Times Cryptic No 28793 — Oh, THAT fish

23:15. This was a very fine puzzle, with some real head-scratchers for me. I feel I was at a definite disadvantage being from the US, so I’m interested to hear how you all got on.

1 Present journal containing conclusion to report handed down (10)
HEREDITARY – HERE (present) DIARY (journal) around (containing) last letter of (conclusion to) REPORT
6 Successive letters daughter’s left for hotel[’s] cook (4)
CHEF – CDEF (successive letters) with D replaced by H (daughter’s left for hotel)
9 Top up, pre fifty-mile trips here? (6,4)
PETROL PUMP – anagram (trips) of TOP UP PRE L (fifty) M (mile)

Nice semi-&lit.

10 Fish for fete’s sandwiches (4)
ORFE – hidden (sandwiches) in FOR FETE

I do not know this fish, nor does this look like a word in the English language.

12 Reliable, cheap accommodation, say, containing study (5-3-6)
BREAD-AND-BUTTER – B AND B (cheap accommodation) UTTER (say) around (containing) READ (study)
14 Is shocking piece of software inadequate too? (6)
APPALS – APP (piece of software) + ALSO (too) without the last letter (inadequate?)
15 Opens act with flourish: a crowning achievement? (8)
CAPSTONE – OPENS ACT anagrammed (with flourish)
17 Performing many functions exhausted yours truly (3-2-3)
ALL-IN-ONE – ALL IN (exhausted) ONE (yours truly)
19 I wish to take off clothes running on island (2,4)
IF ONLY – FLY (to take off) around (clothes) ON (running) next to (on) I (island)
22 Intelligence facilities incorporated in beds, gates and lamps? (9,5)
LISTENING POSTS – cryptic definition

Or maybe there’s something more?

24 Men to go back, always ending in retreat (4)
NOOK – last letters (always ending) of MEN TO GO BACK
25 Thrilled reaction at lazy morning touring second rate dump (7,3)
WHEELIE BIN – WHEE (thrilled reaction) + (at) LIE IN (lazy morning) around (touring) B (second rate)

Didn’t know this one but was able to piece it together from the wordplay.

26 Take off, and cross summit (4)
APEX – APE (take off) + (and) X (cross)
27 Started [with] a ten-digit sum, originally, that’s spent (10)
INSTIGATED – A TEN-DIGIT + first letter of (originally) SUM, anagrammed (that’s spent)
1 Not oddly looking up, you pay the photographer’s agent (4)
HYPO – hidden reversed (not oddly looking up) in YOU PAY THE
2 Bishop hosting a series of bike races has a quiet pedal (3-4)
RAT-TRAP – RR (bishop) around (hosting) A TT (series of bike races) + (has) A P (quiet)

Never heard of this. A ridged bicycle pedal is apparently called a ‘rat-trap’.

3 Show lack of tact producing a ring? (4,1,7)
DROP A CLANGER – cryptic definition

Actually, I’m not sure how to characterize this wordplay. ‘Show lack of tact’ is the definition, and the rest of the clue makes a reference to the literal meaning of the idiomatic expression DROP A CLANGER.

4 Formal attire which restricts work (3,3)
TOP HAT – THAT (which) around (restricts) OP (work)
5 Engineers face corrective (8)
REMEDIAL – REME (engineers) DIAL (face)
7 Prince’s friend helping briefly with house (7)
HORATIO – RATION (helping) without the last letter (briefly) next to (with) HO (house)
8 Charge [and] fine us elderly for misbehaving! (5-2-3)
FLEUR-DE-LYS – F (fine) US ELDERLY anagrammed (for misbehaving)

‘Charge’ here means “device borne on a shield” (Chambers). I never understand why we have ! in clues like this.

11 Stealing [from] kitty before paying (12)
PUSSYFOOTING – PUSSY (kitty) + (before) FOOTING (paying)
13 At least three accountants putting book-keeping chap in the picture (10)
CASABLANCA – CAS + CA (at least three accountants) around (putting in) ALAN with B inside (book-keeping chap)

No question mark here, eh?

