Times Cryptic No 28086 – Saturday, 18 September 2021. What a shame!

Dear me! I’ve seen the joke at 1ac before, in another context, but it still raised a smile. Everything else was gettable with due effort. I biffed 10ac, and put off parsing it for the blog. Thanks, setter – a very enjoyable puzzle. How did you all get on?

Notes for newcomers: The Times offers prizes for Saturday Cryptic Crosswords. This blog is posted a week later, after the competition closes. So, please don’t comment here on the current Saturday Cryptic.
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Clues are blue, with definitions underlined. Deletions and commentary are in (brackets).

1 It’s a shame note to self starts like this? (4,2)
DEAR ME – if you write a letter to yourself to provide a contemporaneous record of your travel mishaps, might it start: Dear Me … I hope things will be better when you get this than they are now !?
4 Sparkling characters spaced out in large bed (8)
AGLITTER – AG from lArGe, LITTER=bed.
10 Woman’s entitlement to enter hire purchase; check it out (2,3,6)
LO AND BEHOLD – Helen Mirren for example is a Dame of the British Empire. So, you could say her entitlement is DBE. So, put that between LOAN=hire + HOLD=purchase.
11 Girl is very young? Only at first (3)
IVY – spelled out by the first letters.
12 Sign to stop repressing wind, given a feast (7)
REGALED – RED, repressing GALE. A feast of entertainment rather than food, perhaps.
14 From the back of the drawer, certain scraping out (7)
ERASURE – E=back of thE. RA=artist=drawer. SURE=certain.
15 Warm areas then unknown for migrating bird (4,10)
MANX SHEARWATER – anagram (migrating) of WARM AREAS THEN X. I held myself up by assuming the unknown would be a Y. I wondered if there was a MYNA SHEARWATER.
17 News here soon at church, with changes around small room (5,4,5)
WATCH THIS SPACE – anagram (changes) of WITH, around AT + CH, then S=small and SPACE=room.
21 Give terrible review about one worse on stage (7)
22 Harassed, getting duck in cricket competition, run out (7)
HOUNDED – obviously there must be a cricket competition called the HUNDRED. Never heard of it till now. Drop R=run, and add O=duck.
23 Sweeper needed by Porto, arguably (3)
OAR – hidden answer.
24 Industrial relations evidently better in fells? (7,4)
STRIKES DOWN – a cryptic hint.
26 Animal some shot, about to make a meal (5,3)
GREAT APE – it seems a long time since I’ve heard GRAPE shot mentioned! Insert EAT.
27 Galley’s last place in cove, not part of the main action (6)
BYPLAY – Y from galleY + PL=place, in BAY.

1 Place of calm, old-fashioned instruments (8)
DOLDRUMS – anagram (fashioned) of OLD, then DRUMS.
2 Commander’s once more dropping in (3)
AGA – AGA(in).
3 Confuses valleys, missing area under soft earth (7)
5 Having drunk beer, cook a light vegetable (5,9)
6 State highway also covers several counties to the north (7)
INDIANA – AND=also covers A1=highway, then NI=Northern Ireland, which historically had six counties; all reversed (to the north).
7 Freely bribed, taunt group honouring Queen perhaps (7,4)
TRIBUTE BAND – anagram (freely) of BRIBED TAUNT.
8 King praised in music, one note missing in verse (6)
RHYMED – R=king, HYM(n)ED.
9 Obsolete character to abandon? Spy may have a use for it (4-6,4)
DEAD-LETTER DROP – DEAD=obsolete, LETTER=character, DROP=abandon.
13 Force that is required by female, say, gripping branch (11)
GENDARMERIE – GENDER (female, for example), gripping ARM, then I.E.
16 A number refuse to admit Conservative leanings (8)
TENDENCY – TEN + DENY admitting C.
18 Forges money and gets rich? (5,2)
COINS IT – double definition.
19 Very soft, yielding game at close of play (7)
20 Press hour hosted by criminal gang (6)
25 Hunter’s loud cry, severing head (3)
OWL – (h)OWL.

27 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28086 – Saturday, 18 September 2021. What a shame!”

  1. A few long anagrams – manx shearwater and globe artichoke – that weren’t immediately obvious. Watch this space was obvious, but I was troubled by “around” in the clue – decided it was S…PACE around S(mall), but the blog parsing works as well or better.
    Otherwise no real troubles, liked DOLDRUMS best of all.

