Times Cryptic No 28481 — Bottom heavy

19:31. Of this puzzle’s 30 clues, the top 15 took me about three minutes. If I had kept on this pace, I would have had my fastest time on a daily cryptic by a country mile! Alas, it was not meant to be. The bottom half of the puzzle wasn’t exactly difficult, but it didn’t flow for me like the top half did. In any case, I’m interested to hear how you fared.

1 Times received by bachelor with a model mind (7)

Lovely definition #1.

5 After wine, friend makes a bit of a bloomer (7)

Lovely definition #2.

9 Fancy furs on new designer clothes move from side to side (7-4)
CHANNEL-SURF – anagram of FURS after N in (Coco) CHANEL

This definition truly boggled me, but ‘side’ is, in British English, an informal word for a television channel. If I were British, this would certainly be Lovely definition #3.

10 Fat reduced by female dog (3)
LAB – FLAB without F
11 Caper in country whose leader is ousted by pressure (6)
PRANCE – FRANCE with F replaced by P
12 Reverential, installing last of garden decking (8)
14 Excitedly, one came into banks over opening of fantastic account (4,4,1,4)
ONCE UPON A TIME – anagram of ONE CAME INTO around (“banks”) UP (“over”)

Biffed this one from the enumeration and crossing letters. It certainly does seem like it could qualify for Lovely definition #4 if it weren’t so darn biffable.

17 Harry very bitter about a kind of animal abuse (6,7)
21 Who may work with horse / shoes (8)
TRAINERS – double definition

One of the bottom half clues that slowed me down because we don’t really call them that here. Being sneaky Americans, we call them ‘sneakers’.

23 Melodic fragment wears thin for the audience (6)
PHRASE – homophone of FRAYS
25 Fitting edging for adult coats quietly (3)
APT – A{dul}T around P
26 Right doctrine confused i.e. Mrs Mop at first (11)
THATCHERISM – anagram of I.E. MRS after THATCH

My last in. Very confusing as I felt sure it was -ISM, but thought that the M came from ‘Mop at first’, and so couldn’t get all the letters I needed. Not to mention THATCH for ‘mop’ was not super easy to see, and THATCHERISM is not a term that came easily to mind.

27 Got stuck into light food to start with (7)

I didn’t know this colloquial phrase: “get stuck into” means to deal with something in an aggressive, eager manner.

28 Awfully curious borders for one area for flowers (7)
NOSEGAY – NOSY around E.G. + A
1 Oil company’s importing gems and guns (6)
BICEPS – BP’S around ICE

Lovely definition #5.

2 Bagging promotion, that was impressive self-confidence (7)
3 Son riding bike, maintaining grand airs (4,5)
SONG CYCLE – S + ON + CYCLE around G
4 Bikini perhaps missing top shows damage (4)
5 Podgy king: he departed during tournament (5,5)
ROUND ROBIN – ROUND + R + O.B. (“he departed”) + IN
6 Note service returning to this point (2,3)
SO FAR – SO + R.A.F. reversed
7 Rind of Emmental in Russian food and drink (7)
BELLINI – E{mmenta}L in BLINI
8 Reform urged: beg one to correct errors (8)

This is the original definition, no doubt, though these days ‘one to correct errors’ is a programmer, and a DEBUGGER is a tool used to help correct these errors.

13 Awkwardly move vehicle around wood here (10)
15 Stupidity of answer getting disdainful remark by head (9)

PISH was a hold-up for me.

16 Pinch of salt roughly put in pies the wrong way (8)
ABSTRACT – A.B. + C in TARTS reversed

This was lost on me: ‘pinch’ and ABSTRACT are both synonyms of ‘steal’.

18 Severe health worker put on white coat after removing cereal (7)
DRASTIC – DR. + ASTI + C{oat}
19 Gallons given to seaman in bars (7)
20 Becoming crafty keeping tabs on Mike (6)
SEEMLY – SLY around E + E + M

‘Tabs’ meaning tablets of Ecstasy, but you knew that, didn’t you.

