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Solved in bed with the tea and toast, in 20 minutes or so, more or less anti-clockwise with 3a and the first word of 6d being the last to drop in. Nothing too obscure, except some non-musical people may not be familiar with the chap at 25a; for me he was a write-in, as a bunch of us had a period while at university enthusing about 20th century composers especially Czech ones. This one stuck in my mind because he wrote a piece for the theremin, an interesting piece of kit, q.v. on Wikipedia.

Enough rambling on, here's the good bit.

1 COCK - CLOCK could be an alarm; leave out the L to get the doodle-do bird that wakes you up.
3 AMBASSADOR - Easy to biff, D diplomat; parsed as A, BASS = voice, inside MAD = fanatical, OR = soldiers.
9 MANAGER - MAN = staff, ArGuE regularly = AGE, R = run, D supervisor.
11 MOPHEAD - MO = second, PAD = home, insert HE; D floppy-haired chap. First of three clues involving a HEAD. So what, you say.
12 SHORT HEAD - (HAD HORSE T)*, the T from AinTree; D hardly any distance. Clever way to make the answer relevant to the surface.
13 LENIN - LEN(T) = made advances, no end; IN = elected; Lenin was most definitely a Communist.
14 LEATHERCLOTH - (THE THE COLLAR)*, 'twice the' indicating the repeat and 'frayed' as the anagrind; D strong fabric.
18 AMELIORATION - A, M = mass, ELI = priest, ORATION = sermon; D improvement.
21 HADES - HEADS (again) are bosses; move the E(ast); D underground.
22 TOWN HOUSE - (NOW HE'S OUT)*; D dwelling.
24 LOOFAHS - LOO = toilet, F = female, (HAS)* 'splurged'; D cleaners.
25 MARTINU - UNIT RAM = one hit, recalled; D Czech musician, Bohuslav Martinů, 1890-1959. If you enjoy stuff like Janáček and Bartók, you'll like this; I used to have a few of his works on vinyl on the old Supraphon label, I wish I had kept them; perhaps vinyl1 has some.
26 TO THE POINT - Cryptic definition, of the witty kind.
27 ANTE - DANTE is the linesman (crossword-ese for a poet); delete the D = header, D bet.

1 CAMISOLE - CAM = coat, MAC, pulled up; SOLE = one, insert I = single; D item of underwear.
2 CANTONAL - CANAL = waterway, insert TON = a large amount; D state's, pertaining to a state. With C-N it had to be canal, so I didn't spend time thinking of the name of a state.
4 MARNE - MAE West safeguards RN; D battle, WW1, 5-12 September 1914.
5 ARMADILLO - ARMAD(A) = not entirely fleet; ILL = badly, O = oxygen; D creature.
6 SUPPLY TEACHER - SUP = drink, PLY = work, TEA = a cuppa, CHE(E)R = encourage, disheartened; D member of school staff.
7 DUENNA - DUE = expected, N = noon, NA = an upstanding, D governess.
8 RODENT - ROT = rubbish, insert DEN = hideout; D this creature.
10 GOT THE MESSAGE - G = good, OT = books, THE MES = subjects, SAGE = wise fellow; D understood.
15 RELATES TO - RE = on, O = radio at last, insert LATEST = up-to-the-minute news; D concerns.
16 DISUNION - IS UNI inserted into DON; D dissention.
17 INSECURE - IN = popular, SEE = spot, insert CUR = rogue; D unsafe.
19 CHALET - Today's hidden word, easier than usual; FUN(CHAL ET)C; D holiday accommodation.
20 ADROIT - A DRO(P) = a short dram, IT = vermouth; D clever.
23 WOMAN - NOW = present, held up = WON, inset MA for mother; D lady.

Quick Cryptic 622 by Corelli

Greetings from Colombia - about to travel back to UK following a wonderful time on a remote island off Cartagena. Apologies for any slips but blogging under sub-optimal circumstances and very much in holiday mode.

Nice offering from Corelli at the easier end of the spectrum I thought. Several witty clues and some neat wordplay, and no obscurities. Thanks to Corelli for a fun puzzle.

Definitions underlined: DD = double definition: anagrams indicated by *(--)

