Times Cryptic No 28673 — Half asleep, half awake

34:31. I can’t quite tell the difficulty level here because I began this puzzle while waking up from a nap. Everything seemed a bit blurry at the beginning, but most of it was clear by the end.

1 One venomous corner not half welcomed by the Kop (8)
SCORPION – COR{ner} in SPION (the Kop)

This is a reference to Spion Kop, a football stand in Liverpool, as far as I can tell. (Which is in itself a reference a hill in South Africa, on which was fought a battle in the Second Boer War.) In any case, the answer was clear.

5 Legendary footballers having brief time with our team (6)
FAMOUS – FA (footballers) + MO (brief time) + US (our team)
10 Stress of old pants etc being a bit short (9)
UNDERLINE – UNDERLINE{n} (old pants etc)

Here ‘old’ refers to the fact that this term is archaic.

11 Articles about poet initially bewildered (2,3)
AT SEA – A A (articles) around T.S.E. (T.S. Eliot, initially)
12 Follow story as told (4)
TAIL – homophone of TALE (story)
13 Showing amazing foresight, a present not to be criticised (4,5)

What an amazingly fooling clue. I’m embarrassed to have been held up by it for so long. Is it a chestnut? (No pun intended.)

15 Where it is polite to cough, if late (10)
BEHINDHAND – BEHIND HAND (where it is polite to cough)
17 A little animal in the country (4)
MALI – hidden (a little) in ANIMAL IN
19 Seizure regularly downed a biblical figure (4)
EZRA – {s}E{i}Z{u}R{e} + A
20 Expression of surprise about colleague Leon maybe being clumsy (10)
AMATEURISH – AH (expression of surprise) around MATE (colleague) + URIS (Leon maybe)
22 Superior forehand smashes outrageous (7-2)
UNHEARD-OF – U (superior) + anagram of FOREHAND
24 Spy, English — or Flemish? (4)
BOND, James Bond

A reference to the fact that Bond is English, but that he is a creation of Ian Fleming, hence “Flemish?”.

26 Universal at first to suffer loss of smell (5)
OSMIC – COSMIC (universal) with first letter removed (at first to suffer loss)

Did not know this word.

27 Land in built-up area — it hurt duke to divide that (5,4)
TOUCH DOWN – TOWN (built-up area) around OUCH (it hurt) + D (duke)

This fooled me for a long time because I thought ‘it hurt’ = OW.

28 Not popular, one demanding hospital post (6)
SISTER – INSISTER (one demanding) without IN (popular)
29 Character transported returning from game involving good group of women (8)
MAGWITCH – MATCH (game) around G (good) + W.I. (group of women)

I have read Great Expectations and quite liked it, but I’m not sure what the reference is here. I know Magwitch was a criminal who escaped, so perhaps the ‘transported’ is a reference to the imprisonment and ‘returning’ is a a reference to the escaping.

1 Market is very British (4)
SOUK – SO (very) + UK (British)

A market in Muslim countries.

2 Most half-hearted moving around, but he keeps rolling (3,6,6)
3 Herb’s wallet nearly getting dropped on road (8)
PURSLANE – PURS{e} (wallet) + LANE (road)
4 Down; unable to fly with this? (5)
OWING – you can’t fly with O (zero) WING
6 Zero interest each year closing course (6)
APATHY – A (each) + Y (year) around PATH (course)

I really thought this was going to be a dessert!

7 Comment on letters for military checkpoint (11,4)

Took me forever to figure out OBSERVATION, sadly. Wanted RESERVATION for awhile, which made no sense.

8 Great changes in view left to those eg in the circle (5,5)
STAGE RIGHT – anagram of GREAT in SIGHT (view)
9 Hitch as part of sail lands on shorebird (4,4)
REEF KNOT – REEF (part of sail) + KNOT (shorebird)
14 Ingratiating European put out by old uniform in funeral ceremony (10)
OBSEQUIOUS – E (European) replaced by O (old) + U (uniform) in OBSEQUIES (funeral ceremony)
16 Indicate tune of one song half-heartedly — it is rather wet (8)
HUMIDITY – HUM (indicate tune of) I (one) DIT{t}Y (song)
18 Elephant keeps quiet, with a series of gestures (8)
DUMBSHOW – DUMBO (elephant) around SH (quiet) + W (with)
21 Clumsy cowboy endlessly on tablet (6)
GAUCHE – GAUCH{o} (cowboy) + E (tablet)

This is a chestnut (no pun intended), but I forgot about it until I’d gotten it.