22 Not all charlatans raised from birth (5)
NATAL – hidden reversed in CHARLATANS
24 Make a copy of content-free, sardonic article (4)
SCAN – S{ardoni}C + AN

73 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28481 — Bottom heavy”

      1. Jeremy,

        This is not a question about this puzzle.

        When one submits answers to the Times Puzzle Club, it takes a finite amount of time to enter the letters in puzzle. For me, it takes anywhere from 2:45 to 4:15 to enter. I have been as high as number 2 in the Leaderboard. Clearly there must be solvers that are able to enter the letters in about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. I wonder how they can do that. I think it would be impossible to actually solve one of these puzzles in less than 5 minutes, let alone 1-2 minutes.

        Do you have any idea, or, I would understand, you might not be at liberty to say?

        1. Hey GDA,

          I’ve seen some of these fast solves… sorry to say, they are real. I mean, I’ve never seen anyone solve a daily puzzle in 1 minute, only a quickie, but 5 minutes or so, yes.


        2. You may be surprised at what’s achievable in terms of both typing speed and solving speed. A decent typist with existing knowledge of the answers can fill in a 15×15 grid in 45s – you could reach that kind of speed with just a few months of typing practice. Solving quickly is rather harder and takes decades of effort – there have been plenty of genuine solving times of less than 3m for 15×15 grids (and several under 2m30s) but a 1-2m solving time would indicate someone who already knows the answers and has (not very quickly, despite the nickname “neutrino”) typed them into the grid and submitted.

  1. though I nearly came unstuck on 27a as last one in. I was looking for food ‘ T-C- ‘ to go before the LED light. TUCK seemed the obvious choice. TUCKLED could be a nho word for being stuck, couldn’t it? Changed tack to see the light! Fantastic!

  2. Same as our blogger, top half flew in, bottom half very slow. Even failed to spot the ASTI in drastic, wondered what the white coat was. No complaints, just me being off the wavelength.
    Can I wish festive joy to all who contribute here, and especially to our bloggers for all the hard work they put in, and of course to the setters for their continual excellent puzzles giving me so much happiness.
    Thanks all.

  3. Biffed ONCE UPON A TIME and put in CHANNEL-SURFING because it was the only thing that fit the crossers (and the wordplay aside from “side”—wot’s that? ha). Was not confident of the definition for TACKLED either. LOI ABSTRACT, when I finally saw the definition.

  4. 61m 21s
    I’m afraid 14ac was not biffable for me, +Jeremy. I needed your blog to understand it, as I did for THATCHERISM, ABSTRACT, SEEMLY, DRASTIC , ROUND ROBIN and ONCE UPON A TIME.
    I’m obviously having a ‘d’oh’ day as my penultimate LOI was PHRASE; my LOI being APISHNESS.
    TACK, by the way, is a form of food, not always pleasant; as in ‘hard tack’.
    Thanks, +Jeremy! Like you, the top half went in relatively quickly; not so the bottom half.

  5. 44 minutes with a similar experience to Jeremy in that the top half almost wrote itself in but I struggled with many a clue in the lower half.

    Jeremy, a slip of the finger has added MOP to the anagrist at 26ac.

    ‘The other side’ meaning a TV channel in the UK dates from the period 1956 when ITV began broadcasting to 1964 which heralded the arrival of BBC2. Prior to that we’d had a one channel BBC monopoly. For those 8 years we had two TV channels and could choose to watch one side or the other. It was a common expression in many a household to ask or wonder ‘What’s on the other side?’. From 1964 we had three channels and from 1982 four, by which time the expression had lost its meaning. The introduction of satellite and cable broadcasting with their multi channels put paid to it completely.

    1. I think the meaning still exists in phrases like “what side is the football on?” but I struggled to see how side and channel were synonymous when solving.

  6. I had a similar experience with filling in the top and struggling in the bottom, especially the last two in which were PHRASE and APISHNESS. I was sure 23A was STRAIN, as a bit of music, but I couldn’t make it work (because it didn’t). Once I got SEEMLY that put paid to that idea. PISH is not a word that I’ve ever used (nor heard anyone else used in the last century) so I had to do an alphabet trawl for that one. So my time, fast for the first half, was unimpressive by the time I got to the end.

