Times Cryptic 28742


Solving time: 57 minutes with ages spent towards the end on 16dn and 22ac. I ask myself when am I EVER going think of that damned bird when it comes up? It has caught me out several times over the years, usually as a LOI.

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 Poet’s wife, poetically, is blessed with technique (8)
HATH A WAY (is blessed with technique) [poetically]. ‘Poet’ is being slightly obtuse but since old Will is commonly referred to as The Bard of Avon there are no real grounds for objection.
5 Host in fluster finally donning skimpy outfit (6)
{fluste}R [finally] contained by [donning] THONG (skimpy outfit)
10 Ten visiting Bucharest go twice around a house (4-6-5)
X (ten) contained by [visiting] anagram [around] of BUCHAREST GO+GO (twice). A. The House of Windsor prior to 1917.
11 Quest to find page in issue among the archives? (10)
P (page) contained by [in ] EX-EDITION (issue among the archives – an old edition)
13 Something on bottom of boot in farm (4)
Two meanings, the second a farm where horses are bred
15 Party without bottles? Don’t ask me! (2,3,2)
I don’t get this even allowing for the question mark. The absence of bottles at a party (DO) has no bearing on the presence of cans.
17 Indefinite number populating a northern Spanish city and northern French city (7)
N (indefinite number) contained by [populating] A + VIGO (northern Spanish), N (northern)
18 Down in time, best coming earlier (7)
PLUM (best),  AGE (time)
19 Singers in empty theatre, it needing audio equipment brought in (7)
IT + MIC (audio equipment) contained by [brought in] T{heatr}E [empty]
21 One removed from main cooker? (4)
CH{i}EF (main) [one removed]
22 Shift gear, car failing to start — one probably not flying? (10)
BUDGE (shift), RIG (gear), {c}AR [failing to start]. Budgie’s are perfectly capable of flying and are often kept in aviaries that allow for this. If kept in smaller cages it is cruel not to let them out regularly for exercise within a larger confined space.
25 Novel lament of Venus de Milo? (1,8,2,4)
The cryptic hint relies on ‘lament’ being a song or poem of farewell and the Venus de Milo being a statue famously devoid of arms. The novel is by Ernest Hemingway.
27 Dead bird and mummy found in African capital (6)
DODO (dead bird), MA (mummy). Unknown to me as the capital of Tanzania.
28 Today’s pie virtually ruined — miserable state (8)
Anagram [ruined] of TODAY’S PI{e} [virtually]. Often used with reference to books and films. Perhaps the most famous dystopian novels are Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.
1 Hotel worker maybe interrupting while new person washed up (3-4)
H (hotel), then BEE (worker maybe) contained by [interrupting] AS (while) + N (new)
2 Formal garment with pleats, reportedly? (3)
TUX (Tuxedo) sounds like [reportedly] “tucks” [pleats]. This Americanism for a dinner jacket takes its name from Tuxedo Park in New York, the site of a country club where the garment first became fashionable.
3 Chance    one of those written on manuscript paper (10)
Two meanings. Manuscript paper is used for writing music where accidental sharps and flats and naturals are to be found.
4 Old comedian almost getting head in order (5)
ABBOT{t} (old comedian) [almost]. Budd Abbott and Lou Costello were a famous double act from the mid 1930s to the 1950s. The definition refers to an order of monks of which Abbot is the most senior rank.
6 Almighty squeeze on income, ultimately (4)
HUG (squeeze), {incom}E [ultimately]
7 Exceptional — as work in relief? (11)
The hint refers to ‘relief’ as a method of moulding, carving, etc, in which the design stands out from a plane surface.
8 Continue through valley, please (7)
ADD (continue) contained by [through] GLEN (valley)
9 Orang-utan briefly wrestled with legendary adventurer (8)
Anagram [wrestled] of ORANG-UTA{n} [briefly]. Jason, The Golden Fleece and all that stuff.
12 For example, king or queen in movie, original (7,4)
PICTURE (movie), CARD (original – a person of eccentric or original character)
14 Fizzy tonic water warmer when it’s cold? (6,4)
Anagram [fizzy] of TONIC WATER. There’s a touch of green paint about this one, I feel.
16 Awfully unsettled after vacation and ever so tired (8)
Anagram [awfully] of U{nsettle}D [after vacation] + EVER SO
18 Bird feeding fish to number of whales (7)
CHAR (fish) contained by [feeding] POD (number of whales]. The answer didn’t seem familiar today but it as come up more than half-a-dozen times over the years, most recently in a QC in 2021. Fortunately the wordplay was clear.
20 Big area has a little grandeur, as I anticipated (7)
Hidden in [has a little] {grand}EUR AS I A{nticipated}. This comes up quite a lot, usually defined rather unimaginatively as e.g. large area or large amount of earth.
23 Artificial channel in position on the field (5)
Two meanings, the second being a fielding position in cricket between point and the slips
24 Broadcast live in the morning (4)
BE (live), AM (in the morning)
26 Wife neglecting sandwich getting blame (3)
{w}RAP (sandwich) [wife neglecting]