16 A ninth op rectified short passage (8)
ANTIPHON – A NINTH OP anagrammed (rectified)
18 Moving easily, finally fulfil one’s part (7)
LISSOME – last letter of (finally) FULFIL + I’S (one’s) SOME (part)
20 Zero per cent tax initially after I fail to declare returns (3,1,3)
NOT A BIT – first letter (initially) of TAX after I + BAT ON (fail to declare) reversed (returns)

This has something to do with cricket, and rather than try to explain, I’ll just put this here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declaration_and_forfeiture

21 Queen visiting for one chance [to see] old king (6)
EGBERT – R (Queen) in (visiting) EG (for one) + BET (chance)
23 Female rivals at table with the papers? (4)
ENID – E[ast] N[orth] (rivals at table) + (with) ID (the papers?)

69 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28793 — Oh, THAT fish”

  1. An engrossing experience… totally lost track of time. LOI NOOK!
    Took ages to see the anagram for CAPSTONE, a great one!
    Had no idea about “fail to declare” (ah, of course, cricket!) in NOT A BIT, but it couldn’t be anything else.
    Was stumped by the “old king” until, as if in a dream, EGBERT came to me, whence I know not.

  2. At 22ac, BEDPOSTS, GATEPOSTS and LAMPPOSTS are all familiar. If they had the facility (sense) of hearing, they might be LISTENING POSTS!?

  3. Sundry sayings – between you, me and the bedpost; between you, me and the gatepost; between you, me and the lamppost – indicate no-one else is listening, but presumably those posts are listening in… or something?

  4. 25:44, and the same struggle as others with parsing the posts. I thought maybe we were “listing posts” and that “listen” was an archaic version of “list”, but I can’t find anything to support that. (This is the fourth-best explanation given on this page so far).

    Clive and Viv mastered the art of failing to declare, never giving their opponents a sniff. But then all they had to do was chuck the ball to Andy, Michael, Malcolm, Curtley, Courtney, Joel, Patrick, Colin or Sylvester and I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few. Those were the days.

    I don’t think the question mark is required at 13dn Jeremy. It’s not a DBE (is it an EBD?). Thanks for the blog, and a merry long weekend to one and all.

    1. Question marks are also used for slightly iffy wordplay. “Book-keeping chap” is a stretch!

  5. Held up by ‘pussyfooting’; normal meaning of deliberately indecisive or non-committal is clearly derived from the idea of moving stealthily but I anyway couldn’t get past the surface meaning of steal. Clever clueing (or obtuse solver).

  6. Over an hour in spite of having all the GK, and enjoyable every second of it. I like Jim’s explanation for the Listening Posts. I’m not sure I want to hear very much about BWI this morning (a bit of salt in an open wound, there, Galspray), but I’ll agree with you that a chap keeping b doesn’t need a wink or a nod. FWIW, I had a chance at an event last year to ask Allan Lamb what made the BWI bowlers so difficult. He looked at me like I was nuts to ask, and said “Just they were bloody fast”.
    Thank you, setter.

    1. Yep, and no relief.

      I too had the fortune of meeting “Legger” once or twice. Very friendly chap, and a superb bat.

  7. 25’21”, no idea re LISTENING POSTS.

    NOOK LOI, and the film took a while.

    Stayed up late last night watching the cricket.

    Thanks jeremy and setter.

  8. 36 minutes. Despite liking the clue and seeing what the setter was getting at, I’m glad I didn’t have to try to explain LISTENING POSTS. NHO RAT-TRAP and with my knowledge of Shakespeare and the modern music scene (= last 35 years) being abysmal, I wondered if HORATIO was a friend of the singer. LOI was ORFE which I could only get from wordplay, although seeing the word did ring a very muffled bell. Favourite was the unexpected cricket reference in NOT A BIT.

  9. … And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
    Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

    Well there were more tricks up this setter’s sleeve than are dreamt of in my philosophy. After 40 mins pre-brekker I just needed to write in Listening Post, but had no idea why. Poor clue.
    Otherwise, intriguing stuff.
    Ta setter and PJ

  10. Fun solve. Held up at the end by LISTENING POSTS and EGBERT. I had most of the checkers for L.P. and guessed it might end in ING, but still did not see EGBERT. Finally I got L.P. and the EGBERT was a write-in.

