Times Cryptic No 28344 – Saturday, 16 July 2022. To be or not for me?

Not everyone may agree, but for me this was less unsettling than the week before, with less need to take the definitions on trust. I admit 25dn caused a bit of head-scratching!

My LOI was the clever 26ac, which put me in mind of Hamlet. 11dn was a struggle; I didn’t know the answer, but the wordplay got me there eventually. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle. 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 underlined. (ABC)* means anagram of ABC, with anagram indicators italicised.


1 Stage acts for family members coming later? (8)
STEPMUMS – STEP=stage + MUMS=acts. To ‘mum’ is to act in a mime or in a mummer’s play, or to masquerade.
5 Jersey’s sound? Mostly appealing, as are some blouses (3-3)
LOW-CUT – LOW=sound of a Jersey (cow) + CUT(e).
9 My knowledge may be understood (3)
LOR’ – sounds like (understood as) LORE. An old-fashioned exclamation. I needed the helpers to get this one.
10 Recognition for work with screwdriver, say, and lever (6,5)
TURNER PRIZE – TURNER=screwdriver (say) + PRIZE=to lever. Not the most common meaning of ‘prize’.
12 Was ballooning attacked as winter sport? (10)
SNOWBALLED – to ‘snowball’ is to expand rapidly. Is throwing snowballs at someone sport? The thrower might find it fun. I’m not so sure about the target.
13 Song from a show recalled (4)
ARIA – A + AIR ‘recalled’.
15 Old scientist not familiar with fashion (6)
NEWTON – NEW=not old + TON=fashion.

Why ton? A web article on the author Georgette Heyer (I don’t say authoress) has this:
the term the ton, from the French word meaning everything that is fashionable, had come into usage in England in the latter half of the eighteenth century and by the Regency period it denoted the cream of society.

16 Cheek, if not round, then oval (7)
ELLIPSE – ELSE=if not, around LIP=cheek.
18 Who benefits from one visiting inexperienced youngster on round? (3,4)
CUI BONO – I=one in CUB=inexperienced youngster + ON + O=round. A Latin phrase.
20 Be absorbed with crime, and blood? (4,2)
SINK IN – SIN=crime + KIN=blood.
23 Capable of working at till (2,2)
UP TO – double definition.
24 Winger’s worn green boots (5,5)
26 I’d accept us going out together with one? (7,4)
27 Passes on kiss every so often (3)
OKS – alternate letters of  On KiSs.
28 Party outfit one turned down in work (3-3)
DOG-EAR – DO=party + GEAR. A page of a book.
29 Beauty of headland, at first light (8)
FAIRNESS – FAIR=light (of skin) + NESS=headland.
1 Betting on cat making big impression (6)
SPLASH – SP=betting (starting price) + LASH=cat (whip).
2 Noble gong that can have a piercing ring? (7)
EARLOBE – EARL=noble + OBE=gong (honour).
3 When depressed, one stops listening (4,6)
MUTE BUTTON – cryptic definition.
4 I’m Norma — only, er, transformed (7,6)
6 Old police, rising before judge, depart (4)
OGPU – UP=before judge + GO=depart, all ‘rising’. Russian secret police from 1922-34.
7 Tweet in which chapter welcome bishop to London? (7)
CHIRRUP – C=chapter + HI =welcome + RR=bishop + UP=to London. For crossword purposes, ‘up’ can also mean ‘at university’.
8 Television screening goddess in French poem (3,5)
THE RAVEN – HERA=goddess in TV +EN=in, in French.
11 Authoress with a last letter and article to follow spy novel (7,2,4)
EYELESS IN GAZA – EYE=spy + LESSING=authoress + A + Z=last letter + A=article.
14 Left large hint, puzzled? The light may dawn on one! (3-7)
17 Wretched defendant accepting tip from lawyer (8)
19 What’s now concealed by labyrinth, ingeniously (2-5)
IN-THING – hidden.
21 Drink often preceded by one very similar element (7)
ISOTOPE – I=one + SO=very + TOPE=drink often.
22 Brief mistrust minister’s up against (6)
VERSUS – VER=REV, ‘up’+ SUS=mistrust.
25 At least a dozen answer, giving endorsement (4)
VISA – as a Roman numeral, VI=6. So, VI’S (plural) = 12 or 18 or … anyway, at least a dozen! Then, A=answer. I liked the clue (once I saw it).

18 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28344 – Saturday, 16 July 2022. To be or not for me?”

  1. Oh, shoot! I just biffed the macabre SUICIDE PACT and didn’t look any deeper into the sordid affair—missing the anagram.

  2. I found this hard but managed to complete it in 45 minutes with two resorts to aids. One was at 18ac where I knew the answer was a Latin expression but I couldn’t think of a word to fit C?I and missed the wordplay. The other was the long book title which I knew was something IN GAZA but couldn’t recall what or think of an authoress to fit the wordplay.

    Those who have been following Bridgerton on Netflix will know all about The Ton.

