Times Cryptic 28836 – Sat, 10 Feb 2024. Take your time.

I prefer to solve on paper rather than on screen, and I find a timer reduces my enjoyment. So, I normally can’t give you a time, unlike the lions among our bloggers. This week, though, I did use a timer and can report 22′ 05″. I suspect that makes this a gentle Saturday, but you all will tell me!

Thanks, setter! A very enjoyable workout.  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 in bold and underlined.

1 Drink tea and sherry regularly (6)
CHASERCHA (tea), ShErRy regularly.
5 Give new look to flag, dropping central element (8)
REDESIGNRED ENSIGN, dropping the central N.
9 Blather from firm’s ultimate high-fliers, first heading off (5-5)
MUMBO-JUMBOM (firM’s ultimate) + JUMBO + JUMBO, with the heading of the first JUMBO off.
10 Lascivious look of Lothario lacking companion (4)
LEERLEchER, lacking CH (companion).
11 One filling ruined his pork pies (8)
PIROSHKII (one) filling anagram of (ruined) HIS PORK. They’re pies, certainly, but not necessarily pork. I wasn’t confident of the spelling!
12 Revolutionary workplace of broadcaster with large rating (6)
SKYLABSKY (the broadcaster), L (large), AB (naval rating). It revolved around the earth … until 1979.
13 Junk mail disheartened sysop in the morning (4)
SPAMSP (SysoP, disheartened), AM.
15 Kit currently adopted by Spain’s premier clubs, perhaps (8)
SNOWSUIT – NOW adopted by S (Spain’s premier letter) + SUIT (clubs, perhaps, in a deck of cards).
18 Ring first over satellite (8)
CALLISTO – CALL (ring), IST (first), O (over). Callisto is Jupiter’s second largest moon.
19 Fat boy eating last of butter (4)
LARD – LAD eating (last of BUTTER)
21 Celebration justifies tasty sandwiches (6)
FIESTA – hidden (sandwiched) by justiFIES TAsty.
23 Gradually turning Volume Six into English (8)
EVOLVING – VOL + VI (Roman number 6), into ENG.
25 Scotsman’s continental skipping rope (4)
EUAN – EUropeANskipping ROPE.
26 Republican helping after president’s lapse (10)
ABERRATION – ABE (President Lincoln), R (Republican), RATION.
27 Great swimmer worried over extremes of climate in Canada (8)
CETACEAN ETA (ATE=worried, over) +CE (extremes of ClimatEin CAN (Canada).
28 Badly rusted cleaning equipment (6)
DUSTER – anagram (badlyRUSTED.
2 Bird of paradise appearing in earliest part of day? (5)
HOURI – HOUR 1 would be the first hour of the day. Houris are women in an Islamic paradise. “Birds” – disrespectful, much?
3 Less than average gent using public transport upset an unexperienced driver (9)
SUBNORMAL – SUB (BUS, upset), NORM (a random gent), A (an), L (learner).

Revised  19/4/24: MR (gent) + ON BUS (using public transport) reversed [upset], then A (an), L (unexperienced driver).

Thanks to Flobadob for input on this.

4 Rebellious conflict has troubled old kings (6)
RAJAHS – RAJ + anagram (troubledHAS.

I was a bit puzzled by the wordplay. I think JAR=conflict, as “that colour jars”. But, does “rebellious” mean “backwards”, to turn JAR into RAJ? I suppose if a rebellion is an uprising, then JAR could be said to be “rising up” in this down clue. Very tricky, setter!!

5 Visible evidence of past civilisation is yet to be discovered (7,2,2,4)
REMAINS TO BE SEEN – a cryptic hint.
6 Terminates recent court action (4,4)
7 Spread out and have fun after end of class (5)
SPLAYS (end of clasS), PLAY
8 Infantryman rereading novel (9)
GRENADIER – anagram (novel) REREADING
14 Parking space that’s been much used (9)
16 Polluted sea’s vital waters (9)
SALIVATES – anagram (poluted) SEAS VITAL.
17 Bill feeding duck and lark (8)
A bill is the sort of AD that might go on a billboard!
20 Rip-off artist finally duped novelist (6)
CONRADCON, RA, dupeD finally.
22 Devil with tail up is annual visitor (5)
SANTASATAN with the tail (N) moved up two places.
24 Rope and ring in snout (5)

19 comments on “Times Cryptic 28836 – Sat, 10 Feb 2024. Take your time.”

