Times Cryptic No 28529 — Never trust a fellow blogger

28:28. Shortly before attempting the puzzle, I was informed by a fellow blogger: “main very easy – you got a sitter for your blog”. My experience differed, to put it mildly.

Many, many unknowns for me here. In particular I needed to check the spelling of 1 Down, so did not submit.

1 Meaning to embrace unique selling point, leaves one hanging (8)
5 Repeatedly appeal to consume second pastry (6)
SAMOSA – SA + SA (sex appeal) around MO
8 One racing on the carriageway is cuckoo (10)
9 One with a tale to tell is back in this bar (4)
RAIL – LIAR reversed
10 Delighted as result of well-crafted scenes, applaud hard (7,2,5)
11 Inherited title I removed from S American country (7)
13 Refuses to accept one is among hills (7)
15 Possible appearance of lantern in new jail out of place (7)
JAWLINE – anagram of NEW JAIL

A reference to ‘lantern-jawed’.

18 Giant operations on transport cut short (7)
CYCLOPS – OPS next to CYCL{e}
21 A case for clothing artist’s body part succeeded (5,2,7)
CHEST OF DRAWERS – CHEST OF DRAWER (artist’s body part) + S

But of course this clue needs a question mark.

22 A pound off, pack with egg and pastry (4)
FILO – FIL{l} + O
23 With great intelligence I pass back the local spirit (6,4)
GENIUS LOCI – GENIUS + I COL (mountain pass) reversed

“Literally, the spirit of the place” (Chambers)

24 Commit to paper refusal of French flag (6)
PENNON – PEN + NON (no, in French)
25 Quizzical look you twice aimed at a little jewel (5,3)
1 Small drinks bottles are raised, showing Egyptian deity (7)
SERAPIS – SIPS (small drinks) around ARE, reversed

I now see that ‘small’ was not one of those ‘S’s, and hence SUPS is not possible.

2 Scruffy type’s anxiety meeting councillor in broadcast (9)
SCARECROW – CARE + CR (councillor) in SOW (broadcast)

Ended up getting this from the crossing letters. I never once suspected the correct wordplay.

3 Mimosa ultimately is a shrub raised in a large part of the world (7)
EURASIA – {mimos}A IS A RUE reversed

Didn’t know about the rue plant.

4 No good having formally given agreement that is undated (4,3)
SINE DIE – SIGNED (having formally given agreement) – G + I.E. (that is)

Also did not get this wordplay while solving.

5 So carelessly written, to revise play script, wasting time (9)
SCRAPPILY – anagram of PLAY SCRIP{t}
6 Warhorse, no stallion, with new energy (7)
MARENGO – MARE (no stallion) + N + GO

Napoleon’s horse, apparently.

7 Supposed weather forecaster at first skulking indoors (7)
SWITHIN – S{kulking} + WITHIN


Known in the US as “a groundhog”.

12 Arm supporting baby that regularly signals distress (6,3)
MINUTE GUN – GUN (arm) under MINUTE (baby, as in small)

Never heard of this, but it’s a gun fired every minute.

14 Spaces in the ladies, no end healthy (9)
16 A Catholic place of business, a large one in the Vatican (7)
ARCHIVE – A + R.C. + HIVE (place of busy-ness)
17 One wild criminal made to be submissive (3,4)
LIE DOWN – anagram of ONE WILD
18 Secret formula in tablet, this one? (7)
19 Graded Charlie very behind in speaking (7)
CLASSED – C + homophone of LAST
20 Sigh as father gets round this family piano (7)
SUSPIRE – SIRE around US + P

62 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28529 — Never trust a fellow blogger”

  1. The wordplay here was all very clear. SWITHIN was my only unknown, so nearly my last in, got entirely from the wordplay.
    Wikipedia: « According to tradition, if it rains on Saint Swithun’s bridge on his feast day it will continue for forty days. »
    I think Jeremy is joking about the groundhog, but is there really a noncoincidental connection?
    Come to think of it, I’d never heard of a MINUTE GUN either.

  2. Put me in the very challenging as so many unknowns group, but all revealed themselves in the end: Serapis, Swithin, genius loci, Vatican’s large archive, suspire, minute gun. Did remember Marengo as Napoleon’s, probably from a previous puzzle.
    Liked SURNAME best, I’ve never noticed that before. Though it’s probably a chestnut?

  3. At 48 minutes I didn’t find this particularly easy either. My only definite unknown was SERAPIS but I’m not sure that I knew SUSPIRE as a word or GENIUS LOCI, and SINE DIE took some dredging from the memory bank. I think we had a MINUTE GUN salute in London to mark HM’s passing last year.

    I didn’t know a specific reference for the Vatican ARCHIVE but it was fair to assume that like any ancient institution it would have one.