    And with HORATIO as a friend of a prince, here’s something people get mistaken about. Hamlet says “Alas poor Yorick, I knew him well” in the graveyard scene. But he doesn’t. It’s “alas poor Yorick I knew him Horatio” since that’s who he is talking to. But that makes no sense as a one-liner in a comedy sketch so people change it when they pick up the skull.

  11. 28:31 so just inside the half hour. LOI LISTENING POSTS which I just put in without understanding (is it something to do with bedpost, lamppost and gatepost?)
    I think the blogger as an american did brilliantly with things like batting on and petrol pumps!
    Anyway onward and upward.
    Thanks setter and jeremy

  12. I found this tricky but engrossing and needed 59 minutes to fill the grid even without fully understanding everything. My only remaining issue is ‘dump/WHEELIE-BIN’. I could understand ‘bin/dump’ meaning to throw something away (e.g. ‘bin/dump it) but I’ve never heard anyone say ”wheelie-bin it’.

    I knew ORFE as a fish but thought it was a name for a salmon in one of its stages of development, like parr, fry or smelt, but apparently it exists in its own right.

    1. I wondered about “dump” too. Sure, my WB is a place where I dump stuff, but it’s not itself a dump. Perhaps our setter had in mind (knowing a US blogger was on?) the rather larger wheelie bins that they over there call dumpsters.

  13. 41:49

    Not keen on LISTENING POSTS – didn’t think the clue really worked that well – and no idea what a HYPO is in relation to photography, nor that a bicycle pedal could be called a RAT TRAP. Fortunately all were getable from the checkers. COD to my LOI WHEELIE BIN for holding out for so long.

    1. Hypo is shorthand for sodium thiosulfate which was used to “fix” photographs in the days before digital photography.

      Probably still is used by some!

      1. Thank you Doctor – I don’t doubt that is correct, but why is it called HYPO then? It’s clearly not derived from the chemical name…

        1. The name hypo comes from hyposulfite of soda, another (older) term for sodium thiosulphate.

    2. When I was a boy the rat trap was the name of the contraption with a spring-hinged arm behind the seat of the bike that grabbed and held things.

  14. No time but it took ages. As someone once said, I’ve got letters in all the squares but who knows why! Extremely tricky and still don’t really get the posts thing.

    LOI FLEUR-DE-LYS. Should have got that quicker but only saw it once I had POI BREAD AND BUTTER entered.

    Thank you plusJeremy for the explanations which I very much needed today.

  15. 18:50
    Tricky, but no complaints (apart from the supernumerary erotemes).

  16. 19:28. What fun! LOI CASABLANCA, which was a bit devious. DNK the fixing agent or that meaning of “charge” in the clue for FLEUR-DE-LYS. Lots of great clues. COD to NOT A BIT but I liked WHEELIE BIN, TOP HAT and IF ONLY too. Thanks Jeremy and setter.

  17. As time goes by, indeed. 75 minutes of it. LOI WHEELIE BIN. COD to CASABLANCA. It’s still the same old story. I’d no idea what was going on between the posts. This was a bit too tricky for me. Thank you Jeremy and setter. I just posted something similar to this and it disappeared. Apologies if it’s now up twice.

  18. I was interrupted by a long phone call, but I guess about an hour. Some perplexing wordplay that I ignored, using the checkers to arrive at the answers. I worked out some post solve, but LISTENING POSTS remained a mystery. Jim’s explanation is the most plausible, but I don’t think the clue works well.
    I particularly liked the clue to IF ONLY. I prefer satisfying clues such as that, rather than ones where one has to struggle to make any sense of the clue.

  19. 35:20
    Quite a lot of sighs and muffled cursing while solving this but in the end I had to admit that it’s a very clever puzzle. No the most elegant of surface perhaps but lots of ingenious lexical dexterity.