1 Illegally catching fish perhaps and cooking it? (8)
POACHING - You may wish to poach your fish instead of frying it...
5 Mineral in metal container (4)
TALC - Hidden (indicated by "in") in meTAL Container
8 Rose has this ripped clothing Henry! (5)
THORN - TORN (ripped) going around (clothing) H (abbrev. Henry)
9 Adjust once more: study appropriate (7)
READAPT - READ (study) + APT (appropriate)
11 I was victorious, you might say (3)
ONE - Homophone (indicated by "you might say") of "was victorious"
12 What waiter brings to finish off cake and pour (3,6)
ICE BUCKET - ICE (to finish off cake) + BUCKET (pour - as in "it's bucketing down")
13 Guy maybe who’s iffy — eg corrupt (6)
EFFIGY - *(IFFY EG) with "corrupt" as the anagrind; the definition is a reference to Guy Fawkes whose effigy is burned on 5th November
15 A drink for every mistake Homer makes? (6)
PERNOD - PER (for every) NOD (mistake Homer makes - i.e. the 'Homeric nod'). Very droll!
18 Curvy French maid? (4,2,3)
JOAN OF ARC - Nice jokey cryptic based on "arc" indicating a curve
19 Instrument used in forest fire (3)
AXE - DD. 'Instrument' in the first definition struck me as a tad odd, but I'm sure it's fine (the second definition is, of course, relating to terminating someone's employment)
20 Mean lad upset old statesman (7)
MANDELA - *(MEAN LAD) with "upset" as the anagrind
21 European, however small, displaying spirit (5)
ETHOS - E (abbrev. European) + THO (however) + S (small)
22 University study’s ending with beer! (4)
YALE - Y (studY's ending - i.e. last letter) + ALE (beer)
23 Fly, for example, more quickly around North East (8)
FASTENER - FASTER (more quickly) goes 'around' NE (North East) - with the definition referring to the zip fly

1 The pool transforming cave (7)
POTHOLE - *(THE POOL) with "transforming" as the anagrind
2 Stirred using a cooking pot and end of ladle (5)
AWOKE - A WOK (a cooking pot) + E (end of ladlE)
3 Working closely together, and giving great affection (4,2,5)
HAND IN GLOVE - Answer also from the wordplay HAND IN (giving) + G (abbrev. great) + LOVE (affection). Took me a while to spot the wordplay part as I was originally thinking of it as a DD (albeit the second definition did not quite stack up!)
4 Tended to turn red with sun (6)
NURSED - *(RED + SUN) with "to turn" as the anagrind
6 American boy carrying request (7)
ALASKAN - ALAN (boy) 'carrying' ASK (request)
7 Manage scaled-down Information Technology (3,2)
CUT IT - CUT (scaled down) + IT (information technology)
10 An attractive way of speaking that’s used in French, say (5,6)
ACUTE ACCENT - A CUTE ACCENT (an attractive way of speaking - more pleasing drollery)
14 Soft soap or a facecloth (7)
FLANNEL - Straightforward DD
16 Evidently no nudist’s item of furniture (7)
DRESSER - DD, the first an amusing cryptic one
17 Severely criticise a mother’s wide-brimmed hat (6)
PANAMA - PAN (severely criticise) A MA (a mother)
18 Lucky, like fingers getting stuck into doughnut? (5)
JAMMY - DD, second barely cryptic
19 Pale, like chicken (5)
ASHEN - AS HEN (like chicken) - rather neat, I thought


I haven’t got much to say about this puzzle so let’s get straight on with it.  I solved it in 4 bursts of about 10 minutes each.

First in was SORBET, last in ATHENIANS.



DISGUST  - D(etective) I(nspector)S + GUST with engendering as the link betwixt wordplay and definition


ARMATURE - A MATURE around R(esistance) for “the rotating coil or coils of a dynamo or electric motor” 


ALL OVER BAR THE SHOUTING - A sort of identikit clue made by joining the elements together, in order, to create a phrase that may or may not be in use outside the UK


ABADDON - A BAD DON in the Old Testament a Hebrew name for a place of utter ruin, death, desolation, or destruction


NETTLE - NETT (clear) + L{an}E.  Urticaceous “simply” means of, relating to, or belonging to the Urticaceae, a family of plants, having small flowers and, in many species, stinging hairs: includes the nettles and pellitory


AMANUENSIS  - MAN in (anissue)* for “a literary or artistic assistant, in particular one who takes dictation or copies manuscripts”


OLD MAN’S BEARD - Common name for clematis vitalba (see also traveller’s joy) whose fruit has long silky appendages which look like and old man’s beard (if the only bearded old men you’ve seen are in book illustrations by drug users).  I’ve never met George Bernard Shaw but I’ll take it as read that he had a beard when he was old




SEASONAL - A SON in SEA then (wil)L




IMPREGNATE - I’M + P(u)R(s)E + GNAT + E with fill as the def


BARLEYCORN - BAR + CO RN (Commanding Officer, Royal Navy) around LEY


MASTER-AT-ARMS  - A TAR MS following MASTER for “a naval rating responsible for law enforcement, regulating duties, security and force protection”


HECATOMB - CATO IN HE MB with “disturbed by” as the slightly quirky insertion indicator.  I only know this word from crosswords.  It‘s “a great public sacrifice, originally of a hundred oxen”


OILCLOTH - O(verused) + IL (Italian for the) + CLOTH


CITY - {PAU}CITY. Pau is a city in south west France named after the famous teletubby


ARCHDEACONRY - (acdharryonce)*


WONDERMENT - DER + MEN in WONT (as in, as is my wont)


SCARED - SCARRED with one of the Rs removed.  But which one?


