Times Cryptic No 28757 — Just about got there

Yes, I took a nap in the middle. Most of this puzzle went fine, but by the end I was shouting unspeakable vulgarities at the computer, trying to get my brain to come up with the right synonyms. I finally got there in 37:56.

1 Note agents attached to Liberal Party? (6)
SOCIAL – SO (note) CIA (agents) + (attached to) L (liberal)
4 After contraction, breathe artificially, deep down (2,5)
AT HEART – hidden (after contraction) in BREATHE ARTIFICALLY
9 Comeback of actor Peter Flynn? (5)
ERROL – reversal (comeback) of LORRE (actor Peter)
10 If late, ref might give you hell? (9)
AFTERLIFE – IF LATE REF anagrammed (might give you)
11 With current chauffeur personal visits (9)
DOWNRIVER – DRIVER (chauffeur), OWN (personal) is inside (visits)
12 Be romantically involved, / as old flame might? (2,3)
GO OUT – double definition, one cryptic
13 [What can have] you reversing in Australia after heading off? (4)
UEYS – YE (you) reversing in AUS (Australia) after removing the first letter (heading off)

I guess this is the term in Australia — it’s also common in the US. I used to see it in US crosswords quite a bit, but not much lately.

14 Neglected to play a fun record (7-3)
UNCARED-FOR – anagram (to play) of A FUN RECORD
18 Tense parent, endlessly strict, [showing] authority (4,6)
PAST MASTER – PAST (tense) MA (parent) STERN (strict) without the last letter (endlessly)

This took me forever. I immediately thought of the answer, but I thought the definition had to be ‘tense’, and that PA came from ‘parent’. Re-parsed after a nap.

20 Alarmed after a firm initially has gone bust (4)
RAID – AFRAID (alarmed) after A and first letter of (initially) FIRM are removed (has gone)
23 Without a bishop apparently to give benediction (5)
BLESS – “B” LESS (= without a bishop apparently)
24 Examiner hosting circle outside term (9)
TRIMESTER – TESTER (examiner) around RIM (circle outside)
25 Opera[’s] curious piano turn: start of Act III (1,8)
I PURITANI – anagram (curious) of P (piano), TURN, the first letter (start) of ACT, and III
26 Market town[’s] four turrets regularly picked out, to the west (5)
TRURO – every other letter (regularly picked out) of FOUR TURRETS, reversed (to the west)
27 Little illustration captures rather good Pole (7)
FISHGIG – FIG (little illustration) around (captures) ISH (rather) G (good)

A harpoon, apparently!

28 Book / flight out (6)
EXODUS – double definition

Barely a double definition, but it still eluded me ’til the end.

1 Wrongly deem bus double parking [to be] hindrance on road? (5,4)
SPEED BUMP – anagram (wrongly) of DEEM BUS and PP (double parking)
2 One might enter garage to put this plant (7)
CARAWAY – one might enter garage to put CAR AWAY

I laughed.

3 Fifties uniform is cracking live attraction! (6)
ALLURE – LL (fifties, in Roman numerals) + U (uniform) in (is cracking) ARE (live)

I think I don’t often know what the ! is doing in clues like this.

4 Place in church [where] convert’s spoken out (5)
ALTAR – ALTER (convert) replaced by homophone (‘s spoken out)
5 I’m starting — I must stop before entering high school (4,4)
HERE GOES – EGO (I) in (must stop) ERE (before) in (entering) HS (high school)
6 Rather tasteless, / what a haggler seeks? (1,3,3)
A BIT OFF – double definition
7 Knocking off daily (5)
THEFT – THE FT (daily)

I was proud of myself for getting this one.

8 Upstarts [from] Standard and Morning Star (8)
PARVENUS – PAR (standard) + (and) VENUS (morning star)
15 Drink, healthy one, about a year back (8)
APERITIF – FIT (healthy) I (one) RE (about) PA (a year = per annum) reversed (back)
16 Display team departs to occupy seats at the back? (3,6)
RED ARROWS – D (departs) in (to occupy) REAR ROWS (seats at the back?)