    Thaks to Jeremy and the setter

  20. Before anyone asks, I’ve got no better ideas about LISTENING POSTS, smearing it by seeing the setter was listing posts and ignoring the EN. I think Jim may have something, but I don’t think I’ve heard “between you, me and the lamppost”, but then I’m deaf as a…
    That aside, I did like this as a technical tour-de-force with mischievous definitions like “charge” and “stealing from (kitty)”.
    Chambers says a RAT TRAP is a toothed bicycle pedal, which google sort of confirms, but I would have though it would be one of those with a sort of cage over the toes which more closely resembles its vermin-collecting namesake.
    Oh, 21 minutes.

  21. 40ish minutes and all correct but kicking myself, as a cricketer, for failing to parse NOTABIT. I was trying to justify NOTAJOT until the B came along, and thought no further.

  22. No time again as I solved on paper but I’d estimate 30 minutes in total either side of my morning ablutions.

    I thought this one slightly easier for a Friday but as I’m battling a self-inflicted thick head it was most welcome.

    No real problems on my way around, a couple of unknowns (ORFE, ANTIPHON) but the checkers/cluing saw to those. A nice mix of clues and an enjoyable solve so thanks to the setter and to Jeremy for the blog.

  23. All finished in under an hour which is a fast Friday for me. Some of the ‘tricks’ are now familiar; ‘successive letters’, helping/ration, software/app. I even spotted the hidden. I don’t use PUSSYFOOTING that way either but footing/paying are also regular substitutes here. CASABLANCA would have been a tricky clue if it hadn’t been clear from the crossers. Took too long to see ordinary ranks had nothing to do with NOOK.
    COD to APEX
    Thanks Jeremy

  24. 11:26. Super puzzle. I didn’t understand the LISTENING POSTS clue when I bunged it in but I think Jim’s explanation is right. Like Z I don’t think I’ve heard the lamppost version of the phrase but it appears in various places if you google it so I think we can cut the setter a bit of slack for what is a very clever device.

  25. People are saying what a good puzzle this is and for most of the time I think they’re right, but there are some things about it that I don’t like. How the LISTENING POSTS clue uses a clever device is completely beyond me, and the various explanations seem unconvincing. I was doing photographic things in a darkroom 65 years ago and even then HYPO was a thing of the past, only read about in children’s literature so far as I knew. RAT-TRAP and PUSSYFOOTING taken on trust. 56 minutes.

    1. If you were doing any developing in 1958 you must have used what was always called HYPO. See also Ucalegon’s comment – it was used in the sixties!

      1. I was but I didn’t. What was hypo was by then known as fixer, and I seem to remember someone explaining to me that there was a slight difference between fixer and hypo.

  26. 40:35. Lots of clues that were hard to crack, but then seemed easy. I thought I must be making hard work of a simple one, but not so, just good cluing. NHO ANTIPHON but it seemed the best arrangement of the letters. LOI WHEELIE BIN and I agree with others that “dump” doesn’t quite work as the definition. I liked CASABLANCA and IF ONLY

  27. DNF; stupidly didn’t question FLEUR DE LiS, and clearly was lazy on the anagram front or would have spotted the surplus Y and missing I. Made 19a _F _N_I impossible for IF ONLY. I was aware that LIS & LYS were both valid. DOH!

  28. 20:46. A few unparsed – the book-keeping chap passed me by, but the film didn’t. Have we seen that exact device before? LISSOME has appeared recently, which helped as it isn’t a word I have ever used. Similarly ORFE, which was fortunately a hidden as I didn’t know it at all. Nicely put together puzzle, I thought.

  29. Two goes, and plenty of biffing, needed.

    Never heard of HYPO or ORFE, so had to trust the wordplay for both; thought of ‘listening rooms’ before realising that LISTENING POSTS was more likely; completely missed ‘fail to declare’=’bat on’ for NOT A BIT; didn’t know that meaning of RAT-TRAP; got FLEUR-DE-LYS quite quickly while having no idea about the heraldic sense of ‘charge’; didn’t realise PUSSYFOOTING can mean stealing, as like David L above I only knew it as being indecisive or non-committal; and didn’t know which prince HORATIO was referring to.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Apex
    LOI Not a bit
    COD If only

  30. Always good to be utterly bamboozled and remind me that I’m not really very good at these puzzles when they get difficult.

