Times Cryptic 28826

Solving time: All but 4 clues in 16 minutes + 11 for them = 27 minutes.

I don’t often comment on surface readings but the standard is remarkably high in this puzzle with perhaps a couple of exceptions (e.g. 24dn). One unknown word at 19dn gave me problems with its intersecting clues and  prevented me possibly finishing in record time.

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 Pet about to return, so put out food? (5)
CAT (pet), then RE (about) reversed [to return]
4 Soak takes crack (not Ecstasy), a sleep-inducing drug (9)
SOP (soak), ORIFIC{e} (crack) [not Ecstasy]
9 Sandwich spread and spam served with tea, note (4,5)
Anagram [served] of SPAM TEA, then TE (note)
10 Londoner’s mate from the Potteries? (5)
CHINA (Londoner’s mate – CRS: China plate). ‘From the potteries’ adds cryptic support.
11 Supported DUP, the old leaders having deserted (6)
{d}UP + {t}HE + {o}LD [leaders having deserted]
12 Musical  roundabout (8)
Two linked meanings, the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical and the fairground ride as the musical takes its name from the ride.
14 Unwilling? (9)
Barely cryptic
16 Oxygen provided during close call (5)
O (Oxygen) contained by [during] SHUT (close)
17 Amount of corn perhaps that’s not known for so long? (5)
Y (amount…that’s not known),  EARS (corn perhaps)
19 Light support from one breaking into wonderful cry of approval (9)
I (one) contained by [breaking into] GRAND (wonderful), OLÉ (cry of approval). My LOI I was completely stuck on it until the G-checker arrived. Not a word I knew  and it has only come up previously in a Jumbo long ago and two Mephisto puzzles.
21 Returning Yankee to preserve notes for all time (8)
Y (Yankee) + TIN (preserve) + RE + TE (notes) all reversed [returning]
22 Energy of cities, modern and ancient (6)
VIGO + UR (cities, modern and ancient). We’re used to UR being clued as ‘ancient city’. It dates back several thousand years BC  whereas VIGO was little more than a village until the 15th century AD.
25 “There’s no commoner letter ….” (Macbeth) (5)
There’s no commoner letter THAN E. Before he became King of Scotland, Macbeth was Thane of Glamis and later Thane of Cawdor.
26 Learning dancing routine with Di (9)
Anagram [dancing] of ROUTINE DI
27 Basic English, with the French in mind (9)
E (English), LE (the, French), MENTAL (in mind)
28 Thunder in Seville? You’ll get clean through that (5)
Hidden in [through] {thunde}R IN SE{ville}
1 Council facility U? (9,6)
2 Tortoiseshell initially spots litter (5)
T{ortoiseshell} [initially], RASH (spots)
3 Waves, but just a little applause? (7)
Two meanings
4 Frame airline before start of hijack (4)
SAS (airline – Scandinavian Airlines System Group), H{ijack} [start of…]. As in window frames.
5 In France, Peter eats fruit in second home? (4-1-5)
PIERRE (in France, Peter) contains [eats] DATE (fruit)
6 Heads for colleges in hills beyond park (7)
REC (park), TORS (hills)
7 Works alone: career’s very unhappy, we hear (5,4)
Sounds like [we hear] “flys” (career’s) + “so low” (very unhappy)
8 She’s let brother loose with Acton? (9,6)
Anagram [loose] of LET BROTHER ACTON. For the surface one needs to know that Acton Bell was the pen-name of Anne Brontë, Charlotte’s sister.
13 Worst of anything I kept in home (10)
AUGHT (anything) + I contained by [kept in] NEST (home)
15 Brand new teen drama (5,4)
Anagram [new] of TEEN DRAMA
18 Frank getting Charlie into crime before once (7)
C (Charlie) contained by [into] SIN (crime) + ERE (before, once)
20 I repeatedly snore — sadly making more din (7)
Anagram [sadly] of I I [repeatedly] SNORE
23 Bulb working repeatedly without one (5)
ON + ON (working) [repeatedly] containing [without] I
24 Some knitting quietly used rude language originally (4)
P (quietly), then U{sed} + R{ude} + L{anguage} [originally]. It’s a knitting stitch.

