA. A Spanish car? Uh-huh. Thanks to Jack for the great blog that was required to make sense of a lot of these that went in on a wing and a prayer.

      1. It’s a beautiful poem, by sheer coincidence it was part of my university course so I couldn’t resist the temptation when that answer popped up. I promise I won’t make a habit of this!

  8. 23’40”, with DOUGLAS-HOME LOI. Stared at it with all the crossers for ages, and then bodged it by thinking Douglas was the ‘man’ of the clue.

    Thanks jack and setter.

  9. Quick today, on the wavelength maybe. Agree with Kevin re 25ac.

    Alec Douglas-Home is the last prime minister we have had, who took the job because he felt he ought to, rather than becasue he was desperate to have it.

      1. I bet he isn’t, not sure Churchill had a degree at all? .. but I wouldn’t know and shan’t be doing the research .. so how much better did the 1st classers do, I wonder? BoJo, Liz Truss?

  10. 30:10
    Nice puzzle, but yes: stapler, surely. Surprised to see the snitch so high on this one. Fool = pud(ding) for sure.
    Thanks, jack.

  11. Just two short today, ANTHILL and UNAPT. I’ve not seen “jacket” for “first and last letters” before. Also didn’t parse DOUGLAS as on the Isle of Man, very clever (I got it via DBE, as Douglas = man)

    Pleased to be able to build up OSIER, a NHO.


  12. 12:57. Nice to be on the wavelength for the second day running. It must be a long time since that last happened. On the great STAPLE GUN debate, I’m kind of in the middle. They are familiar from school (as Lou said, often used as weaponry), and whilst I’ve never seen one in the office I’m sure some offices have them. DOC is a bit outdated for Microsoft Word, DOCX being the latest format, but I often hear DOC used generically. It’s not in Chambers though.

  13. Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
    Or what’s a heaven for?
    (Andrea del Sarto, Bob Browning)

    40 mins pre-brekker. I struggled with this (and with it triggering any poetry). I had to “reach” for several clues beyond my grasp.
    Ta setter and J.

    1. Or as Marshall McLuhan put it in his inimitable smart-alecky way: “A man’s reach must exceed his grasp or what’s a metaphor?”

      1. I once heard Ken Kesey respond to a question about his writing and halucenogenic drugs with the almost cryptic: “Whatever weapon I can reach….”

  14. Being the owner of a Seat car that was one of the few clues that went in like a charm. Also couldn’t parse TAKE STOCK but it felt right. Very much enjoyed 1ac, 8dn.

    Thanks jackkt and setter.

  15. I biffed PUD, which I always think of as something served hot whereas a fool would be a dessert. I never managed to parse AT SEA, but it could hardly be anything else. Fortunately, I did parse IMPEDANCE, which just doesn’t look right. MER at PODGE. My NHO LOI took over a minute to break down.

    TIME 11:34

  16. 43 minutes with LOI OKEY-DOKEY. COD to the fourteenth Earl of Home. “Looks like we’re surrounded, Tonto.” “ What do you mean by we, paleface?” Excellent puzzle, which I struggled with for quite a while. Thank you Jack and setter.

  17. 19:00
    Tricky. Still not sure about TAKE STOCK, but I suppose it works, after a fashion.
    DOUGLAS-HOME reminded me of childhood holidays on the IoM, and also of the time a certain band played consecutive gigs in Frome and Shrewsbury. This led to debate on the fansite about the pronunciation of the two placenames, which I attempted to resolve (but probably made things worse) with a clerihew:

    Sir Alec Douglas-Home
    Said, “My surname rhymes with Frome.
    Unlike the Earl of Rosebery
    With Shrewsbury”.

  18. For some reason I was on form and whizzed through this in 14 minutes, ending with PODGE which was just a guess from podgy being fat and nothing else fitted. A MER at UNAPT which I thought would be bad English for inapt.

  19. DNF, back in OWL club with a silly ‘kyr’ rather than KIR – I was getting mixed up with Skyr yoghurt.

    I made a complete hash of AEOLIAN HARP, initially putting ‘alpine horn’ and not even noticing the extra N from the NEEDLED crosser for ages. That scuppered OSIER, IMPEDANCE and PUD until I looked at the anagrist again and realised my error, though even then I took three attempts to spell Aeolian correctly.

    I didn’t understand how TAKE STOCK or OKEY-DOKEY worked and completely misparsed ESTELLE, so thanks for the explanations. And I never knew that BENIGHTED means ignorant or than nap=pile as needed for UNAPT.

    A tough challenge – thanks setter and blogger.

    COD Blogosphere

  20. Difficult, but finally crossed the line in 42 mins. Liked OKEY-DOKEY and BLOGOSPHERE. DOUGLAS-HOME and ESTELLE took up 25 mins of my time.