23 A young deer we hear leading all the animals around (5)
FAUNA – A, with homophone of FAWN (young dear) coming first
25 In crush, losing top part of foot (4)
INCH – {p}INCH (crush)

I think I have this right?

112 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28673 — Half asleep, half awake”

  1. After Magwitch was recaptured he was transported to Australia. He was very successful there whereupon he returned secretly to England.

  2. 40 mins in two goes, the second after just returning from Glyndebourne after midnight. A wonderful journey, no trains available after 21.30 so I decided to drive down. Worked brilliantly getting there.

    Unfortunately , on the way back, roadworks on the approach to the M23 meant an unexpected tour of Sussex which at one stage looked like including Surrey, in the pitch black followed by getting to the M25 only to discover 3 exits closed for more road works.
    Needless to report but I will anyway, no sign of a human engaged in any work anywhere.

    Needed to finish the crossword to help me calm down. Unfortunately, objurgate almost did the opposite- but I did get it. Now for some zeds.

    Oops , just realised I’ve reported on Thursday in the newly added blog for Friday. Boy does my cup runneth over.

  3. 38:22
    NHO the Kop; ODE tells me that Spion Kop was the site of a battle in the Boer War, and that the Kop is a part of some soccer stadiums. So SPION is one step away from ‘the Kop’ in the clue. (‘kop’ is a common noun in Afrikaans, and I don’t see any indication that Spion Kop is known as ‘the Kop’.) I didn’t care much for URIS (I don’t, for that matter); Leon, maybe? as opposed to those other Urises? I liked OLD FATHER TIME; ‘half-heartedly’ is cleverly misleading (the setter uses it again in 16d, in the way we expect). I didn’t know OSMIC, but I did know ‘phantosmia’ (smelling odors that aren’t there), which led me there; the converse of Ninja-turtling? I didn’t get INCH, so thanks to Jeremy, who did. J, a nit at EZRA: it’s not around A.

    1. Fixed! As far as SPION KOP is concerned, my first web search yielded the bit about the Second Boer War. That would not, I think, explain the very casual expression ‘the Kop’. Poking further into Wikipedia I see that SPION KOP is also the name of some stadia in the UK (ostensibly resembling that fateful site in some way), and I assume without knowing for sure that this is what’s meant.

      1. You probed further than I did; I gathered from ODE (where my investigation started and stopped) that the term for certain stadium stands (not stadiums) was ‘the Kop’, and that it derived from (the battle of) Spion Kop, but there was no indication that the stand was actually known as Spion Kop; so the clue seemed indirect to me. Then again, it didn’t matter, since I’d never heard of the term anyway, but solved the clue.

        1. The most famous Kop is at Anfield, the Liverpool ground, and it must be very famous in football terms if I’ve heard of it. It is indeed officially known as the Spion Kop: see here if remotely interested.

  4. No trouble recalling Spion Kop as something Boer War-ish, and have also heard of the Kop at Liverpool’s stadium. Needed the cryptic for NHO Magwitch, never read Great Expectations – we had to read one Dickens book at school at it put me off him for life. OSMIC another NHO, saw the crossers and remembered yesterday’s megohm and really wanted to write ohmic in there. Another excellent puzzle, really liked the foresight anagram and the Flemish description of Bond….
    which after reading later posts, seems to be wrong. I *knew* he was an English spy who was Scottish (if that makes sense), and took the Flemish bit to be in the manner of Fleming. I have heard of bonds in brickwork; must have come from crosswords.

    1. I waded through Bleak House and Dombey and Son in the mistaken belief that Dickens was mandatory in my university course. Since finding out that he wasn’t I haven’t read another word.

  5. Much as I like the Fleming interpretation for 24 across, I’m afraid the answer is far less quirky. English and Flemish bonds are both varieties of patterns in brickwork.

