The Last Post - 23,434 - a bit of a killer

After 11 months of recording my Times for the Times puzzle here, it's time to hand over to a newer and better version, produced by a team. You can find this tomorrow by going here - - and replacing any bookmarks/favourites you've got stashed away with the old address. The first posting, which is already there, introduces the team. I may or may not continue posting here. If I post anything regular and xwd-related, I'll mention it in our new home.

Solving time 11:43

A tough puzzle, backing up something Mr Magoo said the other day about Tuesdays sometimes being difficult. Slightly spoiled for me by a couple of clues - a pity, as there's some very clever clue-writing, and not too much obscure 'general knowledge'. [Later addition: Both quibbles nullified by comments from the setter.] Possible "old chestnut" clue at 25. Pangram except for X. Beginner's points of the day: N=knight - chess notation, "good book(s)", and the setter's favourite muse making one of her regular appearances at 22. I think Clio is a fairly distant second.

1POL=lop rev.,ARISE="crop up"
101 A.M.,B,I/C
12O(ATE)S - Captian O of "I'm just going outside and may be some time".
14IN=fashionable,VERT=green,EBR(A)TE - 'beret woven' => anag.
231 NUIT = one night
26D(O.T.C.=over the counter)O,M - iffy, as stuff really means "stuffing". DO=make,M=millions. Setter's justification: It's Firm has "over the counter" stuff "make millions", which works much better.

1POW=report (i.e. noise, as of a punch in a comic),WOW="that's
2LOLITA = rev. of A,TIL(O)L
3R.E.,FUSE,NIK=kin rev.
4STRANGE(Qu.)ARK - a "tiny bit" in physics
6AWASH - reversed 'regular' letters in "tHe SeA's WhAt"
7BIBLICAL - "good books" = the Bible - at least for this editor. My colloquial English understanding is that the "good book" is the whole Bible, but for Times xwd purposes "good book" seems also to any of the "books" of which it's made up. Has anyone actually heard Psalms, say, referred to as "a good book". If not, this practice seems a bit sloppy (second to "banker" on my personal hitlist). The setter has pointed out by e-mail that as Mr Magoo says, one may own more than one Bible = 'good book'.
8RE,CUR(R)ED - "successor to do" = RE (do, re, mi ...) - very clever. better = CURED
15BON=nob rev.,VIVA,N.T. - a "bon vivant" enjoys the good things of life, esp. good food and wine
16A(BRIDGE)D - plug (colloq.) = AD, "spanner" = BRIDGE - very clever again
17WAGON-LIT = "sleeping car" (Fr.) - "dropping off" = going to sleep
19BUNYIP - anag. of pun,by,I=one - an Aussie swamp/lagoon monster

Indie 6253 (Virgilius) - 7:27
A cleverly-done literary theme for nearly all the acrosses, though with no wordplay for any of the "A quoting B" clues, it may annoy some solvers. Remembered most of them promptly, but 15 and (more embarrassingly) 17 took a while. I must have an Agatha Christie blind spot - when her picture came up on Univ. Challenge last night I confidently identified her as Enid Blyton.

Monday's Indie (Mordred's Indie debut) - about 45 mins, but one mistake.
Solved late last night after receiving a PDF version from the Indie xwd ed - thanks. Pretty difficult, but that's not too unusual for a debut puzzle (I don't think I've done more than one Listener Mordred). Slipped up on the clue about Tracy Emin, and struggled with some of the pop music stuff - not really my thing. But also failed on the classical side, not having come across Mark Eager, even though the trombone is my instrument (only at "weekend warrior" level these days).

Unfinished w/e puzzles
Times and Indie were finished with about another 10 minutes work on each, and a fair amount of self-kicking. Azed finished in a second sitting - about 45 mins of total solving time with Chambers. Jumbo 666 took me just under the hour late last night.

Advert for a another "community".

Neil Wellard is collecting people together to try to start a community similar to our impending Times one, for other good daily paper puzzles. The first aim seems to be to cover the Guardian and Indie puzzles in the same kind of detail. If you're interested in contributing, send an e-mail to:
n e i l dot w e l l a r d at g m a i l dot c o m

23,433 - Tricky for Monday

Solving time 10:20

Quite a few bits of literary and other knowledge needed here to be sure about the answers. Both our well-known "Isle of ..." islands (excepting the Hebrides with their dozens) are included. (I'm not counting Dogs, Ely or Thanet - not real islands, and Sheppey never seems to get into crosswords.)

