Times Cryptic 28844


Solving time: 26 minutes. Another fairly easy one on my watch. Several Across clues had something of a literary feel to them but this didn’t continue throughout.

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 A rally regularly held in old Asian city for capital street trader (6,4)
A + R{a}L{l}Y [regularly] contained by [held in] PEKING (old Asian city). Pearly kings and queens are traditional London costermongers whose ceremonial clothes are lavishly decorated with pearl buttons.
7 This onion on reflection could make you cry (4)
BLUB (cry) reversed [on reflection]
9 Writer constrained by constant urge? Never! (8)
Hidden in [constrained by] {constan}T URGE NEV{er}. Fathers and Sons and A Month in the Country are two of his best known works.
10 Having one’s head above water, beginning to accumulate cash in hand (6)
A{ccumulate} [beginning], FLOAT (cash in hand). I’m indebted to Mike Harper for this, posted in his blog on 7th February when FLOAT appeared in a QC: Back in the olden days when folk still used cash, at the beginning of each working period, a cash till would be given a ‘FLOAT’ i.e. enough change to cope with the first several transactions where the customer typically slaps down a tenner for a packet of mints.
11 Little green men fib during answer (6)
LIE (fib) contained by [during] ANS (answer)
13 Measure of energy ultimately powering steamer at sea (3,5)
{powerin}G [ultimately], anagram [at sea] of STEAMER
14 Maybe 20 spoilers? A tad naughty! (8,4)
Anagram [naughty] of SPOILERS A TAD. The definition refers to the answer at 20ac: EPIC POEM. This one is by John Milton.
17 An important character in the school   play (3,9)
A double definition of sorts. The play is by Harold Pinter.
20 Kept nice spot semi uncovered always for magnum opus (4,4)
{k}EP{t} + {n}IC{e} + {s}PO{t} + {s}EM{i} [uncovered always]
21 Sweet wine container always crossing river (6)
CAN (container), AY (always) containing [crossing] R (river). I didn’t know this answer, but it had to be, and I have since learned that it’s a sweet wine from the Canary Islands
22 Enquire after cross spun fabric (6)
MAD (cross) reversed [spun], ASK (enquire)
23 A sheepish character papa, in his dotage, ran amok (8)
RAM (sheepish character), P (papa – NATO alphabet), AGED (in his dotage)
25 Country hotel acquired by bad lot (4)
H (hotel – NATO alphabet) contained [acquired] by CAD (bad lot)
26 Caution driver initially in pursuit of New York taxi? (6,4)
YELLOW CAR (New York taxi), D{river} [initially]
2 Eastern wharf maintaining a record for fairness in employment (5,3)
E (eastern), QUAY (wharf) containing [maintaining] A + LP (record)
3 King put on upper-class, grand wig (3)
R (king), U (upper-class), G (grand). ‘Rug’ is slang for a wig, as is ‘syrup’.
4 Years working the borders of Kansas. Years and years (5)
Y (years), ON (working), K{ansa}S [the borders of…]. This dates from the 1960s but there’s no definitive explanation of how it came into being. The most popular suggestion seems to be that it’s in some way derived from ‘donkey’s years’, an expression that also means ‘a long time’.
5 Popular elected government briefly upset with EU (2,5)
IN (elected), EU + GOV (government, briefly) reversed [upset]
6 Former PM succeeded, with happy attitude all round (9)
 GLAD  (happy) + TONE (attitude) containing [all round] S (succeeded)
7 Express tribunal unfortunately admitting obstruction (6,5)
Anagram [unfortunately] of TRIBUNAL containing [admitting] LET (obstruction)
8 Filthy rich boy entertaining old English duke (6)
LAD (boy) containing [entertaining] O (old), then E (English), D (duke)
12 Flexible group of musicians that might make a bundle (7,4)
ELASTIC (flexible), BAND (group of musicians)
15 Play in which Puck comes to a sticky end? (3,6)
Cryptic with reference to hockey sticks and ‘puck’ as the flat rubber disc used as a ball in the game
16 Listen to intro from Hammond organ? Absolutely! (4,4)
HEAR (listen to), H{ammond} [intro], EAR (organ)
18 Commander barking mad, terrible liar (7)
Anagram [barking] of MAD, anagram [terrible] of LIAR
19 Front page headline about power cut (6)
SLASH (cut) containing [about] P (power)
21 Small part arrived, leading to Oscar (5)
CAME (arrived), O (Oscar – NATO alphabet, yet again)
24 Maurice occasionally knocked out a French classic (3)
{m}A{u}R{i}C{e} [occasionally knocked out]. This is a reference to the classic annual horse race, Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

