Times Cryptic No 28913 — Am I being trolled?

DNF (but well over 90 minutes). I have few words that can express the experience of having wrestled with this puzzle. I found this very, very difficult, barely putting in a single answer in 25 minutes. Perhaps I was just off the wavelength, but I think not. I can’t fathom how the setter was able to hide their meaning so cleverly.

I managed all but 9 across without aids, but needed help to get the last three letters. Quite a disappointing finish to an excellent puzzle.

1 Foreign priest admitted by junior vaccinator? (6)
JABBER – ABBÉ (foreign priest) in JR (junior)
5 Old writer’s son leaving the navy with little speech (8)
TACITURN – TACITUS (old writer) has S (son) removed + RN (the navy)
9 Organ playing after the epistle [is] novel (5,5)
TITUS GROAN – anagram of ORGAN after TITUS (the epistle)

This is the one that got me. Obviously I had GROAN, but _ I _ U _ barely suggested anything to me, and I don’t know the book. (TITUS GROAN or the Bible.)

10 Old trousers / that go round on the carousel (4)
BAGS – double definition

The latter referring to the carousel at the airport, something I only realized now.

11 Cooperate with others in summons to table (3,5)
GET ALONG – ET AL (with others) in GONG (summons to table)

Thanks to vinyl for this parsing! I should start calling my kids to dinner with a gong…

12 Force one’s way to the end of American thoroughfare (6)
THRUST – THRU (to the end of, American) ST (thoroughfare)
13 Articles far removed from from armed conflict (4)
WARE – WARFARE (armed conflict) with FAR removed
15 A very tiny bit [of] excellent cheese (3,5)
TOP QUARK – TOP (excellent) QUARK (cheese)
18 Book pilgrimage, to return before motorway opens (8)
JEREMIAH – HAJ (pilgrimage) reversed, ERE (before) MI (motorway) inside (opens)

I figured out HAJ quite early, but this was one of my last in.

19 Republican tease traps back stabber (4)
DIRK – R (Republican) in KID (tease) reversed
21 Rough up apprentice coming in for employment (6)
TOUSLE – L (apprentice) in TO USE (for employment)

Didn’t know L = ‘apprentice’.

23 Hospitality worker with first-rate hair (8)
WAITRESS – W (with) A1 (first-rate) TRESS (hair)
25 Mediaeval work suffered damage, lots missing (4)
EDDA – hidden (lots missing) in SUFFERED DAMAGE

Embarrassed to say this one had me fooled for an eternity.

26 Commit to keep going forever, ready initially for university (10)
PERPETRATE – PERPETUATE (to keep going forever) with first letter of READY instead of U (university)
27 At home opening wine, a pipe (8)
CLARINET – IN (at home) in CLARET (wine)
28 Autocrat[’s] clear skin? (6)
DESPOT – DE-SPOT (clear skin?)
2 Neckcloth [wanted] — I freeze (5)
AMICE – AM ICE (I freeze)
3 Upset then abuse Highlanders (9)

Was very fooled.

4 Argument after a number of cars get bigger again (6)
REGROW – ROW (argument) after REG (a number of cars)
5 Rated bottom of class, / feared catastrophe (7,3,5)
THOUGHT THE WORST – double definition, the first literal, the second idiomatic
6 The cap on? Whipped off, perhaps, here (8)
CENOTAPH – anagram of THE CAP ON

One takes one’s cap off, perhaps, at a gravesite.

7 Murphy maybe, / who rides the underground? (5)
TUBER – double definition, ‘murphy’ being an informal term for ‘potato’
8 Doctor sticking point right in the behind (9)
REGISTRAR – GIST (point) R (right) in REAR (behind)

Very funny, although I did not know REGISTRAR in the ‘doctor’ meaning.

14 Pretentious, admitting one’s turning up with affected voice (9)
ADENOIDAL – LA-DI-DA (pretentious) around ONE reversed (turning up)

It was around the time I solved this clue that my mind blew up.

