Times Cryptic No 28296 – Saturday, 21 May 2022. I spy with my little eye …

I spy with my little eye …many things starting with “i”: islands, the “i” newspaper, i=electrical current and maybe more. We also had some literary references. Some challenging vocabulary. Overall, not harder than your usual Saturday, I thought. Thanks to the setter for 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 this week’s Saturday Cryptic.

Clues are blue. Definitions are underlined. (ABC)* indicates anagram of ABC, with the anagram indicator italicised.

1 Perhaps one vaccinating rabbit (6)
JABBER – double definition, the first more a hint perhaps.
4 Critical of media, paper needing to lose content (8)
PRESSING – PRESS=media + I=paper + N(eedin)G. “Critical” meaning “urgent”.
10 Barney‘s fish on edges of water (7)
11 Will one dog sound like a cat, maintaining appeal? (7)
PURSUER – SUE=appeal in PURR. Might a pursuer dog you?
12 Hitch from eastern parts of city to Park Avenue (4)
YOKE – last letters of each word.
13 At sea, navy stops a lot of corrupt drama (5,5)
UNCLE VANYA – (NAVY)* in UNCLEA(n)=corrupt.
15 US writer has May the 1st in England (9)
HAWTHORNE – HAWTHORN=MAY + E(ngland). Nathaniel Hawthorne.
16 Current, cooler clothing article returned in a mess (5)
NAAFI – I + A=article in FAN=cooler, all ‘returned’.
18 Kind and clever person, not yours truly! (5)
19 Kicks after stripping off in stormy Baltic? It may tempt surfer (9)
CLICKBAIT – (k)ICK(s) in (BALTIC)*. Web surfer, not a wave rider.
21 Officer, low grade failure, shows how to kick horse, say (4,6)
COLD TURKEY – COL(onel) + D=low grade + TURKEY=failure. Giving up drugs.
23 One dealing shadily in big cheeses from the east (4)
SPIV – VIPS, backwards.
26 Like parking stop, which may be on the road (7)
ASPHALT – AS=like + P + HALT.
27 One runs through big road turning, with light run (7)
IMPALER – ‘turn’ M1 to give IM, + PALE=light + R.
28 Keep speaking with a painter for so long (8)
SAYONARA – SAY ON=keep speaking (!) + A + RA.
29 Axe that evenly slices possibly crude meat (6)
OXTAIL – ‘axe that’ becomes XTA when you just take the even letters. Put that in OIL.
1 Johnny heartlessly pinches hooter, showing a lot of cheek (5)
JOWLY – OWL in J(ohnn)Y.
2 During Prohibition, wants whiskey in dark pen? (5,4)
3 So king admitted to self-importance (4)
ERGO – R=king in EGO.
5 Put off ruler, recoiling before something seedy (7)
REPULSE – ER ‘recoiling’, before PULSE=a ‘seedy’ vegetable.
6 Composer of verse in struggle with broadcaster (10)
7 Batting, keeping score up, one could do this to The Ashes (5)
INURN – RUN=a scoring stroke at cricket. Turn it ‘up’ and put it in IN. I checked the dictionary! It is a word.
8 Someone able to translate emigrant’s novel (9)
9 Note ingredient of cheese gets thrown up (6)
TENNER – RENNET, ‘thrown up’.
14 For fun, one chills G&T, welcoming entertainer with precipitation (5,5)
15 Grade A is wasted on some students (4-5)
HIGH-CLASS – HIGH=wasted (guess the ‘cold turkey’ treatment didn’t work!) + CLASS=some students.
17 A better piano with jazz vocalist’s singing style (1,8)
A CAPPELLA – A + CAP=better + P=piano + ELLA (Fitzgerald).
19 Keeper, Chelsea’s No. 1, raised game before a right back seizes ball (7)
CURATOR – C(helsea) + RU ‘raised’ + A +RT=right, ‘back’, seizing O=ball.
20 Pacific Island right by nice ground (6)
IRENIC – I=island + R=right + (NICE)*. A Greek word, vaguely remembered. One to add to your vocabulary.
22 Slap for lacking manners (5)
LIPPY – double definition, both rather informal. The first being makeup, the second impertinence.
24 Area surrounded by six sides seen by many people? (5)
VIRAL -VI=six, in Roman notation. R+L are the two sides of the body. Insert A=area.
25 Before kiss, take off top (4)
APEX – APE=take off + X=kiss, as written at the foot of a letter perhaps.