85 comments on “Times Cryptic 28844”

  1. Francophile I may be, but I didn‘t know what ARC was about.
    LOI THE CARETAKER, never heard of the play.
    CANARY was a guess for me too.
    I’ve lived in New York City since 1985 and I’ve never heard YELLOW CAR in referring to the ubiquitous (except when you need one) yellow cabs. https://www.nyc.gov/site/tlc/businesses/yellow-cab.page Yellow (medallion) cabs are allowed to pick up passengers anywhere, while the green cabs we’ve had for the past ten years are limited (to give these areas more of a chance) to Upper Manhattan and the other four boroughs (excluding the airports). But it’s true, yellow cabs are indeed YELLOW CARs!

  2. 10:29 Had to tease out the NHO PEARLY KING from the wordplay. Everything else went in smoothly and I was heading for one of my best times, but took yonks to get THE CARETAKER at the end. Should have seen it sooner, but all those vowels threw me into a bit of a panic. I think Tony Sever used to call it vocalophobia or something like that?

    Think we’ll see some fast times as a number of clues today wouldn’t have been out of place in the Quickie.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

  3. Same same. I wondered if Arc might be some reference to Joan, who ‘classically’ was of there. I find clues like THE CARETAKER annoying because there is no wordplay to give you an alternative route to the answer, you either get it or you don’t. CANARY in that sense was NHO (who has ever heard anyone ever ask for a glass of canary?) and while ICE HOCKEY went straight in from checkers and puck I just don’t get it. What’s the sticky end about? Anyway the rest of it was fine and I liked ELASTIC BAND, BULLET TRAIN and the poetry crossovers. 22.47, thanks Jack.

    1. I hoped I’d covered it in my blog, but hockey players strike the puck with the ends of their hockey sticks.

    2. The end of a hockey stick is ‘sticky’, in a jocular sense. I didn’t notice that at the time, just thought of melting ice and moved on.

    3. In defence of THE CARETAKER, at least there are two ways to access it. I really don’t know if I knew the Pinter play, but the other definition is not obscure. Just took me ages to wade through the various possibilities.

      I was going to add that we don’t use that term in Australian schools, but a bit of Googling not only proved me wrong but almost had me applying for a vacant position in Adelaide.

      1. Thanks for pointing out the second way in so that I didn’t have to.

        THE CARETAKER had a massive impact when first staged in 1960 and since then has been regularly revived in major productions around the world. In 1963 it was made into a classic film starring two of the original theatre cast, Alan Bates and Donald Pleasence.

        1. The other lead in the movie was Robert Shaw, who, while not in the original London cast, replaced Peter Woodthorpe as Alan Bates’ brother for an extended Broadway run.

      2. That would, apparently, make you an important character! My only point is that these were two vague definitions (I mean, play? Every time I see that I groan) and there was no way of getting the answer except by grinding out the definitions. Which I did, but jeez…anyway, upward and onward!

  4. To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
    Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav’n.
    (14ac, Milton)

    20 mins mid-brekker. Neat and tidy. Mostly I liked the Puck CD.
    Ta setter and J

  5. Definitely a pb at 20 mins. Would have been 19 if I hadn’t been held up for a minute or two having not put in the enumeration mark (8.4) for PARADISE LOST and was looking for a play of 15 letters. Damn.

    I have been lucky enough to be invited to the “Arc” at Longchamps in Paris, so no probs there.

    I liked PEARLY KING & YONKS, my first two in and the plentiful anagrams to get my teeth into. Good fun.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

  6. 11 minutes, with LOI CANARY. This played to my knowledge set with no unknowns. COD to the ELASTIC BAND. But I gave it up for music and a free elastic band? Well nearly. Thank you Jack and setter for giving me delusions of adequacy.

