Times Cryptic No 28590 – Saturday, 29 April 2023. In Xanadu …

It was hard to isolate some of the definitions; perhaps they were visions in a dream? (Thinking here of the Coleridge poem suggested by 1ac). Indeed, some of the wordplay was a bit elusive too. For all that, I think it was relatively easy as long as you weren’t looking ahead to the blogging challenge!

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 Futile hope to be taken by tube about a mile (4,5)
PIPE DREAM – PIPED=taken by tube + RE=about + A + M.
6 Governor gets aide to admit the result of smoking (5)
PASHA – P.A. admits ASH .
9 A means of advertising for a very short time (5)
PROMO – PRO=for + MO=moment.
10 Arrange to keep a single one of several newborns in litter (9)
PALANQUIN – PLAN=arrange to keep A + QUIN=one of several (5) newborns.  A palanquin is a litter as a form of transport.
11 Eldest child originally rootless, out to take revenge (6,3,6)
SETTLE OLD SCORES – (ELDEST C ROOTLESS)*, The C is from Child, originally.
13 What has insect got into? Obvious: a fruit (8)
14 A measure of pressure has rogue initially taking two steps back (6)
PASCAL – RASCAL, replacing the R by P, which is two letters earlier in the alphabet. Tricky wordplay, but an obvious answer.
16 Picked up and pulled down by the ears (6)
RAISED – sounds like RAZED.
18 Back at university, go on course that may have strings attached (8)
PUPPETRY – PU=up (at university), back + PPE=university course (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) + TRY=go.
21 Example of appeasement of menace hurting me badly (6,9)
MUNICH AGREEMENT – (MENACE HURTING ME)*. An infamous agreement that effectively gave Hitler the green light to start WWII.
23 After British downfall, Scotsman becomes European (9)
25 Leave in some considerable pain (5)
26 Beachwear at first rather lost in the crowd (5)
THONG – THrONG=crowd, losing the R from Rather.
27 We hear a girl will pull, which encourages a kiss? (9)
MISTLETOE – sounds like MISS’LL TOW.
1 Samuel shows energy, indeed to extremes (5)
PEPYS – PEP=energy + YeS=indeed (but only the extreme letters)..
2 Possible spin doctor runs into office in exhausted collapse (11)
PROSTRATION – PRO=spin doctor (public relations officer) + R into STATION=office.
3 Daughter spilled petrol, the tiniest amount (7)
4 At country club piano, arrangement for choir really delighted (8)
EUPHORIC – EU=”country club” (!) + P + (CHOIR)*
5 What’s making two women sick? (6)
MALADY – the two women are MA + LADY. I wasn’t sure how much of the clue to underline as definition.
6 Criticise expert answer: will that fix everything? (7)
PANACEA – PAN + ACE + A=answer.
7 Old coin not enough for a bowl at lunchtime? (3)
8 One relatively friendly target? (4,5)
AUNT SALLY – AUNT’S ALLY=relative’s friend.
12 Music which receives honour about to upset colleagues? (4,3,4)
ROCK THE BOAT – ROCK + THAT receives EBO=OBE (honour), about.
13 Very important charge raised over a pile up (9)
PARAMOUNT – PAR=RAP (charge), raised + A + MOUNT=pile up (watching the debts pile up/mount).
15 Scoundrel charges for borrowing draughts (8)
17 Work of art attractive but lacking force (7)
ETCHINGfETCHING, lacking F=force.
19 Scuttle round minister to get accepted (7)
20 Unstable element so long emitting energy in empty room (6)
RADIUMADIeU=so long, emitting E=energy, in empty RooM.
22 Herb’s two pronouns (5)
THYME – THY + ME are the pronouns.
24 Port found in poor Spanish-speaking area with no bar (3)
RIObarRIO=poor area in Spanish-speaking country.

24 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28590 – Saturday, 29 April 2023. In Xanadu …”

  1. 42 mins for me. As usual, a week later, I don’t remember anything interesting about this. My LOI looks like it was CURRENTS. I also like “country club” for EU, although this time I was onto it since we had a similar clue for NATO recently.

  2. After 44 minutes I was stuck on three answers. PROSTRATION came to mind eventually but I was unable to come up with PASCAL or PALANQUIN without resorting to aids. This was annoying as I have met both before and even blogged PALANQUIN on one occasion some years ago.

