Times Cryptic 28802


Considering the number of clues I read before an answer sprang to mind I was rather surprised to run through this in only 22 minutes. I also had a minor delay at the end with 19dn putting up a lot of resistance.

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 Very backward family with name right round Croatian port (9)
DUB (name), R (right), O (round), V (very), KIN (family) reversed [backward]. Each element of wordplay is easy but the placement required some thinking through  with ’round’ used deviously to mislead.
6 Woman keeping record in regimental HQ (5)
DOT  (woman – Dorothy), containing [keeping] EP (record). I wasn’t sure about depot as ‘regimental HQ’ but SOED has it covered: 2 A military establishment at which stores are deposited, recruits or other troops assembled, or, formerly, prisoners of war confined; esp. a regimental headquarters. L18.
9 Turning up readily at first, struggle with range (7)
UP (reversed) [turning], R{eadily} [at first], VIE (struggle), W (with)
10 Winged sandals identified in short story and song (7)
TAL{e} (story) [short], ARIA (song). Deduced from wordplay. It appeared once before in March last year but I didn’t remember it.
11 Wee drink leading to a humiliating scene? (5)
DRAM  (wee drink), A.  ‘A wee dram’ is common in Scottish dialect.
12 Excitedly greet clan figure (9)
Anagram [excitedly] of GREET CLAN
13 Entertainer primarily concentrating on person in box (8)
C{oncentrating} [primarily], ON, JUROR (person in box). In English courts juries sit in jury boxes.
14 Female judge visiting islands in Pacific state (4)
F (female) then J (judge) contained by [visiting] I + I (islands)
17 Well-groomed  old farm animals (4)
Two meanings. ‘Old’ in the second one refers to the rarity of the word these days rather than the age of cattle.
18 Early seventeenth century woman astride a sturdy horse (8)
JEAN (woman) containing [astride] A + COB (sturdy horse)
21 Unrefined modern worker taking in the Spanish, say (9)
IN (modern – fashionable) + ANT (worker) containing [taking in] EL (‘the’ Spanish) + EG (say)
22 Dangerous reptile artist found in equipment (5)
RA (artist) contained by [found in] KIT (equipment). A non-aggressive but highly venomous snake, apparently. This has come up once or twice before but I hadn’t remembered it.
24 Mournful English member getting first clue (7)
E (English), LEG (member), 1AC (first clue – but not in a portcullis grid!)
25 Current head I cite briefly (7)
TOP (head), I, CAL{l} (cite – summon in law ) [briefly]
26 Upper-class scholar primarily associated with bird book (5)
TIT (bird), U (upper-class), S{cholar} [primarily]. It’s a book of the Bible.
27 Parodist’s poem Lorna revised (9)
Anagram [revised] of POEM LORNA
1 Journalist supporting political party, taken for a ride (5)
DUP (political party), ED (journalist). The Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party sends MPs to Westminster, and was much in the news during Mrs May’s regime when she relied on them to prop up her government.
2 Pub profit dishonourable blokes finally spent in sales area (7,8)
BAR (pub),  GAIN (profit), BASE (dishonourable), MEN (blokes), {spen}T [finally]
3 Herb old miners planted outside Baltic port (8)
O (old) + NUM (National Union of Miners) containing [planted outside] RIGA (Baltic port). I didn’t know this herb, or rather group of herbs that includes marjoram and the more familiar oregano. It has previously appeared in a handful of puzzles, but only one where I contributed to the discussion, in 2011.
4 Source of information recalled uplands and city (8)
MOORS (uplands) + WEN (city) reversed [recalled]. A ‘wen’ is a large and congested city. ‘The Great Wen’ is London.
5 King longing to restrict son’s trashy material (6)
K (king), ITCH (longing) containing [to restrict] S (son)
6 Young chap upset girl over scene of assassination (6)
LAD (young chap) reversed [upset], SAL (girl)
7 Bird of prey foreign cleaner disturbed after parking (9,6)
P (parking), anagram [disturbed] of FOREIGN CLEANER
8 Extremely tender, ancient man, one playing Lear perhaps  (9)
T{ende}R [extremely], AGED (ancient), IAN (man)
13 Eg Spice Girl engaged by male fraudsters on time (9)
DI (girl) contained [engaged] by CONMEN (male fraudsters), T (time)
15 Dogsbody’s deed interrupting turning up of corporation (8)
ACT (deed) contained by [interrupting] OF reversed [turning up], then TUM (corporation – stomach)
16 Noisy bird with crest finally replaced by quiet dog (8)
COCKAtOO (noisy bird)becomes COCKAPOO when {cres}t [finally] is replaced by P (quiet)
19 Mastermind in part of family touring India (6)
GENUS (part of family) containing [touring] I (India – NATO)
20 Ragamuffin, rather a scallywag at heart (6)
Hidden in [at heart] {rathe}R A SCAL{lywag}
23 Roofing contractor, say left in middle of row (5)
L (left) contained by [in middle of] TIER (row)

82 comments on “Times Cryptic 28802”

  1. 10:58. Good wordplay puzzle – very nice clues for DUBROVNIK, TALARIA, and JACOBEAN amongst others. Should have been a few minutes faster, but I had fat-fingered BEAT instead of NEAT at 17 and was scratching my head over 13 down.