4COCK(A TIE)L(e) - tie=knot, so no excuse for getting in a mess with the valid variant COCKATEEL or the dud COCKATEAL
9GENTLEMEN - apparently a euphemism for smugglers, as well as "preferring blondes"
15STATE,CRAFT - packet = ship/craft is standard Times xwd fare - possibly memorable if you've ever sailed the Irish sea with the magnificently-named Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.
18EU,LOGISTIC(s) logistics = the type of "management" practiced by all those companies with fleets of lorries you see on motorways - mainly getting desks and crates to the right place in office moves, it seems
19BEDE = "bead" - the Venerable B. was from Jarrow, along with those marchers, ships, and Steve Cram, still the holder of the European record for the mile.
21P(R)AYING,MAN,'TIS - Ellan Vannin cropping up again.
24SCI-FI hidden, reversed in 'specific situations'. A "filler" word.
25AX=axe,MIN(I)STER - minster/minister switches are as popular in the Times xwd as on the London Underground - "The next stop is Westminister" - nearly as good as "Action Town".
28STRAW = warts rev.

2VAN - "Van Dyke" = artist, beard, star of Mary Poppins, etc.
3YELLOW - Yellow Dog Dingo features in the Just So stories (the Camel Hump one) - news to me.
4C(A,M.P.'s)ITES - a bit of time wasted looking for ???? CAMPS.
5CANTO(r) - the cantor in a synagogue leads the service
6AIRSP=anag. of Paris,ACE=pilot. Not terribly keen on this clue - "parts of Paris" seems a weak anag-indicator, and the "going over" with this word-order is rather a stretch.
7IM(PRE=rep. rev)MANENT - immanent = dwelling within
8LAYS - More new knowledge: Pertelote is the cockerel Chanticleer's "wife" in Chaucer's Nun's Priest's Tale, or Chanticleer and the Fox. Fortunately for ignorant folk like me, given 'literary works', LAYS is the only plausible choice for the checking letters.
12NEEDLEPOINT - the Needles are chalk "stacks" - a well-known Isle of Wight coastal landmark, near Alum Bay - the place where your parents or grnadparents got those glass tubes containing sand of many colours.
13OTTER SHREW - re. in anag. A new type of shrew to me - knew about 'elephant'.
20C(ANNE)S - Anne = "dead queen". There's a statue of her outside St Paul's cathedral, and a rhyme about it with implications about her reign that I don't fully understand - something like: Brandy Nan, Brandy Nan, You left us in the lurch, Your face towards the drinking shop, Your arse towards the church.
22(p)IRATE - "Silver" = Long John S.

No indie comments yet - paper boy didn't turn up yet.

Weekend round-up - worst ever?
No, but worst for ages. After a busy weekend, including corrupting a nine-year old honorary nephew by teaching him to play sixty-six, attempted various puzzles at about 1 a.m. today - really 2 of course as the clocks just went back. Not a good idea.
Times 23,432: stuck after about half an hour with two pairs of blanks - 6/10 and 14/20.
Guardian 23,909 (Brendan) 6:23 - a relief, with a gentle thematic element today.
Indie 6251 (Nimrod) gave up after about half an hour with the bottom long answer and 23,18 and 17 left.

Will report how well Jumbo (not looked at yet) and the other two get finished when revisited at a more sensible hour.

Blog to community swap
The new team are ready to go, at a location to be revealed tomorrow. I'll write the first entry on Wednesday, and also introduce the team on that day.

23,431 - Polymathic (+ 23,426 and other stuff)

Solving time 8:44

POLYMATH at 15 is a good word to have in the Times crossword, but the definition, "one high in intelligence" isn't quite accurate, and illustrates a common misconception about the puzzle. High intelligence certainly helps, especially with quick solutions, but it's not a requirement. Neither is "great learning". A reasonable level of intelligence and varied learning are what you need (oh, and bags of practice...). Classic quote (A P Herbert?) "there are some very stupid people who can do it very easily, and many fellows of the Royal Society who cannot do it at all". Samples from yesterday: Erastus=theologian, Oates=conspirator, Telford=engineer - the details of their doctrine/plot/constructions are not required. Today's words for beginners to remember: IDE and MIG.