    Edited at 2021-09-25 02:07 am (UTC)

  2. I found that hard, as my solving time indicates.
    Thanks, Bruce, particularly for explaining LO AND BEHOLD, WATCH THIS SPACE, GREAT APE, RHYMED and COINS IT.
    1ac: DEAR ME, was the title Peter Ustinov used for his autobiography.
    PS: I’m getting into today’s cryptic early so I can sit and watch this evening’s All Blacks v Springboks match; the 100th encounter between the two.

    Edited at 2021-09-25 02:23 am (UTC)

      1. The ABs have been playing some great rugby recently. I really, really hope they put one over on the “Boring Boks”! Or should I say the “boring box kicking”!
  3. I did this in two sittings and lost track of the time, but it took a while. Biffed LO AND BEHOLD & WATCH THIS SPACE, never worked out the first. DNK the Manx bird or the artichoke, which I only know as an artichoke. I mis-parsed ERASURE, taking ER as the final letters of ‘the drawer’ and then stumped about the A.
  4. For 25d I fairly confidently put in FOB as a “hunter” ( pocket-watch beloved by setters), parsing as F (loud) & OB ( a sob=cry without its head). Clearly, parsability is a necessary but not sufficient condition for correctness. It had to be reconsidered when it made 24a intractable.

    I hope the NZ v SA rugby is on TV here in Oz. If the Boks win it gives our Wobblies an outside chance.

    1. I think in Sydney at least AUS-ARG is on free to air but SA-NZ is only on the streaming service.
  5. Finished in 57 minutes, still thinking that ERASURE was missing an ‘a’, also having used the backs of both ‘the’ and ‘drawer’. COD to DEAD-LETTER DROP. In my head right now I can see myself as a young lad at a Church concert in the early fifties and a couple of guys a generation older than me singing The Bold Gendarmes, suitably accompanied. Beat that, Netflix. A tough but fair puzzle. Thank you Bruce and setter.

    Edited at 2021-09-25 08:17 am (UTC)

  6. I wrote ‘Bloody hard, but fair’ on my print-out, which says it all. My only query was ERASURE where I took the ER from {th}E {drawe}R [back] and then wondered where the A came from. I should of course have realised that ‘back’ singular would not apply to two words.

    Edited at 2021-09-25 06:04 am (UTC)

  7. To my surprise, I find that I’ve completed this puzzle correctly in 27:59. I remember very little about it, as I’d checked myself into A&E at JCUH Middlesbrough at 1am and was on IV fluids and Intravenous paracetamol at the time. I do remember wondering if a MANX SHEARWATER was actually a thing. Life is weird! Thanks setter and Bruce.
  8. ….but must have spent half as long again in sorting out the seven clues that I’d biffed. COD DEAD-LETTER DROP.
  9. 19:44. Quite a tricky one. I was pleased with myself as I submitted, having realised that MANX SHEERWATER was the sort of thing I am very prone to misspelling and checked the As and Es carefully, so that I was able to correct it. I should do this more often.
  10. This one took two sessions, approx three hours total, and was torture from almost-start to finish. FOI 1ac DEAR ME, which was encouraging, but it was into the super-slow lane thereafter. Too many biffs to list, complete guesses and searching for any word that fitted the spaces rather than through any understanding of the clues. Another grump-fest, unfortunately. Used to enjoy the Saturday puzzles, too…
  11. I was done in 53 minutes. I did not bother to parse 10ac but then there is no compulsion to do so.

    FOI 11ac IVY – girl with a smart but creepy restaurant

    LOI 20dn THRONG



  12. I have a note saying 47 mins so not too trying. I quite enjoyed this one. DNK the MANX OOJAMAFLIP, but the clue was generous.

    When Chris Corbin and Jeremy King were running the Ivy it was one of our favourite London restaurants. Still good.

    Thanks b and setter.

    1. Have to disagree with you there, RDP. Whatever it may have been in the past the Ivy is awful these days. So many far better places to eat!
      1. Now that I come to think of it, it’s a number of years since I’ve eaten there, so I bow to your (probably) better knowledge.
  13. First few in v quickly, then seemed to have 20 minutes totally becalmed before finally getting going again. Once I had a few checkers things seemed to flow

    So tough but gettable

    Thanks all

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