57 comments on “Times Cryptic 28742”

  1. I liked the Budgie clue and thought it reflected the cruel majority, perhaps. In the NO CAN DO clue, I can only assume setter and editor were chuckling away and forgot to actually consider the logic of the thing. A pity – as NO CAN DO deserves the occasional outing. 55 minutes, so definitely a struggle for me.

    1. I thought maybe it conjured a scenario where you’re told it’s a “no bottles” party and you answer incredulously, “No cans either?!”

    2. I’m sure I remember a clue a couple of years ago that was something like ‘Bottles only at this party? I won’t!’ That certainly wasn’t the exact wording, but the meaning was clear enough.

  2. Poor birdies!
    A FAREWELL TO ARMS went in on first glance, and before long I had the other 15-letter answer, the X pretty much giving it away. So I thought this was going to be easy, and looking back, nothing seems too obscure (while in the Quickie today there’s a word I don’t recall ever seeing before!), but I had to break for dinner before renewing my attack. DODOMA was my last, and that ain’t hard!

    I hesitated putting in GULLY for a long time, because that is generally caused by a natural process known as erosion. I also didn’t (of course) know the cricket position and wondered why a dubious homophone for “goalie” wasn’t flagged as such—until I looked up the word. Now, as for my main doubt, GULLY is also a verb, meaning to make such channels, and if you made them, they would be artificial. I hope that satisfies everyone.

  3. In the found-it-hard camp. HATHAWAY (correcting a misremembered INCIDENTAL) and BUDGERIGAR were both a long time coming, but POCHARD and CHEF were the last. WINTER COAT isn’t in my dictionaries but doesn’t seem green paintish – I was thinking of what some animals grow to protect against the ice and snow: horses, cats, tigers etc google tells me.

    1. The horsey use is so common that it suffices as the literal, methinks, with the human garment a sort of paraliteral.

  4. I got around in 40.43 and it seemed harder than that. Was held up by WINTER COAT because I stupidly misread the enumeration as 5-5, and by BUDGERIGAR because I was looking for a flightless bird and emu didn’t fit. Here in Oz budgies are renowned in the wild for forming massive flocks that cover much of the sky, so ‘probably not flying’ rather put me off. Thank you jacckt for the blog and the lessons in European geography and musical notation. There was quite the emphasis on critters today: the budgie, TITMICE, POCHARD and PLUMAGE plus the dodo, the orange-utan and our hard-working friend the bee.

  5. 17:41. I wondered if I’d missed something with NO CAN DO, but rather it seems that it was the setter/editor who missed something! DODOMA wouldn’t have been familiar to me until recently but I’ve been playing an app called Seterra where you have to identify countries/states/capitals/cities/flags, etc. It’s great for quiz knowledge – this is not the first time it’s proved useful.

  6. A third is wroth: Is this an hour
    For private sorrow’s barren song,
    When more and more the people Throng
    The chairs and thrones of civil power?
    (In Memoriam, Tennyson)

    30 mins pre-brekker. For some reason I couldn’t see Hathaway/Hasbeen for ages and the NW corner went in last.
    Ta setter and J.