  7. 21:39

    Having BLUB not BULB meant I couldn’t get LOADED for quite some time, otherwise this might have been a personal best. Some sloppiness has crept in today it seems.

    I liked COD ADMIRAL more for the surface. Thanks blogger and setter.

  8. 8.17. Much more on it than yesterday! Didn’t know the play, but was happy enough to put it in.

    Thanks Jack & setter.

  9. I would be interested to know if anyone else had a problem with 5d where the EU comes after the direction to upset Gov. It gave me pause to wonder if I didn’t know how to spell vogue but I was sure vogeu was not a word.

    Also, in my humble opinion, a gas meter is not a measure of energy but a recorder of gas usage.

        1. I can see that a measure can be a device for measuring such as a tape measure and in this case a gas meter measures volume so I am not convinced but I defer to your greater knowledge.

          1. I claim no particular knowledge but the full Collins definition says ‘a device for measuring distance, volume, etc’ which would seem to cover it.

    1. I took it to mean both GOV and EU were upset, the ‘with’ being important in that respect. But I suppose the answer rather wrote itself anyway after IN and VOG…

  10. 20:54 with LOI the Pinter play. I thought that was a good crossword. I seem to be on the slow side compared to everyone else today 🙂
    Thanks setter and blogger, as always

  11. 21′ for one of the easier puzzles for some time, to the extent I doubted myself a few times. In my excitement I did bang in “gas therm” as the energy measure without fully parsing, but then quickly spotted the anagram. Never heard of CANARY in that sense (despite having been there quite a few times) and hesitated a while. Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  12. 18 minutes, with about a third of that spent on THE CARETAKER. Hadn’t heard of the play, and tried to make the wordplay into something more complicated than the kind of double definition it was.

    Like Mudge above, thought ‘blub’ might be an option for 7a before LOADED set me straight; hadn’t heard of CANARY as a wine; wasn’t sure about cad=bad lot (isn’t a cad an individual?) for CHAD; and didn’t see how an ARC was a French classic, though I get it now.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Bullet train
    LOI The Caretaker
    COD Equal pay

    1. Completely spuriously and incorrectly I got to CHAD with “bad lot” as the definition as in “hanging CHAD” in the sense of to cast a lot. The rest of the clue didn’t quite work of course but my mind biffed CH from country hotel and AD from acquired! So I got there idiotically, but I got there. 29 mins sadly with CANARY LOI.

    2. ‘A bad lot’ can certainly refer to an individual. (Possibly derived from the language of the auction room?)

  13. 16:47 with a typo (CAMEO turned itself into CAMMO)

    Otherwise I raced through this before being held up slightly by BULB and BULLET TRAIN. Last in was the unknown play, which I tried for ages to construct from wordplay rather than seeing the cryptic definition.

    Even more Monday than Monday, hopefully something with a bit more teeth tomorrow.

    Thanks to both.

  14. 7:30
    Best time so far this year, helped by all the literary entries – I’d just booked myself a (free) ticket for tomorrow’s Grimsby Literary Festival.
    Earworm of the day: Albert Hammond (thanks, boltonwanderer!)

  15. 6:56. No problems today. NHO the wine CANARY, knew of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe so was able to postulate the existence of the appropriate abbreviation with tolerable conviction.
    I’m not sure the wordplay in 5d – ‘government briefly upset with EU’ – works. I’m also not sure it doesn’t.
    The use of ‘maybe’ in 14 across is curious, and I would argue unnecessary. It suggests a definition by example, which this ain’t.

    1. I took the maybe to be a slight apology for putting a cross-reference clue in front of this tough crowd.

  16. 18 mins.
    Nice puzzle. Did The Caretaker for A level in 1974. Gloomy play!
    Nice to see the Hammond getting a run out. I used to have a VK7 emulator that got pretty close to the C3 sound; no space for the real thing, unfortunately.
    Thanks, jack.

  17. 12:23. I had all but one clue solved in less than 8 mins. Today, ‘I coulda been a contender’.

    LOI: CANARY took the best part of 5 mins. I almost went for CENTRE in desperation. Sweet = soft centre.

  18. Nearly got sidetracked into reminiscence today:

    1) New headteachers are taught that the first person they must speak to is the caretaker.