      1. I only knew this because a friend recently had a new house built and brickwork patterns formed part of our (scintillating!) conversation. I still like the Fleming/ Flemish correlation though!

          1. Maybe it’s a play on the word in both senses. But the brickwork sense seems rather obscure, no? Or is it just me…?

            1. It’s quite common. I’ve been belatedly scrolling through the comments waiting for someone to pick up on the bricklaying reference. It was a write-in for me, before I clocked onto the Ian Fleming connection. The 19C terrace I live in is often awash with bricklayers and they love chatting about the various bonds.

        1. For some reason, the site won’t let me reply to Guy, but …

          In the Fleming novels, Bond was a Scot too, I’m confident. Not all the actors who’ve played him were, true.

          On looking further, I found this in Wikipedia:
          It was not until the penultimate novel, You Only Live Twice, that Fleming gave Bond a sense of family background. The book was the first to be written after the release of Dr. No in cinemas, and Sean Connery’s depiction of Bond affected Fleming’s interpretation of the character, henceforth giving Bond both a dry sense of humour and Scottish antecedents that were not present in the previous stories. In a fictional obituary, purportedly published in The Times, Bond’s parents were given as Andrew Bond, from the village of Glencoe, Scotland, and Monique Delacroix, from the canton of Vaud, Switzerland.

          1. More on Bond’s nationality: in the 2012 movie, Skyfall, Bond and M, played by Judi Dench, take refuge in Bond’s ancestral home, Skyfall, in the Scottish Highlands.

            So British, yes, but not an English spy!

              1. 1dn passed me by. I also resisted the temptation to ask about Scotland v-a-v England, in discussing the Bond clue!

          2. Ah, you had to allude to my ill-researched post that lived for a mere thirty seconds online!

    1. Thanks for pointing that out. I’d never heard of those brickwork terms. Is it not also the case that James Bond was Scottish rather than English?

  6. I messed up at the end by missing the obvious BOND and putting BONE (B=Belgium ONE, hence Flemish) and guessing that BONE must be a word for seeing something (like bone up or something). Otherwise, no real problems despite lots of things I didn’t know: OSMIC, KOP, MAGWITCH, DUMBSHOW, and probably more. Unfortunately, since BONE was my LOI, the red square indicating the last letter entered obscured the pink square so it was only when I came here that I realized I had an error.

  7. I was very glad that I stuck with this. It looked forbidding, so I started with four-letter words (no cursing, though). The first long one I got was OBSEQUIOUS, which I found impressive. Like Vinyl, I hit a lull mid-transit, but the wind filled my sails again after I finally saw SOUK. Had the left side finished before the right, though I had never heard of the Kop. Cheated a bit for MAGWITCH and still didn’t get any of the clue beyond the definition (this seems a popular book among our setters). Shrugged at “Flemish” for BOND, but did wonder if there was more to it than a (quirky indeed) allusion to the author. I won’t list my last two or three in because they seem too obvious now!

    Some great clues here. But… I’m not sure the definition for OSMIC is accurate. OSMICS is the science related to smell. I don’t see an adjectival form for that listed, but OSMIC is an adjective meaning “of or containing osmium in a high valence state, esp the tetravalent state” (Collins).

      1. Yeah, not surprised that Chambers has it! (I still haven’t bought Chambers, maybe because then I’d feel committed to working the Mephisto each week, and I have enough commitments…)

        1. I enjoy the app very much, both on my laptop and on my phone. I find it gives great definitions I can read to my children!

          1. OK, I’m sold! (No children have I, but my editorial colleagues may be amused…)

      1. The definition of OSMIC is “of smell.” The “loss” in the clue is the first letter of COSMIC, “universal.”

      2. …quite apart from which, anosmic is an adjective and “loss of smell” is a noun.

  8. Come and join us, come and join us,
    Come and join us at the top.
    We’re the best fans in England
    And we’re louder than the Kop.
    – a Manchester City supporters’ song from the 1960s. That ‘Kop’ was part of
    Liverpool United’s stadium at Anfield.

    1. Liverpool are not United, just FC, and the Kop is still very much the prime home stand at Anfield.

  9. 88 minutes. Slow (an understatement) but at least I finished after coming close to giving up a few times. All more or less parsed except for the “brickwork” sense of ‘Flemish?’. LOI’s were MAGWITCH, INCH (oh, that sort of ‘foot’) and STAGE RIGHT.