72 comments on “Times Cryptic 28826”

  1. 16:39
    An easy one, although my POI (FLIES SOLO) & LOI (SHOUT) gave me some trouble. I biffed GIRANDOLE from the R,N,E; somehow it came to me, although I couldn’t have told you what it meant. Biffed COMMUNITY CENTRE, never parsed it. Biffed CHARLOTTE, never bothered to parse it. INTESTATE belongs in a QC, and probably has been there already. I liked THANE.

  2. 21.45. I wasted a few minutes at the end trying to figure out what might follow COMMUNITY, should have got it straight away and it was a clever clue. GIRANDOLE was retrieved from somewhere (I thought it might end in pole for a while) and I was pleased not to have to know the Spanish word for thunder. Thanks to Jack for explaining SOPORIFIC, ETERNITY and providing the PDM at THANE. I jagged CHARLOTTE BRONTE from just three letters but I predict there will be complaints about this clue. The obscure Acton reference doesn’t really help and the definition ‘she’ – ie one of an almost infinite number of dead females – is not a lot to go on.

    1. With cryptic clues it’s often the case that the solver has to know a particular reference as there may be no alternative route to the answer. However there aren’t usually more than a couple of purely cryptic clues in a puzzle so if baffled one can concentrate on solving the surrounding clues to obtain checkers and hope that they, combined with the enumeration, may ring a bell (no pun intended here!). It seems to me a legitimate part of the cat-and-mouse game between setter and solver.

      I’m not sure that the pen-name of one of the world-famous Brontë sisters can be considered that obscure.

      Edit: Since posting this comment I’ve reminded myself that this clue was an anagram (should have read my own blog!) but what I’ve said still applies to purely cryptic clues so I’ll let it stand.

      1. No complaints from me Jack (after all I got it!) and I agree with what you say, but I suspect many others who don’t jag the anagram (like I fortuitously did) will struggle because the direction to Charlotte is, to say the least, oblique. Obviously crossers will help enormously but I suspect the one reference to Acton, which is part of the anagram, is unlikely to be helpful to many. So as I said, it comes down to one dead female…

        1. One couldn’t rely on it being applicable, but ‘brother’ might have been an additional prod if one happens also to know of Branwell

          1. OK but I thought the reference to brother was confusing as Charlotte’s only brother is NOT Acton Bell.

    2. Whew, I’m glad someone else had a ridiculous amount of time trying to work out last word CENTRE! I felt such an idiot when I realised! However, I disagree with you about the Acton reference. Of course they were going to put Acton rather than Ellis or Branwell, as the immediate thought is of the place. But given that it’s anagram, and a woman’s name at that, the C-A was pretty much all that was needed for the first name and then Acton makes sense. But even if it doesn’t, the clue is still solvable – there won’t be many that haven’t heard of the Bronte sisters, even if they didn’t know their pen names.

  3. 27:12 but with a typo, NAUGHTIENT. Le sigh!

    This puzzle definitely started out at one level of difficulty and ended with another, with the crossing of NAUGHTIEST and GIRANDOLE. Thanks to jackkt for helping me parse COMMUNITY CENTRE, THANE, and some other delightful clues. Being mathematically minded, I quite like Y EARS and might just turn it into a word problem for my algebra students…

  4. I see that both Jeremy and Vinyl had experiences similar to mine, with the only things taking a bit of time being, at the very end, NAUGHTIEST and GIRANDOLE.

    Really liked THANE and COMMUNITY CENTRE (biffed, parsed later!).

    The clue for CHARLOTTE BRONTË is one of those odd ones that isn’t (unless it refers to something I don’t know about the woman) an &lit; but where a word that isn’t part of the definition but only among the anagrist nevertheless gives a nudge toward the answer.

    1. Charlotte releasing Branwell and Anne into the wilds of the Yorkshire countryside, perhaps?

  5. A speedy 24 minutes. Glad I learned about Acton (and Currer) Bell from a previous puzzle; it’s quite easy to read the Brontes without learning about the pen names if you’re in the habit of skipping those interminable introductions and just getting on with the story, which is clearly what I did with Jane Eyre…

    I also could have sworn that I learned GIRANDOLE from a daily cryptic, too, but apparently not. Wonder where I picked it up? Happily I went to a recycling CENTRE at the weekend, which helped me figure out how 1d would work, and the COMMUNITY wasn’t far away.