    2) I got scowled at in the Rouen Tourist Office when I didn’t understand the quickly spoken ‘Rue Jeanne d’Arc’.

    3) I come from costermongers on both sides of my family. The living was neither glamorous nor quaint. Read Mayhew.

    4) ‘Yellow car’ is a trope in Mick Herron’s excellent ‘Slow Horses’ books. My wife and I play it all the time.

    Fortunately, I didn’t drift into such recollections until I’d completedthe puzzle in 11’11”.

    Thanks jack and setter.

  19. The clues were as close to write-ins as I ever manage, 18 minutes. The only hesitations were over CANARY, nho as a sweet wine, THE CARETAKER, where I couldn’t quite believe that it was going to start with ‘The’, that word being in the clue (but that’s what the play is called), and the cross in 22ac, where I was trying to think of a three-letter cross like mule or liger.

  20. 15:19 for me, at least a minute spent staring at LOI ‘THE CARETAKER’ before I saw it but a fairly easy one on the whole.

  21. 35 minutes. Not hard but I spent 10-15 minutes staring at THE _A_E_A_E_ at the end. I was getting frustrated so just bunged in the barely heard of play; I had the same thoughts about ‘An important character in the school’ as galspray above. I entered ARC from the wordplay and admit I didn’t even take the trouble to look at the def, which would have defeated me.

    I liked the non-Shakespearean ICE HOCKEY.

  22. At 19:31, I think this might be my first ever sub-20 minute solve! If not, then certainly my first for a very long time. Maybe back when I was a regular blogger on here. CANARY was a punt from the wordplay, and I didn’t know what ARC was about. I wondered if it might some kind of reference to Joan of, but I think I’d already written it in before I’d finished reading the clue anyway.

  23. 27 seconds longer than today’s Quickie, so that probably says something about the difficulty level. THE CARETAKER reminds me that I still don’t know where Sidcup is on a map. And I managed a post solve groan when I remembered what’s brown and sticky, to connect with the Puck clue.
    Definitely a TLS feel to this: apart from the obvious, the frame is littered with films and such, even if not referenced as such. And I would remind you that one of our national treasures got an Oscar for her CAMEO in Shakespeare in Love.
    Pleasant, if not challenging.

    1. A few years back, I joined a pub crawl from Sidcup to Woolwich – using the no.51 bus and our Oyster cards. It was great fun, stopping off at the best pubs and micro-breweries along the way, and even finding a pie & mash shop for lunch. Sadly, I left my papers on the bus – I’ll have to go back.

  24. Would have been a PB but got stuck on last two: Ice Hockey which I got and and Caretaker which I didn’t.
    COD Ice Hockey.

  25. 13:19

    Fast solve – Snitch at 59. Knew both of the works, though needed all of the checkers and letters written out to see PARADISE LOST. I’d bunged in ICE HOCKEY but didn’t get the ‘sticky’ bit in flight – very amusing. The only unknown as for several others was the CANARY wine.

    Thanks setter and Jack

  26. Made somewhat heavy weather of a puzzle that SNITCH says was easier than yesterday. I was 4 minutes slower today, for an “over par” WITCH, despite a time I was happy with.

    Not sure why. LOI was SPLASH, I liked ICE HOCKEY best.


  27. 6:11

    Which is a PB. Got off to a flying start with 1ac and 1d and only slightly held up by LOI THE CARETAKER. Luckily spotted my misprints and corrected before submitting.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

  28. 12:57 – Didn’t know the sweet wine and had a brief struggle trying to make VOGUE out of the cryptic. Realised, insofar as I gave it much thought, that I was missing something in GAS METER/measure, clarified on reading the comments above, for which ta.

  29. Possibly my first sub half hour solve, but eclipsed by other impressive times today.
    Not all the clues were completely straightforward so still plenty to enjoy. Thanks Jack et al

  30. Defeated by CANARY. Resorted to aids but could make any of the options for C-N-R- fit. (I don’t speak Scottish, and NHO the wine.) Still enjoyed the workout, tho’.