  10. 45 minutes with many a query along the way, mostly resolved after I had completed the grid.

    I had no idea what Kop was about nor how it accounted for SPION in SCORPION. How is one expected to know this stuff?

    The parsing of BOND also went unexplained. I was pleased to read Nigel’s more prosaic explanation of ‘English or Flemish’, delightful as Jeremy’s original is. At least the brickwork thing is something I think I might have worked out for myself with a little more effort.

    NHO OSMIC or PURSLANE but the wordplay was clear.

    I knew MAGWITCH from TV and film adaptations of Great Expectations never having read any Dickens (I tried one but gave up on it). I didn’t know that he had previously been sent to Australia but I was aware of transportation as a form of punishment and took that part of the clue on trust.

    1. Rarely dare to even mildly challenge the wonderful Jackkt but really the Kop must be known to every single person in the country who has even a passing interest in footie. That’s not everyone, but it is a lot!

      1. You may well be right about ‘the Kop’ and since the blog mentioned football I remembered hearing people talking about ‘the Kop end’ which I in my ignorance assumed would be spelt ‘Cop’. My comment was intended to be about ‘Kop’ cluing SPION which I’d suggest is not so widely known.

  11. Made it just on 50 and was pleased to finish, difficult but enjoyable as vinyl said. Look, you put A, small animal and country together in a clue and the answer’s ALWAYS Cuba isn’t it? No I guess not, but it caused me grief for some time. Great work by Jeremy to explain MAGWITCH, UNDERLINE and SISTER, great work by me to figure out OBSEQUIOUS and STAGE RIGHT (thought I never would). If Flemish relates to Fleming it is utterly diabolical but I kind of like it. Like always it’s amazing how simple these things look in retrospect.

    1. A person from Flanders was a Fleming and Flemish was the adjective referring to Flanders.

      1. Indeed. “Was”? Still is… Collins for “Fleming”: “a native or inhabitant of Flanders or a Flemish-speaking Belgian.”

        1. Yes, very true. I had never heard Flemish-speaking Belgians called Flemings nowadays, only read the word in older history or fiction. I also knew Fleming, of course,as a surname. But as you (and Collins) point out it is still the current usage.

  12. 51 minutes here, with a few question marks along the way, especially for BOND. Spion Kop has definitely come up here before and The Battle of Spion Kop is the title of a Goon Show episode, which helped me out.

    Clearly I don’t find Dickens that memorable, as I assumed MAGWITCH was from Shakespeare even though it’s only been a few years since I read Great Expectations!

  13. Not with a bang but a whimper.

    40 mins slog. Not my cup of tea. Lots not to like.
    Ta setter and PJ

  14. 30:36. I thought I was on for a DNF after 20 minutes when I was still stuck on the NW corner, scuppered by an impossible CUBA for 17A wondering how the A came at the end before I eventually spotted the great hidden after getting STAGE RIGHT. NHO SPION so held off from SCORPION until I had all the checkers. NHO Leon URIS and took ages to think of DUMBO the elephant. But at least I got there in the end. A super puzzle. I liked HUMIDITY, APATHY and TOUCH DOWN best. Thanks Jeremy and setter.

  15. 48 minutes for this escapee from the TLS. I started off like a house on fire too with Old Father Thames rolling down to the mighty sea today’s earworm. If I’d been solving the TLS, I hope I’d have thought of T S Eliot, Uris and Magwitch quicker. LOI DUMBSHOW, despite having tried DUMBO options earlier. I’ve never heard of OSMIC. My dogs have always had noses. I enjoyed this puzzle in a perverse sort of way. Thank you Jeremy and setter.

  16. Just over half an hour. I worked out the unknown PURSLANE from wordplay and biffed REEF KNOT and AMATEURISH once enough checkers were in place (I didn’t know the knot bird for the former, or Leon Uris for the latter). I’m not really familiar with DUMBSHOW either, but the wordplay was helpful.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Tail
    LOI Mali
    COD Old Father Thames

  17. An hour
    Tough puzzle. Wasn’t sure what was going on with BOND.
    Thanks, pj.

  18. 19:51

    The crossing DUMBSHOW (what?) and MAGWITCH (who?) held me up the most, both painstakingly having to be pieced together from wordplay. JUMBSHOA anyone?