It would have helped if I’d heard of the Red Arrows (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Arrows). For awhile I thought we might have something like ROW Y or even ROW Z for “seats at the back”.

17 Say nothing in stuffing small periodical [in] top drawer (8)
SMASHING – SH (say nothing) IN in (stuffing) S (small) MAG (periodical)

For a while I thought the magazine was I (that’s a thing, isn’t it?) and that we were looking for an Italian artist (drawer) ending -INI.

19 [Having] way with English, young setters maybe [providing] boosts (4-3)
STEP-UPS – ST (way) + (with) E (English) PUPS (young setters maybe)
21 Throw out alloys with sand (7)
ASTOUND – OUT anagrammed (alloys) with SAND
22 Last bit of pie: right to cut cheese off top (6)
VERTEX – last letter (bit) of PIE and RT (right) in (to cut) VEX (cheese off)

Very nice clue. My favorite.

23 Lawyer [is] British one interrupting judge (5)
BRIEF – B (British) + I (one) in REF (judge)
24 Hint that wife must stop ringing (5)
TWANG – TANG (hint) that W (wife) is in (must stop)

83 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28757 — Just about got there”

  1. Second last in was UEYS, which is certainly the term here in Australia, though I’d never considered how it might be spelled, and it didn’t look right. My last one in was 22d, but in desperation I put AERTEX which seemed to make sense as a brand of T-shirt (top), though I couldn’t parse it. I didn’t think of ‘vex’ as ‘cheese off’. Thank you Jeremy for the explanation.
    35minutes with a pink square, leaving me cheesed off.

    1. Like you, I’ve never seen ‘uey’ written down, though it’s a term I use often in speech. Technically it’s not reversing, but that’s a minor quibble. And it still doesn’t look right in print!

  2. Found the right side harder than the left. My LOI was RED ARROWS, and I was a bit surprised when the site informed me that I had finished—so that was correct! Then I looked up the term.
    For a while, I was thinking this was more evidence that the puzzles slated for Friday are not always the hardest, but by the end I felt this was the toughest of this week.
    I also found the clue for EXODUS weak tea. Saw one just like it for GENESIS somewhere recently.
    VERTEX was pretty cool—not my favorite, but then I’m not a mathematician.

  3. I liked the clever definitions. This had a non-UK feel to some of the casual slang – not US, but Oz or NZ maybe? Thanks setter.

  4. DNF. I drop a uey all the time, but like Corymbia I’ve never seen it written down and it just looks wrong, couldn’t get it. Aussie words end -ie… Uie? U-ie? I did see the hidden, but not until guessing from crossers and reconsidering the clue! 2nd day in a row it was very hard to spot.
    Liked it a lot, tricky and entertaining.
    LOI APERITIF after a nasty attack of vocalophobia.
    COD I Puritani for all the Is.
    Edit: FISHGIG unknown, but gig (aka gidgie – Australian words end in IE!) known – a stick we used for catching crayfish (lobsters) while working on Barrow Island. Small step from GIG to FISHGIG.

        1. One of my very earliest driving infringements was “performing an unlawful u-turn”.

          Should have just chucked a u-ey.

    1. In the US we pull a u-whatever. And a gig in that sense is used to catch frogs. (Made famous by Texas A&M, as a coda to the univeristy’s football fight song: a shouted “Gig ’em, Aggies” – accompanied by a jerking thumbs up movement indicating how one would use a gig to do for a frog, and, presumably, how the football team is going to do for this week’s opposition.)

  5. A puzzle of two halves for me, the top half being pretty standard stuff with the answers flowing nicely apart the NHO UEYS which I eventually derived from wordplay. At that stage I was about 15 minutes into the solve.

    The lower half was another story entirely where I got RED ARROWS and TRURO straightaway and then ground to a halt. After that I battled with every clue, very slowly and with long gaps between them until I finally finished with 70 minutes on the clock.