16 Prepared to fight: / where did I put the deodorant? (5,4)
UNDER ARMS – double definition, the latter very literally
17 Penalises wordplay long drawn out (8)
FINESPUN – FINES (penalises) PUN (wordplay)
20 Engine part, / the cracking choice of some Lilliputians (3,3)
BIG END – double definition

Various factions of the Lilliputians disagreed about which end of the egg to crack. I didn’t know either meaning of BIG END but it was possible to get from crossers.

22 One’s driving into the sun: a lift could be the alternative (5)
STAIR – I (one) in STAR (the sun)
24 Apply oneself [in] fierce contest (3,2)
SET TO – double definition


116 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28913 — Am I being trolled?”

  1. After a similar unrewarding start, I checked the SNITCH and decided it was time to look up 9ac. After that things were rather easier! What a beast.

  2. Failed in 1 hr 11 min. Much the same as for Vinyl, except I went for the equally implausible ARIME at 2d. Several others barely known or half-parsed so could have been worse.

  3. Very little on the first run through the acrosses, but the bottom half fell relatively quickly. I shoved in GET ALONG, but then took it out coz I couldn’t see the parsing. Ditto for TITUS GROAN, where I had the parsing but couldn’t imagine a book with that title. The ungrammatical cousin of ATLAS SHRUGGED, perhaps?

    AMICE went in on a minor wing and a prayer, since the wordplay seemed a bit naff.

    Finished, almost inevitably, with the sciency TOP QUARK, when my alphabet run reached Q.

    49 minutes of hard labour, and not as much enjoyment as I normally derive from a toughie successfully solved.

  4. 30:01 but a damned typo: STAOR
    I’m surprised I finished. Biffed TITUS GROAN–it came up at least once here, and was explained, and recommended, to me. DNK that QUARK is also a cheese, but inferred that. The CENOTAPH isn’t empty; rather one takes one’s cap off before one. So just ‘here’ should be underlined. I was slowed down by ‘apprentice’, finally realized that it just meant a learner driver, who has ‘L’ on his license plate. (‘learner’, of course, has clued L a number of times.) You’re right, Jeremy, almost, about Lilliput: I forget the name of the other island, but one country went for cracking at the big end, the other the other. The engine meaning of BIG END came up here a short while back, and I actually remembered it. THRU=thoroughfare? NHO it. Dead end streets are marked, in California anyway, ‘Not a thru street’ (or are they? I think it’s actually ‘through’), but that’s it so far as I know.

    1. If you look up “thru” in Wiktionary you get a pic of a roadsign in Nevada saying
      NOT A
      but that is through, so I am a bit foxed. Obv the meaning of thru implies in this case a thoroughfare. Does that suffice?

      1. Not for me. Chambers has THRU as “informal or commercial spelling of ‘through'”, which is what I’ve always taken it to be. Equating it to ‘thoroughfare’ is just wrong.

      2. As I said, ‘Not a thru street’ means it’s a dead end street; it doesn’t go through.

      3. It’s ’end of’ [American=thru],thoroughfare ie Thru-st.

        The definition is ‘force one’s way to’.

      1. Brobdingnag was the land of the giants; a different voyage. Blefuscu was the other island. (Just looked that up.)

        1. Thanks, Kevin-why do I persist in thinking my memory is infallible when it only takes twenty seconds to verify online?

    2. I think the definition is ‘Force one’s way’, then ‘to the end of (American [version])’ gives THRU followed by ST (street = ‘thoroughfare’).

      1. AHA! I was convinced that “thru” (the rare variant spelling that I use myself) was a mistake, but this is clearly the correct explanation.