    Maybe half way through in half an hour before throwing in the towel.

    Thanks Jeremy for an excellent blog which was very much needed today.

  31. I had only about half done in forty minutes when I went out for lunch. A full stomach must have inspired me as when I returned I needed probably less than twenty minutes to complete. Having said that, I then discovered that my comical answer to 25ac CHEERIO BIN was incorrect. It was my LOI, and I consoled myself that ‘a thrilled reaction’ accounted for the CHEER even if I couldn’t parse the rest.

  32. I enjoyed what I managed, but had to throw in the towel after 40 minutes or so with quite a bit missing.

    The fastest bowler I ever faced was Tony Pigott, then playing for Harrow. I missed the first two deliveries before edging the third to fourth slip. He later was drafted in to play for England while honeymooning (I believe) in New Zealand.

    I also played against Jonathan Agnew (Uppingham) and fared considerably better.

  33. I had RAT TRAPS on my bike as a teenager. As Z8 says they were a cage to stop your feet slipping off the pedals with a leather stap to adjust for foot size. Recipe for a broken ankle if you came a cropper! That was my second one in after TOP HAT. I didn’t look at LISTENING POSTS too closely as I had most of the crossers and the definition was obvious. I didn’t know that definition of FLEUR DE LYS, but it had to be. Liked CASABLANCA and WHEELIE BIN. EGBERT was LOI. 28:18. Thanks setter and Jeremy.

  34. A fun puzzle, but I was beaten in the SE corner, not least by the awful WHEELIE BIN. I’m on record here already with a strong dislike of grunts and wheezes being clued as if they were words, and WHEE is a similar example: a noise maybe uttered by some as an excited reaction to something (though not one I can recall ever having heard, to be honest, though I suspect Billy Whizz, Beryl the Peril and some of the Bash Street Kids from the Beano may have had it attributed to them), but not, in my interpretation of the language, a word. So slightly disgruntled, I’m sad to say.

      1. As I’m pretty sure I’ve said before in response to a similar comment, I’m not arguing that these grunts and wheezes should be banned from crosswords; I’m simply saying that I don’t like them, and they make otherwise entertaining puzzles irritating to me. If you like them, that’s your prerogative and it’s quite fine with me.

        1. Well, of course, but you did ascribe your distaste to your own “interpretation of the language” (!), which disqualifies WHEE as even “a word.” Quite remarkable.

          1. To me, it’s not a word, and the mere fact that it is in the dictionary doesn’t make it one. We clearly disagree on the matter, but so be it. I suggest we just agree to disagree.

            1. Be it understood that I disagree that anyone can have their very own, quite idiosyncratic “interpretation of the language.” It wouldn’t get one very far in the real world.

              1. Are you saying then that dictionaries are the sole arbiters of language? Because that is equally idiosyncratic.

                We use at least five of them on here (I may have missed some), and presuming they all differ in some respect, they cannot all be right.

                1. They’re not arbiters. They’re records of our language and how it is used. Dictionary compilers didn’t make up WHEE. It’s something that’s both said and written, and so some have recorded the word and its usage for posterity.

                  If WHEE isn’t a word you want to use, or if you don’t even consider it a word, that’s fine! (GdS and I had a similar disagreement about my bending the grammar of an idiomatic expression the other day.) But if you think that these whatever-you-want-to-call-them are not used in speech and writing, you’re wrong.

                  More to the point, if you don’t wish to see such things in crossword puzzles, I feel for you, but you’re doing the wrong ones. Because the setters and editors (and many solvers) consider these to be words.

                  By the way, do you consider ‘hello’ to be a word? It seems to better fit your category of “grunts and wheezes”. It is not a noun, adjective, verb, or any other common part of speech. It’s just a sound that comes out of us for a social-emotional reason. Perhaps this is even more obvious if you consider ‘hi’.