    I have a long history of problems with I PURITANI as it has come up 5 or 6 times and on every occasion it’s been as if I never met it before. I simply can’t get it to stick in my brain despite my knowledge of opera titles being quite extensive.

    This is apparently first time out in the TfTT era for the unlikely looking FISHGIG. Collins lists it as an alternative to ‘fizgig’ which has come up once (in July this year) so that it seemed vaguely familiar, but ‘fizgig’ has a number of other meanings and the definition on that occasion was ‘flirtatious girl’.

    Entering TWANG with no checkers in place seemed risky as the wordplay felt a little dodgy, so I was pleased when it turned out to be correct.

    The definition of TRURO as ‘market town’ also seemed a bit off, as it has been a cathedral city since 1876.

    1. My knowledge of opera titles is quite unextensive but I did manage to remember IP from previous puzzles.

    2. I have a forebear on a column at the top of Lemon Street in Truro; a market town would have been good enough for him as, despite escaping from the pirates, he still managed to die in Africa before it became one.

  6. 27:21. Tough one, especially UEYS, FISHGIG and the opera, not helped by taking way too long to see BRIEF. Also didn’t know that meaning of VERTEX but what else could it be.

    Thought THEFT was very good. An enjoyable outing, thanks setter and Jeremy.

  7. To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
    Lead’st that heifer lowing at the skies
    (Ode on a Grecian Urn, Keats)

    DNF pre-brekker. Lots not to like, I thought.
    Ta setter and PJ.

  8. DNF. I couldn’t manage FISHGIG, partly because I got hung up on rather = SO and wondering why I was a letter short. I had even thought about fishing as I know you can use a pole rather than a rod (not that that was the usage here) but couldn’t make the leap from there.

  9. DNF. Considered VERTEX, but didn’t see the parsing and looked it up. Along with UEYS. Ugh!

    Very good puzzle, for all that.

  10. 32’19” for this Friday puzzle. Interesting ‘as she is spoke’ divide: RED ARROWS (much in the news lately, look it up) went straight in, while UEYS took forever and I had no idea what it meant. The opera was a random collection of consonants and I picked one that seemed to make sense, nhoi. FISHGIG also a (guessed) challenge.

    LOI was VERTEX – in mathematics a vertex is the meeting of two or more edges; surely the synonym for ‘top’ is ‘apex’?

    Thanks jeremy and setter.

    1. I did think ‘isn’t that apex?’ as I wrote it in, but the first definition of VERTEX in Collins is ‘the highest point’.

  11. 45 minutes and one wrong, a despairing FISOGOG. The twang’s not the thang that I call ringing but I suppose so. I’ve done a fair number of ueys in my life, actual and metaphorical, but I’ve never before thought how to spell them. COD to VERTEX. The bottom was much harder than the top, particularly the wretched fish concert.Thank you Jeremy and setter.

  12. I DNF after 48 minutes because of 13ac. NHO “UEYS” and unguessable if you don’t know it, so I feel a bit miffed there. Also had to google FISHGIG to make sure it existed, NHO of I Puritani, and felt a bit unsure of T(W)ANG, so that corner took me a while, but at least was work-outable.
    Thanks Jeremy and setter (for the education!)

  13. Gave up well over the hour with FISHGIG and TWANG not entered. Like Jack, I drove through the top half with no hold ups then ground to a halt in the lower section. Not helped by not knowing VERTEX , FISHGIG or the opera. I knew 13ac was a “youEy” but had no idea how to spell it! I ended up bunging in UEYE not even considering the plural.

    The best laugh is Myrtilus’ comment above. I’ll leave it there.

    Thanks Jeremy and tricky setter.

  14. 17:27

    I thought this was pretty uneven, mostly very easy, especially the top half, but with a few nasties like UEYS and FISHGIG, both pieced together from WP but not looking correct.

