Times Cryptic 28700


An enjoyable puzzle, with very smooth, often amusing surfaces.  I needed 26 minutes to complete it.

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 Effrontery of senior officials (5)
Double definition as in ‘brass neck’ and ‘top brass’
4 Jenny found by lake in lovely country area (9)
ASS (jenny – female ass or donkey) + L (lake) contained by [in] GRAND (lovely)
9 Development almost completely engulfing yours truly’s cafe (9)
ESTAT{e} (development) [almost completely] containing [engulfing] MINE (yours truly’s). SOED: originally a cafe where smoking was allowed. Now, a small unpretentious cafe selling wine, beer, etc.
10 Congress in recess at end of May (5)
NOOK (recess), {Ma}Y [end of…]. Ooh, er, Missus!
11 Bounder facing rough justice here? (8,5)
Cryptic definition
14 Money making you amorous? Not quite (4)
RAND{y} (amorous) [not quite]. Titter ye not!
15 Lines written in country house introducing new fashion magazine (10)
VILLA (country house), N (new), ELLE (fashion magazine). I knew this word only as the name of the psychopathic assassin played by Jodie Comer in Killing Eve, but SOED defines it as a usually pastoral or lyric poem consisting normally of five three-line stanzas and a final quatrain, with only two rhymes throughout and some lines repeated. So now we know.
18 Condemned the Samurai’s bungling (10)
Angram [condemned] of THE SAMURAI
19 Femme fatale goes for a Parisian legislator (4)
VA (‘goes’ for a Parisian), MP (legislator). Those who never learnt French may have difficulty here as we are required to know that the third person singular of the irregular verb aller (to go) as in ‘he/she goes’ is Il/Elle va.
21 Support for traditional lines of communication? (9,4)
Barely cryptic
24 Perplexed, as Popeye often was (2,3)
A definition and a cryptic hint referring to Popeye the Sailor Man
25 Submissive, one retreats, bleating (9)
COMPLiANT (submissive) becomes COMPLAINT when I (one) moves backwards [retreats]
27 Dodgy detective restraining annoyance with old university (9)
DS (Detective Sergeant) containing [restraining] ANGER (annoyance) + O (old) + U (university)
28 Grinned, sergeant-major leaving in a huff? (5)
{sm}IRKED (grinned) [sergeant-major leaving]
1 Share a meal, using holiday dosh (5,5)
BREAK (holiday), BREAD (dosh – money)
2 Pretend to be fine ignoring reality (3)
{f}ACT (reality) [fine ignoring]
3 Islander’s son facing a complaint (6)
S (son), A, MOAN (complaint)
4 Rudely ignore old man on the water (9)
Anagram [rudely] of IGNORE OLD
5 Old Greek agents upset about Times (5)
CIA (agents) reversed [upset] containing [about] T T (times)
6 Optimistic of New Guinea’s development (8)
Anagram [development] of N (ew) GUINEAS
7 This might get you tiddly a day before a function (11)
A, MON (day), TILL (befire) A, DO (function – celebration)
8 Broadcaster’s stupor lasting more than 24 hours (4)
Sounds like [broadcaster’s] “daze” (stupor)
12 Independent nations ran power supply (3-8)
Anagram [supply] of NATIONS RAN P (power)
13 Confirmed peer briefly sedated, needing treatment (4-6)
Anagram [needing treatment] of PEE{r} [briefly]  SEDATED 
16 Girl grabs prize on a holiday resort (3,6)
LASS  (girl) contains [grabs] PALM (prize) + A
17 Sturdy servant bringing water, I hear (4,4)
Sounds like [I hear] “wellmaid” [servant bringing water]
20 Dish to relax one? (6)
CHILL (relax), I (one)
22 Reportedly, Wall Street villain is a cold-blooded creature (5)
Sounds like [reportedly] “Gekko” (Wall Street villain). I had no idea what this was about but my AI assistant advises: Gordon Gekko, the main antagonist of the 1987 film Wall Street, is a ruthless corporate raider who believes that “greed is good”.
23 Flipping dull Eisteddfod winner? (4)
DRAB (dull) reversed [flipping]. A signalled DBE, as there are numerous other types of bard.
26 Kind of KC to lose his head? (3)
{s}ILK (KC  – King’s Counsel) [to lose his head]. When lawyers are elevated to the rank of King’s Counsel they are said to ‘take silk’ as they have earned the right to wear a silk gown. A KC can  also be referred to colloquially as a ‘silk’.