  31. All done and parsed as I went in 18.43, which is pretty swift for me. My only delay was 7ac where I interpreted the clue wrongly and wrote in BLUB, which then made 8dn problematical. It was somewhat ironic that in my comments on the QC blog, I defended the setters clueing on 3dn, when many had initially reversed the answer. I took ‘reflection’ as a direction to reverse ‘this onion’ which I think also works, but admittedly not as well as the setters solution.

  32. technically, in french horse racing terms, the arc is not a classic, the classics are restricted to horses of three years old, though the prix royal oak equivalent to our st leger, was opened to older horses in 1979.

  33. All done in around 30 mins. I know this must make it an easy one but a finish is a finish! Only unknown was CANARY and took ARC as reference to Joan. PARADISE LOST was LOI (and one of my old A Level texts). Many thanks all.

  34. LOI CANARY went in with fingers crossed and I didn’t know what ARC was about but it couldn’t be anything else. Apart from that reasonably straightforward, even for me. Liked the clue for HEAR HEAR.

  35. 17’27”
    Good early pace, off the bridle two out, finished well.

    Held up briefly by l’Arc de Triomphe’s bogus classic status, but apart from that a clear run.
    The literary classics going in fairly quickly helped.
    Thank you Jack and setter for this enjoyable, and increasingly rare, opportunity to break 20′.

  36. IN VOGUE was FOI leading immediately to TURGENEV without spotting the hidden, although I did notice what could’ve been anagrist for it in the clue. The rest of the NW then almost populated itself. METER and BULLET TRAIN held out in the NE and the bottom half put up slightly more resistance. ICE HOCKEY raised a smile. POI, CANARY was from wordplay only. Knew of the horse race. THE CARETAKER was LOI. 11:56. Thanks setter and Jack.

  37. I’m not sure in hindsight why I made such a meal of this. Slow to spot THE CARETAKER (heard of, but not seen), TURGENEV (heard of, but not read), and PEARLY KING (heard of, but not aware of the street trader part).

    TIME 8:12

  38. A PB by over 3 minutes today at 9:00. I will never beat that time so am absolutely not grumpy today. Every clue was a write in and I several times had to check I was not doing the QC by mistake. How the Verlaines of this world do sub 3s I’ll never comprehend.

    Thanks J and setter

  39. Definitely a personal best for me – virtually all answers went straight in. I had never heard of Canary wine, but having been left with “Can_r_” it just had to be. I didn’t get the sticky end, for ice hockey, but again with all the letters available and “puck” in the clue, I put in the answer and moved on. I saw The Caretaker in Liverpool starring Jonathan Pryce many years ago – not a barrel of laughs to be honest!

    1. I don’t think it’s meant to be. There are laughs to be had at a good Pinter production, but they’re usually awkward nervous ones.

  40. No unknowns and hardly any biffing in what I thought was a terrific crossword, solved late this pm, nicely clued, and with some lovely surfaces and misdirection – ICE HOCKEY was COD for me. Those for whom CANARY was unheard of should follow Olivia Rheinbeck’s advice to read Georgette Heyer – she would add massively to your vocabulary of the Regency period particularly, and is the main reason I’m able to dredge up obscure carriages and articles of apparel no longer the ‘dernier cri’.

  41. 17.09

    Happy enough with that though under par for the snitch

    Liked IN VOGUE and BULB though suspect the latter has chestnut status?

    The Puck clue was also very good but because I immediately thought of an ice hockey puck I didn’t realise that was the answer. Nice clue though with the sticky reference.

    Thanks all

  42. FOI ARC.
    Once I got going I was quite quick. Had never heard of Canary wine.

  43. 16’15”, comfortably my fastest time for ages, pretty well solved top to bottom, with PARADISE LOST, THE CARETAKER and BULLET TRAIN being the three I had to go back to. With checkers in, none of them really held me up.

  44. We debated 7a at length and then put the wrong answer in. Surely it could be either BLUB or BULB?

    1. I think the presence of ‘this’ means that ‘onion’ has to be the definition. Without it, I agree that it could have gone either way.

  45. Pedant here.
    The Arc de Triomphe is not a classic race. It is recognised as the premier all aged race in Europe, held at Longchamp on the first Sunday in October. Classic races are open to three year old colts and fillies only. Geldings are excluded. Newmarket, Epsom and Doncaster stage the five classic races in Britain.

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