  15. Well I did finish it, and was pleased to get it done and out of the way. UEYS, a car crash of a clue.
    Got I Puritani only because it has been here before. I went to an opera once (Don Giovanni) but didn’t enjoy it; a mistake I have never repeated.

    1. True the first hours of Don Giovanni can drag but the exciting ending with the hero being dragged off to hell amid smoke , screams, demons etc is certainly worth the price of admission.

      1. Or, for a lot less than admission, Joseph Losey’s film of Don G, shot at the Palladian masterpiece La Villa Rotunda in Veneto. He succeeds in making it all gripping.

            1. I’ll always remember that for the back stage shot of the Queen of the Night with her skirts hitched up having a crafty fag before the top Cs.

  16. DNF. I managed the unknown FISHGIG and somehow dredged up the Bellini opera, but was defeated by my LOI UEYS, giving up after an alphabet trawl at 24 minutes (of which I must have spent 5 minutes looking at it) to use a wordfinder. I’d no idea it was a word! Thanks Jeremy and setter.

  17. Another odd experience. Since I’ve started doing the Quickie as a warm-up I got a few clues in and thought “there’ll be letters”, and by the time I cracked FISHGIG and UEYS, and the rest of the rather tangled and eccentric cluing, I was thinking “there’ll be riots”. Submitted in 25.21, thinking I’ve never taken that long for a Quickie. Which was the point at which I realised I’d been doing one of those rare 15×15 Quickies.

    AT HEART, I thought the phrasal GO OUT and HERE GOES A BIT OFF, the former more than the latter, as if our setter were struggling to fill some awkward spaces in the top right. UNCARED-FOR, if I may say, because I didn’t.

  18. Failed on UEYS, FISHGIG.

    Mostly not too bad at all, assembled the opera, struggled a bit with TRIMESTER, TWANG and APERITIF.


  19. DNF
    SE corner did for me. Revealed exodus, then everything else fell into place 🙁
    Thanks, pj.

  20. 18:40
    A tremendous Friday puzzle, with some unexpected verbal connections (cheese off, CAR AWAY, RE(D)AR ROWS, PAR VENUS) and a beautiful reversal in ERROL. Less so in my LOI UEYS, which I failed entirely to parse.

  21. DNF, defeated by UEYS. Never heard of them, and U_Y_ looked so unlikely that I doubted CARAWAY despite seeing how it worked.

    Nearly invented ‘fisogeg’ for 27a (thinking the definition was ‘little’, with E as the pole, which I realise now makes no sense) before deciding that ‘rather’ was more likely here to give ‘ish’ rather than ‘so’ and concluding that a FISHGIG is probably something anglers use. Didn’t know Peter Lorre but ERROL had to be right, constructed I PURITANI once enough checkers were in place, like our blogger thought PAST MASTER was going to have ‘tense’ as the definition before rethinking it, and similarly didn’t get TWANG until I saw that ‘hint’ wasn’t the definition.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    COD Vertex

  22. Tough one, taking over 10 minutes. PARVENUS was lovely, my COD. Also the use of ‘cheese off’ = VEX was very good.

    Not convinced by ‘alloys’ as an anagrind, or UEYS as an &lit.

    1. Alloys works, he says as an engineer. When you alloy metals you mix them. But not keen on UEYS… not as the &lit, but at the spelling.

  23. DNF – done for by the unknown FISHGIG and UEYS plus the clever VERTEX, which I might have got eventually if I hadn’t been looking at three blanks by the time my 30 mins was up.

  24. To begin with things went in slowly and it seemed like a regular Friday, then it all became rather quick and I thought that my initial judgement was wrong, then it became hard again. Once I got to U_Y_ I couldn’t believe that a word fitted, so looked up UEYS and thought it was rather a nice clue. Then I couldn’t believe that there was a word F_S_G_ _ so cheated again; I’d never have got it with that tricky wordplay: either you know the word or you don’t. VERTEX I thought was excellent: yes OK in maths it doesn’t have to be at the top, but Collins’ first meaning is ‘The highest point’. 43 minutes, with those aids.