    I’ve known about English & Flemish bond since I was a child as my Dad, being a quantity surveyor, showed me the difference when I was playing with Lego (TM).

    The North (Revie) Stand at Elland Road, Leeds, is another example of a football kop, and is referred to by some as the Spion (also Gelderd End), so no problems there (MOT).

    I completely failed to spot the GIFT HORSE anagram, somehow thinking that foresight was a gift and a (Trojan) horse a present, with a fairly woolly definition.

  19. 21:30
    Vaguely recalled Flemish BOND, PURSLANE and MAGWITCH; spent a while wondering about CUBA and S(IN)ISTER rather than (IN)SISTER.
    I thought it was ‘Ol’ Man River’ from ‘Showboat’ that kept rolling along, but I now see that OLD FATHER THAMES got there three years beforehand. Similarly, the (Woolwich) Arsenal’s ground had an earth embankment called Spion Kop in 1904, two years before Anfield’s. I used to stand on the Kop at Deepdale (Preston North End’s ground), but that wasn’t built until 1921.

  20. Just goes to show something or other, but I found this easier (and less funny) than yesterday’s masterpiece: 22.13.
    I’m still slightly out of whack on APATHY: PA is more each year than AP in my book, though now that I write it down I can see the separate allusions, I suppose.
    The possibility of a pangram (already Q and Z) had me trying for JUMBO as part of 18d, but (just to add to the TLS theme) the “play’s the thing” in Hamlet came to my rescue.
    MAGWITCH a rather precise clue, I thought, with that laconic precis of his career in the first three words. Mind you, I’m still reeling from the BBC’s recent incomprehensible take on GE, anything but precise.
    I obviously believe the setter missed a trick with ?PURS LANE, especially crossing with the Anfield reference and the legendary footballers not far away. Sports and TLS, eh?

    1. I semi-biffed APATHY, presuming that each year was PA. However I see now from Jeremy’s helpful parsing that each year is lifted and separated into A (each) and Y (year). No Ps involved.

    2. I saw the first episode of Great Expectations, with eponymous hopes, and was horrified. I couldn’t be bothered to watch any further episodes, so twisted was the narrative and so off-putting the egregious use of contemporary language and mores in a Victorian setting.

      1. I’m instinctively drawn to this, based on your and z’s comments. I tend to enjoy this sort of tendentiously modern take on classics, especially Shakespeare. But I find Dickens tedious and this sort of thing is no fun if you don’t love the underlying material.

        1. Best of luck: it’s still on iPlayer. I didn’t dislike it because it was heretical to the sacred canon of Dickens scripture. I, too “suffered” from GE as an A level set text. I just thought it messy, with a determination to be violent, in-your-face and offensive just for the sake of it, and ultimately tedious in that relentless pursuit.

          1. I will take your word for it, z, I’m not going to seek it out. I watch almost no telly so what I do watch has to be either exceptional or something my kids want to watch. Actually scratch the first category.
            I am sympathetic though. A production of Macbeth with James McAvoy and Claire Foy a few years ago elicited more or less identical sentiments in me. I was actually very cross at the end of it, and felt like a right old fart.

  21. My sort of crossword this, so no problems although nho OSMIC, other than in relation to Osmium.
    Nor could I describe purslane in any detail, though I had heard of it.
    Quite impressed that anyone could have led such a sheltered life as not to have heard of the Kop, in both senses.. but I was brought up on Merseyside

  22. To identify James Bond as English is slightly iffy. There is little doubt that he was so originally, but, following the success of Sean Connery in the part, Fleming accorded him a Scots parentage: Mr Andrew Bond of Glencoe.

    1. The clue is not doing that, of course, as some comments above point out. Both English bond and Flemish bond are types of brickwork..

  23. Magwitch was transported wasn‘t he. Never heard of Spion Kop but after getting old father thames, I pencilled in cor and there was scorpion. LOI were NHO osmic and gauche. I find the brickwork explanation for bond convincing. Finished in 20 minutes but definitely found it hard going. Thanks setter and blogger.