  7. Ugh, this took me ages and I had two errors. GRARING was a genuine typo, but CUMBERYARD was the result of initially putting in Cumberland, and then failing to do a thorough job of fixing my mistake when I realised it. In my defence, I got to this crossword very late – 2 pints after beer o’clock, having been delayed watching the new avatar film (beautiful but gratuitously long)

  8. THATCHERISM comes not “easily to mind”
    The ferrite lady was not very kind
    But her theory must fall
    As the market’s not all
    And philanthropy can’t be defined

  9. 63 minutes with LOI PHRASE, which should have been a write-in. Like everybody else, I struggled in the south, although I did see THATCHERISM quickly. I’m making that my COD. Even after getting APISHNESS, I had to keep on saying it to convince myself I knew it. There were lots of good clues but overall this was tough.Thank you Jeremy and setter.

  10. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
    Old Time is still a-flying;
    And this same flower that smiles today
    Tomorrow will be dying.

    After 35 mins pre-brekker, I gave up on Thatcherism/Seemly. I’m glad I did.
    Ta setter and PJ.

  11. 17:14. @Jeremy – I think “one to correct errors” refers to a tool rather than a person. Though if it could be used to refer to a person what would that make the person who introduced the bugs?
    As the forum is much quieter at the weekend I’ll take this chance to wish you all a happy Christmas.

  12. I thought this a superb example of the setter’s art, and like our blogger enjoyed the many witty definitions once I had disentangled them. Pish is a pretty common utterance up here in Orkney, as an inoffensive alternative to the Londoner’s testicular noun in the phrase “what a load of —.”

    Happy Christmas to one and all involved in TftT, a bastion of civilised discourse in a world that needs more of it.

    PS just under 44 enjoyable minutes

  13. Just under 30 minutes, albeit not with everything fully parsed. I didn’t see how the second half of ROUND ROBIN worked, and once I had enough checkers to get ONCE UPON A TIME I didn’t bother figuring out the anagrist. BELLINI also went in with a shrug, as I didn’t know ‘blini’ and misread the ‘rind’ in the clue as ‘kind’. But enjoyable stuff, so thanks to setter and blogger – and Merry Christmas everyone!

    FOI Babysit
    LOI Tackled
    COD Badger baiting

  14. The top half did not fly in for me and I struggled to get a foothold on the grid. Managed to parse everything in the end – saw Thatch quickly but took ages on ABSTRACT and longer on PISH. COD to TOLL which finally came after I gave up on swimwear synonyms. 44:32

    Thanks setter and plusjermey.

  15. Half an hour, no problems, ending with SEEMLY. Wish it was possible to ban the E tabs ecstasy thing. BABYSIT was Well disguised.

  16. 39:13
    Nice puzzle. Always on the edge of stalling, but somehow kept going. SE corner was treacherous.
    Thanks, pj.

  17. 23.54

    Last 4 minutes on APISHNESS and PHRASE

    Liked it at the time; even more when reading Jeremy’s excellent blog and realising like Mr Pleasuredome just how good some of these clues were.

    Thanks Setter and Jeremy

  18. Hard work this morning, brain possibly befuddled waiting for NHS111 to put a clinician in touch – 17 and a half hours so far. (Not blaming them for the grossly underfunded service).

    COD jointly to BABYSIT and the wonderful CHANNEL-SURFING – jack has made a very clear explanation. LOI was ROUND ROBIN, parsed post finishing.

    May I also wish everyone a Happy Christmas as we celebrate the incarnation. This forum is a daily delight.

    34′ today, thanks jeremy and setter.

  19. 24:09. I found this a bit of a struggle, especially the bottom half. LOI GRATING and I never parsed SEEMLY or DRASTIC. I DNK that meaning of guns but the wordplay was clear. THATCHERISM took a long time to arrive after eventually seeing it ended in ERISM. Thank-you Jeremy and setter.

    1. Guns for biceps lends itself to a phrase used by men who like to show off their muscles when the weather is conducive, “sun’s out, guns out!”.

  20. 32:56

    A fitting end to a tough week. A fair bit of biffing required and one or two clues seemed a bit of a leap but all came good in the end.