  7. My sluggish form continued today with a 32:26 solve. Made heavy weather of a few that seemed pretty easy in hindsight, including PICTURE CARD, CHEF, PLUMAGE and ARGONAUT. I even struggled with the made-for-me GULLY and I was way too dozy to have noticed the NO CAN DO howler.

    I very rarely (ie never) resort to pen and paper for sorting out anagrams, but I did today for the unknown triple-barrelled house. Was quite pleased to eventually organise the anagrist into the correct sequence.

    COD to HATHAWAY I think, another one that took ages. Thanks Jack and setter.

  8. I was stymied by TITMICE – just couldn’t see it for some reason. Had no concerns with WINTER COAT – as well as the faunal meaning, it’s a common topic of conversation around here at this time of the year as to whether you’ve “got out your winter coat yet”.

  9. 56 minutes, rusty after ten days away. Good excuse anyway. COD to A FAREWELL TO ARMS as that got me going. Good puzzle apart from the absence of bottles. Thank you Jack and setter.

  10. Took 42 minutes. NHO POCHARD (apparently a duck) but apart from that, looking over the finished grid I think I made this harder than it was. Saxe Coburg Gotha took me simply ages to dredge up from my memory. Also NHO DODOMA but I had the pod bit of pochard so it went in early. I agree HATHAWAY is a good clue.
    Thanks setter and Jackkt

  11. 19:44. I made heavier weather of this than I should have by not remembering the house properly and writing out the anagrist incorrectly. So I was stuck in the NE corner for ages before I eventually realised there was no anagram of HOST in 5A and that 10A ended in an A not an E. DNK the capital of Tanzania but the wordplay left no doubt. Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  12. 45 minutes with much huffing and puffing to begin with. I had a fairly empty grid after 20 minutes but SAXE-COBURG-GOTHA got me going and then it all started to fall into place.

    No unknowns, but a few answers were right on the periphery of my knowledge.

    Overall an enjoyable solve so thank you to the setter and as always to the blogger.

  13. 41:30
    Sat staring at 22ac for nearly half an hour before waving my arms in the air like a BUDGERIGAR (or Matthew Marcus (Verlaine) triumphantly solving his last clue on Saturday).
    One recalls that when the sponsors of a previous Championship were announced as the whisky distillers Knockando, a wag responded on the letters page NO CAN DO.

      1. Which one? I got a shout-out on RadMac about The Smurfs in the morning, then later on Tom Robinson Now Playing about The Clash!

  14. 34 mins. Similar to some, I never thought of Shakespeare as a poet, so it wasn’t till the only word I could fit into 3d (Macedonian) finally gave way to ACCIDENTAL that it twigged.
    I’m usually pretty good at capitals but DODOMA escaped me. Not Dar es Salaam then.

  15. Like Jack, I was stuck for ages at the end with the same two clues. The BUDGERIGAR one was made difficult because the checkers suggested that garage was in there somehow. Unlike him I didn’t persevere for quite so long and used an aid for BUDGERIGAR, which of course became obvious, after which OVERUSED was easy enough. So my time of 48 minutes is tainted. Never knew DODOMA, but the wordplay encouraged the guess.

  16. Days like today make me realise I have a long, long way to go before becoming proficient at puzzles. My first scan yielded nothing but CHEF, which led to NHO POCHARD. I have, however, definitely seen them – quite distinctive red heads – on bird-watching trips on the south coast. From then on in, it was a slow trawl around the grid, even with a relatively quick solve of the two 15 letter ones. My LOI, HATHAWAY, I have no excuse for. I just couldn’t see the answer, even with H and T in place. Finally, ABBOT forced me to reassess the cryptic and Hath a way hove into place, but still before I remembered who she was! The lack of the usual number of comments leads me to suppose others found it similarly hard – I would say on a Friday scale even. Now off to read Verlaine’s blog. Yes, I do miss him!

