Times Cryptic No 28548 – Saturday, 11 March 2023. We will fight with crossword clues …

I loved the Churchillian reference at 15ac. Clearly the clue of the day. It took me a while to see the answer too! 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. Italics mark anagram indicators in the clues, and ‘assembly instructions’ in the explanations.

1 Hard on city to keep asking questions of purely local interest (6,4)
6 Period historian initially does once (4)
DOTH – DOT=period (full stop) + H=H-istorian, initially.

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

10 One establishing order has the same taxi dropping sailor off (7)
DOMINIC – DO=ditto (the same) + MINICab=taxi, dropping AB=sailor.
11 Finally placed excellent stories in these? (7)
DAILIES – D=finally placeD + AI=excellent + LIES.
12 Quality of lovely start to spring in meadows? (9)
LEAFINESS – FINE=lovely + S=start of Spring, in LEAS=meadows. The whole clue is definition.
13 Drone monotonously the length of Mass (5)
THRUM – THRU=the length of + M=mass. Cute.
14 Best label: it enhances bottles (5)
ELITE – hidden.
15 A story from eg Churchill’s bunker? (3,6)
THE WARDENa novel by Trollope, and a whimsical reference to Churchill’s WAR DEN.
17 Difficult position with stockings and protruding stomach (5,4)
20 Cheeky opportunity to speak touring ship (5)
SASSY – SAY=opportunity to speak (you’ll get your say), touring SS=ship.
21 European gets Irishman maybe back on message (5)
EMAIL – E + LIAM back.
23 Style of music disturbing to animals (9)
25 Clever remarks about headgear or something (7)
26 Pan art film (7)
SKILLET – SKILL=art (Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance?) + ET=the setters’ favorite film.
27 Bark from tree in churchyard almost a record (4)
YELP – YEw=tree + LP=record.
28 Now hold out diary with a couple of gaps (7,3)
PRESENT DAY – PRESENT=to hold out + D-i-A-r-Y, with gaps.
1 Control pulse after working out (5)
PEDAL – P.E.=working out + DAL=a pulse.
2 Rushing madly round aircraft steps, then getting on (9)
3 Romantic type drove one bananas at first (14)
4 Minister’s resistance giving way to bill faster than anyone (7)
PACIEST – P-r-IEST, with R giving way to A/C=bill.
5 Almost tear up introducing daughter as fashion designer (7)
MODISTE – MOISTEn=TEAR UP, introducing D=daughter.
7 Basket-maker more comfortable taking top off (5)
OSIER – cOSIER=more comfortable.
8 Mush mixed into treatment for sore throat that keeps you quiet (4,5)
HUSH MONEY – (MUSH)* into HONEY=treatment for sore throat.
9 Saint troubled with mortal sin, leading to inappropriate conversion? (14)
14 In each instance that is arising the right method follows (6,3)
EITHER WAY -EI=i.e. (that is), arising + THE + R + WAY=method.
16 Concentrated but failed to keep quiet (9)
DISTILLED – DIED=failed, keeps STILL=quiet.
18 Surfacing material one omitted from column (7)
PLASTER – P-i-LASTER=column.
19 Toast is to convert non-Christians (7)
22 Article unbelievable in any way (2,3)
AT ALL – A=article + TALL=unbelievable.
24 Fantasist may appear handy? (5)
MITTYthe secret life of Walter Mitty, with a pun as hint.

25 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28548 – Saturday, 11 March 2023. We will fight with crossword clues …”

  1. NHO PARISH PUMP, which took me a long time to figure out. It also took me a long time to recall DAL, even with the PE-: like Vinyl, I tried to make ‘pulse’ the anagrist of some [nonexistent] word.

  2. I almost put ” THE GARDEN” in for my last at 15a , thinking that Churchill’s bunker might have been called ARDEN and the e.g could go before it. But it couldn’t quite be shoe-horned into full parsing. An alphabet trawl revealed THE WARDEN , which was clearly correct even if I’d never heard of the Trollope work.

  3. I thought for a minute that Bruce means that Churchill had a pad he actually called his “war den,” but Googling just turned up sites in German…

    PARISH PUMP was new to me too.

    My own favorites here were the gaps in the diary and the notion (which I can easily believe) that atonalism would be “disturbing to animals.”

      1. It was brought to my attention recently that bird song, and nearly all sounds from nature are, in fact, atonal – what we think of as tonal music, which we find so pleasant to the ear, doesn’t exist in nature in any form. Olivier Messiaen was an avid bird watcher and transcribed the songs of a number of birds in his Catalogue d’Oiseaux, a series of pieces for piano celebrating various provinces of France and focusing on a particular bird for each, mixed in with other bird songs and music. I expect, with your French knowledge, that you are familiar with the work.

        1. I have quite a collection of Messiaen’s music, and am of course aware of his utilization of birdsong. He expanded the notion of serialism to other aspects of composition besides the organization of pitches, but, despite his use of unusual scales, remained harmonically within the straitjacket of Western equal temperament. Schoenberg himself did not like the term “atonal” for twelve-tone music—how can there be music without tones?—which he deemed “democratic” because no pitch class defines a tonal center, all twelve being equal. Which is what you’ll find if you just bang around on a piano tuned in equal temperament; the illusion of there being a tonal center is produced by composition, as there is none inherent in the instrument. I’ve thus called twelve-tone music “the apotheosis of equal temperament.” Schoenberg wrote that one day new instruments would enable us to use tones that correspond to higher reaches of the harmonic series and touted his own system as an approximation of a step in that direction, but couldn’t go any further at that time.