  24. 17:27, which felt pretty pacy in the circumstances. Lots of unravelling to be done, but fortunately I had all the required knowledge: you can add Coventry City to the list of teams who once had a Spion Kop, in their case literally a massive mound of building waste at one end of the ground (which had long been replaced by the time I went to Highfield Road, but lived on as a name); Exodus was on my parents’ bookcase when I was young, I think it was one of those books which is familiar to anyone of the requisite age, but has been forgotten for some time. Meanwhile, I spent quite some time wondering whether I was supposed to know a Japanese drama called JUMBOSHA or something similar before the penny dropped…

    1. It was The Carpet Baggers in my parents’ bookcase in my case, which taught me a few things and no mistake. Never really got into Exodus ..

  25. I was delighted to finish this, albeit in 62 mins, especially since I parsed everything bar AMATEURISH (never heard of Leon Uris) correctly and no biffing. Fleming/Flemish really can’t be the right explanation. I’d heard of the brickwork thing, and that makes a lot more sense. Thought OBSEQUIOUS, MAGWITCH, SCORPION and REEF KNOT were excellent clues.
    The process of sending convicts to Australia and Tasmania was called Transportation, and prisoners sent there were transportees. So ‘character transported’ simply means a criminal sent to the Australian penal colony.

  26. Quite tough, as expected for a Friday. It took me about forty minutes in two tranches with a gap for domestic chores between (Mrs P still on crutches). I didn’t know the brickwork thing about BOND and bunged it in without knowing why, and rejecting the idea of “by Ian Fleming” being “Flemish”, it’s not yet in the Uxbridge ED. I knew the other bits but DUMBSHOW took a while – fixated on jumbo – as did the excellent BEHINDHAND.

  27. 60 minutes, not sure quite why so long. Just incompetence I suppose. Is Spion THE Kop? there’s Spion Kop in the Boer War and there’s the Kop, Liverpool’s most famously but also others’s, but is Spion Kop known as ‘the Kop’? Flemish was surely a reference to the brick bond, and James Bond did begin as an Englishman: it wasn’t until Sean Connery came along that Ian Fleming decided otherwise. Otherwise the Fleming-Flemish link is a nice coincidence and would make the clue work on a weak level I think. For some reason I was dreadfully slow on 27ac and had to use help for that. Couldn’t get ow! out of my mind.

    1. See above: the Kop at Anfield (like other stands of the same name) is officially the Spion Kop.

  28. Easier I thought than yesterday’s, though I gave up on B-N- being convinced of the E ending and (thus, fatally) not thinking of 007. Had no idea of the brickwork.

  29. 27:36 Another tough one on the heels of yesterday’s stinker. The Spion Kop was completely unknown so that was a bit of a guess. No problem with BOND – see spy, think 007 – and the accompanying English and Flemish brick patterns. They are almost inextricably linked – a definition of one inevitably including reference to the other as the only two types of brick bond in common use. The Fleming/Flemish link passed me by until coming here and is a nice, extraneous little detail which I imagine the setter found irresistible.

  30. Loved 13a GIFT HORSE=(foresight*) and 27a TOWN round OUCH Duke.
    Thanks for 28a (in)SISTER, that went right over my head.

  31. 27:06
    A fine puzzle. To me it seemed very similar to yesterday’s, both in the level of difficulty and the witty and ingenious cluing. BEHINDHAND and MAGWITCH are both excellent.
    I was a bit sniffy about Flemish , thinking it referred to the author, but the brickwork explanation makes it very neat. Things got a lot easier when I finally moved on from Jumbo to Dumbo.

    Thanks to Jeremy and the setter.

  32. SOUK and SCORPION got me off to a quickish start and I made reasonable progress until I arrived in the SE corner, where my last 3, MAGWITCH, DUMBSHOW and finally BOND, took at least 10 minutes between them. I spent ages with BULL and COW before chancing on DUMBO. I didn’t know the brickwork, but assumed English and Flemish BONDs could perhaps be something, as is Basildon. 34:58. Thanks setter and Jeremy.

  33. Surely an observation post and a military checkpoint are two quite different things, aren’t they? And a reef knot isn’t a hitch!