HASSOCK - ASS in HOCK (to be in hock meaning to be in debt). A hassock is a cushion for kneeling on in church


AERIALLY - I in A E(uropean) RALLY


THE WRONG END OF THE STICK - when you’ve got this you’ve misunderstood…


MACKEREL - MAC + KEEL around R(iver)


TRELLIS - TELL around R(epublican) + IS(land).  I’ve just received a letter from a Mrs Trellis of North Wales: Dear Yoko Ono, Is it true your name is Japanese for One Egg? PS: I swear by your soap powder


LATINO - L.A. T{hree} IN O



SCARABS - AB (= Able Seaman = Jack Tar = Jack) in SCARS


ULTRA-MODERN  - (duetnormal)*  with R(omantics) thrown into the mix


TWEED - T for time plus “remove unwanted plants from” for weed 


MOURN - MO + URN with “lament loss of”  being the definition


THISTLEDOWN - T + (inthewolds)*




MOONQUAKE  - QUAKE(r) (friend briefly) under (supporting)  MO (doctor) ON (investigating, I think, as in “on the case”)


SIROCCO - ROC in SIC + O.  A little bit of misdirection with “round” equating to O rather than being a surroundicator but I can’t imagine anyone being fooled with the definition making the answer pretty obvious




SPACE BAR - DD, one whimisical.  Did anyone else think of Star Wars? 




AUTOMATON- A U(niversity) TOM + reversal of NOT A


OKEY-DOKE - (l)OOKE(d) surrounding KEY D(uke) with “very well” being the def


PRESTON - P(iano) + REST + ON for the urban settlement in Lancashire that gained city status in 2002


LEATHERNECK - E(nglish) in LATHER + NECK as in “he’s got some neck”.  Leatherneck is a military slang term for a member of the United States Marine Corps, or of the British Royal Marines. It is generally believed to originate in the wearing of a leather "stock" or collar around the neck, which kept the posture erect


MOLLYCODDLE - COLE (Porter) around DD all after MOLLY






WAKEFUL - WAKE (as in the wash from a boat) + F(rilly) U(ndies) L(ovingly)


DURER - UR, the ancient city regularly visited by Times setters, inside DER, clued as “the German” for the zweite mal in diese gecrosswortpuzzielschaftung


SWEPT - S(on) + WEPT, daily as in cleaning woman (which reminds me, I must watch Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid again soon)


LIKEN - L(iberal) + (politician)N following IKE (Dwight D. Eisenhower, not Ike Ntinaturner)


Quick Cryptic 621 by Orpheus

I thought this was excellent - quite a few trip-ups to catch the unwary and certain clues needed a real focus to break through. There's also a French wine and an Italian island - so I would say this was on the harder side today (17 minutes for me). I've said much the same before only for people to come along and say it was easy - so I make a caveat in the comment of 1dn.


8. History - background. Fellow's (HIS), TORY.
9. Naomi - girl. I MOAN backwards.
10. Claim - contention. 'I' tucked into CLAM.
11. Address - speak to. Daughter (D) in A DRESS.
12. Stevenson - author. Essayi(ST EVEN SO N)ot.
14. Tip - advice. (PIT)t backwards.
16. Tub - clumsy boat. Underground (TUB)e - missing European (E).
18. Treasurer - double definition.
19. Spaniel - dog. That is (IE) left (L) by (next to/after) bridge (SPAN).
22. Flask - something to put a fluid in. Fluid (FL - I haven't seen this abbreviation before), request (ASK).
23. Ounce - double definition. The 'surprisingly' makes the clue scan as well as being a humorous comment.
24. Seattle - Washington city. SETTLE outside A.


1. Thickset - stocky. Slow witted (THICK - possibly describes my performance today), group (SET).
2. Estate - landed property. East (E), say (STATE). 'Say' is usually a homophone indicator.
3. Boom - nautical spar. The opposite to bust in 'boom and bust'. Good deception here - 'be bust' has anagram indicator written all over it following a 4 letter word.
4. Bypass - ring road. Donkey riders travel BY ASS around quiet (P).
5. Anodynes - painkillers. Anagram (unfortunately) of YES AND NO.
6. Covert - secret. Deliveries in cricket (OVER) inside court (CT).
7. Hiss - sound of snake. IS inside husband (H) and son (S).
13. Entailed - unavoidably involved. Dog (TAIL) inside an anagram (terrible) of NEED. 'Entwined' was itching to be biffed here.
15. Parakeet - bird. A garden implement (A RAKE) inside pet (PET). Using 'pet' neat, so to speak, fooled me. I was casting around for synonyms.
17. Beaune - red wine from a district in eastern France near Dijon. I know the wine but this was still LOI because it took too long to focus on 'they say' and so start work on the homophone. Homophone (they say) of 'bone' - which a spaniel may enjoy.
19. Enlist - sign up. Learner (L) an is (IS - another word from the clue going straight into the answer), inside hospital department (ENT).
20. Rialto - Venetian island. Anagram (recollected) of TAILOR. I don't know of the island but it was pretty clear that there was an anagram so it was a case of fitting the letters together in a reasonable manner and then I realised I had heard of Rialto.
21. Stop - an organist may draw it out. Hymn(S TO P)lay.
22. Flat - double definition.