  4. 26:07
    Several DNKs: SERAPIS(or maybe sorta knew it), that the ROADRUNNER is of the cuckoo ilk, the St. SWITHIN/rain connection, MARENGO the horse, MINUTE GUN. Biffed PLEASED …, SCARECROW, EURASIA, parsed post-sub. What is the definition in 1ac? ‘leaves one hanging’ is a verb phrase, SUSPENSE is a noun. Jeremy, you forgot to underline/bold Giant at 18ac.

    1. For me the definition was just “hanging”, which “one” was “left” with after doing the cryptic bits.

      1. Yes, I think that works perhaps best of all. My take when solving was that SUSPENSE leaves one hanging.

        For solvers who might enjoy the challenge, can I recommend setter Paul’s latest linked clue extravaganza in today’s Guardian? I nearly threw in the towel when a quick scan through the clues revealed that much of it depends on the outcome of a Spoonerism, my most hated device in crosswords, but in the end I was glad that I persevered and came out the other side.

        1. [I agree about the Paul puzzle in the Guardian today. My initial response was exactly the same as yours, but I eventually “reverse engineered” the gateway Spoonerism, soon after managing to finish and almost despite myself enjoyed what I had thought would be a real slog].

          1. My wife and I don’t like Spoonerisms either, and this one was a bit dubious. However, we succeeded 🙂

            1. I’ve learned to accept a lot of dubious stuff in Guardian puzzles that would have me complaining if it appeared in The Times.

  5. 58m 59s and pleased to get in in under an hour with this one, which I found tough, but misspelled 25ac as BEEDY EYE.
    COD: SWITHIN and WHOLESOME. As far as I’m aware St Swithin did not employ groundhogs nor men in top hats to forecast the weather.

  6. No time to offer as I did it watching the cricket. LOI GENIUS LOCI, which I don’t think I knew. POI SERAPIS similarly. COD to CHEST OF DRAWERS.I liked BEADY EYE. Not as easy a puzzle as it looked. Thank you Jeremy and setter.

  7. After yesterday, I needed sleep
    It was wonderful, dream-full, and deep
    Today was much funner
    Except for ROADRUNNER
    I keep hearing that bloody BEEP BEEP!

    1. While I’m usually much more pro-avifauna than The Bard I have to agree that that beeping (and bleeping) ROADRUNNER was a pain in the neck.

  8. 26:50. I’m amongst those that found this difficult, as evidenced by the second highest personal NITCH. I particularly struggled with ARCHIVE, where I didn’t get the Vatican connection and wanted to fit Rome into the clue somehow. I also found SWITHIN tough, having to do an alphabet trawl for the second letter after I had all the checkers.

  9. 19.17. I really enjoyed this one. I had to deduce the Egyptian deity from the word play, but it was pretty clear. Very satisfying.

  10. 14:23. Tricky one. SERAPIS was my only out-and-out unknown but there were lots of things in here that I only half knew or had to guess at: what kind of bird a ROADRUNNER is, GENIUS LOCI, MARENGO, the link between St SWITHIN’s day and the weather, MINUTE GUN. All very clearly indicated though which makes for an interesting solve.
    Not sure why 21ac would need a question mark?

  11. Liked this one, no unknowns bar the reasonably-clued SERAPIS.
    MARENGO’s skeleton is on display at the National Army museum. An undignified end for a reputedly very brave horse.
    21ac seems fine just as it is, no ? required.

  12. Rather pissed off to be beaten by SWITHIN, a glaring last empty space. So DNF.

    That said, the rest of this I enjoyed. Knew MARENGO was Napoleon’s horse, so liked the clue. Also didn’t know GENIUS LOCI or PENNON, but wordplay was helpful in both cases.

  13. 40 minutes. Lots of unknowns or barely heard ofs like SERAPIS, MINUTE GUN, MARENGO, the relationship between St SWITHIN’s Day and the weather, the ‘Vatican’ ARCHIVE as being ‘large’ and GENIUS LOCI. Crossers, wordplay and common sense helped in each case though the ‘Small drinks’ at 1d was sneaky, as noted by Jeremy.

    A good way to wind down, without becoming too complacent, after yesterday’s toughie.

  14. After yesterday’s debacle it was a relief that this one landed squarely within my ken (except for SERAPIS). MARENGO was also one of Napoleon’s successful battles and he was so hungry afterwards his chef had to scramble to find the ingredients (no horsemeat thank goodness) for the adequate meal that became chicken Marengo. The original included eggs, truffles and crayfish supposedly. 22.24

    1. Only a French chef could throw his arms up in exasperation at his kitchen being so bare that he was down to just the truffles and crayfish at the back of the fridge

      1. 🙂
        Gotta say: chicken, truffles and crayfish doesn’t sound like a combination I would enjoy eating. But the three ingredients are all amongst my favourites. Worked on Barrow Island in the 80s – a paradise free of feral cats, pigs, goats etc. – and in the reefs we used to skin-dive and catch crayfish. Really a paradise. No chickens or truffles, though. You’d pay money to go there, though we were paid money to go there. Happened again in 1999 when I worked at Scott Reef 500 km north of Broome with AIMS – people had given up their paid jobs to get the opportunity to go there unpaid, but I was paid to go there.