    3. I thought the definition was a kind of &lit. Force one’s way giving THRUST and you get to the end of an American thoroughfare by going THRU ST? Anyway I didn’t give it too much thought as I entered it

  5. Finished!! Whoo hoo!! OK I used the check function a few times when I could not believe that a particular word might be the answer, and mostly it was. Jagged AMICE and dredged TOP QUARK from somewhere, eventually. Those two and PERPETRATE and CENOTAPH were among my LOsI, it would have been easier if I’d realised sooner that the latter was an anagram but all done in 51.33 which I thought was pretty good. Thanks to Jeremy for pointing out LA-DI-DA and explaining GET ALONG and REGISTRAR. On the THRU issue, I’ve seen many thruways but I’m not sure that thru itself equates to thoroughfare but others may have a better idea.

    From Highlands:

    I’m in Boston town, in some restaurant
    I got no idea what I want
    Well, maybe I do but I’m just really not sure
    WAITRESS comes over
    Nobody in the place but me and her…

  6. An hour to get out around two thirds with 3 errors. Then I found the lower left corner to be impossible. No crossing letters so I got nowhere. Seeing the answers and the wordplay I can see why. Only easier answer CLARINET I couldn’t get past W as the opening of wine.

  7. Another beast here but I quite enjoyed solving it. I was only disappointed that after struggling almost to the end after exactly an hour I was unable complete the final missing letter in 2dn with any degree of certainly. For some reason I decided to risk L, making the answer ALICE, but there was really no logic behind my choice. I note it has come up a couple of times previously and admit it did look vaguely familiar when I saw the correct answer.

    Quite a variety musical instruments might be referred to as a pipe but I wouldn’t expect the CLARINET to be amongst them . Its nickname in jazz circles is ‘liquorice stick’.

    1. “….readin’, ritin’, ‘rithmetic,
      all to the tune of a liquorice stick.”

      1950s pop and totally forgotten until now. In an hour, or a day, I’ll remember the performer. Maybe.

      Took ages, even with the helpful comments here, to understand why THRU was indicated.

      I think the big-end little-end business is a satire on how easily we are blinded over doctrine.

      The clock says 26:46 but that is a total cheat because I find using the on-line checker irresistible. Without, doubtless a multiple DNF. Good fun anyway. Thanks to all.

      1. Satire indeed. In the IT world people are often accused of having “Big-endian discussions” about arcania of no interest to anyone who actually wants to get an app to work; they might (but probably won’t be) relevant in a research environment. These discussions are just to impress the audience that the speaker is cleverer than they are.
        PS look up “Big endian” in Wiki. It is in a humourous vein and no-one has corrected it.

        1. I used to have to take endianness into account when working for a computer bureau in the ’80s. Data on disk which I had to translate would often be in unexpected byte-order. I wrote a hex dumper which would show values in either byte order (for SCO Xenix), so it was definitely not academic. Those were fun days!

  8. I managed this in 41:35
    LOI was the top quark, which I wrestled with for ages before thinking to try q as the first letter of the second word and then catching on to what the clue was about.
    Didn‘t understand DESPOT till coming here, de-spot of course!
    I did enjoy this challenge in fact
    Many thanks setter and blogger
    PS Looking at the other comments, I‘m amazed how many people don‘t know Titus Groan. When I was a teenager, Gormenghast was almost compulsory reading. And if you read the Spectator, it‘s where Steerpike comes from.

    1. My impression, when I said I’d never heard of TG, was that everyone, on this blog at least, had read it (/them) and recommend that I do the same.

  9. Threw in the towel at 55 minutes after spending the last five or ten trying to figure out what the two missing letters in 2d were.

  10. 33 minutes with LOI EDDA. I biffed GET ALONG, ADENOIDAL, AMICE and BIG END. Your BIG END going was the end of many an old banger but the Lilliputian method of egg cracking was either unknown or forgotten. I didn’t expect to encounter the TOP QUARK in isolation here. COD to TITUS GROAN because I got it. I got lucky today on this stinker. Thank you Jeremy and setter.