  21. 51 minutes, but that‘s including when i fell asleep over the puzzle last night!
    I‘d (mercifully?) forgotten that the DUP is a party and SEAT is a Spanish car, thanks for the explanation. LOI DOUGLAS HOME, I‘d forgotten about him.
    Thanks a lot blogger, and setter.

  22. Didn’t flow, a bit of a struggle over two visits. Strangely found the 3-letter corner clues quite difficult, BOB seemed too easy, I was initially misdirected by PC (double bluffed myself) so had CID in mind before realising it was DOC etc etc. Similarly couldn’t initially bring myself to accept SEAT so spent time trying to incorporate UNO (both a car and Spanish for one). Got there eventually! Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  23. Stopped the clock at 28 minutes, having spent a few successfully justifying ESTELLE (via the question is there a posh magazine for religious fashionistas called St Elle?) and a few more not justifying TAKE STOCK (surely there’s no fashion label called Taketock? Japanese maybe?) and still all AT SEA.
    Actually doing this one was a bit like visiting a favourite aunt: you just don’t expect her converse to be larded with BLOGOSPHERE, OKEY-DOKEY and PRESSIE, though you’d be on firmer ground with the skeletal DOUGLAS-HUME and perhaps even PUD.
    And I still don’t get why it’s spelled PRESSIE and pronounced prezzy.
    Until I could no longer justify the 85 quid a year for MS OFFICE, my documents were .docx, and my text documents .txt. Not my CoD. That’s, let’s say, DOLLARS for the masterly misdirection: welcome to GALAPOS, wherever that is.

    1. I’ve added a caveat re ‘doc’to my comment below; I’d be grateful to know if you, and others here, would consider my caveat fair.

    2. Indeed, I was toying with GIRARLS and GAPOALS before IMPEDANCE set me right. And yet it’s one of my favourite musicals!

  24. Nicely tough. Very glad the clueing made IMPEDENCE an impossibility. Some great stuff in there, especially DOUGLAS-HOME and OKEY-DOKEY. 35’06”

  25. That was over an hour and 45 minutes of grim determination to finish which I did but with a little help for 11dn as I didn’t know the Harp, the checking letters got me there and then I checked Google to see what it looked like.

    FOI BOB lulled me into thinking this wasn’t going to be as difficult as the SNITCH implied. Soon realising as I ground on I was in this for the long haul.

    I needed the blog to understand the parsing of TAKE STOCK as I had just ‘Review’ as the definition and couldn’t make anything of the rest other than S for son.
    For ESTELLE I had written ESTELLA to one side with an E under the A as a choice until GOOSE-STEP sorted that. Again I needed the blog to fully understand the parsing.
    KIR was a guess thinking of Keir Starmer not thinking about ‘First’ otherwise I should have realised it was the other Keir.
    My LOI BLOGOSPHERE needed all the checking letters and also needed the blog for parsing.

  26. Tough going! OPERA was FOI. RAB at 7a held up BENIGHTED until close to the end, but that finally allowed me to see PODGE. I failed to parse AT SEA and TAKE STOCK, but shrugged and moved on. OKEY DOKEY brought up the rear. Liked ANTHILL. 28:22. Thanks setter and Jack.

  27. 24:40. I found this rather hard taking ages to see how many of the clues worked. Stuck mostly at the end by IMPEDANCE, DOC and, LOI, DOUGLAS-HOME, which I thought was rather clever. Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  28. 13:37, not everything went in instantly but only a little tinkering required, mostly getting my PODs and PUDs disentangled.

  29. 5m 47s, found this one fairly gentle albeit with a few unparsed, and several unusual references for the Times.

    DBE is fine if there’s a ‘maybe’ in there, so I have no problem with 27a.

    I wasn’t familiar with Browning’s The Ring and the Book, but that’s a lovely clue. COD for me.

  30. 22 mins. Another SEAT owner here, I await the future use of ATECA…. LOI BLOGOSPHERE, which was tough even having all the letters. Might have been easier if I’d thought of LOGOS for trade marks.

  31. Tricky, got there after a hold-up on the last two or three. Is the abbreviation CK used? Reminds me of ubiety yesterday. I suppose the musical’s taken over but feel Damon Runyon’s Guys and Dolls, quite brilliant short stories of 1932, is worth a mention as the inspiration of the pairing. (I like Coleridge’s organic harps on the intellectual breeze. ‘Plastic’s’ interesting there; he coined ‘esemplastic’ I believe to say something incomprehensible about poetry.) Last in atoll, so simple.

    1. Having done a quick image search on Calvin Klein products I can confirm that some of them carry the logo cK with the lower case ‘c’ slightly raised in line with the middle of the upper case ‘K’.

      The abbreviation has appeared in two Times puzzles, on 20/3/2021 and one that I blogged on 11/2/2020.