  25. 15:06. Well I thought that was great. Quirky and creative, lots of fun clues. UEYS perhaps the best of the lot, with a lovely penny-drop moment for me when I constructed it from wordplay and finally realised what was going on. Lots constructed from wordplay, which is how I like it, and all fair I thought.
    NHO FISHGIG obviously, and I had to take the (former) existence of an actor called Peter Lorre on trust, but I remembered the opera which has caught me out in the past.

      1. Having googled him I do recognise him – I’ve seen Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon – but I didn’t know his name. He died nearly a decade before I was born so it’s not that surprising!

        1. Well, sonny, I was only 8 when he died. But those are classic movies you’ve mentioned. He was also the central character in Fritz Lang’s M. An icon!

          1. A film I’ve never heard of!
            You will no doubt think me a philistine but I’m not much of a movie buff.

  26. 17:01, so a proper Friday with all sorts of interesting stuff going on, some parts of which I felt confident with, others not so much. The same difficulties as others, such as accepting UEYS as a bona fide word, and constructing FISHGIG (though I remember the FIZGIG & Firkin, from when that pub chain was a thing, and it appears the two have some overlap – obviously I don’t remember that word appearing in a puzzle, as per Jack’s comment, but that’s par for the course with me) and I PURITANI, which rang a vague bell from quizzing. Speaking of which, I’ve answered the question “what is the only city in Cornwall?” enough times to be somewhat thrown by the description of it as a market town, but I’ll leave it to people who actually live there to take offence at the slight. Throwing shade at the SW apart, this was very enjoyable.

  27. All done in two stabs either side of a bit of gardening, except for FISHGIG which was a ridiculous word I refused to invent. Best part of an hour in total. Also a moan about TRURO as said above, it’s a city.

  28. Add me to the FISHGIG DNF club.
    That, I PURITANI, and VERTEX were my only unknowns, but I generally made rapid work of this until 27A defeated me.
    Like Pootle I was hung up on SO being “rather” and made up some frankly mad sounding words. I then started to doubt TWANG before I gave up in despair.
    An enjoyable solve though so thank you to the setter and to Jeremy for the blog.

  29. Got most of this without too much trouble, until the last few. Fishgig came to me eventually, ringing what must have been a very distant bell. But I was eventually defeated by UEYS. There were some very nice clues. I particularly enjoyed ERROL, as it reminded me how much I always enjoyed Peter Lorre’s performances.

    But Ueys? Really? Humbug!

    1. I was always felt Peter’s heartfelt lines in The Maltese Falcon “..you idiot, you bloated imbecile, you stupid fathead you..” were especially aimed at me.

  30. Started off at a canter with SOCIAL and its surroundings, apart from the unlikely looking U_Y_. Progress continued until I became becalmed in the SW. I had only BLESS and BRIEF for some time until TWANG sprang up. This led to some speculation about fizigigs and fizigogs, whilst still being fixated on SO as the “rather” part of wordplay. Eventually ISH dropped into view and FISHGIG dropped out of the machinery. I confess to checking it once it materialised though. In the meanwhile I PURITANI seemed to be the best rearrangement of the anagrist, PAST MASTER put in an appearance and SMASHING emerged from the mist, leaving the mysterious U_Y_. As Oz seemed precluded, AUS had its head removed and a tentative YE was reversed and inserted, leaving something that looked totally wrong, but resembled a vaguely familiar expression if I shut my eyes and hoped. 35:08. Thanks setter and Jeremy.

  31. 56:54. I enjoyed the tussle and Was pleased to finish all green despite not nailing all the parsing (inc AT HEART and VERTEX) . I was proud of myself for composing an opera from the anagrist. I’ve certainly heard of UEYS but I needed to pin down the wordplay for the spelling. FISHGIG constructed from wordplay too. I liked RED ARROWS and the neat THEFT

  32. Top half was all good but struggled with the lower half. Rejected Truro because it is a city – oft used in quizzes!!

  33. Further to the above Truro is the UK’s most southerly CITY and England’s most westerly.

  34. 41’30”
    Going like a train … until refusing twice at Beecher’s then again at Valentine’s, struggled home.