  1. A = an is valid and vice versa, but you can also not lift and separate, so ‘an inexperienced driver’ = ‘a learner’ = ‘a l’.

    34 minutes for all but one answer which I eventually looked up, PIROSHKI. I felt this counted as an obscure word clued as an anagram, and was therefore somewhat aggrieved.

    1. very late, but the parsing for Subnormal is A MR ON BUS reversed, followed by an L

  2. Much of this was done over lunch, so no official time, but something under 30′, with PIROSHKI my LOI (hadn’t thought of them as pies, but then hadn’t thought of them). LEER & SKYLAB parsed post-submission. I had thought that RAJAHS still existed, though not reigning; evidently not. I have a ! by 2d.

  3. Plenty to slow me down again this week. SNOWSUIT, SKYLAB and the court action foxed me for the longest time. EUAN was fiendish but clever. I DNK the pies so it was a case of putting the letters in the most likely looking places. I also had bellisto as a feasible looking satellite for a while. Thanks for unravelling it all B.

  4. I remembered (just about) a humorous news piece about people buying helmets in preparation for SKYLAB coming down. In general I’m happy to see any space hardware appearing in the crossword.

    Similar problems to others with the unknown PIROSHKI but in this occasion guessed correctly.

    Thanks to blogger and setter.

    1. A lot of it landed in remote Balladonia Western Australia. The local council issued a fine notice to NASA for littering, which is said to remain unpaid.

      1. On further reading, the fine was paid by a US radio station public subscription.
        ABC Australia reported that beanies with targets embroidered on the top were sold, on the basis that NASA couldn’t hit any target. Tee hee.

  5. A couple of NHOs – 11ac PIROSHKI, 1d HOURI – but managed to work out the words from the clues followed by a dictionary check. Otherwise, done, which after last weekend’s failures was very satisfying. Got 9ac MUMBO-JUMBO, without knowing why, mind, so thanks for the explanation. And shared blogger branch’s thinking process on 4d which is reassuring! Thanks, all.

  6. An untimed solve and over two or three sittings. All completed but needed the blog to fully parse two:
    MUMBO JUMBO Bifd although I did see the JUMBO bit and the M, just didn’t tie it all together.
    LEER again Bifd as I didn’t know ‘Lothario’ I have since looked it up.

    Like others, NHO PIROSHKI but I did manage to fit the missing letters from the anagrist correctly and then looked it up to be sure as well as HOURI from WP too.

    Smiley face against SNOWSUIT which I also built from WP.

  7. 22:56

    I never did fully parse REDESIGN or RAJAHS, so thanks Branch.

    Really liked EUAN and SNOW SUIT.

    COD to HOURI. Bit cheeky, mind.

  8. Nho piroshki, like most everyone else, but it had to be ..
    Liked houri. “Bird” still in use and not particularly unsound (yet). Like hen, which I always think rather pleasant.

  9. I had to check the HOURI and PIROSHKI crossing before sending off for a prize, although not sure why I bother! I liked the clue for REMAINS TO BE SEEN.

  10. COD 2a RED_EnSIGN. Even if it is a chestnut (is it?)
    Was genuinely ignorant of the existence of 15a a SNOWSUIT, not in Wiktionary but lots of sales offers when I googled it. Now added to cheating machine.

  11. 48 minutes, but it seemed much easier than that, for all but my last 3 entries: PIROSHKI (from the wordplay — it seemed a good variant for “pirogi”), ESCAPADE and my LOI, FIESTA, believe it or not. I didn’t see that it was a hidden word until I reread the clue at the end. The clue I actually liked best was for REMAINS TO BE SEEN.

  12. It took me a while to see “lecher” from “lothario” in 10ac. Although I suppose “lascivious look”, and the solution “leer” helped point the way.

    I looked at recent usages in The Times, which confirmed my feeling that although the meanings are similar, one is seen as almost admirable; the other, definitely deprecated:

    “Ryan Gosling as a lothario called Jacob on a mission to help a newly divorced fortysomething (Steve Carell) find love.”

    “Having risen to fame playing a smooth lothario in the ITV series The Power Game in 1969, Jayston gave an acclaimed performance in Nicholas and Alexandra.”


    “Falstaff is a braggart, coward, lecher and spendthrift, and audiences will carry on loving him to eternity.”

    “He was one of the people against contraception, against divorce, against everything else. He was an old lecher and a hypocrite.”

  13. For readers of Georgette Heyer, birds of Paradise was Regency slang for women of easy virtue.

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