    1. Yes, those introductions often give something away about the story which can really irritate if you are unfamiliar with the plot – much better if they appeared at the end of the book!

  6. 20:37, held up at the end by the centre part of community centre, rather stupidly, as what else could the U be?
    Thanks setter and blogger.

  7. She should have died hereafter;
    There would have been a time for such a word.
    (Macbeth). All together now…
    To-morrow, and to-morrow, …

    Less than 25 pre-brekker. No ticks. Almost a MER at worst being a bit General for naughtiest.
    Ta setter and J.

  8. 17:47
    I agree with Jack about the high quality of the surfaces, which made this a very enjoyable puzzle to solve. FLIES SOLO and GIRANDOLE held me up for a while, never having heard of the latter and thinking DOWN “must be” the second word in the former. COD SOPORIFIC

    Thanks to Jack and the setter.

  9. 29 minutes. I started off like a house on fire, but then encountered ‘corn’, which I read as ‘com’. There ain’t no cure for the hyperopia blues. I needed all crossers before YEARS became obvious and the typeface examined more carefully. NAUGHTIEST was POI and then the unknown GIRANDOLE LOI. Up to then, I was looking for some sort of pole. I didn’t manage to recall Macbeth’s thaneships, but Macduff’s Thane of Fife came back to me. COD to MEAT PASTE for the memories of 1950s children’s parties. I hope there’s jelly and blancmange. Thank you Jack and setter.

  10. There was a lot to trip you up here so I was very pleased to get out unscathed and with a quick time (8:53) as I’m not sure I parsed everything completely. UPHOLD v UPHELD, YEARN v YEARS, RIGOUR v VIGOUR and SHOOT v SHOUT all looked initially plausible.

    1. Hi Eddddddddd,

      If my memory from last Thursday evening is correct, I’ve got you to thank for an absolute brute of a puzzle at the weekend – absolutely brilliant though and an early POTY contender. Thanks.

      If my memory isn’t correct – just ignore the above 😉


      1. Though I’m not particularly privy to what passed between you last Thursday, I assume you are referencing the Listener. I marinaded it for hours from Friday until yesterday evening (breaking for the final of Only Connect!) before transforming that blank grid into the thing of beauty it was designed to be. If POTY is defined by a combination of extreme difficulty and gripping solve it at all costs…. Wondrous!

        1. Thanks Deane and Zabadak. I am mainly pleased to hear it is causing some enjoyment as well as pain and suffering. Great to see you on Thursday Deane (everyone should subscribe to the Magpie and then come to their annual drinks!)

  11. Close but failed with CHARLOTTE BRONTË, I knew Acton, but Charlottes pen name was Currer, and the referenced brother was Branwell, so it seems hard to winkle it out. Also, Acton appears after “loose”, so in my book the anagram refers to “let brother” only, and the Acton must be something else.

    Poor biffing at YEARS (yield, yonks) slowed me down, but if I don’t biff any then I can’t really progress.

    NHO GIRANDOLE, that really is pretty obscure. But should have seen my other missing one FLIES SOLO. Red square with a careless UPHOLD, so I guess I’m glad I didn’t complete it.

    Some fantastic clues. THANE, COMMUNITY CENTRE (spent ages on that second word)

    1. I think the anagram indicator was fair enough – it is, after all, ‘let brother loose *with* Acton’. To me that definitely indicates the possibility of Acton being part of the fodder. Also, it’s not unusual in a Times Cryptic.

  12. DNF in about 12 minutes, overegging the instructions for the I-knew-it-really PURL and ending up with QURL. Even had Vindaloo in my head, but I clearly don’t quite remember it well enough. Ho hum.

    Some unusual tricks for the Times here with THANE and COMMUNITY CENTRE – not quite my cup of tea, although every now and again is fair enough I suppose.

    Thanks setter & Jack.