        1. Here’s a couple of 5 kg or so tuna from Scott Reef that were caught. The one on the right is a yellowfin, the other I can’t remember, but all the marine scientists knew it. They also knew what to do – the fish were out of the ocean, chopped up, and sashmi within minutes. We ate them immediately; Japanese pay thousands of dollars for similar fish.

    2. Nice scramble; I wish my last-minute searching for ingredients to satisfy hunger could be that productive!

  15. 23 mins, really wasn’t sure between SERAPUS and SERAPIS, having never heard of this particular god. I think SERAPIS sounded more Egyptian.
    Also NHO GENIUS LOCI, but just spent ages learning all about it. Fascinating!

  16. A rare finish of a 3 digit Snitch Cryptic. In about an hour. Had to look up SERAPIS, though, did not see are=ARE. Pleased to get many NHOs such as SUSPIRE, MARENGO, GENIUS LOCI. Thought about GENIUS YOGI for that one, with pass=go.


  17. 23’39”. Like Olivia I was relieved after yesterday’s debacle – the first crossword I have abandoned in yonks. Thanks to that b***dy bone. No significant difficulties here. So the ROADRUNNER’s a cuckoo? Who’d have thunk it? We had it recently and I remember referencing Jonathan Richman.

  18. 08:17, apparently bang on the wavelength today, especially some of the more arcane bits of knowledge which were required (or at least very helpful). SERAPIS came up as a quiz question in our game on Wednesday (nobody on either team knew it, but one of the maxims of quizzing is that it’s fine to get questions wrong, as that means you’re acquiring new knowledge for future use*). Being a smug classicist as useful as always, too.

    *admittedly, sometimes these facts are like the new words in Times puzzles i.e. I regularly have to encounter them for the first time on several occasions before they stick

  19. Well beaten here by 19d CLASSED and just assumed that the behind bit was ASS, and couldn’t work out the rest. Also by 14d WHOLESOME, saw the wome(n) but failed to spot “no end” DOH!

    16d ARCHIVE, I remembered from school that the Index (list of banned book for RC members) contains, inter alia, the worlds greatest collection of pornography as obv they have to read it before they know it is forbidden. Reminds me of a bloke in King’s Beam House who told us Customs officers if a film or mag counted as porn. His only job. Interestingly obscene articles were OK to import if not for distribution (film) or not for sale which we were to infer from the number of copies; i.e. one copy of each is OK but multiple copies are obv intended for sale.

  20. After yesterday (which I still haven’t finished) this one at first seemed to be as hard, but in the end was marginally less so. Only marginally I thought and it still took me over an hour (and I didn’t actually finish, giving up with the last three, ARCHIVE, CHEST OF DRAWERS and CODEINE unsolved). Can’t see the connection between archives and the Vatican. Nho SERAPIS, but easy enough from the wordplay. But at least there were a few things I knew, like Napoleon’s horse and St Swithin.

      1. I saw the Vatican archives in the films of the Da Vinci Code – it couldn’t all be fictional, surely?

    1. The Vatican Archives are famous, if only for going back an entire millenium or more, and never having been ransacked or burnt.
      They include, for example, a full transcript of Galileo’s trial where he was shown, inter alia, the instruments of torture and their intended use .. all for the crime of suggesting that the Earth went round the sun. Sad, considering that he was only echoing Copernicus, but religion has never let reality get in its way.
      Also interesting that the vatican had a range of instruments of torture, ready for use..

  21. 31:20. At least I finished today, though it was a close call. Most difficulties in the NE corner with SAMOSA last one in. I knew MARENGO, but only as a battle and a rarely seen dish. Generally felt I was hanging on by my fingertips.

  22. A relief after yesterday’s nightmare, and as Tom and others say, it is useful to have some Latin in the tank, and even more useful to remember it. 32 minutes to complete, with NE corner proving hard to unravel.
    LOI – LIAR
    Thanks to Jeremy and other contributors.

  23. 30:29

    A few unknowns today but all plain enough to (mostly) parse: SERAPIS, RUE, MINUTE GUN (had baby as MITE so wondered where the NU came from), SUSPIRE (though suspect I’ve seen it in a grid somewhere before), GENIUS LOCI.