Times Cryptic 26474

I needed more than an hour to complete this one and would rate it as the most difficult weekday puzzle for some time. Only one word and one abbreviation were unknown to me but there were a few shades of meaning I had to struggle for and some of the wordplay was quite intricate. Here's my blog...

 As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]

1 Advice on food less useful after seeing girlfriend? (4-6,4)
BEST-BEFORE DATE - BEST-BEFORE (less useful after), DATE (seeing girlfriend)
9 Concerned with managing criminal behaviour (9)
OFFENDING - OF (concerned with),  FENDING (managing)
10 Smooth ride at last after a modern vehicle’s secured (5)
SUAVE - SUAV (modern vehicle - Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), {rid}E [at last]. "Secured" seems redundant other than adding to the surface. I didn't know the acronym so the answer was biffed. On edit: alternative parsings are discussed in the comments below.
11 An Australian native’s at edge of outback in semi-desert (5)
KAROO - {outbac}K [edge of] , A (an), ROO (Australian native). I didn't know this word either. SOED defines it as: Any of certain elevated semi-desert plateaux in southern Africa; terrain of this kind.
12 Paid after deduction of fine, this member of metal group (9)
PALLADIUM - P{ai}D [after deduction of A1 - fine). Easily biffable with a couple of checkers but it took me an age to spot the wordplay. PD being the chemical symbol for the element.
13 In game, stand at first behind square leg (8)
NINEPINS - NINE (square], PIN (leg - slang), S{tand} [at first]. Nine being correctly clued as a square today, not as a cube!
15 Engineer’s wide corner (6)
WANGLE - W (wide - e.g. cricket), ANGLE (corner)
17 Vehicle carrying fuel / requiring gentle handling (6)
TENDER - Two definitions. I lost time on this one thinking "tanker" to fit the first definition and then being unable to account for the remainder of the clue.
19 I have come in drunk to have a good time (4,2,2)
LIVE IT UP - I'VE (I have) in LIT UP (drunk) - A somewhat old-fashioned term which I knew from the WWII song: "I'm going to get lit up when the lights go on in London".
22 Matter less: it comes to nothing (9)
COUNTDOWN - COUNT (matter), DOWN (less). De-de, de-de, de-de-de-dum!
23 Curve is symbolically famous, where leader crashes out (5).
CONIC - {i}CONIC (symbolically famous) [leader crashes out]. It's well outside my field but I feel sure some will dispute the definition here, however the dictionaries seem to agree that a conic section is a curve and a "conic section" can be referred to simply as a "conic".
24 Regular goalkeeper keeps moving slowly (5)
LARGO - Hidden in [keeps] {regu}LAR GO{alkeeper}. One of many Italian musical terms that have made their way into the language. Perhaps the most famous "Largo" is by Handel, taken from the opening aria in his opera "Serse" or "Xerxes".
25 Ban traveller at last in international order (9)
INTERDICT - INT (international), then {travelle}R [at last] in EDICT (order)
26 Cards offering credit lines to cover sharp rise in repair work (7,7)
PLASTIC SURGERY - PLASTIC (cards offering credit), SURGE (sharp rise), RY (lines - railway). "Cover" is the containment indicator.
1 Tasks in game for defenders / that do the heavy lifting (5,3,6)
BLOCK AND TACKLE - Two definitions, the second referring back to the first. Or maybe one cryptic. Or maybe &lit. Take your pick!
2 Stigmas arising from small insult, mainly (7)
SAFFRON - S (small), AFFRON{t} (insult) [mainly]. This spice is produced from the dried stigmas of an autumn-flowering crocus and is a very expensive ingredient.
3 One smacked with the hand by head turning to leave (5)
BONGO - NOB (head) reversed [turning], GO (leave)
4 To set program up in stone is not serious enough (8)
FLIPPANT - APP (program) reversed [set... up] in  FLINT (stone)
5 Royal couple’s last to feast (6)
REGALE - REGAL (royal), {coupl}E [last]
6 Organised parade: it’s essentially different (9)
DISPARATE - Anagram [organised] of PARADE IT'S
7 Racing colt finally put to stud, deprived of a run (7)
TEARING - {col}T (finally), EAR{r}ING (stud) [deprived of a run). In case anyone was wondering, I checked that "earring" can include all types of ornamental jewellery attached to the ear.
8 Help me to get away to live with a French lady and cheerful dog (4,2,2,6)
BEAM ME UP SCOTTY - BE (live), A, MME (French lady - Madame), UP (cheerful),  SCOTTY (dog - more usually Scottie, I think, in the canine sense). A catchphrase from "Star Trek" which I've never seen so I take it on trust that the definition is accurate.
14 Substantial bonus opera company received, gathering in wings of theatre (9)
PLENTEOUS -  PLUS (bonus) contains [received] ENO (opera company - English National Opera) which in turn contains [gathering] T{heatr}E [wings]
16 Problem in hearing, wouldn’t you say, workers organisations get round (8)
TINNITUS - TUS (workers organisations - Trades Unions) contain [get round] INNIT (wouldn't you say - slang for isn't it?)
18 Indifferent sound of original track one released (7)
NEUTRAL - NEU sound like "new", TRA{i}L (track) [one released]
20 Sort of strength in steel when tempered (7)
TENSILE - Anagram [tempered] of IN STEEL. The SOED defines "tensile strength" as the maximum sustainable stress in a material under tension.
21 Firm having current and former coins (6)
SOLIDI - SOLID (firm), I (current). Coins from the Roman era mainly.
23 Nurse in working life losing some energy (5)
CARER - CARE{e}R (working life) [losing some energy)