61 comments on “Times Cryptic 28700”

  1. I had just managed to parse my LOI, ILK, a few minutes before this post appeared!
    This was mostly pretty easy, with a lot right up my alley. I finished in order of quarters NW, NE, SW, SE. I found the answer to COMPLAINT only after writing in COMPLIANT but guessing that the definition to 26 must be ILK. Which was a bit mystifying—until I looked up abbreviations for KC, then remembered the appropriate sense of “silk.”

    Had TELEPHONE before TELEGRAPH, which seems more “ancient” now than “traditional.”

    It’s (too) easy to assume (take it from me) that the villanelle was named after the prototypical poète maudit François Villon (despite the spelling!), whose most famous use of this intricate form may be the “Ballade des dames du temps jadis” (Ballad of the ladies of times past), and its most famous line the plaintive query, “Où sont les neiges d’antan?” (Where are the snows of yesteryear?). The most famous villanelle in English (I state quite confidently) is one that you’ve surely heard, Dylan Thomas’s “Do not go gentle into that good night.”

        1. According to Wiki, yes, both French and English. It must be damn near sixty years since I read it, and I can’t remember much apart from laughing until it hurt. Oh, and “From now on I’m thinking only of me.”

  2. 11:25
    Much faster than it felt. I biffed ESTAMINET & GONDOLIER, parse post-submission. Like Guy, I put in TELEPHONE at first; the final I (irked) led me to reconsider. Surprised to see NOOKY; but a great surface.

        1. Where there is a “final I,” as you say (in CHILLI).
          O I C. I just assumed you, like me, wrote in COMPLIANT first.

  3. I thought TELEGRAPH POLE might be ‘traditional’ because the Daily Telegraph tends to be written for people of certain views…

    VILLANELLE, ESTAMINET….these are words I first came across in the work of TS Eliot, many years ago. I’m not convinced a villanelle owes its name to François Villon (or it would be a villonelle, no?), but to a rustic dance, a villanella? Willing to be corrected.

    Slowed down in the SE corner, so didn’t beat my half hour, but not far off. Thank you setter and jackkt.

    1. I see that I was too subtle and jocular in the way I expressed that the idea that the word came from the poet’s name was just my mistaken assumption (for a long time).

  4. 7 minutes over my half hour target today, held up mainly in the NW corner. That is largely down to me trying to justify BALLS for 1a. I thought there might be a filthy theme with nooky and the randy vamp…..

  5. Confidently put in something called “shushi” for 20dn in my first pass, having the “h” crosser already in place! Slowed me up a little in the bottom SE corner but saw the error and finished in just under 30′. Generally straightforward with only one real biff, VILLANELLE, which I took from word play (and Killing Eve, not sure if there’s a connection?). Agree with jackkt, TELEGRAPH POLE could almost sit in the concise puzzle and GECKO is also a give away for me. LOI VAMP, not having French and needing crossers.
    COD ESTAMINET, which came from somewhere in the back of my mind. thanks jckkt and setter.

  6. 23.06. I have to admit that without the help of jackkt I still wouldn’t know how ILK worked, but everything else was reasonably straightforward and a lot of fun. OK VILLANELLE was wing-and-a-prayer territory and although TELEGRAPH POLE might be barely cryptic it still held me up. NOOKY, eh? And RAND(y)? One wonders where this might be going, possibly in the direction of the 21st century, albeit slowly. Speaking of ancient things, the clue says Popeye was often AT SEA but I never saw him there…

  7. Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
    And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, …
    (DNGGITGN, Dylan Thomas – see Guy’s comment above)

    Another Breezeblock. 25 mins pre-brekker left the Act (which I tried to parse as Ape) and the (for me) ungettable Estaminet. I’m not keen on either clue, but that might be ‘cos they done for me.
    Ta setter and J.

  8. 21 minutes with LOI DEEP-SEATED. I had TELEGRAPH-POLE as COD only to find that others here thought it barely cryptic. Following on from yesterday, it’s a bugger getting senile. Anyway, I’ve never heard of a telephone pole, even if that’s what they are. I too only knew VILLANELLE as Jodie Comer but she fitted the cryptic and crossers. An enjoyable puzzle. Thank you Jack and setter.