    And I didn’t know a ROADRUNNER was a cuckoo!

  24. I struggled to get a foothold in this one, but eventually got moving in the SW corner. 1a was my FOI, but it held up SINE DIE for a while as I’d put SUSPENDS in. Lots of unknowns were dragged kicking and screaming from the wordplay, and at last WHOLESOME finished off the job. Liked BEADY EYE. 33:02. Thanks setter and Jeremy.

  25. I only post here very occasionally, but would like to say, for those who are interested, that there’s a full page obit of David Horry in today’s Times. just in case online solvers miss it. It doesn’t mention the crossword, however.

  26. Fourteen minutes, no issues, the wordplay for GENIUS LOCI and SERAPIS being clear. Didn’t parse SCARECROW.

    I was born on St Swithin’s Day 1954 so know the legend well -it dates from the tenth century.

    Thanks jeremy and setter.

  27. 30:06. Another one who found this tricky. I nearly gave up but persevered to limp over the finish line unscathed.


  28. DNF, defeated by the unknown MINUTE GUN – I never considered baby=minute, and I thought the parsing was mini (‘baby’) + ta (‘that’ regularly) + gun (‘arm’), so I invented the ‘Minita Gun’.

    For some reason I took a very long time to get RAIL, and only then did I get SWITHIN. I’ve never heard of lantern-jawed, so I just figured out the anagram to get JAWLINE, shrugged and moved on. Didn’t know SERAPIS or GENIUS LOCI either, but managed to figure them out from wordplay, and like the blogger I didn’t know the rue plant needed for EURASIA.

    COD Sine die

  29. I was ok with this one finishing within target time at 35.10. The same unknowns as quite a few others in GENIUS LOCI and the Egyptian deity, but all fairly clued. Particularly liked SWITHIN which was my COD.

  30. 54:43. Felt like I crossworded very hard to get there so a little disappointed to see the SNITCH at “only” 117!

    MARENGO, SUSPIRE, GENIUS LOCI, SINE DIE, SERAPIS all beyond my vocab so took scratching out from the word play – which in the case of SINE DIE I think is a bit of stretch. Good fun though, I do enjoy the tension of hitting submit with about 5 NHOs and hoping I’ve parsed it all right…

    Thanks setter & jeremy

  31. 14 mins so a sight easier than yesterday and sets me up nicely for the weekend. Reinforcement in the shape of a wine bottle will come later.
    Biggest struggle was with minute gun cos I was committed to minute man. Fortunately, genius loci gave me inspiration.
    Didn’t know a roadrunner was a cuckoo but I do now. Thx setter and blogger.

  32. 58:29. It felt hard. Like McBeak above, I was surprised the Snitch wasn’t higher. Just me being slow. But it still felt good to finish. I knew the Battle of Marengo and the chicken dish named after it; now I know Napoleon’s horse was named after it too. COD WHOLESOME

  33. 23:59 late afternoon. After yesterday’s DNF, a complete solve today, albeit with clunky progress, with a hold-up in the SW corner at the finish, until I worked out 21 ac ” chest of drawers”. At 23 ac, got “loci” before “genius” – strange.
    25 ac “beady eye” – didn’t understand what purpose “aimed” was serving.
    Otherwise, enjoyed this puzzle and Jeremy ‘s blog too.

    1. Having just done this puzzle, I wondered about that too, so came here hoping to find an explanation. I guess ‘aimed at’ could mean ‘following’, as a shooter might with a moving target, but it seems a rather obtuse instruction if that was the intention.

  34. DNF. Beaten by the SE corner. NHO SUSPIRE, and my Latin O Level from 1976 was not well enough remembered for GENIUS LOCI.

    Thanks for the blog.

  35. This was lots of fun, since all the many unknowns eventually worked themselves out. At the end of an hour I had one clue left to do, SWITHIN, and no clue about it, but as usual, after leaving it for a bit at least the correct wordplay suggested itself and then led to the correct answer. Lots of candidates for a COD: MARENGO, WHOLESOME, even RAIL. I, too, have not yet finished yesterday’s, but with the excuse of just having returned from a trip to Antwerp and being somewhat tired.

  36. I nearly gave up after the pitiful few that I entered (mainly down clues on the right side), but decided to slog on and “follow the wordplay”, which I did, and now am rewarding myself with a pat on the back for NHOs like SERAPIS and SINE DIE (which I should have remembered from O-level Latin), MARENGO, ( in our early wedded days my husband and I used to serve up Chicken Marengo at the obligatory dinner parties of the day….never knew it’s provenance! So all up quite happy to only be short on ROADRUNNER ( didn’t know it was of the cuckoo family) GENIUS LOCI and SWITHIN – despite being well aware of his weather connection. A good, fair puzzle.

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