Times 26473 – Sting in the head

This was a pretty typical Monday offering, unless, like me, you mucked 1 down up, and then revised it in part so that it was still wrong in part. Heavens knows how much that took off my time.

I don’t do targets (well, finishing without cheating is my basic ambition), but today I was left shaking my head like people who don’t know much about cricket shaking their heads at a decision of no moment about whether to enforce a follow-on with more than two days of a Test match remaining…


1. IAMBS – because I cocked up on 1 down (plenty more on this supra and infra), I was stymied on this until near the end. It’s the not incredibly difficult I[ncised] + AM + BS (Bachelor of Surgery, though I think I prefer the uber-pretentious ChB, Chirurgiae Baccalaureus – try saying that when you’re half seas over).
2. ANAEROBIC – I in an anagram* of A CRAB ONE.
9. CARPET BAG – CARPET (reprimand) + BAG (ugly female). This clue provoked me to a do a little research into English slang terms for ugly men, and – you know – I couldn’t find any. On the other hand, I found some pretty stupendous ones for the distaff side…
10. CORAL – COR (my – as in ‘My, what a swamp donkey!’) + AL (as in a generic ‘boy’, who you can call Al, if you don’t remember if he’s an Alan, an Albert or an Alfred). I think the idea of ‘girlfriend, possibly’ is that if you went out with enough women, you might eventually find one called Coral.
11. DETAIL – literal ‘feature’; our old friend E.T. in DAIL (the Irish parliament, to be sure).
12. NO MATTER – MO (medical officer) reversed in NATTER.
14. NEIGHBOUR – NEIGH (sounds like ‘nay’) + B[othered] + OUR.
16. MINED – E in MIND (as in ‘I object to your sexist comments’, or, more accurately, ‘Who minds about his sexist comments?’ / ‘I object’).
17. ARTIC – AR[c]TIC – one of the two ‘abouts’ leaves the word – geddit?
19. DISGUISES – GUISE (sounds like ‘guys’) in DISS (a town in the sticks somewhere between Bury St Edmunds and Great Yarmouth).
21. MARYLAND – MD (yet another medic – I hope it’s not making you sick) around A + RY + L + A + N.
22. GLOWER - L[ost] in GOWER, see?
26. EMANATION – literal ‘discharge’ – moving on swiftly…E + MA + NATION.
27. CHEONGSAM – this tight-fitting number is fast becoming Crosswordland’s favourite item in the ladies wear department. HE + SONG* in MAC reversed.
28. HADES – HA[r]D + E +S[old]. You know, I don’t think I’d ever have known that had I not been blogging.


1. INCIDENTAL MUSIC – okay, I had first ‘orchestral parts’ and then ‘incidental parts’. It’s just a cryptic definition – a very pesky one…
2. MERIT – ER (you can have any of eight) in MIT (‘US research institute’ is very good, but personally I prefer ‘college’ for all the heat it generates).
4. AMBO – according to the dictionaries this is a raised pulpit – and there was I thinking they were all raised. Anyway, it’s hidden in the school against which I once hit 91* in the traditional two-day fixture between our schools. I believe Jonathan Agnew was playing for them. He always is whenever I tell the story. That year – 1976 – was the first time the match hadn’t ended in a draw in living memory. I received my colours after the game. Memories, memories.
5. ANGLO-IRISH – HANOI GIRLS*. This phrase is rather all encompassing, as it can mean both – as here – of mixed Irish and English parentage and also of English descent but born or resident in Ireland.
6. RECLAIM – RE (Royal Engineers) + CLAIM (‘mining area’).
7. BARITONES – IT in BAR ONE (beginning of piece - nice) + S[cored]. Prime biffing material.
8. COLORADO SPRINGS – COL + OR (‘other ranks’ – always on parade in Crosswordland) + ADO + SPRINGS.
13. WOODENNESS – O in WODEN + NESS. Woden was more his Old English name; he was typically Odin in Norse mythology. His other half was called Frigg, which must have led to a few jokes, though not when she was around.
15. INTERFERE – the literal is ‘meddle’, but, unless I’m missing something , something seems to be missing here. We have IN (home) and ERE (before), but what I can’t see is how ‘coastal mist lifts’ can legitimately indicate both that FRET should be reversed and that it should be placed where it is (between IN and ERE). I was - it's IN (home) + TERF ERE (reversal of 'before coastal mist').
18. COLLEEN – CO-LL are your fellow liberals while EEN are various points of the compass (quarters) randomly assembled. Not my favourite clue, but I am reminded of the Nolan sisters, who I saw with my Irish belle at the Crawley Leisure Centre in 1980. It doesn’t get a lot more romantic than that. Ooh, I’m in the mood for dancing…
20. UNLEASH – UN + H around LEAS.
23. WEIRD – D[uke] after WEIR in its sense of an enclosure of stakes set in a stream as a trap for fish.
24. BALM – BALM[oral].