  11. I’d say the parsing for 12 is Force (underlined as def); one’s way to the end of [American] equalling ‘thru’, and finally ST for the thoroughfare.

    Super tough but enjoyable – very cunning throughout. I feared a DNF, but after cracking the QUARK clue the rest of the NW fell out quite quickly. At 1a I wanted JENNER – perhaps deliberate deception by the setter? Bravo.

    1. Excellent parsing on THRUST: I settled for THRU ST[reet] as an approximation of thoroughfare neither knowing or caring whether a through street was an American thing.

        1. I don’t think that’s how it works. ‘to the end of American’ = thru, as in ‘Monday thru Friday’. Then st for thoroughfare.

    2. As I read it the definition is ‘force one’s way’ (one of the definitions of THRUST in Collins is ‘to force a passage’), then ‘to the end of American’ = THRU, ‘thoroughfare’ = ST.
      I don’t see how ‘one’s way to the end of’ gets you THRU.

      1. Another vote for this reading. US “thru” is only a different spelling of “through”, and “get to the end of a task” = “get through a task”.

    3. Good idea about Jenner at 1a! Fortunately I was thinking more of Star Wars than real medicine (Jabber the Hut).

  12. Well beaten today. Didn’t know AMICE (and don’t like the wordplay). Like our blogger, neither the epistle nor the novel meant anything to me, so while TITUS did occur to me as fitting the pattern, it would’ve been one guess among many.

    Probably should’ve got BAGS, however – but then I’d somewhat ingeniously parsed a REASSURER (point = S, right = SURE) and convinced myself it might be some old sense of doctor.

    Thanks both.

  13. 24:55
    Glad I wasn’t the only one to find this difficult, not helped by starting off misspelling BHUTANESE. Some lucky guesses (JEREMIAH, PERPETRATE, GET ALONG), some back-of-the-mind retrievals (TOP QUARK, TITUS GROAN, BIG ENDians), some initially half-solved (FINESPUN, GET ALONG); but absolutely top-class clues throughout.
    COD ADENOIDAL, which provides my earworm of the day, Jake Thackray’s ‘Lah Di Dah’ (closely followed by Hawkwind’s ‘QUARK, Strangeness and Charm’).

  14. DNF after 1 hr with just QUARK left to crack (I’ve not encountered the cheese).

    However, the journey felt rocky and I remained doubtful about a few unparsed answers even when I declared. TITUS GROAN was known to me but I had bifd NEHEMIAH early on and only recovered with the correct solution much later. Similarly, I was less than sure about AMICE and ADENOIDAL – and didn’t fully understand the END part with reference to Swift, so Gulliver goes on the reading list. Enjoyed the anagrams BHUTANESE and CENOTAPH.

    Thank you, plusjeremy and the setter

  15. All but the book in about 1 hr. After AMICE (biffed) and JEREMIAH (parsed), TITUS was one ecclesiastical reference too far for me.

    TUBER obviously a write in as “potato” didn’t fit (for the record I’ve never been called “spud”). ADENOIDAL not parsed but a very nice clue once explained. Thanks Jeremy and setter.

  16. Frustratingly pink due to my LOI – a wild stab at DART, entered with a shrug – when I was very on the wavelength of the rest of this toughie, finishing in an average (for me) time of 33m, which might have yielded a record WITCH. Many brilliant clues using all the setter’s arts. Only now thanks to Jeremy is the genius of BAGS and ADENOIDAL revealed to me. Chapeau to the setter.

  17. DNF after 24 minutes. Threw in the towel doubting the unparsed GET ALONG, and failing to find the unknown AMICE. Also DNK QUARK was a cheese (confusing it with QUORN, I think). Furthermore DNK the Lilliput egg reference and couldn’t parse 14D. I liked the bits I could solve though! Thanks Jeremy and too clever setter. Setter 1 – John 0.