    1. Did exactly the same with (to me) well-known knitting stitch, QURL! So the assembly instructions were ambiguous at best

  13. About 20 minutes.

    Didn’t know the Acton reference but worked out CHARLOTTE BRONTE from the anagrist once I had enough checkers; GIRANDOLE also unknown but felt vaguely familiar from somewhere; only got VIGOUR once I had the R from 8d, which stopped me trying to put ‘old’ at the end of it; didn’t parse THANE; hadn’t heard of PURL but the cluing was kind.

    A tough but fun puzzle. Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI China
    LOI Shout
    COD Trade name

  14. 32 minutes. CHARLOTTE BRONTË entered from enumeration and a few crossers without even realising it was an anagram. No real unknowns though like Kevin and some others I’d come across GIRANDOLE before but had forgotten what it was.

    I liked the COMMUNITY CENTRE and THAN E tricks but my favourite was CAROUSEL, mainly because ‘Musical roundabout’ didn’t clue ATIVE for (almost) once.

    Thanks to Jack and setter

  15. I didn’t encounter too much difficulty with this, but eventually biffed my LOI and couldn’t parse it – thanks Jack.

    TIME 7:51

  16. 28′. Might have been quicker had I not immediately wrote in “tacos” for 1ac and confidently moved on. Once remedied it was pretty straightforward (albeit not parsing COMMUNITY CENTRE nor getting the BRONTE “Acton” connection). Got stuck for a while on the NAUGHTIEST/ GIRANDOLE axis (trying to make something out of “naffest”). Enjoyable, thanks Jackkt and setter.

  17. Technically DNF as I needed to use aids for GIRANDOLE which was a big NHO. Also a pink typo so serves me right I guess!

    Some very chewy stuff in here, but I liked COD CHARLOTTE BRONTE once I saw it.

  18. 19:18
    All done in about 14 aside from the last two. For some reason NAUGHTIEST didn’t come quickly to mind and that slowed the unknown GIRANDOLE.

    Otherwise it was quite easy fair, albeit I entered CHARLOTTE BRONTE without understanding the reference.

    Not my favourite of recent crosswords but variety is always welcome. Thanks to both.

  19. I tore through all but two clues and thought I might be on for a record time, but in the end I was defeated by NHO GIRANDOLE and the intersecting NAUGHTIEST, which I would rank as COD. It has to go down as a DNF, therefore, but great fun even so, and I agree with our blogger about the surfaces.

  20. I was fortunate in my Pavlovian reaction to the BRONTE Clue – Acton Bell?
    But I agree with the assessment that this was an intelligent and smooth puzzle, even if I had COMMUNITY CHARGE (something to do with Poll Tax U turns, perhaps?) as my first attempt. That meant I was scratching my head for that obscure Macbeth quote, since the only letter quote I knew is from Lear “thou whoreson zed! thou unnecessary letter!”
    17.19 of enjoyment.

  21. 14:27, but with a stupid mistake born of simply failing to read the clue: ‘uphold’. I even spotted how the wordplay worked.
    Other than that, quite tricky but very enjoyable. The NHO GIRANDOLE and then NAUGHTIEST delayed me a fair bit at the end.

  22. Like others above, I felt that I knew GIRANDOLE from somewhere, but then I realised that I was thinking of girasole, or sunflower, and was really confused.

  23. 20:26

    CHARLOTTE BRONTE bunged in from checkers and a cursory look at the anagrist – didn’t spot the Acton connection though was aware of the pen names. L2I were, as for some others NAUGHTIEST and GIRANDOLE – once I’d solved the first, the second with its starting letter was less difficult to parse though I didn’t know the word nor what it was. Liked THANE.

  24. 34:58. Nice one. Held up most by the NHO GIRANDOLE but also struggled with CHARLOTTE BRONTE, not knowing Acton and having to work with the definition “she” – not that helpful, as LindsayO has said above.
    I liked COMMUNITY CENTRE even though it is the kind of clue that gives useful confirmation of the answer, once you have it, but doesn’t help you get it. COD to NAUGHTIEST

  25. DNF; Decided at 24d there must be a knitting term I wotted not of; QURL. Obvious now P for quiet not Q.
    I thought 9a MEAT PASTE was rather green paintish. Ditto 7d FLIES SOLO but that is in thefreedictionary.com so is OK.
    5d PIED A TERRE; I’ve just noticed (from the blog, thank you) I never parsed it, write-in from enumeration. Just BIFD.
    Got Charlotte from C_A and 9,6 enumeration. Not clever at all, I just assumed Acton Bell was Branwell; wrong. He doesn’t even appear to have had a pen name. I put what I took to be the anagrist into my cheating machine as I can’t be bothered to write it all down and cross the letters off. That confirmed my guess.