  2. Went smoothly enough, but not without some momentary (and not unwelcome) perplexity. Started with TILER and KRAIT and had the right side finished first, then the SW, finished with DUBROVNIK, ORIGANUM and NEWSROOM (didn’t clearly remember where WEN was coming from, but it had to be…). We must have had TALARIA before, or maybe I saw it in a Mephisto.

    A WEN is (Merriam-Webster) “an abnormal growth or a cyst protruding from a surface especially of the skin,” as a sebacious cyst. In the 1820s, William Cobbett, a radical pamphleteer and champion of rural England, saw the rapidly growing city of London as a pathological swelling on the face of the nation and dubbed this urban agglomeration “the Great Wen.” (Adapted from Wikipedia)

    NEAT lives on in Neatsfoot oil, which has a reputation for being very good for any leather garment you want to take particular care of (I’ve used it, with no problem; happened to come across—checking the spelling—a site advertising a rival product after first writing the above. But it waterproofs very well, no doubt about that).

    1. I had assumed that ‘wen’ was used figuratively by Cobbett specifically to refer to London; didn’t think that it was generic. ODE does give as a 2d definition “(archaic) a very large or overcrowded city’, but its only example is ‘The great wen of London’.

    2. Perhaps Prince Charles’s comment in 1984 about the proposed modern extension to London’s National Gallery was not so original as it seemed at the time: “What is proposed is like a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend.”. Anyway, it had the desired effect and the plan was ditched.

      1. Indeed. Chuckles certainly knew the expression, and probably even its provenance. (“Carbuncles” in the architectural sense has come up in these premises before, but has not yet made it into Collins.)
        So you’d have had a carbuncle on a wen, if not for Charlie.

  3. This crossword was a delightful challenge, and I managed to solve it in just 22 minutes! The clever wordplay and diverse range of clues kept me engaged throughout. I particularly enjoyed the twist with “round” in 1 Across, which added an extra layer of complexity. 19 Down did provide a bit of resistance, but the satisfaction of completing it was well worth the effort. Looking forward to the next one!

  4. 15:19
    (I just tried to look at the SNITCH, and was warned not to by Firefox.)
    Pretty straightforward, even the DNKs (ORIGANUM, TALARIA) not holding me up for long. What did hold me up was putting in ELEGIST at 24ac for some reason: saw E LEG and bunged it in. Finally saw it wasn’t right after trying to get 20d (POI). A couple of MERs: IN for ‘modern’, and RASCAL for ‘ragamuffin’.
    Sorry to hear about The Rotter; I’ll miss his blogs.

    1. (Same for me when trying to access the SNITCH on Safari and Edge (iOS) and Edge (Windows); don’t know what’s going on).

      1. Vinyl informs me that, as Firefox suggested, Starstruck’s certificate expired today and needs to be renewed. V has contacted Starstruck, who will presumably do the renewing.

  5. For some reason I whizzed through this in 13.56, only to find I’d made a stupid mistake with FACTOTUM (I had TEM, should have concentrated on the cryptic). Otherwise it was close to a PB from memory. Like vinyl1 I needed the cryptics for all those he mentioned, and am grateful to Jack for explaining DUBROVNIK and TITUS. Is DRAMA defined as humiliating scene? Never mind, a fun puzzle, thanks to all.

  6. 22′, good time for me and pretty straightforward after initially getting very little in the top half (though DUBROVNIK should have been a write-in, I couldn’t get Split out of my head). A couple of NHOs easily found KRAIT, ORIGANUM and TALARIA only known from previous puzzles. Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  7. 23m 20s but biffed NEWSREEL iso NEWSROOM so ended up with two errors.
    I liked FACTOTUM. I’ve been playing quite a few flashmob videos on YouTube. My favourite is a performance of Largo al Factotum from The Barber of Seville in the departure lounge at Berlin’s Tegel Airport. Great fun! I also believe Charles Aznavour was, at one time, Edith Piaf’s factotum.