  3. 39m 54s
    Not sure about ‘unsettling’ as being an adequate description of the previous week’s puzzle, Bruce; more like b!00%y hard!
    This I found a good challenge. The only query I had was with CHIRRUP so, thanks for the explanation, Bruce.
    For some reason I nearly entered SEND IN for 20ac
    25ac reminded me a bit of one of my favourite clues with its use of VI:
    “Roman sex position daughters came to see”: VISITED.
    CODs: EYELESS IN GAZA, TURNER PRIZE and THE RAVEN, with a slight mer at the use of an alternative spelling for PRISE.
    Thought for the Day: Would 4d’s definition of the Monroe Doctrine be “Gentlemen prefer Blondes”?

  4. DNF: I came here having forgotten that I hadn’t finished the puzzle, and saw STEPMUMS.
    Like Guy and Martin, I never saw the anagram in SUICIDE PACT; great clue. Also liked MARILYN MONROE. I could have done, though, without ‘authoress’.

    1. Resorting to rhyme just to say
      That 4 down would be clue of the day
      Except our clever setter
      Wrote a clue even better
      26 deserves “Hip, Hip, Hooray”

      THE RAVEN I might just excuse
      But there’s still the BRENT GOOSE to abuse
      What is it with feathers?
      They appear in all weathers
      And engender a chorus of boos

  5. My notes say “1h 6. V. hard”. NHO OGPU or Eyeless in Gaza, which didn’t help. 4d was good.

  6. Oddly, I was in tune with this one even though I realised it was at the harder end. Thanks all.

  7. Really struggled with this one, partly due to a deficit in my general knowledge: NHO 18ac, nor 6, 8, 11d., and didn’t have the skills to work ‘em out from the clues. Finished but with hefty use of aids, so I don’t feel that counts. Still, it’s all learning, isn’t it? Onward. Oh, and thanks as ever to setter and blogger.

  8. A train journey from Edinburgh to London gave me plenty of time to do this. But I failed to finish.
    At 25d I was looking for something to improve on AYES. The party outfit was DOG … and I never saw the anagram for the excellent SUICIDE PACT which defeated me entirely.
    Enjoyed the rest and the excellent LNER train; so nice when they actually run and arrive on time.

  9. I thought this puzzle was really clever. It took me ages, but with some very satisfying PDMs as I finally unravelled the misleading surfaces. CODs to DOG-EAR and SUICIDE PACT. My last one in was VISA, which was annoying, as I have seen that device before (clued with IV, quite recently), and it caused as much trouble then! The Z in 11D very much gave the game away, although I haven’t actually read the book, and I knew Doris Lessing, which made parsing easy. CUI BONO was vaguely recalled as legal Latin. However, I have realised now that I got one wrong – a careless biff of 16A – ECLIPSE instead of ELLIPSE, which fitted the definition and also parsed! Thank you, setter, for a challenging outing, and to Bruce for putting me right…

  10. A 72 minute DNF. Defeated by 6d where I didn’t know whether the def was at the beginning or end. NHO the ‘Old police’ so I entered “oppu” in the vain hope it may be army slang for ‘depart’ but of course it wasn’t.

    I liked LOW-CUT, but have seen an even better clue for it before (? in The Times or elsewhere):
    Revealing blouse might be tough for ladies to get into.

    Disappointing, but seeing the excellent SUICIDE PACT and MARILYN MONROE &lits just about made up for it.

  11. For the highbrow/lowbrow record, a discussion which starts with Norma Jeane Mortenso (aka Marilyn Monroe), runs through Georgette Heyer, and finishes with Doris Lessing has a pleasing balance. I thought M Monroe was brilliant and at least semi &lit, and Suicide Pact also clever)

  12. This took me 80 minutes with several question marks against clues:
    STEPMUMS I understood the stage bit but not the unknown mum part which has already been explained to me by a friend who knows.
    ARIA I’m kicking myself for not parsing this.
    NEWTON I have never heard of ton/fashion. I had ‘not familiar with’ as NEW TO which left me with the N?
    At 6dn I originally put in OAPS thinking ‘old’ until I looked closer at the wordplay seeing UP and GO and corrected this trusting in the cryptics.
    VERSUS. I assumed SUSS -S and REV reversed.
    Finally, VISA and I have forgotten how got the answer but I did somehow.

  13. Struggled through in 48:30 but had to look up OGPU which I’d NHO. Thanks setter and Bruce.

  14. Strangely, I found this relatively easy and great fun (mainly because I finished it -for all but 6d, which I’d NHO – in quick time, for me!). The PDMs came fast and furious, which the standouts being TURNER PRIZE, MM and the book…oh and of course the good anagram at 26a. Things are looking up!

  15. When solving the anagram leading to BRENT GOOSE I had: _ _ _ _ _ G_ _ _ E. My first guess was that well-known Southampton waterbird the SOTON GREBE. Ho hum.

    ~ ~ ~ ~

    I wondered if Ms Monroe had deliberately included the letters of NORMA into her stage name. But no. According to Wikipedia:

    “The first name was picked by Lyon, who was reminded of Broadway star Marilyn Miller; the last was Monroe’s mother’s maiden name.”

    The “Lyon” mentioned was none other than Ben Lyon. Best known, perhaps, from the 1950’s BBC radio series “Life with the Lyons”.

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