    1. Chambers has MEAT PASTE covered. It hadn’t occurred to me but I’m not sure that FLY(ing) SOLO isn’t ‘green paint’. It’s in Collins on-line but only as a COBUILD entry, which really doesn’t count.

      1. I’m very surprised by this. FLYING SOLO is a common idiom in my experience, and it could only be described as ‘green paint’ if it referred to literal solo flying. MEAT PASTE seems more green-painty to me.

        1. It does seem odd. I didn’t think twice about MEAT PASTE because my immediate thought was of the large range of paste spreads that used to be available at childhood teatime. The leading brand name was Shippam’s who were bought out by Prince’s around 20 years ago who more recently became part of Mitsubishi. A smaller range of fish and meat pastes is still available in leading UK supermarkets under the Prince’s brand name.

          If anything I’d have said that ‘fish paste’ was more a part of the language than ‘meat paste’ but both terms were in regular use and perhaps still are. Collins lists ‘fish paste’ but not ‘meat paste’. Vice versa at Chambers.

          1. Yes I agree with all that. One reason MEAT PASTE seems a bit more green-painty is that it is literally a paste made from meat, so you might almost say it doesn’t even need a dictionary definition (although of course it does refer to a very specific product). ‘Flying solo’, on the other hand, is an idiom that doesn’t have the literal meaning of the words, so it definitely needs one!

    2. *He doesn’t even appear to have had a pen name.* Ha! He didn’t need one – he was a man already! Also far less talented than any of the sisters…

  26. I enjoyed CHARLOTTE BRONTE and thought it was very clever. Heading for a decent time by my standards, then, like others, became bogged down on NAUGHTIEST and GIRANDOLE (entered via WP but then half-known). Also FLIES SOLO, since the meaning wasn’t that obvious. After a well-below-30 minutes time was ticking up I used aids for NAUGHTIEST and finished in 39 minutes. aught = anything didn’t come easily, nor the fact that naughtiest can = worst. And VIGOUR entered without understanding.

  27. After mashing the anagrist letters, CHARLOTTE looked undeniable. That just left E N T O B and R. I initially thought the Acton reference was merely a convenient coincidence, but I realise now that it ‘subliminally’ confirmed the final answer.

  28. All done in 45 minutes (including interruptions) while waiting at the optician’s. About half of that time was spent trying to work out the last half dozen recalcitrant clues. I found the top half of 1dn quite early from the crossers, but like Zabadak my first thought for the second part was CHARGE, which I decided could not be right. A flashbulb moment with THANE helped to sort out that corner, and then I just had to deal with 19ac and 7dn and 13dn. This took a while but there was a happy ending.
    Thanks to jackkt and other contributors.

  29. 21:03 – very elegant clues, with NAUGHTIEST and the unknown GIRANDOLE neatly slotting into place at the end. I wasn’t sure the Brontë clue worked quite as well as it should have done but it was obvious once a few crossers went in.

  30. GIRANDOLE entered from WP, but vaguely known without knowing its meaning. NAUGHTIEST not really a problem, nor PURL, but I did indeed get held up by completely failing to see CENTRE, which Mr Ego took one look at and got immediately. I refused to let him tell me and gritted my teeth for another 10 min before it finally dawned, when I wasn’t looking at the letters. Once I got it, I understood the confusing U! One day I’ll get on top of these cryptic definitions…

  31. Like so many others GIRANDOLE was a NHO for me but unlike almost everybody else I didn’t manage to work it out from the word play. Pity.
    One word clues are rare I think and I quite liked INTESTATE although I seem to be alone there.

  32. No time as done in several installments. A varied mixture for me of some very easy clues and a number of toughies. Last two in NAUGHTIEST then GIRANDOLE dragged up from the depths.