          Much twelve-tone music seems to have been written expressly *to* disturb. I’m quite sure that birds do not sing in dodecaphonic tone rows nor in equal temperament. Pandit Pran Nath, the beloved late guru of my friend La Monte Young, whose masterpieces are drenched in the intensified tonality of just intonation, also communed with the birds for inspiration in composing his ragas, which are anything but atonal, in any sense.

          Also, I was joking.

          1. I was fairly sure you were! I wasn’t trying to lecture, just pointing out that many people who claim to hate atonal music have no objection to listening to birdsong or the sound of a waterfall or the wind soughing through trees or rocks.

            1. Of course. Those are natural sounds, and the harmonic series is a natural phenomenon.

  4. 38 minutes. I had difficulty parsing 5dn and somehow I seem to have worked out it was D inside MOISTE{n} without equating ‘moisten’ with ‘tear up’. Very odd!

    Fortunately I knew THE WARDEN having seen the excellent TV adaptation of BARCHESTER CHRONICLES some years ago featuring a youngish Alan Rickman as The Reverend Obadiah Slope. It was the first time I ‘d noticed him, and it was a performance never to be forgotten.

    1. I always think of the odious Obadiah Slope when Alan Rickman is called to mind. It was possibly his greatest performance – you couldn’t take your eyes off him when on screen. As far as I’m aware, it was the part that brought him fame.

      1. Yes, it must have been. Although he was 36 at the time (1982) he seems to have only 3 or 4 screen credits prior to that – the earliest being in 1978. I wondered if perhaps he had an earlier career in theatre but I’ve been unable to find anything of note.

        1. According to Wikipedia he went to RADA and then ‘worked extensively with British repertory and experimental theatre groups’. His first significant role with a major company seems to have been As You Like IT with the RSC in 1985, which suggests that his Barchester role was indeed what brought him to prominence even in the theatre.
          Of course his real – international movie – breakthrough was as Hans Gruber in Die Hard.

          1. Re “As You Like IT”: I’m not sure which way to take the pun implied by the capitalization.

    2. I agree on the excellence of the Barchester Chronicles amd Obadiah Slope/Alan Rickman. I was under the impression that the Warden was a one-off play that appeared earlier, but I see that Donald Pleasence, very out of character but very good, was Septimus Harding and that it was just the first item in the Barchester series.

  5. Unusually, I don’t have any comments on my puzzle sheet – I usually note down any quirks or points of difficulty, but I remember this as being of moderate difficulty, but eminently solvable i.e. the answers were all accessible, provided you followed the cryptics. I liked DOMINIC, but failed to get ‘ditto’ for ‘the same’ – I must remember that contraction. PARISH PUMP was one of the last in, as I’ve not heard the expression. I assumed it was a UK expression that I was unaware of, but if, as Vinyl says, it’s historical, I haven’t come across it in literature. MODISTE was my LOI – I thought I needed a specific fashion designer and it’s not even a familiar term – fashion being ranked around the same light year distance as physics in my knowledge radar! Give me a bird or plant any day (I had no trouble with yesterday’s CASCARA…)!

  6. 55 mins, the last 10 of which I spent on the NW. I had PARISH PUMP in early but moved swiftly on elsewhere, working clockwise. The last four in PEDAL, DOMINIC, RAMPAGING and LEAFINESS, finally got me there.

    I liked THE WARDEN, though I didn’t know the tale, and PRESENT DAY.

    Thanks b and setter.

  7. I, too, spent time on Dior and his ilk and rememberr MODISTE as one of several clues which took me a long time, but I finished and enjoyed the puzzle,so it can’t have been that difficult. “Churchill’s War Rooms” is now a central London tourist attraction, so the step to WAR DEN was not too far, and Wikipedia confirmed there was indeed such a novel. I knew PARISH PUMP, but didn’t remember I knew it until most of the crossers were in place. Guessed but NHO LEAFINESS. FOI ELITE, COD WHATSIT. Thanks, setter and blogger

  8. Steady solve. Knew parish pump, pretty UK centric I suppose, as are parishes. And if not historic, not a phrase in such common use now that we all have taps .. it is quite evocative though. Don’t Americans have a similar phrase, referring to office water coolers? Same idea..

  9. I managed to finish this although it took me a long time. LOI was THE WARDEN, a book I have read fairly recently. And I then watched the Barchester Chronicles TV adaptation; excellent all round, and I agree about Alan Rickman in that role.
    I struggled to get DOMINIC and MODISTE.
    COD to DOTH.

  10. No problems here. THE WARDEN was my last in. I have a standing resolution to re-read the Barchester novels when I retire, but now that I think about it I should just add them to my audiobook list. Something tells me they’d be perfect for the format and I see from Audible that I’m spoiled for choice: Timothy West, Nigel Hawthorne, Edward Fox…
    I walked past the Cabinet War Rooms the other day. Never been in.

  11. Like one or two others, I didn’t understand how DOMINIC worked – do=ditto is something I need to remember.

    Hadn’t heard of PARISH PUMP or THE WARDEN but managed to figure them out. Only dimly aware of Walter MITTY, but the whimsical cluing was helpful.

    COD Doth

  12. Stared hard at this for quite a while before seeing the one ‘hidden’, then the SW opened up with SASSY, PRESENT DAY and TAOISTS. From there I took heart and beat my way through the clever misdirections until all but PARISH PUMP and DOTH defeated me. Unsure too about MODISTE as a fashion designer, and hastily entered THE NATION for the Churchill clue , never having heard of the Trollope work, and having INSTILLED incorrectly entered for 16d. But all in all, not unhappy with my effort, considering my early dismay. Liked MITTY, TIGHT SPOT and HUSH MONEY.

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