Times Quick Cryptic 620 by Mara

I needed 14 minutes to complete this one and have to say I found it quite hard, though looking back on it when blogging I am unable to explain why. There's one possibly unfamiliar answer at 10dn but it's word I happen to know and it didn't delay me. I guess I just wasn't on the same wavelength as the setter. Here's my blog...

 As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]
1 Rapacious government leader, shrill (6)
GREEDY - G{overnment} [leader], REEDY (shrill). I wasn't sure about reedy for shrill but the usual sources confirm it's fine.
4 Funny thing adding yellowish-white to scarlet, initially (6)
SCREAM - S{carlet} [initially], CREAM (yellowish-white)
9 Unfolding map, conclude it is simple (13)
UNCOMPLICATED - Anagram [unfolding] of  MAP CONCLUDE IT
10 Spoil the planet, endlessly (3)
MAR - MAR{s} (planet) [endlessly]
11 Frightening experience with dark horse (9)
NIGHTMARE - NIGHT (dark), MARE (horse)
12 Turn right before old gallery (6)
ROTATE - R (right), O (old), TATE (gallery - in London)
13 In Bognor, I'm in interesting seaside resort (6)
RIMINI - Hidden in {Bogno}R I'M IN I{nteresting}
16 Drew a stretch of land surrounded by Heath (9)
ATTRACTED - A, then TRACT (stretch of land) contained [surrounded] by TED (Heath - former UK PM)
18 Potato, carrot, broccoli, spinach and cabbage — five, say (3)
VEG - V (five - Roman), E.G. (say).  Five examples by way of definition.
19 Conference atop Everest, perhaps? (6,7)
SUMMIT MEETING - Cryptic definition
21 Loop that's circling is coming up (6)
RISING - RING (loop) containing [circling] IS
22 Climb a trail (6)
ASCENT - A, SCENT (trail)
1 Antelope starts to get nervous, uneasy (3)
GNU - First letters of [starts to] G{et}, N{ervous}, U{neasy}. Pronounced "Noo" until Flanders and Swan came along and sounded the G.
2 Only part of a book, but containing relevant introduction (7)
EXCERPT - EXCEPT (but) containing R{elevant} [introduction]
3 March day in Dorset ain't bad (13)
DEMONSTRATION - MON (day) in anagram [bad] of DORSET AINT
5 Formal kit sold as cricket bats (8,5)
6 More old paintings put up (5)
EXTRA - EX (old), ART (paintings) reversed [put up]
7 Demanding cryptic, irksome (9)
MADDENING - Anagram [cryptic] of DEMANDING. I don't recall ever seeing "cryptic" used as an anagrind before, and I'm intrigued to discover that it's not on the list of hundreds of examples in Chambers Crossword Companion.
8 Bullets for the pests! (5)
SLUGS - Two definitions
10 Spread germs near duck (9)
MERGANSER - Anagram [spread] of GERMS NEAR - a word I  learnt long ago in Crosswordland that I suspect may not be familiar to many newbies
14 Bill that’s popular, say (7)
INVOICE - IN (popular), VOICE (say)
15 Remainder of a tree / puzzle (5)
STUMP - Two definitions
17 Various items for paper (5)
TIMES - Anagram [various] of ITEMS
20 Food processor, where small vessel up-ended (3)
GUT - TUG (small vessel) reversed [up-ended]
An easy puzzle that had solvers scratching their heads over 1 across which contained an error. Don Manley gave his apologies on the Times website.

I also have a query at 20 down where I don't recognise the spelling of a well known biblical name.