    1. I think ‘checkpoint’ is a misdirection; you’re meant to understand it as a point from which you ‘check’/oversee stuff… ie an observation post.

  34. My brother-in-law was a bricklayer, so had heard of Flemish and English bonds. Spoin Kop was also known to me in both senses (battle and footbal stands). Neverthless I found this difficult, over 60 mins and glad to be able to complete it. Never heard of BEHINDHAND and biffed SISTER and OBSEQUIOUS without being able to parse. Not quite as enjoyable as yesterday’s but I’m always happy to complete on a Friday!

  35. I gave up on yesterday’s but found today’s a little more forgiving. Unfortunate 2 error/single pink square for SISTOR(?!)/GAUCHO. No idea how that happened, especially as I got SISTER first. One which would not have happened on paper.

    I sped up from a very slow start in the top left as I gradually got more crossers, as is often the case with these more difficult puzzles.

    37:04 but a technical DNF.

  36. 61:51

    Almost a bridge too far for me – got to around 70% in 40 minutes then a grinding halt for 10 more before a flurry of activity to get home.

    A good quiz question is ‘In which football stadium would you find the Bill Shankly Kop?’ – answer is not as obvious as it might seem…

    A few notes:
    BOND – only got this with checkers, didn’t even consider that Flemish might relate to Fleming, or have a clue that English and Flemish were both types of brickwork. Only vaguely recall that BOND is Scottish (only read one of the books, but have seen Skyfall).
    OSMIC – guessed once all checkers in
    OBSEQUIOUS – not much idea what was going on here. After a long time, finally came up with ‘if U think Q’ and the answer popped into my head. On reflection, kind of think I may have heard of the funeral ceremony, but it’s a bizarre word
    PURSLANE – NHO, bunged in from cryptic
    REEF KNOT – know little about sails and not much about birds, so this was a punt on the first checker only…
    DUMBSHOW – NHO – I too was tempted by JUMBSHOW…

    Thanks for the unravellings

  37. Interrupted solve but around the 30m mark today. Enjoyable puzzle overall, probably because I knew all of the necessary vocabulary for once and pleasingly few question marks in the clues! I did like the bond clue, with the different possibilities for ‘Flemish’, also gifthorse and behindhand. Thank you, setter and blogger, particularly for explaining sister.

  38. No time recorded for this as there were two major interruptions, but certainly over the hour I would have thought.
    There has been a lot of discussion about brickwork bonding so far, and with my background BOND as the answer came to me instantly.
    You rarely see either English or Flemish bond used in the UK, certainly not in recent times, mainly due to cost constraint. Nearly all modern buildings are constructed using stretcher bond, which enables brickies to construct a wall more swiftly than alternatives. An English bond has alternating courses of stretchers and headers and a Flemish bond is the slightly more complicated provision of alternative stretcher and header to each course. If you visit Holland or Belgium the houses not surprisingly use Flemish bond, and very attractive it is too!

  39. 22:25. I found this very hard, and didn’t greatly enjoy it. Just a bit too much gratuitous obscurity and archaism for my taste. Some very good individual clues though.
    I assumed BOND was just a whimsical reference to Fleming. The brickwork thing is clearly the intended parsing but I expect the setter also wanted to make the other link.
    The clue for REEF KNOT is one of those slightly unsatisfactory clues where the meaning in the answer and wordplay are the same, since a REEF in a sail is the result of reefing with reef knots.

    1. I thought it was great.
      Perhaps when you are my age, you will feel the same as I do K about these “gratuitously obscure” clues, and welcome them a bit more .. I claim no great talents but only osmic was new to me.. something to look forward to, perhaps?

      1. I can only speak for myself, of course, but one of the delights of cryptic crosswords for me is how they can teach you new words through wordplay with known elements.

        I certainly agree with K that a clue is a disappointing when the ingredients of the wordplay are identical or near-identical with the answer. For the same reason we wouldn’t like the clue itself to contain words or parts of words that appear in the answer.

        1. I didn’t have a problem with “reef knot” myself, thinking that “hitch as part of sail” was a very fair and quite inventive definition..