  18. A puzzle where all the difficulty comes from obscure nonsense including multiple bible references. Just my cup of tea.

    1. I take it you didn’t submit then? Wouldn’t want to ruin that average time, would we…

      One man’s obscure is another’s familiar. And nonsense? I see nothing nonsensical in this puzzle.

      I find that a little humility never goes amiss when one is bested by something one finds difficult.

        1. Odd to see sour grapes from sémillon, this argument has come up before and, I thought , been resolved?

      1. Imagine the old days of the commute. You have a briefcase, your copy of The Times tucked under your arm and the crossword contained therein. You board the train, to settle down for the 45 minute journey in to Waterloo and the crossword. I doubt you’d have got anywhere near completing today’s, unless at a minimum you had a Chambers, a Collins and a Merriam-Webster stuffed into your briefcase.

        This is where The Times has gone so wrong with the crossword. Instead of being able to complete it with fair wordplay to give a chance to those of us with a lack of knowledge, we increasingly get obscurities clued with impenetrable wordplay. Just like today’s nonsense- which also incorporates a singular lack of humour and some instantly forgettable nuggets of ‘knowledge’ which I will never need again.

        I bow to your superior intellect if you did not require it, but solving a crossword successfully should not depend primarily on a trawl through various dictionaries and reference tomes-which I suspect is what a good proportion of we mere mortals would have to have done today. And I still remain ‘unenlightened’ by much of it.

        1. I started 3 or 4 years ago with the QC and now finish the 15 x 15 most times – with no education to speak of! I think it’s usually quite fair.

          In any case I like reading up on anything that crops up that I’m not familiar with – which is a lot!

          And I like the English public school feel to the whole thing! It’s really not my world, but I love dipping into it 3 or 4 times a week.

          It annoys me when people complain about ‘obscure knowledge’ (usually a plant or insect that I’m very familiar with) – because it’s 90% obscure knowledge to me!

          Today was too hard for me*, but it gives me something to aim for. I’ve done so much better so far than I ever expected, which leaves me optimistic that one day I’ll be finishing the really tough ones.

          * Although my middle name is Titus (from the novel), so that was familiar!

        1. Here’s a deal. You mug up on your biblical stuff and I’ll mug up on my periodic table and sexual identity vocab.

  19. I flew by my standards through Thursday and decided to go early for Fridays. DNF which was really dissappointing as the first three were in in under 30 seconds. After that…

  20. 57m 05s but one error with 2d for which I shrugged my shoulders and put ALICE. Sixty years before the Catholic mast and I had never heard of AMICE as a neckcloth.
    My ‘vaccinator’ in 1ac was JENNER for a while until I sorted out BHUTANESE in 3d.
    Thank you, Jeremy.

  21. I held myself up at the end by entering “hoist” instead of STAIR (1’s in hot). This fallacy was partly driven by having parsed the NHO AMICE, and suspecting something equally quirky. Only when I saw CLARINET was I able to mop up the SW corner (though ADENOIDAL didn’t jump out at me either).

    I knew the book, but as an arts man I took TOP QUARK on trust. A tough but satisfying challenge.

    TIME 11:26

  22. Against the general flow I’ll declare this a cracker, partly because I completed (in 24.14, which puts me in a lofty position on the mid morning leaderboard) and partly because I really did enjoy the challenge. At least two Uxbridge clues, TUBER and DE-SPOT added the amusement factor, and, yes, it helps that I have commentaries on both Titus and Jeremiah on my bookshelves. I can’t see my copy of Titus Groan from here, though.
    I would have liked to have parsed G ET AL ONG to complete the set, but CENOTAPH or no, I doff my cap to today’s excellent setter, and to the combined efforts of +J and contributors for unravelling it all.

  23. Stopped after half an hour with five undone – I’d been so pleased to get the excellent GET ALONG, TITUS GROAN (like others i got nowhere with Mervyn Peake), JEREMIAH and others.