  32. 23 min. Chewy, but entertaining. AT SEA and some others parsed post-solve, but I wouldn’t have worked out the mechanics of TAKE STOCK however long I looked at it, so thanks for today’s enlightenment.

  33. 28:48

    Enjoyed this but recognised that it may have been wavelengthy. No issues with anything until the SW corner where the last few (IMPEDANCE, NEEDLED, IMPRESSED, DOLLARS, AT SEA in that order) took some working through.

    Jack – Keir Starmer’s father’s name is Rodney in case you were still wondering…


  34. The impedance clue, with no crossers… really wanted it to be temporary, which had:
    Part 1: politician = MP
    Part 2: opposition = ????
    Part 3: tory = party, on the outside… ish.
    Never mind it’s only 8 letters.

  35. Fell at the last again. My fault, had INAPT, so 1ac was impossible. Done in three sittings as had to do a job for Madame early this am, hence late comment. I also can’t believe that, at the time of my enforced break at midday aperitif time when I see my mates for a KIR that that clue remained unanswered! Bizarre.

    Hard work I thought today. Generally enjoyable but a bridge too far.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

  36. 27’40”
    Testing trip, stayed on gamely.
    In its use of misdirection this reminded me of the Goodwood Cup (pre- 1991); if you took an early lead in the home straight in the wrong direction, you had to remember to take the FIRST LEFT!
    I thought this was very well constructed, with one caveat; I came very close to smashing the device I was using when an obscure IT acronym/abbreviation marred an otherwise fine puzzle in another publication. Terms, such as blogosphere, which end up in dictionaries, are fair enough.
    DOC was clearly clued, but could not a certain bunny or frequently overlooked dwarf have been employed? It would not take many of these instances for me to go back to golf, and cease to recommend this glorious pastime to the next generation.
    Compliments to setter, Jack and other contributors for their enlightenments.

    1. I think that’s fair. Of course, with D_C to complete, there aren’t many options without going into French*, but arguably dot doc is unnecessary when perfectly good Docs are avalaible, and would have spared the quibbles.

      *Are Duc d’O chocs still avalaible? My family translated “back” into French as Merde du Canard, ignoring the fact that they were Belgian and actually quite pleasant.

  37. No major hold ups but still took an hour. My problem mostly was over complicating everything.

    We’re very fond of PUD in this household. Indeed some might say it’s the only reason we ‘finish our plates’.

    Thanks both.

  38. I had RAB instead of BOB at 7ac which started my troubles – but there were more. GOOSE-STEP, ESTELLE and BENIGHTED in the NE then NEEDLED/DOLLARS in the SW required your excellent blog. Thanks.

  39. FOI DOUGLAS-HOME, which gave OPERA and INAPT. AT SEA wasn’t a problem – the SEAT is the Spanish-made FIAT and any reference to Spanish car is almost certain to be that. However, I failed to parse TAKE STOCK, though I was sure enough it was right. It was certainly a chewy puzzle with lots of mis-direction, but an enjoyable one, in that there were no problems with parsing the answers once they came (apart from 25A and 7A, which inexplicably seemed to be RAB, until it wasn’t. Luckily, I bifd BENIGHTED). I was another that thought immediately of Alpine Horn, but luckily noticed straight away that there was only one N. Took a heck of a time and three crossers to work out the anagram, though!

  40. Re Jack’s comment on ‘Main’ – because it’s like NEEDLED (the answer at 20 ac). All at sea – a slip of the finger/thumb from 24 ac.

  41. Gave up on 1a. Thought that 1d might be ‘Mac’ but didn’t parse. Also thought it might be the word for the fake text the graphic designers use for mock-ups – I think that it has a name, but I can’t remember it.

  42. No real problems here except I couldn’t parse 25ac at all, well done to our blogger for untangling it. I have grumbled about poor IT-related clues on here before and 1d is no exception (text file has a fairly precise meaning and doesn’t include the kind of files usually named “.doc”). I wasn’t overkeen on 6d either. I shouldn’t grumble, it takes a lot of ingenuity to put these things together, but some you enjoy and some you don’t! Thanks for the blog.

  43. 1h 35m DNF. Never remotely near DOUGLAS HOME, ESTELLE or STAPLE. Held up a while with NIGGLED at 20a. Knew MAC at 1d was wrong but it’s nearly an upward SCAM.

  44. Late post as I was out all day. No great problems (45 minutes). Never understood TAKE STOCK, thanks for the parsing Jack, very much liked DOUGLAS-HOME. He always got rather a bad press, but in ‘Strange Days Indeed’ Francis Wheen, who one wouldn’t expect to have a very high opinion of him, told an interesting story of when he was Foreign Secretary in the Heath government, which puts him a good light.

  45. I think it is ‘que mas sabe’ (who knows more) for Tonto. Not acceptable these days and rightly so.

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