    Thanks to the setter and Jeremy and a merry Christmas to all.

  21. 35:29 – pleased with that which I assume means easier than normal for a Friday!

    Really enjoyed this. I felt like the difficulty came through artfully (but fairly) constructed clues rather than anything too obscure. ABSTRACT and GRATING jump to mind as simple but misleading constructs – I’m sure I’m not the only one who was trying to put S + (PUT)* inside “pies” for a bit for 16d.

    Like many I’m not in the right part of the “old” and “British” Venn diagram to have side = channel come to mind easily – but I think I remembered it from the episode of Bottom where they’re watching the Miss World contest, an absolute classic.

    Thanks J&S, nice end to the week.

  22. Around 22 mins, which is a fast time for me. Like many others the top half went in very quickly and the bottom half less so. Still, was very pleased to find no obscurities and no NHOs, which is rare for me and makes it so much more enjoyable. Like +jeremy, I really enjoyed some of the clever definitions.

  23. 7:35. No problems this morning. I slowed down a little bit in the SW corner.
    I’m just about old (and British) enough for ‘side’ to be familiar, although it’s become very rare now. Most TV services (Netflix etc) don’t even have numbered channels any more.

  24. Time: off the scale. I’d have given up, but being on holiday plugged away for longer, and got there in the end. I was really struggling to see how the clues worked, and very few went in easily. I must just have been on a different wavelength as they were all very fair, and great definitions as Jeremy mentioned in his blog. Thanks setter & Jeremy, and a very happy Christmas to all.

  25. Slowish. The 2 tabs of (nonE) painkillers may have been responsible. Took a brief detour to consider “whooshers” (anagram of WHO and HORSE – no of course it doesn’t work) for the footwear in 21a. 22.54. Feliz Navidad y Prospero Ano to all.

  26. Liked this, not too hard and not too easy. I was doubtful about side = channel but yes, I have been known to ask what was “on the other side.” My parents first TV had only one (1) channel … and they would have no truck with commercial TV for quite some time. I had to go to a friend’s house to watch Popeye..

    1. Yes, Jerry, it was a similar TV experience in our house and we didn’t have an alternative side until 1961 or 1962, long after ITV was introduced. One also needed some dexterity and a strong wrist to click the mechanical selector through 8 channels to change from BBC (Channel 1) to ITV (Channel 9).

    2. Does anyone else miss the BBC2 colour test transmissions? They kept me company on many a sickie off school.

  27. Very pleased to come in just under the half hour on this tricky offering. Like others I found the bottom half harder than the top. LAB was FOI and ABSTRACT LOI. Lots to like when the pennies dropped. No problem with Side/Channel, although SURF went in first and CHANNEL needed some crossers. Failed to completely parse THATCHERISM, but got it from ISM and checkers. 29:43. Thanks setter and Jeremy.

  28. The top was easier than the bottom, but the whole thing took me 70 minutes with a couple entered in hope and only parsed afterwards. Wasn’t very comfortable with up = over in 14ac. I’d always thought that ‘debugger’ was a facetious word and probably didn’t exist, but I see it does: no doubt it was introduced facetiously and became widespread. THATCHERISM was a tremendous effort, both for me and from the setter. Likewise BADGER-BAITING.

  29. Well, fell at the last again which typifies my week. SEEMLY wouldn’t come.

    How long can I keep blaming the dreaded C?
    Of course I loved 5 ac!

    Thanks pj.

  30. 37 mins seems to be standard for this week. In the end I biffed THATCHERISM because I also was fixated with Mop at first being M, and never saw the mop/thatch. Similarly biffed my LOI, SEEMLY, very innocent on the subject of tabs.

  31. All correct eventually. SEEMLY and GRATING my last 2 in. Didn’t know the musical definition of PHRASE and APISHNESS was a stab.
    A second complete week out of 3- very pleasing.
    Seasonal greetings to all on this excellent site and of course thanks as ever to the bloggers and setters.

  32. Defeated by SW of this. Would prob have got there if I’d had enough time to devote to it, but didn’t. Liked BICEP and NOSEGAY.

  33. 24:42. Seemed trickier while solving than on review – the mark of a good crossword.