    Thanks jeremy and setter.

    1. the amice was a large white rectangle of material worn round the shoulders like a shawl and secured around the waist with two long ties. I now look forward to the appearance of the alb, humeral veil, chasuble, maniple, cotta, et al…

      1. Do I know have to remember all those! My one week as an altar boy before quickly resigning meant my knowledge here is limited.

  24. 31.46. I feel that I have redeemed myself somewhat, having completed without aids in a very respectable time. I had the required GK, but did I parse everything ? – no way.

  25. DNF

    NHO AMICE but know Alice band so took a punt. Also NHO the cheese or TOP QUARK and didn’t persevere with the affected voice, knowing the cheese would be my undoing anyway.

    Not averse to a toughie, but didn’t often smile at the PDM’s here.

    52’ with two to go and one wrong.

    Thanks all

  26. 27:06

    Very hard indeed. I was looking at the wrong end of the clue for the def on several occasions.

    Am I seeing double? I’m surprised that no one has mentioned that the clue to 13a WARFARE says “…removed from from armed…”. That made it my LOI as I thought I must have been missing something. I’m calling a foul on that.

    Some of this puzzle was enjoyable to work out, some not so much.

    1. I solved in the paper copy and it only has one ‘from’ – unusual for the error to be that way round.

  27. DNF on the QUARK. Knew quarks had whimsical names, but don’t know them. After looking it up I remembered we’ve had quark cheese before, too. Maybe next time I’ll remember it.
    Enjoyed it, notwithstanding the obscurity. Guessed AMICE, parsed adenoidal but not get along, didn’t like apprentice for L. Read Gormenghast – all 3 books – hoping they’d be good, but ultimately disappointing; didn’t know Titus’s epistle. So hard but enjoyable, no real holdups except the quark.

  28. 27:15.

    A really good Friday workout, and one of those puzzles which makes a mockery of the SNITCH because people are either too embarrassed or too proud to submit times well in excess of their usual. It ought to be nearer 200.

    SW corner held out for 10 minutes. I’d thought of la-di-da, but should have typed it in, since ADENOIDAL would have been obvious then. EDDA took me far too long to spot, then I took an age to parse TOUSLE. I also got blindsided by JENNER, which delayed getting started. Overall a cracking puzzle as far as I’m concerned.

  29. 17:33 Tough, but fair (mostly). Titus Groan was very popular in the UK when I was growing up (some decades ago) and there was a recent(ish?) adaptation on the BBC. The last volume of the trilogy is (in my opinion) unreadable, but the first two are well worth a look. And aren’t all the books in the bible general knowledge, and worth learning before attempting the Times crossword? I was (un)lucky enough to have been sent to Sunday School and a school with a chapel, so there is no forgetting them. There were some very cunningly disguised answers in this puzzle, as has been pointed out, and I especially liked BHUTANESE and ADENOIDAL. I have a minor quibble with AMICE – no problem with the word, but “I freeze” does not mean “am ice”, since the personal pronoun is missing (it would be “I am ice”). No one has explained this. Also the extraneous WANTED seems a bit odd. BAGS is a great clue but I’m not entirely sure how the THAT in the clue is justified – surely it would be THEY go round, etc. Nevertheless, great fun for a Friday morning!

    1. Regarding the missing personal pronoun, I think that was discussed on here before, and I recall the outcome was that there was a noted trend for it to be dropped in casual correspondence, without the meaning being lost. For example you might text “Am nipping to the shops, want anything?”.

      Just reading up the page there are several instances:
      Threw in the towel
      Looked at this
      Stopped after half an hour

    2. The missing pronoun is less of an issue than the fact that ‘{I} am ice’ means ‘I am frozen’, not ‘I freeze’. This was the clue that made me give up on the whole puzzle in a huff.

      1. Hmm, not sure there is much difference. If I’m a bucket of water in sub-zero conditions, I will freeze, and I will also be ice, surely. The worst thing about that clue in my opinion is the “wanted”.