    However, everything verified, more or less. I had come across fizgig, so when – ish finally dawned I got over Beecher’s, and a uey being a possible Ozism got me scrambling over Valentine’s.
    I was once cast as Peter Lorre; The St. Radegund Pub went en masse to the final film at the old Arts’ Cinema in Cambridge. Being short and dark and having a slicked parting and a DJ, I was the obvious candidate. I only remember one line: ” You’ve got to help me Mr. Rick!” I only lasted twenty minutes before I was shot in the back.

    Was this a bit left field from over the pond, or perhaps elliptical from down under, I wonder?
    Either way, I very much enjoyed it for the quirkiness and misdirection.
    Bravissimo setter and thank you Jeremy.

  35. 23.12. I’ve somehow heard of UEYS, although the spelling was a shrug & I just parsed it as a sort-of cryptic definition. Glad I didn’t try to figure out the wordplay to be honest! FISHGIG was my LOI, which took until ISH displaced SO as my preferred synonym for ‘rather’.

    Absolutely never heard of the opera, which struck The Fear into me, but thankfully the answer was an English word with an I stuck on the end.

    Very much enjoyed it, but sympathies with those who came unstuck with UEYS. Thanks both.

  36. UEYS – horrible! And I’m not sorry to have missed that one completely. VERTEX – superb, now I’ve had it explained: couldn’t for the life of me remember a cheese called ‘vex’ – moral: read the whole clue! At top right, I knew we must be looking for the Financial Times, but somehow just couldn’t get from the FT to THEFT: d’oh! NHO FISHGIG and couldn’t get there either. So, well beaten by a great puzzle. Except for UEYS, which is still horrible.

    1. I think the saving grace of UEYS (which I forced myself to solve to complete a quadrant before moving to the right) is that it’s the absolutely only word that fits the crossers—if you happen to think of it, or recognize it in an alphabet troll (just five letters in!). But I had seen it before… in a crossword, too.

      1. I’ve never seen it in writing and I guess I assumed that it had no accepted written form. I can pretty well guarantee that I’ll miss it the next time as well.

  37. DNF after 40 minutes, having had to join the victims of UEYS and FISHGIG. I now have a dim recollection of handbrake turns by boy racers being referred to as ‘screaming ueys’ many years ago, but I did not relate this to the clue when I was trying to solve it. Nor would I have known how to spell it. Otherwise a pleasant enough solve, with a MER at the clue about TRURO.

  38. I’m another DNF – failed to see Raid/Astound/Exodus/Vertex in the SE corner. Disappointing, but only myself to blame.

    1. Same here! But also done in by the unlikely-looking UEYS, which, if an Oz invention, surely should be spelled UIES? Very unusual puzzle: top half business as usual (apart from the aforementioned monstrosity), bottom half a bit of a slog. Liked A BIT OFF, THEFT and CARAWAY.

  39. UEY is well-known to Scrabble players as a useful solver for vowel issues. I suppose the common -IE suffix would just look too weird.

    FISHGIG very hard – I was also considering SO in the middle for a while, but nothing else seemed to fit (I thought it was a giddy girl, which is also the case). Failed to parse VERTEX but again nothing else would fit, other than SEMTEX which I dismissed

  40. 32:06

    NHO UEYS and I didn’t really understand the clue during the solve which rather spoilt a good crossword. But then I’d never heard of FISHGIG nor I PURITANI (tricky with only vowels as checkers) but they at least were quite clever. VERTEX was very good. I wonder if the setter started off with UEYS and built the crossword around it, or due to poor planning was left at the end with U_Y_ and filled it with a word that no sensible person from the UK is EVER going to use.

  41. NHO PURITANI, and again must grumble with an anagram for a foreign (a largely unknown) word. Otherwise, good stuff.

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