  8. OK …so the Croatian port has to be SPLIT – right? After giving up on that thread, I got started with DRAMA and RECTANGLE but didn’t develop any proper momentum until 10 or so minutes in, when it felt like I was actually getting into gear, and I confidently revisited 1a to pop in ZUBROVNIK (wot?). That did cost me a few mins as I racked my brain for a political party starting with a Z.

    Apart from that “senior moment” I found this puzzle to be lots of fun, enjoying it tremendously, and feeling like I was really in the zone. It absolutely amazes me when I guess stuff like FACTOTUM immediately from the definition, that’s what I really love about solving – sometimes it feels almost supernatural. Finishing sequence DUPED (after 1a lightbulb moment – PURVIEW – NEWSROOM. 26:29, thanks setter and Jack, RIP The Rotter.

      1. Renamed in Private Eye as ZAPOW – Zimbabwe Army for Poppin’ Off Whitey, and POWIE People’s Organisation for Whitey’s Immediate Elimination.
        And did you know that Mugabe backwards is E BA GUM, well known Yorkshire expression.

  9. 24 minutes with LOI GENIUS. COD to JACOBEAN. I either didn’t know or didn’t remember KRAIT or TALARIA, but the cooking instructions were clear. A pleasant resumption to normal service. Thank you Jack and setter.

  10. I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
    -dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
    Of the rolling level …
    (GM Hopkins. Ok, not a Peregrine, but any excuse)

    20 mins pre-brekker. I assumed the snake and didn’t like city=wen but mostly I liked its gentle trickiness.
    Ta setter and J

  11. 16:10 but with a typo so a technical DNF.

    I enjoyed this one and felt on-message throughout, with the long clues write-ins at the first attempt. Other than that I DNK either TALARIA, PURVIEW, or KRAIT but the cluing/checkers were generous enough.

    A nice start to the week proper so thanks to both setter and blogger.

  12. 14:45. I rather stuttered my way through this. DNK ORIGANUM which needed the O from DUBROVNIK which needed the K from KITSCH. An initial JAVA for FIJI didn’t help and I took a while to see the noisy bird. I liked ELEGIAC. Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  13. 8:40 (the last half-minute spent trying to parse 18ac with NAPOLEON as the horse from ‘Animal Farm’, until I remembered he was actually a pig).
    PURVIEW always reminds me of Malcolm Tucker’s response to the use of the word by Judy Molloy, Director of Communications for the Department for International Development in ‘In The Loop’.
    (Don’t Google it. Just don’t.)

      1. I did .. but I preferred the following item:
        Armchair military: General Miller currently, though he admits to having killed people 15 years ago, so it presumably didn’t always apply. Malcolm Tucker: “Falling asleep on someone doesn’t count.”

      2. I did and I’m still disgusted. What is it about infantile dirty humour that so many people can get so pleasurably excited about?

  14. I also only took 20 minutes to fail! Did not recall WEN although I now think Dickens may have referred to The Great Wen. I may stand corrected. I also DNK PURVIEW and didn’t follow the word play. A sloppy and lazy start to the year on my part. Doesn’t bode well.

  15. 10 minutes, I think my quickest ever time.

    Didn’t fully parse DUBROVNIK, but there wasn’t much else it could be; don’t remember coming across TALARIA or KRAIT before but the wordplay was very helpful in both cases; not really familiar with ORIGANUM either, but again it wasn’t too difficult to piece together; tried to justify ‘brains’ for 19d before getting GENIUS.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Duped
    LOI Conjuror
    COD Peregrine falcon

  16. 28 mins and a jolly romp. Same unknowns as others, TALARIA & KRAIT. I know the herb oregano, so not too much of a leap to ORIGANUM for the plant, also helped by the wp.

    COCKAPOO does not sound like a dog I’d like to own!

    I did like CONJUROR & LAMPOONER.

    Meilleurs vœux et bonne année a tous.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

    1. I thought COCKAPOO was quite well known – it’s a cross between a Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle and seems to be a popular cross-breed these days. If I had to have a dog, I imagine it’s preferable to an American Bully XL!

  17. 11:46 with one word spoiled by typos. CONDIDEMT. Despite me checking my homework!


  18. 37’30” for a very satisfactory completion, where I did what is often recommended here and trusted the wordplay to give a couple of correct NHOs in TALARIA and KRAIT (although I’d pencilled in ‘kirat’ earlier)

    I enjoyed loads even if they took me a while to decode: COCKAPOO, BARGAIN BASEMENT, DUBROVNIK, PEREGRINE FALCON, CONJUROR and CONDIMENT in particular.

    Thanks setter and Jackkt.

