Times Cryptic 28752 – Sat, 4 Nov 2023. To know or … no, not.

This felt harder than recent Saturdays, although there were few general knowledge challenges. I didn’t know the “absurd figure” reference in 12ac. 5ac evoked memories of schoolboy “humour”. My COD was 24dn.

Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle. How did you all get on?

Note for newcomers: The Times offers prizes for Saturday Cryptic Crosswords. This blog is for last week’s puzzle, posted after the competition closes. So, please don’t comment here on this week’s Saturday Cryptic.

Definitions are underlined. (ABC)* means anagram of ABC. Italics mark anagram indicators in the clues, and other ‘assembly instructions’ in the explanations. {Curly brackets} mark omitted letters.

Answers, and their components in the explanations, are in BOLD CAPITALS.

1 Serious medic has white coat at the front (7)
DR, ASTI (white wine), C{oat}. You need to “lift and separate” white/coat.
5 Hanging frame in atelier, painter succeeded (5)
A{telie}R, RA, S (succeeded). Some may remember that Polonius was stabbed through the arras. Ouch!
9 Complete United fan accepting City’s number one (5)
U (united), C{ity}, NUT (fan). The long version of a book or film, with the boring bits left in.
10 You and I are going to live in good health and felicity (9)
WE’LL BE, IN, G{ood}. Again, “lift and separate” good/health.
11 Toll cut by old legislator — this may stimulate growth (7)
COST (toll), cut by O MP.
12 Absurd figure, one running supermarket forgetting opening time (7)
I, ON, {t}ESCO. I vaguely knew his name, but nothing about his contribution to the Theatre of the Absurd.
13 Getting hold of article, claim it’s working like a charm (10)
(CLAIM ITS)* getting hold of AN (an “article”, in grammarian terms).
15 Interlaced threads in jacket for Madame? Zip it (4)
ME (“jacket” for MadamE), SH (zip it).
18 Undergoing effects of inflation, one stays afloat? (4)
Cryptic definition. Seeing the second L, my first thought was “life BELT”.
20 I may be smoking marijuana behind niche — my bad! (10)
23 Hard to squeeze into longer pants and hat (7)
H squeezed into (LONGER)*. “Pants” as an anagram indicator always jars with me, because that meaning of the word is unknown in these parts, but it does give the clue a nice surface reading. “Leghorn” as a hat was also new!
24 Figures cutting cuticle evenly, getting knife, say (7)
TENS cutting UIL (“cuticle”, evenly).
25 Comprehensive school’s head, after jam, tucked into whiskey and beer (9)
HOLE (jam) + S (school’s head), tucked into W + ALE.
26 Sheepish classical sextet admitted to taking drug (5)
VI (sextet, in Roman numerals) admited to ON E (taking ecstacy).
27 Why you might say former US leader’s gracious (5)
Y (sounds, you might say, like “why”), IKE’S (President Eisenhower’s).
28 A little cold Sprite and bits of fish knocked back (7)
ELF, FINS knocked back.
1 Wrongly claimed to make a kind of point (7)
2 Where films are seen live, large number’s coming in (8)
THOU’S (large number’s), coming in ARE (live).
3 Namely what one may do with a broken-down vehicle (2,3)
or, spaced differently, TOW IT!
4 Bordeaux, say, is protected by peaceful religious doctrine (9)
VIN (French wine – Bordeaux, say) + IS, protected by CALM.
5 A cop turning up in case of larceny in New York City (6)
A + BAN (NAB turning up), in LY (“case” of L{arcen}Y).
“NAB” can mean “catch”, as in “fair cop, guv’nor”.
6 Once again, release children after lesson in school (7)
R.E. (Religious Education), ISSUE. Release a book or film, not children.
7 Sign in music compositions, e.g. notation in part (5)
a hidden answer, completely unknown to me, but looking suitably Italian! To do with repeating a musical passage, I gather.
8 The Spanish going after Gulf state’s port wine (8)
MUSCAT (the capital of Oman), EL (“the”, in Spanish).
14 People in capital thus raised capital to invest in earnest, periodically (9)
THEN (thus) + IA (A1=capital, raised) in ANS (the even letters of eArNeSt). This clue was rather spoiled for me by 22dn, where I biffed the answer from the helpers, and therefore knew this clue was looking for something Greek.
16 Basil, say, in warm pork pie? I’m uncertain eating it (8)
HOT (warm) + ER (I’m uncertain) eating LIE. Basil Fawlty, of course!
17 Scary beast perhaps rose up, mounted by cruciverbalists (8)
WE (crossword people) + FLOWER backwards (up).
19 Record of Spooner’s lavatory decor (7)
BOG LOOK (groan).
21 I don’t know this person’s voice (7)
PASS (I don’t know … the answer to this quiz question) + I’VE.
22 Ground so bare? It’s the wind, according to 14 (6)
(SO BARE)*. The Greek god of the North Wind.
23 English artist having the blues track (5)
LOW, RY (railway track).
24 Baby carriers Henry’s daughter put under empty unit (5)
U{ni}T, ERI. Did some Shakespearean character have a daughter called Eri? Head slap!! E.R.I was Elizabeth Regina, Queen of England from 1558-1603, and daughter of Henry VIII.

25 comments on “Times Cryptic 28752 – Sat, 4 Nov 2023. To know or … no, not.”

  1. This took me a long time. DNK LEGHORN & LOWRY. LOI LILO, which I finally recalled in the middle of an alphabet trawl. The setter seems to like initial/final letters: 5ac, 15ac, 5d, 24d. I liked CALVINISM, PASSIVE, YIKES, IONESCO, COD maybe to UTERI.