  9. 14:02. I hesitated over the inly vaguely remembered VILLANELLE until LAS PALMAS confirmed the L. Perhaps the work of 22D? LOI CHILLI took a while to come. I wondered what “traditional” was doing in the clue for 21A, but in the end decided it was just a slightly weak cryptic definition. Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  10. 31:45 but with a pink square for AMATEURISm, not looking at the anagrist. Too many amontillados perhaps

  11. 33 mins but another who banged in COMPLIANT only I left it there! This, of course made 26d difficult and I stuck in ASK with no good reason. Note to self: engage brain.

    Otherwise very enjoyable. ESTAMINET once caught me out so I determined to remember it which I obviously did. I kicked the COURT, the SHERRY and the VAMP.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

    1. Same here, except I put ARK as my LOI for no other reason than to finish.

      Didn’t know what was going on with VAMP but, now explained, am happy to make it my COD.

      I think I came across ESTAMINET for the first time in a William Boyd novel (or was it Bill Bryson). Anyway, for some odd reason it has stayed with me more than most slightly obscure words.

  12. 12:44. Today was a rare occurrence in that I finished with everything parsed. It’s not often that I finish without at least a biff or two.
    I see my initial TELEPHONE instead of TELEGRAPH puts me in good company. However for good measure I also had MAST instead of POLE. And it was no surprise to see a few Ninja Turtles today for VILLANELLE. I also knew it from Killing Eve, though I had learned since that it is a verse form. On checking I can confirm that I learned that two years ago when it previously appeared as an answer..

  13. I felt I made heavier weather of this than I should have done, and my LOI was the result of having to correct a careless “villanella”. I took ages unravelling “the samurai” too.

    I was unimpressed by COMPLAINT. If the I of compliant retreats (goes backwards) then surely it leads to “compilant” ?

    TIME 12:54

  14. Another steady run through today, a (badly needed) confidence boost for next month’s event… villanelle rang the faintest of bells (never seen Killing Eve). We have had estaminet a few times before.. usually I mention that there used to be a rather fine restaurant of that name in Covent Garden, corner of Floral St. Sadly gone, now.
    England is liberally dotted with telegraph poles, carrying telephone lines. So a write-in for me, but I can see how our overseas colleagues may not find it quite so obvious.

  15. Fun, speedy but sadly pink this morning. Having managed to guess the NHO ESTAMINET and VILLANELLE I failed to notice that my APE effort at 2d had now become an inapt APT. Thoroughly enjoyed the outing, though, setter – and thanks Jack for decoding VAMP which I had entered with a shake of the head.

  16. 12:20
    Nice anagrams for AMATEURISH and GONDOLIER.
    Recently returned from Llangollen, where I sat in a bardic throne in a pub. Unfortunately none of the staff had been trained to shout “You’re BARD!” – they have now.

  17. DNF, and I’m back in OWL Club with a stupid ‘estamenet’, having worked out the estate part of the clue but thinking that ‘yours truly’ was giving ‘me’ and not bothering to check it. Curses.

    Didn’t know that a VILLANELLE is a poem or what the reference was for GECKO, and spent a long time thinking ‘bungling’ was the anagrind in 18a and looking for a word meaning ‘condemned’, before realising I’d got it the wrong way round and getting AMATEURISH.

    COD Grassland

  18. 9:03. Steady solve this morning with no unknowns.
    I thought Philip Larkin had written a VILLANELLE, but he doesn’t appear to have done. Maybe I was thinking of Thomas.
    I don’t think I’ve ever heard the term ‘telephone pole’ so wasn’t tempted by it. It’s in Collins.

  19. A Pope pastiche I’ll try: no way in Hell
    Will I attempt the daunting VILLANELLE.
    22 minutes for this, held up at the end by the VAMP/DEEP-SEATED crossing: it didn’t occur to me that the endless peer was part of the anagram fodder and I couldn’t think of a French legislator apart from possibly Robespierre, and that was a bit of a cram. Perhaps I haven’t been doing cryptics long enough to know how they work.
    Which deficiency helped of cousre with the TELEPHONEGRAPH POLE, clearly a refugee from the concise. A nostalgia rush remembering the gentle rhythms of the lines outside the train window from the days when you could buy a ticket made of stout cardboard. At a ticket office.
    I enjoyed this pre-brexit edition, with several contributions from our former partners.
    Excuse me while I retire into a reverie of the golden past!