          1. It would indeed be a fair and inventive definition, if it were the definition…

        2. I enjoy learning new words as well – and I love Mephisto for this reason – but in the daily puzzles I think you can have too much of a good thing. This is entirely a matter of taste of course and I don’t expect others to agree!

        3. Sometimes hiding part of the answer in plain sight in wordplay is highly pleasing e.g. the BY in GATSBY the antihero last week.

      2. I too thought it was great, mainly because most of the clues that some extremely talented solvers had NHO (like URIS, GAUCHO, MAGWITCH) came to me instantly, and also because it was finished within the hour with only 2 NHOs: SPION (know next-to-nothing about football) and OSMIC, which was easy to work out. So a great boost to my confidence after yesterday’s debacle, where the page was dotted with question marks everywhere and was a definitive fail. Held up by 1a though, as ‘slowworm’ seemed like a reasonable answer and I was fixated on a snake, and NHO ‘spion’. As an octogenarian female expat, I felt a soupçon of hope…

  40. I managed to finish this and greatly enjoyed the challenge.
    GK was kind to me mainly. Spion Kop from football and Magwitch from recent reading of Dickens. I can’t recall reading any at school. He’s a great writer but it’s hard work for the modern reader. Very rewarding.
    Wasn’t able to parse Bond.
    LOI AMATEURISH. Where’s Trotsky when he’s needed?

  41. 33’7”
    Early pace, stayed on gamely under pressure.
    The stewards will be suspicious after yesterday’s dismal showing.
    The Snitchmeister has this at exactly a gross, so I’m cock-a-hoop to be under par. Couple of semi-biffs and I should have known Uris as Trinity is within my ken, and, as a regular visitor to Norwich and its Flemish quarter, I ought to have been aware of the brickwork.
    Two cracking puzzles in two days; We’re spoilt!
    Thank you Jeremy and a Bravo! for the setter.

  42. I believe that ‘Flemish’ in the clue for 24ac refers to ‘Flemish bond’ a form of brickwork patterning.

    1. As was pointed out much earlier in the day, and discussed at some length…

  43. Some clever clues with difficult to uncover definitions. I wasn’t so sure British and UK(ish) are the same thing. Poor NI. Still a bit of a headache all around.

  44. 66:29. 0 errors. for some reason this felt easier than yesterday’s. some pretty unusual words but very enjoyable. NHO of Spion Kop, but then I don’t follow the Association Football that much… thanks Jeremy and setter.

  45. An hour and ten minutes (with a break) for a puzzle which I found very hard, but very enjoyable. Actually, usually I complain about an overdose of obscurities in a puzzle, but each clue in this one actually did have two paths to the answer, one of them accessible even if the other one was not. So I am pleased at having managed to thread my way through.

    As for the Flemish BOND, I really can’t imagine that it refers to bricklaying even if this is a common term — the question mark indicates that the clue is a bit tongue-in-cheek, so I think it really refers to the author’s name, which is how I understood it when solving.

    1. I think that would leave the English bit of the clue flapping in the breeze unless Bond was being clued as an English spy – possible, but controversial for the reasons mentioned above, and arguably inelegant. As discussed above, English and Flemish bond are the two principal forms of historical brickwork and are almost invariably mentioned together in architectural descriptions. The Fleming/Flemish nexus looks more to me like a happy serendipity that sealed the deal for the setter. But who knows – apart from the obvious person?

      1. ‘The Fleming/Flemish nexus looks more to me like a happy serendipity that sealed the deal for the setter’
        This is what I tried to say in an earlier comment by you put it much better than me!

  46. 470 mins but I haven’t found a way to stop the clock when I go away for a meal, a snooze and a walk. MER at REEF KNOT, as I feel that a reef is something you do to a sail rather than a part of it, and someone has already commented that there is a technical difference between a knot (won’t come undone without untying) and a hitch (which will). But much to enjoy here. OK with MAGWITCH, I always remember the Sunday Dickens adaptations on the BBC when I was a child, and how in the first episode of Great Expectations Magwitch rises up out of the foggy Essex marshes and grabs Pip, terrifying him and me.

  47. Defeated by OSMIC and PARSLANE but knew the BONDs and Spion Kop. For the first (and no doubt last) time I gained some benefit from being forced to read Great Expectations for O Level.

Comments are closed.