    Thank you and a merry Christmas to all my fellow TftT contributors and those who give their time to keep this wonderful site going. The internet would not be the same without you. Xx

  34. 12:00 and agree with our blogger that the definitions were the thing which elevated this puzzle.

    And I lose all track of actual days in the run-up to / period of Christmas, but yes, apparently this is the last weekday before, so an appropriate time to wish everyone compliments of the solving season and beyond. Next year in London Bridge! (you never know)

  35. I concur as to Christmas wishes, and the blog as a source of civilised discourse. I’m a relatively occasional visitor even though I’m an inveterate Times-er (rare is the day I fail to tackle it) but it’s always good to know the blog is there. Thanks to all bloggers, setters and contributors over the year. And keep it up!

    1. Oh, and the crossword – I enjoyed today’s. I happily concur with Jeremy that there were some very neat definitions. I was much more on the wavelength today than I was yesterday. I think that, once again, growing up in the UK made some references completely obvious (Thatcherism, for example) that might have been pretty opaque to others.
      LOI SEEMLY (the tabs confused me for a while)
      COD lots of candidates, but I’ll plump for ABSTRACT, with its beautifully disguised definition.


  36. I was so slow to get going on this I almost threw in the towel, but perseverance paid off. I seem to be one of the few that didn’t make much progress on the top half, in fact I had more complete in the lower half for some time. I finally fell over the line in 67.15 with SEEMLY my LOI. This was for a while the only one I couldn’t parse, until I finally shed my cloak of innocence and the relevance of the two Es finally occurred to me.

  37. Slowish start for me too, then it all became fairly easy. Did not know “guns” in the sense here or that you could drink a Bellini, but both guessable. I always assumed “pish” was Wodehousean but it seems even that bard from Warwickshire would have had it at his disposal. Thanks for the blog!

    PS. I meant to say the blog is spot on about the current meaning of “debugger”, although on really special occasions it’s also a tool that goes out of its way to make the job harder.

  38. A very pleasant hour and half on this – with the first hour and ten minutes having my concentration split between watching the Gardeners’ World winter specials my wonderful wife had recorded for me and the puzzle. The second blast of twenty minutes was the more productive!

    LOI was lumberyard and my favourite was abstract.

    I am a newbie here so I will say a very Merry Christmas and looking forward to getting to know you regulars in 2023

  39. 27:52, with the bottom half taking 80% of the time. Spent ages trying to work out why SEELY = CRAFTY – didn’t spot the tabs!

    Thanks +j and setter!

  40. 36.30 so a bit of a trial. But no complaints, no NHOs and all well clued. Thatcherism was my COD but only after I’d realised the mop was a thatch.
    Very enjoyable. Thx setter and blogger.

  41. DNF. Defeated by ABSTRACT- very clever! And THATCHERISM should have been a write in, having lived through it.
    I liked BABYSIT

  42. Miles off the pace with this one, finishing in just over 60 minutes – thinking about Christmas too much obviously.

  43. This the most difficult one for me for about a week: NHO guns for biceps, didn’t remember ‘side’ for ‘other channel’, and ‘pish’ surely a ‘Bunterism’!
    Very slow and DNF – even BABYSIT eluded me ( even with all the letters!). NHO BADGER-BAITING, nor TACK for food, etc. Many very good clues: too good for me, unfortunately!

  44. Solving this on Australia Day, crosser h in 23 across shortened the alphabet trawl, leading to LOI seemly. I’d been hung up on the container being spy not sly.

    My thirty-something daughter uses “pish” frequently, to prevent expressing her true opinion of patients’ complaints (or parental views, which of course are of little moment).

  45. Did appallingly today – maybe Jan 26 has it in for me as I’m a change-the-date advocate. Husband not so, he has flag on ute aerial.
    Also NHO tack for food. Tuck yes. Hang on – “hard tack” – ok.
    Needed 8 look-ups to keep limping along, even so have 8 answers to look up in blog to understand the why and wherefore.

  46. Fairly gentle for an Australian “Friday”. I like a crossword that does not require knowledge of obscurities. Bellini as a drink the only one (for me).

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