28 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28296 – Saturday, 21 May 2022. I spy with my little eye …”

  1. I needed 53 minutes for this but the absence of workings in the margins and lack of question marks suggests the puzzle didn’t present me with many problems. I think my only unknown was IRENIC but the wordplay and checkers left no room for doubt.

  2. Unlike our esteemed blogger, I found it much harder than the average Saturday, taking just over 40 minutes to crack. The SE corner trio were last to fall, with APEX being particularly troublesome as I was looking for the definition to be ‘before’ after taking the first letter off one of the myriad of words meaning ‘kiss’. Is a NAAFI really a mess? Isn’t it more of a shop?
    Particularly enjoyed BLACK SWAN,LIPPY and CLICKBAIT.

    1. NAAFI
      I put this in without a qualm, but your question led me to look it up; ODE: “…an organization running canteens and shops for British service personnel”.

  3. Stopped after 70 min not getting NAAFI or CLICKBAIT. I liked COLD TURKEY and the very compact INURN. Needed blog to understand things- thanks.

  4. A tough cookie and a DNF after an hour

    FOI 1ac JABBER
    COD 23ac SPIV
    WOD 20dn IRENIC

    NHO 19ac CLICKBAIT and as per Lord Vinyl, 13ac UNCLE VANYA was a surprise visitor!

  5. 31:08
    Tough, all right. I biffed a bunch– UNCLE VANYA, CLICKBAIT, COLD TURKEY, STRAVINSKY, GHOST TRAIN, CURATOR, PURSUER–parsing post-submission. NHO CLICKBAIT. Luckily, I’d recently learned here that May=hawthorn. COD PURSUER.

    1. I know CLICKBAIT all too well. It’s sort of in the same category as SEO, Search Engine Optimized. At TheNation.com, editors do tweak URLs to be SEO, but we don’t concoct whole stories to be mere CLICKBAIT (I swear). The most egregious example of CLICKBAIT are the stories you get to from a fetching (typically sexy) thumbnail and that then force you to scroll through many pages of a “slideshow” and all the attendant ads to get to the only thing you were interested in (if it’s even there).

  6. 76m 19s. I found this more difficult than most it seems. The last 6 or 7 took 26/27 minutes
    LOI: The inelegant INURN plus PURSUER.
    I never knew ‘may’ was hawthorn.
    A couple of queries:
    5d: I would have thought ‘put off’ was more repel than REPULSE.
    22d: ‘LIPPY = slap? Really?
    Nevertheless there were some excellent clues:
    I’ve recently seen an excellent theatrical production of ‘Uncle Vanya’ on AppleTV+ with Toby Jones in the starring role but about 10-11 years ago I saw a splendid production by the Sydney Theatre Company in Sydney with an all-star Australian cast featuring Cate Blanchett as Yelena in a luminous white dress.
    Thank you, as ever, Bruce. Just wish your avatar was bigger!
    PS…Thinking of 11ac and dogs and cats, there’s a story in The Times today about a man who took his ’emotional support cat’ with him, on his shoulder, into a branch of Sainsbury’s but was asked to leave..!

    1. Collins, at least, says LIPPY is informal for “lipstick,” which is indeed a kind of “slap” or makeup.

    2. That production of Uncle Vanya was one of the last things I saw at the theatre before Covid. It was brilliant. I can’t wait to get back to the theatre.

      1. You are the “Piper at the Gates of Dawn”, keriothe! Yours is the first e-mail I’ve received in this new era to tell me someone has replied to a comment! Thanks! Happy theatre-going!