1CORPOREALIST - supposedly an anagram of "apostle crier" except it isn't! Solved from definition and checkers;
9AMIR - star=mira then move the "a" to the front;
10FISTULAR - FI(ST-U-LA)R; superior=U; narrow passage;
11NA-DENE - N(A-DEN)E; languages;
13TWEER - TWEE-R; old word for look;
16DIAS - DIAS(pora); Portugese Bartolomeu Dias 1451 – 1500 first man to sail around Cape of Good Hope;
23PARIETAL - P(ARI(d))ETAL; of a wall - also the two bones that form the top of the skull;
29EMES - SEME reversed; somehow scatttered in heraldry=SEME; old word for family members;
30REFEL - RE(F)EL; disprove;
31AMYTAL - hidden (dre)AMY-TAL(k);
32OBELIA - OBE-LIA(r); the little dagger symbols used by printers;
33LENITION - (online)* surrounds IT; softening of language;
34LERP - hidden (travel)LER-P(erhaps);
35TRACHYPTERUS - (rupert's yacht)*;
1CANTY - longer work=canto then change "o" to "y";
3PREED - P-REED; tried out at Troon;
4RIEVE - (g)RIEVE; to rob;
5ATOCS - A-(SCOT reversed); skunks;
6LURDANE - LUR(e)-DANE; old word for dullard;
7SALANGANE - (as an angel)*;
8TRESTS - TRES(T)S; T from T(hieves);
15BRER - BR(i)ER; Uncle Remus;
20HAAR - HA(nn)AR presumably; I thought her name was Hannah?;
21STIFLER - STI(F-LE)R; LE from LE(ft); old slang for the gallows;
22STEALT - S(TEAL)T; stole in St Andrews;
26GLOOP - G-(POOL reversed);
27NEELE - (k)NEELE(r); old word for needle;
28ELAPS - SPALE reversed; splinter in Stirling=SPALE; snake is the definition;
I'm standing in for nick_the_novice this week as he's somewhere in the wilds of Colombia about 1,000 miles from a mobile signal apparently. 10:25 for this one, surprisingly quick considering the number of unknown words. The clueing was pretty helpful though, and they could all be guessed with a high degree of confidence. Too many double defs for my taste, but an enjoyable solve nonetheless.

1 Tinned mutton, and after sweet, nothing at all (5,5)
FANNY ADAMS - two definitions, the second of which we had in full last Sunday if I remember correctly. I didn't know the tinned mutton definition, or its gory derivation.
7 My / water is found here (4)
WELL - double definition.
9 Finally Jane Austen’s novel is about rare drink (8)
SAUTERNE - (JanE, Austen)* around R(are) to get a sweet white wine which I'd normally spell with S at the end.
10 Park / a large car (6)
ESTATE - another double definition.
11 Drunk means to return but lacks energy (6)
STONED - DENOTES (means) reversed minus an E for energy.
13 Woman eats food soaked in liquid — organic one (8)
ISOPRENE - IRENE (woman) around SOP (food soaked in liquid).
14 Engineer raised short veranda to see mountains (6,6)
SIERRA NEVADA - (raised veranda)*.
17 Jivaroan psychiatrist? (4-8)
HEAD-SHRINKER - another double definition. I guessed a Jivaroan must be some sort of native head-shrinker, but I'd never heard of them.
20 English general tortured worm in prison (8)
CROMWELL - (worm)* inside CELL (prison).
21 Large home with study behind tree (6)
LINDEN - L(arge + IN (home) + DEN (study).
22 Carriage contains dry glove (6)
MITTEN - MIEN (carriage) around TT (teetotal, dry).
23 19 fellow with a German mug (8)
EINSTEIN - EIN STEIN (German for a mug). Definition refers to 19D BRAINY, which Albert certainly was!
25 Tin contains an unknown colour (4)
CYAN - CAN (tin) around Y (an unknown).
26 Healer ran out drunk and hit husband (10)
NATUROPATH - (ran out)* + PAT (hit) + H(usband).

2 A club serving up disorder? It’s a shambles (8)
ABATTOIR - A + BAT (club) + RIOT (disorder) reversed. Another definition I didn't know - I only knew a shambles as a mess or muddle.
3 Conservationists protect one small egg (3)
NIT - NT (National Trust, conservationists) around I (one).
4 Parched carrying cold bitter (5)
ACRID - ARID (parched) around C(old).
5 Fish with beer on it is initially extremely flavoursome (7)
ALEWIFE - W(ith) next to ALE (beer), then I(s) + F(lavoursom)E.
6 Old veggie gets up and heads for organic shop and usual restaurant (9)
STEGOSAUR - GETS reversed + initial letters of Organic Shop And Usual Restaurant.
7 I get fired for sending crowds home cold and wet (5,6)
WATER CANNON - cryptic definition.
8 Left thing at one long address (6)
LITANY - L(eft) + IT (thing) + ANY (one).
12 Pole transferring quietly to Man City? Not yet (11)
NORTHAMPTON - NORTH (pole) + (P to Man)*. Northampton unsuccessfully applied for city status in 2000, and it remains a town despite having a population of over 200,000.
15 Willing maiden captivated by unknown king (9)
AGAMEMNON - GAME (willing) + M(aiden), inside ANON (unknown).
16 Tramp knocked back wine with priest at court (8)
DERELICT - RED (wine) reversed + ELI (priest) + CT (court).
18 In the black / ether? (7)
SOLVENT - double definition.
19 Bright blue at first, then with dark clouds? (6)
BRAINY - B(lue) + RAINY (with dark clouds?).
21 Big ship creating a queue on river (5)
LINER - LINE (a queue) + R(iver).
24 Put bed over lots of rubbish (3)
TIP - PIT (bed), reversed.

Saturday Times 26466 (16th July)

15:30 for this one, which saved most of its trickiness for the shorter answers. 1ac went straight in, quickly followed by most of the downs hanging off it, so I was off at a sprint. I then dried up for a few minutes, and finally limped home with PARR my LOI. COD to ROAM for the neat double wordplay.