                  1. I’m not sure if you were replying to me or to ‘Misunderstood’, but I have never said that dictionaries are arbiters of the language. Quite the reverse, in fact, with my comment that the mere fact of an expression’s inclusion in a dictionary does not, for me, make it a word. I am quite prepared to accept your word and that of GdS that WHEE is in the dictionaries you have perused, though I have not and will not bother to check because it really doesn’t matter to me whether it is there or not. You say that I am wrong to state that the expression is not used in speech or writing, but, again, I did not say that. In fact, I conceded that it is used in writing, citing The Beano. And, once again, I’ll accept your assurance that it is used in speech: all I said is that I cannot recall ever having heard it.

                    Right now I regret that I ever started this line of discussion, and I’m afraid I don’t have the time to continue it any further. Thank you for accepting my right not to consider WHEE a word: I’ll continue to do so and, as I’ve already said above, if anyone disagrees with me on the point, that is quite fine by me.

                2. But nor can they all be wrong!

                  I allow writers a term that hasn’t (yet) made it into regular dictionaries if I can link it to a specialized lexicon or a Wikipedia page. There might be even (can’t recall any now) a nonce usage of a term the author makes up if it is explained in the piece. Dictionaries record nonstandard variants, too, which are eschewed.

  35. A very chewy puzzle, which took me three separate sessions, totalling just over an hour. The last two to fall were PUSSYFOOTING (I was not aware of it meaning stealing) and IF ONLY.
    COD to NOT A BIT.

  36. 64′ and glad to get to the end intact.

    COD – FLEUR-DE-LYS as I’ve been reading up on heraldic charges recently so was pleased as pongo to see it pay off.

    NHO ORFE but I’ve learned to trust the wordplay and am reconciled to the fact that no matter how many fish I learn, there are plenty more in the cryptic sea ….

  37. I had done all but five clues (most of the awkward squad being in the SW corner) in 39 minutes but then had to break off, and finished later on the train home. So something under an hour in all. Despite the difficulty I enjoyed the challenge and the deviousness of some of the clues. Was pleased to recognise ORFE, I suspect from a previous crossword, but not so impressed by the complication of 22ac. I remember HYPO from childhood forays into black and white photography in the early 1960s, before we all changed to colour photography and sent the films away for processing.
    FOI – CHEF
    LOI – NOOK
    Thanks to jeremy and other contributors.

  38. After 1 hour, I resorted to aids for my last two clues – Casablanca and Nook – then regretted doing so as I should have seen them. I didn’t think of that type of picture and I was sure there would be a reversal in the other clue (with go back and retreat in the clue). 2-0 to the Setter.

  39. 26.53 with LOI fleur de lys . I realised it was some sort of anagram but got the wrong letters . Writing what I had got out made FDL the only option but can’t say I truly worked it out.

    Pleased with my time in the end so thx setter and blogger.

  40. I haven’t done the Times for a while and seem to be off wavelength. I’m also a bit flummoxed by the new format since I was last here. Time: 49.20.

  41. This was quite a fantastic puzzle, but it took me nearly an hour and a half, because after the top row, no answers came to mind quickly. In the end, slowly but surely I managed to biff most of the right answers and then found that they also fit the often very involved wordplay (CASABLANCA with its brilliant “at least three” accountants, for example). And there were many answers which I didn’t really know but which seemed reasonable enough, as they then turned out to be: ANTIPHON, RAT-TRAP as a pedal (I remember once forgetting to unstrap one as I stopped at an intersection, with interesting consequences, but I didn’t know it was called a RAT-TRAP or that I was the trapped rat), FLEUR-DE-LYS, EGBERT and others. The one thing which displeased me a bit was that as I was coming to an end I had the feeling that almost every clue involved an anagram of something, but I may be exaggerating.

  42. The LISTENING POSTS explanation was hinted at by Zabadak.
    It is common knowledge that doorposts cannot listen – “As deaf as a doorpost”.
    But, perhaps, bedposts, gateposts and lamp posts do not have this inability, which would make them “listening posts”.

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