1A(C,CO(M)P)LICE - the arrested male is held by a COP
12WEATHER STATION - very apposite anag.
14MAT,RIX="ricks" as in hay ricks. Nice deception about the type of mould.
15P(O)LY,M,AT,H - slightly off def'n (really "person of great and wide learning") compensated for by surface meaning...
17RED,GIANT - Giant was the last of Dean's films.

1A(R)GO - Jason's boat when looking for that fleece
2CON,SENT=archaism for 'elated'
3MERETRICIOUS - anag. - today's lesson for me was the precise meaning and spelling of this word - an interesting etymology. Look it up - go on, you know you want to ...
7COR(SIC)A(l) - had minor trouble with this island a month or two ago but xwd section of brain screamed it out today
8BEHIND HAND is how you (sorry, "one") might yawn.
11LAB,YR(IN)THINE "your double" = yr., thine
13EMERY CLOTH - rev. of H,to,L,C(lums)Y,REME - the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, who you have to remember along with RE=Royal Engineers (who appeared on Saturday). Very irritating as I'd guessed EMERY PAPER and had to scrap it
16(c)AN'T ELOPE - a bit of time wasted with a crass guess at UNGULATE with a vague hope about a reversed GNU at the beginning.

Indie 6250 (Phi) - 5:24
No theme here, just consistently good clue-writing. If Phi looks here from NZ, he may be fed up with seeing his carefully crafted puzzles wolfed down in 5-6 minutes. He and I share much in common - born about a year apart, and both into classical music - though older stuff for me than he. That and the fact that I've been solving Phi puzzles in the Listener and other places for years makes them (usually) easy for me. His puzzles are far better than these times might suggest to you. "Cretan Bull" in his Labours of Hercules series has a guaranteed place in my "Desert Island crosswords" list, and I was suprised not to see this as his sample puzzle in the recent Azed book.

Azed 1,795
Tackled late last night. Soon gave up any hope of a non-dictionary solution. Just over 40 minutes in the end, with several kick-self clues that I should have got with less agonising.

Church Times 875 - Roy Dean
Roy sent me this in the post - sadly too late for me to point you to it on the paper's web-site where the current puzzle is visible for free (under "Humour and Crossword"). This series edited by Don Manley is one of the best puzzles you can get for nothing, if you don't mind some religious references. Although it's a C of E paper, these are fairly catholic as you can see from "Missile landing on Messina wrecked church service" (10,4). (I suspect you could work Medina into a similar clue, but that might be too controversial!)

23,426 - fairly easy for a Saturday

Solving time 9:21
(Well, easy for me - I'm pretty sure this was the single puzzle during my holiday for which I managed to beat Mr Magoo by the odd minute - he beat me on all the others, though not quite by as much as the 6 mins to 16 the other day.)

1BUCK,O - not sure when 'bucko' was up-to-date slang...
4REP,UBLICS=anag. of club is
9CON,SC,I.O.U.'s - with "is on to him" indicating that SC = special constable is next to CON = criminal
10TAHOE - anag. of a hot, E = English. Lake T is a resort in the US, which I vaguely remembered for an ultra-marathon race held there (no I don't do that kind of thing - 26m 385y was enough for me even when young and fit)
20R.E.(the good old Royal Engineers),ACTION
23PUPIL = rev. of (s)lip-up
25PORT,S(AL)LUT - probably my least favourite French cheese, at least in the plastic-wrapped orange-skinned version sold in supermarkets.
26ER(A)SE - Erse = old name for Irish (and maybe Scots) Gaelic

2C,INN(A)BAR - an ore of (Google pause...) mercury
4ROOK - hidden word, &lit.
8SP(EED)Y - the river Dee rising in look=spy
13NEER-DO-WELL - put NEED = requirement next to ORWELL=Blair, and 'promote', i.e. move up, the R=royal. (Eric Blair was George Orwell's real name. Various other literary pseudonyms are Times xwd fare, notably Acton/Currer/Ellis BELL for the Bronte sisters.)
15M(ANT)ILL,A - that black lacy thing that Spanish ladies wear, originally to go to church.
16DEM(ocrat),ARCH,E - a Démarche is a political manoeuvre - the linked Wiki article is recommended even if only to tell you how to say the word.