        1. You won’t be ice until you have frozen. The conditions ‘freezing’ and ‘ice’ are mutually exclusive.
          The worst thing about the clue IMO is indicating the obscure AMICE with such clunky wordplay, but I’ll grant you ‘wanted’ isn’t great either!

  30. DNF in 56:33. I don’t usually know my time but I left the paper at the surgery when I went for my COVID top-up. Cheated for 11a GET ALONG, and still couldn’t parse. That allowed NHO (actually forgotten) AMICE at 2d.
    Couldn’t parse 9a TITUS GROAN but remembered the book. Actually read it I think. (Epistle to) Titus in the bible? What? Oh well.
    NHO 15a (TOP) Quark in the cheese sense. I think NHO… the wiki page seemed unfamiliar when I researched it.
    LOI 26a PERPETRATE, very devious.

  31. 37:07. How did that happen? I couldn’t believe the SNITCH was so high when I saw it. I enjoyed the puzzle, it was tough, but it all went in very nicely. not everything totally parsed though. I’ve read and enjoyed Titus Groan, and agree with Stavrolex above that the first two books of the trilogy are great but the third isn’t. It took a long time at the end before I bunged in my last two – the ungrammatical AMICE and the unknown TOP QUARK – with fingers crossed

  32. Revealed QUARK bit of TOP QUARK, FINESPUN and AMICE, otherwise pleased to complete the rest in around 50 mins, especially having looked at the blog and seen that it was generally considered rather tricky. Couldn’t parse ADENOIDAL or GET ALONG. The Gormenghast trilogy has been sitting on my bookcase (unread) for about 30 years so no problem with the book. NHO AMICE. Thanks all.

  33. A very high-class puzzle. In most cases the calculation was difficult and only when the answer was entered/explained was it clear, usually perfectly straightforward. I couldn’t understand why BAGS and ADENOIDAL were the answers. But obvious really. I’m not sure I agree with Jeremy about THRUST: as has been said thru surely isn’t an American thoroughfare (that’s thruway); and isn’t the definition ‘Force’, not ‘Force one’? I think Aphis99 has it right. TOP QUARK a total unknown in both senses. 82 minutes, with a few aids.

    1. Keriothe has it right, i.e. “Force one’s way” is the definition, “to the end of American” is THRU, and “thoroughfare” is ST. I don’t understand why this clue has caused any difficulties. It seems very straightforward to me.

  34. Tough, and then some. Had to resort to a list of OT books to get 19ac despite an inkling that HAJ was somehow involved. Being (ex-)RC should’ve got AMICE sooner, but at least I got it. Found MOUSLE on using aids but even though it didn’t really work I failed to see TOUSLE at the bottom of the list. A real workout and v enjoyable despite a technical DNF.

  35. Very tricky, but nicely put together. My only objection is apprentice = L, which is at least one step too far.

    Some very clever wordplay, and it took me forever to figure out EDDA even after I’d decided it was the only plausible answer to the definition.

    And very nice to have some Bible in there!

  36. After 55 minutes I gave up with A-I-E unsolved and looked it up. Submitted off leaderboard, not because I was ashamed of my time, or trying to salvage my SNITCH, but because I had to look up AMICE. The rest turned out to be correct. A bit of a slog! Didn’t know TITUS GROAN but worked it out. Had a vague recollection of QUARK as cheese. JABBER and BHUTANESE were first 2 in. 55:56 with one looked up. I’m with Keriothe and Stavrolex on the parsing of THRUST. Thanks setter and Jeremy.

  37. What a brilliant puzzle. The NW fell out straight away although AMICE had my fingers crossed. After that I was practically nowhere in20mims then, having got the long down clue TACITURN came to me and the clues started falling into place. As always with a great puzzle you then wonder how they took so long.