  20. Much easier than yesterday’s, 16 minutes, with LOI DEEP SEATED because I tried to anagram PEER SEDATE not PEE SEDATED. Estaminet was a write-in but VILLANELLE took a bit of dredging up.

  21. 31 minutes. I couldn’t get DEEP-SEATED either and thought that 25a would probably end in -ING so was stuck in the SE corner after not having too much trouble with the rest. Anyway, gave me time to check elsewhere and make sure everything was parsed, including the forgotten VILLANELLE.

    I liked NOOKY and the wordplay for DANGEROUS which reminded me of The Last Detective TV series, with the character of “Dangerous” Davies played by Peter Davison.

  22. Maybe the film ‘Wall Street’ has achieved classic status, but to refer to one of the characters from a film that’s nearly 40 years old seems a bit of a stretch, although Gordon Gekko is a wonderful reminder of the 80s and has perhaps passed into what should be everyone’s general knowledge. Otherwise fairly straightforward (34 minutes) despite some connections (senior officials/brass not top brass, share a meal/break bread not break bread with, fact/reality, till/before) seeming a bit odd at the time although possibly justifiable.

    1. I checked ‘break bread’ when blogging and satisfied myself it was fine. Not at home now so can’t check my source easily but it was probably Collins. Old friends meeting in street might well agree to ‘break bread sometime soon’.

    2. I would say that Wall Street is indubitably a classic. We get references to far older movies that I’ve never seen all the time!
      (And equally importantly with ‘cold-blooded creature’ and G_C_O there’s enough there for those who aren’t aware of the character)

  23. 14:38
    Great fun and over too quickly. Ingenious anagrams and some amusing definitions. COD AMONTILLADO

    Wendy Cope’s “A Villanelle for Hugo Williams” is a world away from both Dylan Thiomas and François Villon but it is good fun. It can easily be found on-line.

    Thanks to Jack and the setter

  24. 16:55 mins. Entertaining, although there were quite a few chestnuts (the roo in court) and perhaps jenny-as-donkey deserves a brief rest. The VILLANELLE went in on sight, having spent many frustrating hours trying my hand at this most highly structured of verse forms. Hats off to anyone who can construct one that makes sense, never mind sounds like poetry.

  25. Raced through this in 25 mins and enjoyed it. Great clues and just the right – for me – amount of difficulty. Liked GECKO, ATTIC and NOOKY.

  26. Had no idea Villanelle was a poem as well as an assassin!! I had to google that to check.
    No solving time today as I took a call and left the timer running, I guess it would have been around 25-30 mins.
    Very enjoyable puzzle 🙂
    Thanks setter and blogger

  27. What I learned the first week of September:

    I’m weak at French as a language and weak with French culture. Translated to English, I don’t know Estaminet or VA. As per vinyl’s comment about Estaminet, my memory must be weak too.

    My Welsh is non-existent (as is, I suspect, almost everyone’s) so Eisteddfod is up there with Va

    I swear that Las Palmas and Villanelle are easily within my knowledge, but you couldn’t prove that by me today

    I’ve never known how to spell Amontillado, even with a helpful cryptic, and I always (always) confuse the two Ge(c/k)kos

    Thinking that DUK or EAR (or even KIN or LOO) might make a good short peer is counterproductive

    Overall, I thought it was a nice puzzle, though I’m wondering whether, if I’d been better at the above, it would have been over-easy instead of a nice arm-wrestle.

  28. 29:19

    Another ninja’d VILLANELLE here. After a fastish start, wifely interjections on matters non-cruciverbal (daughter’s new boyfriend!) had me pause my thoughts continuing only once safely out on my walk. Picked up my stride again but feel I may have lost some minutes. An entertaining puzzle.

    Thanks setter and Jack

  29. Apart from the time it took to drag ESTAMINET kicking and screaming from the depths of what passes for my memory, I had no hold ups with this puzzle until I was left with 15a, 13d and 19a. TELEGRAPH POLEs have always been how I refer to the uprights carrying communication wires across the country, so I wasn’t distracted by the alternative -PHONE. I’d NHO either the character or the verse form, and it wasn’t until I’d stopped trying to decode (PEER SEDATE)* and dropped the R for the D, that I was able to arrive at DEEP SEATED. At this point the scales fell from my eyes and ELLE apeared as the magazine, allowing me to put VILLA in its proper place instead of sticking the A at the end of the word. The unknown versification duly emerged. That left me with -AMP, which was obviously going to be VAMP, but how to account for the VA? That took only a short while until the appropriate conjugation floated into view. Sadly those last 3 clues took me from sub 20 minute territory to 25:42, thus eliminating me from the SNITCH as I languished at 104 on the leaderboard. Enjoyable puzzle though! Thanks setter and Jack.