New York Times Sunday 22 Oct - Linkletter art by Harvey Estes
In the interest of making this my most polymathic entry ever, here's one from the plane home, syndicated in the IHT. The grid features an unmissable central H made by black squares, and some grid entries next to it without clue numbers. It turns out that various clues use this H to substitute for an H in the appropriate position in the answer, continuing in the un-numbered bit on the other side - e.g. MAKEST/block/EMOSTOF. Team-solved with Mrs B - an entertaining hour or two spread over coffee bar, gate and plane. Probably a letter or two out at an awkward crossing, but that's not unusual for me with US puzzles. Memorably groan-worthy clue: "Hockey game starter, often (7)". Tried for ages to make FACE-OFF or (something else)-OFF fit, but the right answer is OCANADA - put a space in the right place for this to make sense...

Community update
We now have a team of seven, probably covering one day each including the Sunday Times puzzle, and two people on the subs' bench. Some of the team will not be able to post until the UK evening, due to work commitments or location, so on some days you'll have to be patient. Team members should not regard this epic post as some kind of gauntlet.

23,430 - super puzzle

Solving time 11:54

Lots of good stuff in this one - a round of applause for the setter. Various bits of knowledge required, but I don't think these would be enough to prevent a solution for people without them.

1C,A,Pa.,CITY - Philadelphia = "a Pa. city"
10PROFESSIONALISM - anag. of 'in E soaps or films'
11ER=(R.E. rev.),AS,T(aught),U.S. - Erastus was indeed a theologian.
12P,RE(Qu.)EL - a lovely creative bit of wordplay.
15O(r)ATES - Titus O fits the 'conspirator' bill.
20G,RE A TAPE - another beautifully simple bit of wordplay
23COARSER - "courser" as in "hare coursing" - I guess this word can apply to people doing hunting as well as greyhounds.
25CHARLIE - 2 slang meanings
26BUILDING BRIDGES - as Thomas Telford did, along with roads & canals.
27REGIME - rev. of em=measure (printing), I=current (physics), Ger.=German - some old favourites for beginners to note
28CREDIT,ON="to be paid for by" as in "this round's on me" - yes, it's a Devon town.

1COPPER - a type of butterfly as well as a bit of "PC slang".
2PRO,BAT,I,ON=bowling - another classic clue not really about cricket at all.
3CHE(St.)ER - cheer = comfort is an old-fashioned meaning
4TO,S.A.S. - tosas are a Japanses breed of mastiff, orginally kept for fighting. And the SAS are an elite bunch of squaddies.
7P(OIL)U - oil in up rev. "poilu" = French slang for a soldier - an infantryman, from memory.
14FIGUR(I)NE - gunfire actually being the object, not the subject of "caused damage".
19HAS,I,DIM - the hasidim are fundamentalist Jews - the ones in all the black
21T(O,AD)IED - ad = bill as in "Bill stickers will be prosecuted"
22NELSON - a wrestling hold and famous column.
25CAB,E.R. - the caber famously tossed in the Highland games is a tree trunk.

Indie 6249 - Punk
Unless he appeared while I was away, this is Punk's debut Indie puzzle. You can tell from another xwd website that he's also Paul of the Guardian - John Halpern, also on the Times team. I suspect the Punk/Monk rhyme is no coincidence. Very nice puzzle which took 9:42 - a bit quicker than I feared - Paul puzzles can be tough for me. If you want to solve it, look away now, as although the theme was a nice choice, I have a nasty feeling (not confirmed by any easily findable stuff on the web, so I'm probably wrong) that not all British Monopoly sets use the same colours for the groups of properties. So as well as foxing those used to Atlantic City street names (or these days, American national parks, Tolkien characters and heaven knows what else), there may be niggles from some owners of the UK's traditional London-based sets. Our family heirloom from the 1930s was fine ("If you have questions about monopoly, send an envelope with stamps to the value of 1 3/4 d to Waddingtons ..." - now I guess you're directed to some website).

Change to community

We now have a team of four plus a likely "without portfolio" extra to write about the Times puzzles, so the community change will go ahead, starting on 1st November. The last regular posting here will give you a link to follow as the community counts as a seperate LiveJournal entity. I may carry on using this blog for more personal reflections on puzzles.

I'd be delighted to have a couple more people on the writing team if anyone else is still thinking about it, but let me know by the weekend so that I can get things set up and tell all the team members which days in November they're covering.

23,429 - a fair test

Solving time: Irrelevant - somewhere around 10 mins on the day.