    Another unknown was {bar}RIO, but the answer to the clue was a write-in so it didn’t matter.

  3. 16:18
    Fairly easy, although I biffed a few: MUNICH AGREEMENT, PALANQUIN (parsed post-submission), SETTLE, PROSTRATION neither parsed. Like Paul, I was ready for ‘country club’ this time.

  4. I had semi-biffed SETTLE THE SCORES for 11a, making my last couple rather difficult. Obviously too much MALBEC might make Mal and Bec sick, but I struggled to think of Mal as a woman. Perhaps I am not sufficiently woke ( it’s early morning here in Western Australia). But thanks to 4d I got euphoric as everything fell into place.

  5. I found PASCAL particularly clever.
    We had PPE clued as “Oxbridge degree” somewhere else quite recently.

    1. And if I recall correctly, someone said that Oxford (or Cambridge, one of them) doesn’t have a PPE course.

      1. I know of several politicians who have read PPE at Oxford, but none from Cambridge. Recent evidence suggests that not all come out knowing how to run the country.

      2. That was me – Cambridge doesn’t have a PPE course, never has done

  6. 22 d – thy isn’t a pronoun, is it? It is if it’s a possessive pronoun.

        1. Chambers says “thy” is possessive and “thine” is genitive, so that totally clears it up!

  7. Nothing came to mind at the first try, and after the first clue solved, others fell steadily until the puzzle was completed in above average time. FOI AGONY (appropriately!) COD RAISED (very clever),LOI PASCAL. Some clues were clever , most fair but difficult, butI found the puzzle particularly frustrating as many answers inserted were, for me, insufficiently parsed or with a definition too stretched. The grid was at last filled, and, though I now had more confidence that most of my guesses were right, the satisfaction thereby gained did not outweigh the frustration of my perseverance. For example, in 18, 23a and 15d, if my guesses were correct, I did not like UNIVERSITY doing double duty both representing UP and indicating the type of COURSE needed, think RAIN is a DOWNPOUR rather than a DOWNFALL, and took a long time to see CURRENT = DRAUGHT. Only parsed the QUIN of 10a. I had forgotten the NATO clue so was quite chuffed to get EU. Thanks Setter and Bruce.

  8. I enjoyed this, with no unknowns and a steadyish solve. Having got MALADY I was momentarily appalled to see the 2 unlikely women MAL and ADY, before the penny dropped! I have no problem with PPE clued as a ‘course’ as opposed to an ‘Oxbridge course’ and liked the clue a lot, though it was something of a write-in with the T and Y already in place. 13D and 16A caused the most head-scratching – if I’d thought of RAP for charge earlier, I’d have saved myself several minutes. Getting the 15-letter across clues in place early on was very helpful; both elegant anagrams, but COD to PALANQUIN.

  9. Didn’t see how the cluing for PASCAL worked – a device worth bearing in mind. Like Corymbia above, I nearly put in ‘settle the scores’ on the basis that 3-letter words in multi-word clues are so often ‘the’, but luckily I resisted that temptation.

    A nice crossword – thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Promo
    LOI Pascal
    COD Agony

  10. Very sticky going in the NE and SW. Having seen PPE (not meaning protective wear) in another crossword recently helped a lot. I did look up palanquin because I’d got confused with where the definition was. Also dnk barrio but the port was obvious. Liked rock the boat.

  11. I note that 12 of the solutions begin with the letter P….. is this just a coincidence?

    1. The theme was hinted at by the editor yesterday – today is International Naked Gardening Day.

        1. A bit convoluted. In “yesterday’s” blog – May 5th, the day before Charles’s coronation – the puzzle 28595 had a theme of the coronation. Towards the end of the day at 6:49 PM DarrylFrancis pointed out that “tomorrow” – Saturday May 6 – was not only the coronation, but also World Naked Gardening Day. He asked why that was not the theme.
          Puzzle editor Richard Rogan came on-line to say: watch this space, as if promising a puzzle themed on naked gardening.

  12. When I first scanned this I thought: “No way!”, but after my first tentative entry PLANTAIN , things started to reveal themselves, and apart from some very ‘distant memory’ words like PALANQUIN and PASCAL, most revealed themselves after some work. So, pleased to complete as much as I did – I too wondered about the proliferation of Ps in the puzzle!

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