    32:58, so many COD contenders but I’ll give it to ADENOIDAL.

    Thx Jeremy and setter

  38. just over an hour for this enjoyable beast.

    COD to ADENOIDAL which didn’t half have me going for a while there.

  39. No time, but well over an hour in total – revisiting the bare NE corner at intervals throughout the day. An ingenious, very Friday puzzle

  40. Two goes needed, but got there in the end.

    NHO TITUS GROAN, but got the Groan bit and then remembered the book of Titus and thought it sounded right; that then unlocked the equally unfamiliar AMICE, where again I relied on the wordplay; vaguely remembered the DIRK dagger; didn’t know what a TOP QUARK is but assumed it would be something very small; had no idea how ADENOIDAL worked; despite having watched plenty of Top Gear don’t know exactly what a BIG END is; didn’t know Murphy as a potato but TUBER had to be right.

    Agree with keriothe and others re the parsing for THRUST and with Kevin Gregg re the parsing for CENOTAPH.

    A really tough challenge – thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Jabber
    LOI Amice
    COD Bhutanese

  41. Until I fell into the treacle well of the SW corner all was sunny and smug
    The H at the end of JEREMIAH made me think of HAJ but I thought it was spelled HADJ which was not helpful.
    I remember, as a pretentious 18 year old, reading the Everyman edition of the Prose EDDA on a river bank in Iceland. The bank collapsed and I fell in.
    ADENOIDAL, I would never have parsed.
    QUARK, the dairy product, is not widely known, the term “acquired taste” would be a bit generous.
    Thanks everyone

    1. Usually spelled HAJJ in English, in my experience. But transliteration from Arabic being what it is, HAJ and HADJ are both acceptable too.

      1. No, we were not far from Mt Hecla which hadn’t done much since the early forties. It was the year that Surtsey (?spp) appeared off the south coast and on both Icelandair flights from and to Glasgow the pilots flew all round it so we had a a night and day exhibition.
        I’ve always claimed it was the spot that the hero Gunnar spear vaulted the river with a distance of 17 ells according to the tale of “Burnt Njal”

        1. I remember reading and enjoying Burnt Njal’s saga from years ago. Must track it down and reread. Maybe Egil’s Saga too- that chap was quite the character!

  42. Did this early before golf but no time then to comment, so late to the party now. What a great puzzle, didn’t get stuck and all done in 40 minutes, with the unknown AMICE a guess from wordplay. The rest was up my street, and TOP QUARK was a favourite. I once gave up on reading TITUS GROAN. Surprised at the high SNITCH, I didn’t find it that difficult. Well done plusjeremy for persevering.

  43. DNF

    Lost the will to live after 75 minutes. I had been at 47% after half an hour but spent the next twenty minutes wondering from where the next answer would come. Eventually got going again with WAITRESS which, suggesting that 5d could end ‘THE WORST’ gave enough letters for PERPETRATE.

    TACITURN, CENOTAPH, TOP QUARK (I had already thought that Q could go before the U) all went in completing the RHS, followed by JEREMIAH, CLARINET, FINESPUN leaving four to get.

    These were a bridge too far – couldn’t have told you that was what ADENOIDAL meant; TOUSLE I would have said was more akin to ‘mess up’ rather than ‘rough up’ which has a significantly more robust meaning. Finally gave up with NHO AMICE and TITUS GROAN (GROAN seemed obvious given the checkers but never heard of the unlikely-named book – having not enjoyed Gormenghastly, I don’t think I’ll be trying TG in either this lifetime or the next – given that a significant majority on this blog seem not to have heard of the book suggests that it was a poor choice by the setter…)

    While it was a real challenge and mostly enjoyable, can’t help feeling a little cheated. Hey ho.

    Thanks Jeremy

  44. Been walking today, and did this over a late lunch, and loved it. Took a while but worth every minute.
    DO read Titus Groan, one of the pinnacles of English literature.


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