The last of the three puzzles in my preliminary round of the championship. A fair amount to explain, but nothing horribly difficult. Two fairly easy long down answers should have given everyone a good start. Completed by 50% of solvers inside the time limit, which is a fairly high number even with the old 30-minute limit.

1M,ALICE - ref. that AA Milne poem about going up to London with Alice to watch the changing of the guard.
4FREE,FORM (form = set of classes = Brit school lingo - something like "fourth form" equates to say "ninth grade" in the US, and a school of any size splits the kids in each form into separate classes. Except that now, most Brit schools use expressions like "year six" instead.)
11PLA(I)N - patent as in patently obvious
12SIC = Latin for 'thus', used to indicate reported misspellings in print.
13LIE DETECTOR - sooth means truth.
14HUMBLE as in 'eating humble pie', which various people did in the afternoon if not the morning...
16SPINACH - can in hips = fruit (rose-hips), all rev.
22THE HEBRIDES - anag. - a change from the usual wedding-related clues about the Hebrides.
25NO H - the xwd setter's instant summary of Cockney speech.
26TOSCA - O in anag. of acts
28C.,ON,CERT,I - one well-fancied horse fell at this fence with "CONCERTA" - wrong on two counts - (a) not even a (expetive deleted) word! (b) uses one=A rather than I, apparently not done in the Times puzzle

2LOST CAUSE - There's some quote about Oxford being a home of lost causes.
3C,R,EEL - a fish basket
6EUPHEMISM - hidden word - probably my favourite clue in this puzzle. In the pub session, several people had to be convinced by printed evidence that a hidden word clue for this word was possible.
8MONARCH(type of butterfly),Y(tail of "butterfly").
15BROKE,RAGE - the usual split for this word
17ARSEN(I,C)AL Non-Brits:Arsenal = a football club
18EC(lipse),STATIC - a nice bit of phrasing to make you think of something like corona or Bailey's beads.
21WHOLLY = "holy" - I have a feeling this was the last answer I wrote in on the day
23ESSEN - German city, all letters being quarters = compass points
24S(I)TAR - Indian instrument, not that far from the guitar with which it rhymes.

Indie 6248 - Dac
Took 4:59 - straightforward but included some good clues, such as the very apposite Family starts regal upset in this drama (4,4). And today's 'up-to-date' musical reference was only to DANCE BAND, not a blues singer like the one that troubled me a few weeks ago.

Any volunteers?

I'm pondering changing this blog to a "community", with a team of about 3 to 6 people to share the task of writing up comments about the day's puzzle. So far I have one volunteer to share this task on a regular basis. If I can find a couple more, I'll run with this new idea.

I'm not looking for champions or contenders, just people who finish the puzzle most times they try it. You'd be expected to indicate your time and any clues you got wrong or didn't solve, but you don't need to share my opinions or follow my writing or explanation style - just be willing to write about your experience of solving the puzzle. I'm actually keen to have a couple of people who've only just got to the "regular completion" stage, as their comments may be more useful for beginners than ones from people who've been finishing the puzzle for decades. You will need a LiveJournal account, but as far as I know the free kind will suffice. If you're interested, let me know at one of the e-mail addresses on my "Cryptic Crossword Corner" site.

23,428 - very tricky

Solving time 15:43

If the chap who had 17 answers yesterday gets more than about 6 of these in the same time, he should be proud of himself. On to the explanations ...

1P(ASTOR)ALE - various Astors used to own the Times. And a pale is a post. Related useless Portuguese for you: palito = little stick = toothpick.
6BLEAK - a kind of fish as well as cold and raw. Much time wasted looking for C=cold plus a four-letter 'raw' to make some other fish.
10D(RAFT)EE - had the right river from the start, but was looking for DE????E rather than D????EE - something like DEPUTEE
12UNA(DOR=rod rev.)NED - carried=held is the containment indicator, and Una is a popular xwd girl for fairly obvious reasons.
13C,HURL=cast,ISH="ruined his production" - hmmm.
17N.U.T.,S - new solvers: know your trade union initials.
18COAL="Cole (Porter)",HOLE="whole" - nuts are lumps of coal, as in "nutty slack". Very fiendish!
21LE(E,RING)LY - Lely was certainly a painter, nationality unknown to me before.
22R(A,D)IO = to contact by radio, I assume
27TITLED,EED=Dee rev. (Dee = dimin. of any girl's name you like beginning with D - more popular in 60s/70s than now, I suspect)