  19. 12.35, once I found the right port (BAKU took a little dislodging).

    Perhaps a few too many from the random name generator for me – we have DOT, IAN, JEAN, SAL, and DI.

    I liked RASCAL and DUPED, and the unknown TALARIA, KRAIT, and ORIGANUM were kindly clued.

    Thanks both & happy new year all.

  20. Several words that seemed a bit tricky, but deduced from wordplay and vague awareness of them. I had Carolean instead of JACOBEAN for a while, but although Carol came into it and it was probably early seventeeth century (Charles I not II) of course I couldn’t parse it. But I entered it and it held me up for a while, so my 22 minutes might have been less. But then one can always say that. I’ve always done it after a round of golf. Nice crossword.

  21. A speedy 16:47 with a WITCH of 64, helped by preternatural instant write-ins of the long downs and several others. My solving process is usually to intuit the answer and then work out the wordplay, so a lot presumably happens in the depths of the subconscious – but this one was spookily fast. Some lovely cluing helped with the unknown sandals, snake and herb (with that ending).

    Sorry to hear about the Rotter; his avatar always brought Terry-Thomas’s gap-toothed grin and unctuous voice to mind and made me smile, and his blogs were delightful.

  22. 34:54
    Off the pace today, but no matter. A very nice puzzle worth savouring.
    Thanks, jack.

  23. On the wavelength?! About 2/3 of the acrosses in, then every single down on first read with the generous crossers. Then filled in all the empty acrosses without trouble. TALARIA vaguely remembered as a word was LOI, working up from the bottom. Wasn’t hurrying and didn’t time it, but must have been fast.
    A quick shout out to: DOT, DI, IAN, LORNA, JEAN and SAL… did I miss anyone?
    Liked Dubrovnik because it wasn’t Split, but COD to PURVIEW, very elegant clue.

  24. A relief after slogging painfully through the MCS (in a second session) because this one was rather kind.
    One tiny ? Isn’t NEAT a singular? I don’t thing it’s animals with an S.
    I rather liked the construction (and lift and separate) for CONDIMENTS, which gives me the chance to wish a late condiments of the season to all.

    1. Thanx for the condiments!
      From Wiktionary:
      neat (plural neat)
      (archaic) A bull or cow.
      neat pl (plural only)
      (archaic) Cattle collectively.

      1. Thanks for the reference: Chambers doesn’t say anything about what the plural is but only defines it in the singular. The Cobbler at the beginning of Julius Caesar refers to neat’s leather, which may suggest a general term.

  25. 18:49
    Good fun, with two new, or forgotten, words for me: KRAIT and TALARIA. I’m another who had trouble getting SPLIT out of their heads.

    In Pepys diary, on January 1st 1660, he recorded that he invited some of his family to breakfast: “and I had for them a barrel of oysters, a dish of NEAT’s tongues, and a dish of anchovies, wine of all sorts, and Northdown ale. We were very merry till about eleven o’clock, and then they went away.” Makes my porridge and toast seem very tame.

    Thaks to Jack and the setter

  26. 19:13, nice to have a Croatian city other than Split.
    @Zabadak I believe neat is its own plural.
    Thanks Jack and setter

  27. Did well with only 3 left at 30:00.

    I had CAROLEAN for JACOBEAN, isn’t that the adjective for Charles?

    I knew KRAIT from the 80s computer game “Elite” where all of the enemy ships were named after snakes, also solved FER DE LANCE, some time back by the same method.

    Did well with many NHOs, but failed with NEAT, just did not sound plausible as a farm animal. I also tried to get DOONE into LAMPOONER somehow.


    1. A very similar DNF for me, throwing in the towel with NEAT and JACOBEAN unsolved.
      But I thoroughly enjoyed all the other clues.

  28. 14:50 – Knew the winged sandals as being TAL something or other, with the helpful cryptic bailing me out. NHO of KRAIT but it seems one to remember (and avoid).

  29. Surprised TALARIA appeared as recently as March as it was absent from my cheating machine. It is in now tho’. Sorry THEY (plural only) are. I also suspected COCKAPOO was spelt COCKERPOO and find that Wiktionary accepts both so they’re in too.
    Had a blind spot with JACOBEAN, couldn’t see Jean for ages!
    Never did see 1ac in 24a ELEGiac.
    NHO Origanum as far as I can remember, but CONJUROR gave the U and the NUM came to my aid.
    In COD 1a DUBROVNIK; apart from Split we have had Pula recently, so no gimmes there. Might have been in the QC.

  30. A PB of 19:54 which is about 5 minutes faster than I have ever managed before. I found this easier than the Quickie today. However, I do share the frustration of so many random names in the same puzzle.