    I quite liked the BRONTË clue and YEARS.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

  33. Got well and truly bogged down with FLIES SOLO and GIRANDOLE causing much delay in the RHS, and COMMUNITY CENTRE, THANE and LOI, YEARS giving me a hard time in the LHS. I had COMPUTING and COMMUNIST blocking any thought of COMMUNITY right up to the last moment. Eventually the U in the CENTRE penny dropped and THANE and YEARS dropped in. 33:57. Thanks setter and Jack.

  34. Not a clue about Acton, but got it from anagrist and checkers. GIRANDOLE and NAUGHTIEST held me up, as did my LOI SHOUT – wrong internal pronunciation of “close” leading to failure to lift and separate!

    COMMUNITY CENTRE COD, and I did spot the parsing as I was going along.

    All for naught, as I fat fingered RIPLLES.

    21:42 but…

  35. Sped through this until I arrived at the same two clues that others had difficulty with, NAUGHTIEST and GIRANDOLE. I needed about five minutes on these two alone before solving the former, and the G then enabled me to complete. What may have been a very quick 24 or so minute solve turned into a 29.55 completion. I agree with Jackkt that the surface reading was exceptional, so hats off to the setter. I particularly liked the parsing of THANE.

  36. As Gerry Murphy above, at once wrote in Tacos for the first clue – it took me longer to get out of it. Liked Y-ears. On the other hand the central U in 1 down looks clumsy, as if it’s stumbled into the surface by mistake. Sort of knew the word Girandole without at all knowing the meaning. Finished the puzzle but despite some quite good surfaces no clues really seemed to have that X factor – often a brilliant simplicity – save the one mentioned.

  37. Excellent puzzle that I largely solved in a steady 25 minutes then got held up forever on naughtiest and granola coming in at over 40 in the end.
    No one else got a slight mer at the definition of naughtiest = worst or is it just my lack of knowledge?

    Thanks Jack and setter

  38. 22:39
    Very enjoyable puzzle. COD THANE. LOI GIRANDOLE.
    Only hold-up was initially putting YEARN for 17a, which prevented me from seeing SINCERE for a while.

    Thanks Jack and setter

  39. 21.25. I’m never going to beat any speed records, but I thought that this was a good sound puzzle.

  40. 48 minutes! (But, believe it or not, FLIES SOLO, then GIRANDOLE and NAUGHTIEST held me up for quite a while). And there were a few clues in which I didn’t really understand the wordplay (THANE, for example, where I assumed a thane would have tenants and so be a letter). Otherwise, not much to be said.

  41. I don’t love the clue for FLIES SOLO – “Fly’s so low” is ungrammatical if fly is a verb meaning career. Would make a bit more sense without the apostrophe

  42. Seriously, no one else got stuck with ENCORE being the “cry of approval” in 19a? And then failed pitifully?

    1. I did but when I couldn’t make that work I convinced myself the word ended in MORE and that was my undoing.

  43. 22.48. Pretty solid progress with LOI rinse which I guessed rather missing the hidden word. Caramba!

    For some reason unknown, having got charlotte I missed the obvious for more than afew moments but got there in the end.

    Rectors was also sticky for a while trying to get something related to colleges between rec and tors. Another doh! moment.

    Loved Thane, for a while I thought I was doing an old Sunday Express GK crossword where there were always literary quotes.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

  44. Even though I got 1d, I still can’t parse it, even from jakkt’s description. Can someone explain.

    1. Sorry if it wasn’t clear. It’s one of those inverted style of clues. The normal way round in wordplay would be for ‘community centre’ to indicate the letter U as that’s the centre – middle letter – of the word ‘community’. In this clue the process is inverted so U is clueing COMMUNITY CENTRE.

      The straight definition gives us COMMUNITY CENTRE as a leisure and social facility that’s often (though not always) owned by the local council.

      Hope this helps.

      1. Many thanks
        First time I’ve got anywhere close to finishing a full Cryptic. Generally completing Quick Cryptics and hadn’t come across this style of clue.
        Really enjoy this site as a go to resource.

        1. This sort of clue seems more common in a rival publication’s grids. I’ve recently been attempting them as I cannot buy a copy of the Times reprint, and there are many unfunny punny clues and self referential ones like this.
          Which rival? T*******h.

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