4A(L)TRUISM - a well-worn path, this one, so an easy clue for regulars
6BE A CON - more time wasted, trying to sell myself the non-existent variant spelling CLAXON with a stretched meaning of lax, and con (trick) as an instance of criminality. Good thing I didn't quite buy it.
7EN(TENT)E,COR(DIAL=laid rev.)E - a classic case of "spot the def and don't worry about the wordplay until later"
8KNEADABLE - anag. of bank deal + E
13CAN(ALE)T,TO - "snatch" on its own as the containment indicator is a tad iffy for me.
15POLY,G(L)OT - poly(technic) = "college once" as all UK poly's were upgraded to universities about a decade ago.
16FLORENCE - Brunelleschi was responsible for the dome of the duomo (cathedral) in Florence. I guess he must have been born in the same city.
20AG(H)A,St. New solvers: remember the aga = ruler (as well as oven), who can also be agha when it suits, I think.
23OREAD - a mountain nymph - fell = hill/mountain up North.

Indie 6247 (Virgilius) - 5:43
An absolute gem. I'll say no more except: beg steal or borrow this puzzle and enjoy it for yourselves.

23,427 - easy enough

Solving time 6:12

Didn't take long, but quite a few clues to explain. I'll try to expand my explanations a little, given the comment's on Mark's style while I was away.

1D=500,I,STRICT - quarter as in "Latin quarter"
11SACK,C,LOTH (answer to 19 = TO BOOT = sack)
12RUDD=fish,I,GORE=spear - Ruddigore is a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta
13NAEVI - rev. of I've,a,N
14SPUTNIK - anag. (Included just in case younger readers don't know the word ...)
16DRIVE-(i)N = the cinema
18E.(SCOR = rocs rev.)T.
20JACK,T.A.,R - slang for a sailor
22(c)RURAL - crural = relating to the leg or thigh
27CUD,GEL - batter = verb in this clever wordplay
28GRA(DIE)NT - die (singular of "dice", which is sing. or plural) = gambling equipment

1DEF(ORES)T - showing dexterity = deft, rocks of econ. interest = ORES
2SWORD - seems to be a plain definition, but SWORD = anag. of "words" too.
4C,A,S,SOCK - footwear not being SHOE or a type thereof fooled me for a moment
6SECOND,INCOME(e),MAN,D='finally demoted'. Not madly keen on "to" between def'n and wordplay but it makes a good surface reading.
7A(TONE,ME)NT - soldier = ANT, me = ME, so Wolfe must be TONE. Turns out post-solving that Theobald Wolfe Tone was an early Irish republican. "is to make" is a rather epic def'n / wordplay link, but seems a fair one.
9S,CREED = articles as in Henry VIII's Six Articles of 1539 (good thing I've read a fair amount of Tudor history lately).
15UN=one (as in "The Pink 'Un" for the FT),SCRE(W)ED - with the ellipsis (...) at the beginning indicating the use of the answer to the previous clue, rather than an overlap of clues or (as most commonly) a combined surface meaning.
20JAN.,ITOR=rev. of roti, yet another kind of bread you can get at the curry house.
21T,RAGIC = cigar rev.
24AWARE - hidden word, with "for trapping" as a rather novel hidden word indicator

Indie 6246 - Tees
Took 5:59 - mostly easy, but a pause at the end to conclude that 1D had to be NAIL SET, which is indeed a tool - some kind of cold chisel thing. Some very nice clues, such as 1A, 7, 14, 16, 24, 6, 15. 1A as a sample: Lack of interest shown bu Nixon, in a word (7,5) = NOTHING DOING ("nix on").

Weekend non-Times round-up
Guardian 23,903 (Pasquale) 8:43 - Nice thematic puzzle of a kind that the Guardian used to do more often - a gentle introduction to the sort of tricks you get in more advanced puzzles.
Indie 6245 (Monk) 39:20 - Very tough thematic puzzle, but came out in the end.
Times Jumbo 665 41:10 - Should have been quicker but carelessly wrote OLIVER TWIST at 34D in the grid, instead of next to the clue as something that happened to fit and tied in with a word or two in the clue. Correct answer was a new word for me.

Azed not yet tackled