  7. I was glad to remember NAAFI and SPIV. Otherwise, there were no hurdles that I now recall.

  8. 41 minutes. I saw UNCLE VANYA straightaway. DNK SAYONARA though, which had to be constructed. I particularly liked HAWTHORNE and COD CLICKBAIT. In the village where I spent my childhood years, Poulton-le-Fylde, the head of the May procession was the Queen of the May. I still call Hawthorn blossom the may. It makes a great sight when the cow parsley grows high enough in the lanes to reach it, fecundity in all its glory. It’s not just a young man’s fancy that turns to love, it’s just that they can do more about it! I enjoyed this puzzle.

  9. Don’t remember any serious problems. I enjoyed ‘dark pen’ and HIGH-CLASS.

  10. All done in 70 minutes but with several unparsed.
    PRESSING from PRESS = media only, didn’t see the rest of the parsing.
    HAWTHORNE BIFD with the help of checking letters.
    ACAPPELLA NHO but managed to build from wordplay.
    LIPPY also helped by checking letters and the NHO IRENIC was built with the help again of checking letters and wordplay.
    Thanks to the blogger for explaining those I couldn’t.

  11. Morning, all. Completed in the average time of around an hour, but with the same selection of biffs as others here. Didn’t know HAWTHORN=MAY, couldn’t quite figure out UNCLE VANYA, plus NHO INURN, nor IRENIC. Done, all the same. Phew.

  12. DNF! I usually get at least one clue of a crossword within five minutes but I did not even start and gave up after 15 minutes. I am somewhat comforted to see here that others found it difficult. Seeing the blog, the clues are all quite fair (but NHO INRUN OR IRENIC), and some indeed quite clever , and would probably have got most if I had had the time. But I haven’t heard SPIV or JABBER used for years, and in 1a the misdirection of RABBIT in its second meaning might have defeated me😣

  13. That was certainly tricky. Took me just over 40 minutes. The NW rolled in, but then the swimming through treacle began. CLICKBAIT was the key eventually. Then NAAFI led to STRAVINSKY. UNCLE VANYA was my LOI, with a metaphorical head slap. Liked “dark pen”. Thanks setter and Bruce

  14. I progressed through this one pretty well, but stopped after 50 minutes without Uncle Vanya or Stravinsky. I can’t have had my culture hat on. I was pleased to get CLICKBAIT and to remember IRENIC from previous crosswords (?) and to successfully invent INURN (although without the clue and the crossers I would have gone for ENURN as a less unikely looking word). I liked LIPPY and SAYONARA

    1. PS A search throws up 4 recent appearances of IRENIC: 2 Mephistos, that I wouldn’t have seen, 1 15×15 where it was part of the answer SIRENIC, and 1 Jumbo last August. I bet it’s the Jumbo I remember

  15. Very enjoyable puzzle, thank you. For once didn’t need the blog, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t enjoy reading it; another thank you.

    HAWTHORN for MAY reminded me of the saying (in crosswordese: “saw”):
    “Ne’er cast a clout ’til M/may be out”.
    I remember having discussions with my parents* as to whether we shouldn’t lay aside our winter clothing (“cast a clout”) either before:
    a) the month of May was past
    b) the hawthorn had bloomed.
    Eventually, we decided that it probably referred to the may blossom, as that was more dependent on the climate.

    *It was the sort of thing we did, back in the days before Netflix and such.
    The long winter evenings just flew by…

  16. Wrong of spring

    23.20, so not that easy. I was convinced that the composer was some obscurity I’d not heard of, until it was Igor, and that slowed things down.

    1. i = paper

      It’s the name of a UK daily newspaper. Originally a cutdown version of The Independent but now …er, independent of it, though owned by The Mail group, I think.

  17. 14:50. I really liked this one. I didn’t know May=HAWTHORN so that one was a bit puzzling.

  18. DNF

    Another DNF. Didn’t have any problems with LIPPY HAWTHORNE and CLICKBAIT but mightily struggled in the NE. PULSE as a seed was not at all the first thing to come to mind (though eventually constructed) but can’t argue with it . Finally defeated by the INURN and PURSUER crossers as I just couldn’t see that “will I dog” was the definition and gave up trying to work out how to get either PER or PUR into the clue with IT or SA. As for INURN no ida what what was wanted for “score” and the word was a NHO

    Not sure about the frustrations at the end but enjoyed the rest of it particularly LIPPY

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