  17. DNF. Stuck on the last two as Jack and gave up. My excuse being I’m still full of drugs!

    The rest was enjoyable and I loved the Hemingway.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

  18. 18:14. I solved this early in the morning without caffeine assistance, which may account for my sluggishness. It’s my excuse anyway.
    Apart from the fact that he was known as the bard of Avon, Shakespeare wrote an awful lot of poetry, so I don’t see this as particularly obtuse.
    I assumed the old comedian was Russ Abbot, who is both alive and lacking the requisite extra T at the end. If ninja-turtling is getting a high-brow reference from a low-brow namesake, what’s it called when you get a low-brow reference from an even lower-brow one?

  19. 53:56 for me. Finally got around to taking out a subscription again after many years without. Feel very out of practice now though. I’m pretty good on capitals so DODOMA was a write-in. LOI Budgerigar – just took me an age to see it. Had to come here to parse ACCIDENTAL as I hadn’t come across it as a musical term before. I liked NO CAN DO at the time, but only after I came here did I realise that it really doesn’t work. Bottle only party would work better logically, but wouldn’t read as well.

    1. Dave Perry is a name from the past, not seen for years. You used to blog one crossword a week dressed in a dinner jacket aka a tux? That Dave Perry?

  20. Two goes needed. Needed the G and A from HUGE and GLADDEN before I got anywhere near the clever SAXE-COBURG-GOTHA, hadn’t heard of DODOMA, and took far too long to get the relatively simple CHEF, which then pointed the way to POCHARD. Similar doubts as others over NO CAN DO.

    FOI No can do
    LOI Pochard
    COD Saxe-Coburg-Gotha

  21. At time of writing, the on-line clue for NO CAN DO is reading as ‘Party with bottles’. It would seem there has been a correction somewhere along the line. (‘Bottles only’ might have been better.)

  22. 15:56

    Nice and chewy today. NHO the second definition for ACCIDENTAL but happy to drag POCHARD from somewhere and work out the rest. Only slightly held up by inventing the house of S-C-GOTHE.

  23. A pleasant 38 minutes over lunch. Since I have the print edition I was stuck with the TT party at 15ac but it seems from a recent comment that the online clue has been corrected. It took a while to get to grips with the NW corner, but all was eventually resolved when the answer to 10ac dawned on me. Not that many gimmes here, but still an enjoyable solve.
    FOI – NO CAN DO (despite the clue!)
    Thanks to jackkt and other contributors.

  24. 24:20

    All reasonably straightforward apart from POCHARD and CHEF my last two in. The two northerns in the AVIGNON clue threw me for a while. I rather liked NO CAN DO but COD was HATHAWAY.

    Thanks to Jack and the setter

  25. I struggled this slowly but finally threw in the towel at titmice and budgerigar. Happy to have got 10ac, pochard and dystopia. Thanks for the blog.

  26. 28.59. I found this a pretty decent workout. Nothing really going in on my first pass of the across clues until I got to the Venus De Milo gag. Slowly built up the grid from there. Abbott and Costello’s: “Who’s on first?” skit still makes me laugh.

  27. All correct in 50 mins but a struggle.

    Feel I should have got the house and novel much quicker.

    Good puzzle. Thanks setter and Jacckt.

  28. 33.38 with LOI titmice without knowing the bird but mic was what done it for me. Having looked titmice up they seem quite pretty little birds. No idea how they sound.

    Guessed accidental and dredged up Dodoma from somewhere but it was generously clued. Liked has been but Hathaway was my COD .
    Thanks setter and blogger.

  29. 36’30”
    Cracking early pace, failed to quicken under pressure.
    I was feeling a little bit down on myself, but it appears I’ve done quite well to be just under par.

    Nice one Tommy! Whilst I was gleefully listening to rats nearly eating a kitten, my brother was getting The Tale of Tommy Titmouse, which finally finished the grid. Beatrix has been quite busy lately. My route to school every day took me under the arch adjacent to The Tailor of Gloucester’s house; it’s hardly changed since Miss P painted it.
    Two BIFFs as I failed to question the party paradox and S-C-G went straight in, and Dodoma from the wordplay.
    A fine puzzle I thought and I’ll forgive the editor for the slip; he’s been busy and might have had one too many at The George, perhaps. Thank you setter and Jack.