  31. 22′ despite a stubborn inability to spell ELEGIAC and JUROR correctly.

    Some nice classical references here with TITUS, TALARIA and the ancient Roman herb ORIGANUM – is this what Caesar put on his salad?

    COD – CONDIMENT for making me fit GINGER into the checkers for so long before the denarius fell.

  32. 8:02. This was not by any means a difficult puzzle, but with the number of slightly funny words and slightly oblique references I’m amazed by some of the times posted on the leaderboard. Mohn did it in 3:18! Mind blohn.
    I don’t understand the choice of ‘humiliating’ for DRAMA. Of course such a scene might be humiliating in some way but it’s not really intrinsic to the meaning. ‘Tempestuous’, ‘turbulent’ or even ‘tearful’ would have fitted the bill better without harming the surface reading.

  33. 3m 57s, feeling on the wavelength today. Very nice puzzle, apart from the appearances of DOT, JEAN, SAL & DI. One random girl’s name is one too many in my book, so four began to feel a bit like the work of a 27ac.

  34. Clue of the day at 1d – we, the Norn Ireland public, have been taken for a ride by the DUP for years!

  35. Zoomed through this finishing in 18.35, my quickest for some time. Quite a few unknowns but the parsing made them very solvable. For a while I had a biffed NEWSREEL before seeing the light.

  36. I think it’s fine in 24 to use ‘first clue’ to define IAC. Whatever the grid format it always appears as the top left *clue*, so first.

  37. Didn’t know neat as a plural and not too sure about the generalised wen, or, come to that, ‘in’ as modern. Though I suppose a modern view permits it. Definitely queasy about the very lopsided definition of ‘drama’. What was wrong with, say, ‘an emotional scene’? Slowed towards finish, 35 minutes.

    1. You need an adjective beginning with a consonant for the ‘a’, although I guess you could argue that ‘an’ is a valid synonym for ‘a’.

  38. A couple of more gentle ones for the start of the year, today’s being the more gentle of the two.



  39. 18:14

    So glad that Cobbett’s name for London didn’t catch on – it’s a horrible name, means nothing and is offensive to all London-born folk everywhere (IMVHO 🙂 ) – who does he think he is etc etc etc?

    As for the crossword, I didn’t know PURVIEW or TALARIA or ORIGANUM as a word, though each was comfortably figure-outable. Ashamed to say though that even though I holidayed near Dubrovnik only last summer, I could not remember it for the life of me until the first two checkers reminded me. Clearly losing my marbles in my 60th year…

    Thanks setter and Jack

  40. Resolution totally failed, because, despite checking for typos, I submitted “DDLLAS”. Not a happy bunny, and more so since the roof is leaking for the 4th time in little over a year.

    TIME 7:34 (but with a damned typo)
    EOD DALLAS by Joe Ely (“Did you ever see DALLAS from a DC-9 at night?”)

  41. Whizzed through in under 12 minutes which was nice after some recent struggles and some daft mistypes causing pink squares.

    NHO Origanum, Talaria or Krait but the wordplay was clear and helpful.

    Thx J and setter

  42. FOI was DUPED. LOI JACOBEAN. In between I had to assemble TALARIA, ORIGANUM and KRAIT from wordplay. I was surprised by the unexpected spelling of COCKAPOO, but shrugged and moved on. Snuck in under 20 minutes at 19:56, but landed well outside the top 100 on the Leaderboard and was excluded from the SNITCH. The result of an afternoon solve which is becoming a habit. Thanks setter and Jack.

  43. This took me an hour. It didn’t seem that hard, but the answers were definitely NOT “turning up readily” at first and I was also having problems with spellings (JACOBEAN, for example, since Jacobian has a mathematical meaning and therefore has impressed itself on my brain, or what’s left of it). Once I had figured everything out, very slowly, it was a fun puzzle.

  44. Fast today for me which makes a nice change even if there were some unfamiliar words. The wordplay was always clear.
    Two days running FOI has been 1 Ac which is always a nice way to start.

  45. 16 mins. Some nice misdirections. NHO KRAIT, my LOI which I googled to confirm. We seem to have had quite a few Croatian ports recently.

  46. 39:40. Slow again today but a very nice puzzle. Three unknowns, manageable but time consuming, and quite a few others known but slow to emerge from the dark recesses. LOI JACOBEAN

  47. 08.50 which is my speediest for a good while. Suggestive that others will have solved the puzzle” faster than a speeding bullet”. Held up a tad by spelling elegiac elegaic but recognised my mistake when 19 dn was the only unfinished clue.

    Thanks setter and blogger for the boost to self confidence.

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