  30. About 10 minutes. Good enough to encourage me to register for the championships again!

    The reason I can’t be more specific on the time is my browser experience let me down. I’d stopped using my default browser (OSX Chrome) because I’d had similar issues before but everything seemed to load OK so I thought perhaps it was working again. No joy. 80% of the way through the solve and suddenly letters start overwriting themselves (instead of moving along the light) or disappearing altogether if you try to click in another cell. Very frustrating. Anyone else had issues with Chrome and/or got any fixes? I don’t like switching to Safari just to do a crossword.

  31. 20’2″
    Showed early pace, stayed on gamely.
    I’m sure I’ve seen villanelle before; it’ the sort of thing Pasquale likes (the Don’s offering today is quite a challenge) in another place.
    Las Palmas a coincidence as I’ll be teaching Euclid this evening to a lad from the Canaries; using a mixture of Italian (his mamma’s from Sassari) Spanish and English; I think we’d better dodge the attic tongue.
    Very much my cup of tea and all were parsed.
    Compliments to the setter, Jack et al.

  32. Got landed with the misremembered shushi and as a result failed on complaint. Villon’s ballades were scarcely villanelles. I’ve written a goodly number of the latter and translated a few of the former. Mais ou sont les neiges d’antan? – one of the surely immortal lines of poetry or hell, of humanity itself – was, as the French say, impossible. Finally I took an entirely different direction and forwent any attempt at softness for a kind of thin sharpness, But yesterday’s snows, where are they? Hadn’t heard of Gekko but got gecko and still didn’t get complaint! Irked.

  33. Enjoyed this finishing in 31.50. Like others knowledge of VILLANELLE was limited to the tv series (which I didn’t even watch), and it took me a while to parse ILK as my mind kept returning to Kentucky Fried Chicken for some reason! I also biffed STOIC for 5dn, and this held me up until i rectified matters.

  34. I found this easier than yesterday, finishing in around 47 minutes, albeit with liberal use of aids (once I’ve figured out that a clue is an anagram and identified the anagrist, I’ll happily let a machine show me a list of possibilities). COD to VAMP.
    Thanks to setter & Jackkt.

  35. 45 mins
    I also had to correct Telephone pole, and dragged Estaminet up from somewhere, because I didn’t see ESTAT(e).
    The slack handful of saucy clues reminded me that I have read Judy Dench likes to spell out obscene words in Scrabble. Could she be setting our crosswords?

    Thanks Jack

  36. 13’54” . Watched Killing Eve but then wished I hadn’t. Good straightforward puzzle, even if KANGAROO COURT was a bit of a chestnut. We seem to have had a lot of CHILLI recently.

  37. DNF. I gave up just before the hour with the NHO ESTAMINET unsolved. Despite having ILK I also bunged in COMPLIANT. AMATEURISM gave me another pink square. I vaguely wondered if the Eisteddfod winner might be a LLUD and never did make sense of ACT. A nice puzzle but a poor show from me. Thanks to jackkt.

  38. There were never telephone poles. The poles were put up for telegraph cables.

    33 mins – bit slow . I don’t count the neutrino times as valid, do you? 9 minutes: lies
    COD obviously VILLANELLE

  39. 18.31 but didn’t check the fodder carefully and in bunged AMATEURISM

    Fun puzzle and knew all the necessary GK

    Thanks all

  40. 30:07 A breeze block today, with all except GONDOLIER and AMATEURISH going in quickly, then stuck on those for ages. Not sure why for the former; for the latter my problem was assuming “bungling”was the anagrind, and looking for words that meant “condemned”.
    COD to BARD.

  41. Yes, it was fun, but I got caught out in the SW corner, thinking KC must refer to our new monarch, and that “grinned” was ‘smiled’ and wondering what “iled’ was! Dragged up ESTAMINET from the depths, as I did VILLANELLE, without knowing what it was. Especially liked NOOKY (don’t we all?) , CHILLI and GONDOLIER.

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