  2. Thanks for explaining 24d. Like you I assumed Eri was the daughter I’d never heard of belonging to a Henry I may or may not have heard of. Similarly, IONESCO I put in because it parsed, thinking he might be a Shakespearean comic character.
    8d needed a Gulf state *U***T , which had to be KUWAIT surely? Kuwaitel was a wine new to me, and wasn’t corrected until COMPOST stimulated growth in comprehension.
    Lots of fun. Particularly the nod to Basil Fawlty.

  3. Well, LILO was an NHO,
    and how could LEGHORN be a hat?!
    No less a pleasant exercise—
    it’s even better for all that.

    1. We had LILO once a couple of years ago, and somehow it stuck in my memory, although it took an alphabet trawl to unstick it.

      1. Not a surprising revelation. I even thought Jackkt might come up with the precise post!
        And, of course, I never miss a puzzle…

        1. #28511 27th Jan 2023 was the most recent. You said NHO and Kevin G replied it had come up before!

    2. I was going to ask you about Leghorn/Livorno, but I seem to have sorted out.
      You seem to like these etymological oddities (see post below).

      1. Thanks! I’d only gotten to Ligorno. That’s all very fascinating… gassa d’amante!

  4. 38 minutes for this with WEREWOLF as my LOI.

    I thought I NHO BOREAS but I seem to say that every time it appears. I certainly didn’t know LEGHORN as a hat because up to now it has always been a breed of chicken.

  5. 49m 58s
    My only queries were with LILO and WEREWOLF, both of which you explained, Bruce, thank you. I knew the word LILO of course but had trouble with the parsing.
    A love of old Goon Shows also helped with 12ac: IONESCO. He wrote “Six Characters in Search of an Author” which was parodied by The Goons as “Six Charlies in Search of an Author”.
    COD for me was also 24d UTERI.

    1. “6 Characters” is by Pirandello; Ionesco wrote “Rhinoceros”, inter no doubt alia.

      1. I had to study Ionesco’s La Cantatrice Chauve(The Bald Soprano) but can’t remember a thing about it.

      2. Of course it is! Mea culpa. Thanks, Kevin.
        My one excursion into absurdist theatre was an evening at the National Theatre (I think) watching the very funny “One-Way Pendulum” by N.F. Simpson.

  6. 45:41 LILO went straight in. COD to IONESCO. LOI was ARRAS. Biffed UTERI, but did not spot that ERI was Queen Elizabeth I.

  7. I had a question mark written next to 18ac and was wondering how one inflates a lily. Lilo certainly in my vocab but not in my mind last Saturday!

    NHO BOREAS which unfortunately crossed with LEGHORN, but luckily guessed correctly.

  8. Done and dusted in approx 1 hour, which was satisfying, and doubly so in light of the comments that it was a tougher Saturday challenge than of late, though I needed the blog to explain the how of 2d & 17d. I even saw ERI! Much amused by the Guy/Kevin/jackkt discussion of LILO…! Thanks, all.

    1. Well done indeed ! I too struggled with the parsing of werewolf. I did toy with the reversal of flower and then dismissed the idea as silly. When I returned to it I had to look at it three times before I saw that it did work. An hour is a cracking time; I was 24% over par and it took me a further half hour to untangle the Athenians, after I’d stopped the clock.

  9. 70 minutes. This was tougher. ARRAS, ALBANY, IONESCO and BOREAS were only dimly known and SEGNO was NHO. UTERI was LOI. I was very pleased to solve and parse it all. Thanks branch.

  10. Had to cheat to determine that LEGHORN is a hat, SEGNO is a thing and IONESCO was absurd in some way. YIKES was clever and different. Biffed ATHENIANs which helped with BOREAS which I connected with North as in Aurora but not with wind. As others, failed to spot ERI as HRVIII’s daughter in UTERI.

    1. In Greek mythology the northernmost peoples they could imagine were called the Hyperboreans(“beyond the north wind”). Scottish novelist George MacDonald titled one of his works “At the Back of the North Wind”.

  11. Only knew ARRAS as a WW1 battlefield and not as a hanging, had to trust that IONESCO and LEGHORN are an absurd figure and a hat respectively, BOREAS only went in as the most likely option with the checkers, and I didn’t parse UTERI.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Uncut
    LOI Arthouse
    COD Passive

  12. 22.15

    Thought this was an absolutely cracking crossie with nice surfaces and a good dollop of humour. Vaguely knew IONESCO.

    HOTELIER was amusing.

    Thanks Setter and Bruce

  13. 45’25”
    Started slowly, got slower, never nearer.

    But it was an extremely enjoyable, if leisurely, three quarters of an hour; the fact that I’ve a shortlist of ten for best clue makes it a cracker in my book.
    I was helped by having seen an odd little opera in 2019, Il Cappello di Palia di Firenze. A Florentine straw hat in that case, but straw hats in these parts are a necessity not an affectation, so I’m quite up in hats.

    What I was going to ask Guy to unravel for me was whilst the English language is pretty good at semi-mangling foreign place names, how on earth did it manage to turn Livorno into Leghorn ? I now see it’s a corruption of Ligorno, the name of the place in the Genovese dialect, which is also the source of fainé, standard winter fare here (chickpea pancakes) and gassa d’amante, a lover’s knot, which I think is rather sweet, which mariners would know as the indispensable bowline.

    All but one parsed and familiar, but I have to admit to spending a further forty minutes butchering Athenian, until finally arriving at the correct dissection. For this I owe the setter many thanks, for it saved me from listening to England closing in on Australia’s total and then falling agonisingly short.

    Lots to like; a thousand thanks to setter and Bruce.

Comments are closed.