  30. 34:54

    29 of the 30 clues completed in about 29 mins, then around 6 minutes to come up with TITMICE – I was focused on something to do with the ears for audio equipment rather than something to make sound with. Didn’t know DODOMA either but the wordplay was gentle. Liked HATHAWAY once the penny dropped.

  31. No time for this as two major interruptions meant it was done in three spells. It was certainly tough enough for me, and I’m sure I would have been over the hour if the sessions were added together. In the end I was left with just 19ac and the elusive 22ac to solve, and at least ten minutes elapsed before the BUDGIE finally came to mind. 22ac continued to elude me, and I gave up the ghost and put in TITKITE with a shrug thinking KIT was the best I could do for audio equipment. I’m now annoyed I didn’t think of MIC, but hey-ho.

  32. I didn’t find this at all easy and my time of 55 mins reflects that. NHO TITMICE which was my LOI and took an age. MER at the probably non-flying Australian bird, and a less mild frown at all those who imprison birds in spaces which prevent them flying. Once I saw it, which was not early, SAXE-COBURG-GOTHA was pleasing and by some distance is my COD. ‘Add’ as a synonym for ‘continue’ doesn’t feel all that strong to me, though I see no-one else has commented on it. Even so, the clue for GLADDEN falls short of the mark set by the rest of the puzzle, IMHO. Thanks, as ever, to blogger and setter.

  33. I found this almost as tough as the Champ Final, taking almost 26 minutes. The bits that really slowed me down were the BUDGERIGAR that rarely flies (really?) and the unknown (I don’t think it’s even turned up on Pointless) capital. For this I struggled partly because I could only think of Dahomey, misspelt, but more trying to think of a bird ?D? to follow D(ead). if only it had been in Mauritius!
    It also didn’t help reading Guest for Quest in the EXPEDITION clue, thinking GULLY was not artificial, and wondering how to fit glade (don’t ask) into GLADDEN.
    It did help that I misread NO CAN DO in the same way as the setter and editor presumably did, and thought it clever and a bit of light, giggly relief.
    Either we’re in for a really tough week or our esteemed editor is engaged on one of his attempts to dislodge the Monday/Friday myth.

  34. Sorry to be dense, but I can’t understand why ADD = continue in 8d. Can anyone explain?

    Have to confess that I hadn’t spotted the bottles/cans problem until reading this blog.

    Thanks Jackkt and setter

    1. I suppose that if an addition is a continuation, then the related verbs can be thought of in the same way, at least in crosswordland. But I agree it is not immediately obvious.

  35. 59 minutes. PLUMAGE and POCHARD held me up at the end and I had the same thoughts about BUDGERIGAR as many others. A few feathered friends as noted; I remembered POCHARD from my (very brief) list of ducks, but needed the wordplay to get TITMICE.

  36. 31.48

    Like my bro took way longer to get the long across ones than I should as I was familiar with both. TITMICE emerged after thinking of mic and that helped unblock a lot.


    Thanks all

  37. The only G-T-A I could think of was in GUTTA-PERCHA, which was in my mind because I’ve just finished a Josephine Tey book where the main character keeps going on about hitting gutta-percha around, meaning playing golf. Didn’t help here, needless to say. And S-X- only gave me SEXY. Got there in the end. Crept in under the half hour at 29’43”.

  38. Freebird is a track that’s supreme
    Freeboard is a margin, aBEAM
    T-Birds are a piece
    Of a movie called Grease
    And three birds is simply extreme

  39. Tackled this one today as I was travelling yesterday. SAXE COBURG GOTHA and A FAREWELL TO ARMS dropped staright into place and gave me a great start. HUGE was FOI and OVERUSED brought up the rear. DODOMA was unknown but the wordplay and crossers were helpful. 23:19. Thanks setter and Jack.

  40. 10 across only scanned because we are getting used to the setters erratic way of pointing to anagrams. ‘Around’ does not denote an anagram in the same way as the traditional ‘ground’, ‘confused’ ‘mixed up’ etc. Lets have a bit more decorum please!

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