1 UN demand: equal reforms for remote territory (5,4,4)
QUEEN MAUD LAND - (UN demand equal)*. Norwegian territory in Antarctica comprising about 20% of the surface area.
8 Report of land when crossing Pole (4)
BANG - BAG (land) around N (Pole).
9 Porter following close to Trappist prior to counter gossip (4-6)
TALE-TELLER - ALE (porter) after (Trappis)T + TELLER (counter).
10 Found vase a major attraction (4-4)
STAR-TURN - START (found) + URN (vase).
11 Jumbo’s superlative, if a shade funny, we’re told (6)
HUGEST - sounds like "hue jest" (a shade funny).
13 One putting stretcher down in heap covered by black blanket (10)
BRICKLAYER - RICK (heap) inside B(lack), LAYER (blanket).
16 Range of different memory types, retaining nothing, or ace (4)
ROAM - RAM (Random Access Memory) around O (nothing), or ROM (Read-Only Memory) around A(ce).
17 Royal wife finally getting one out of two right (4)
PARR - I (one) removed from PAIR (two) + R(ight). Catherine Parr, Henry VIII's sixth wife.
18 Like coward in region of thoroughfare, displaying sign of caution (6,4)
YELLOW CARD - YELLOW (like coward) + CA (circa, in region of) + RD (thoroughfare).
20 Letter-writer’s way with heartbroken recipient of one? (2,4)
ST JOHN - ST (way) + JOHN (heartbroken recipient). I was surprised to find that according to Chambers a Dear John letter is a US invention.
22 Converted newly as English Methodist (8)
WESLEYAN - (newly as E)*.
24 Refuse to handle medium number in police vehicle (5,5)
BLACK MARIA - BLACK (refuse to handle) + M(edium) + ARIA (number). A prison transport van.
26 Like to have record within range (4)
ALPS - AS (like) with LP (record) inside.
27 Small family, we consume frugally, save energy continuously (4,2,4,3)
WEEK IN WEEK OUT - WEE (small) + KIN (family) + WE + EKE OUT (consume frugally), minus the E for energy.

1 Put up with over time (7,4)
QUARTER PAST - QUARTER (put up) + PAST (over).
2 Old king, upset, departs in fury (5)
EDGAR - D(eparts) inside RAGE (fury), all reversed. King of England 959-975.
3 Plea from one to stop frightful gluttony (3,6)
NOT GUILTY - I (one) inside (gluttony)*.
4 To spare a penny given, ultimate in generosity (7)
APLENTY - A + P(enny) + LENT (given) + (generosit)Y.
5 The other half / that’s often double? (5)
DUTCH - double definition of a couple of slang terms.
6 Completely self-obsessed, like man with Lazarus briefly portrayed in parable? (9)
ALLEGORIC - ALL EGO (completely self-obsessed) + RIC(h) (like man with Lazarus, briefly).
7 One hardly in stag party to take drugs (3)
DOE - DO E (take drugs) plus a cryptic definition.
12 One having a nap on the flight? (5,6)
STAIR CARPET - cryptic definition.
14 Wheels nearly came in contact with frame (9)
CARTOUCHE - CAR (wheels) + TOUCHE(d) (neary came in contact with. I thought the definition was a bit loose.
15 Elevated view of a corpse being moved (9)
ROOFSCAPE - (of a corpse)*.
19 Crude, having the Blues Brothers initially fall out (7)
LOWBROW - LOW (having the blues) + B(rothers) + ROW (fall out).
21 Rings selfish local conservationist, perhaps, to listen (5)
NIMBI - sounds like NIMBY (selfish local conservationist, acronym for Not In My Back Yard).
23 Possible inspiration behind Valentine Day’s ethos, regularly (5)
ERATO - I think this is ERA (day) + (e)T(h)O(s), with a long definition of the Muse of Love Poetry.
25 Old Bill? (3)
LAW - just seems to be a weakish cryptic definition. Am I missing something? [Edit: Yep, thought I might be - see top two comments from Zabadak and Jackkt. ]
Hello again gridmates, did you miss me? My recovery from four days in a tent in Suffolk with only a ten-pack of pre-mixed gin & tonic cans and a jar of crunchy peanut butter for sustenance has been slow, especially as I'm still languishing with a (noise-induced? curse you Protomartyr and/or Blanck Mass) ear infection which is making me feel quite sorry for myself. But soldiering on...

At least this puzzle did not contribute much to my misery, being rather straightforward with no obscure vocabulary (except perhaps the hidden at 5d) to worry about, and on the general knowledge front only a couple of historical personages, hobnobbing in the NW corner. So once again I was comfortably inside 10 minutes this week, but only a minute behind Magoo, which I guess means this puzzle couldn't have been a complete sitter.

But still, if anything I felt some of the clues were a bit too straightforward today? Starting at 6a, what else is "fingerprint feature" going to call to mind? 11a is a crossword staple that is brilliant the first time you encounter it, but for jaded old lags like me, becomes a write-in. "Deputy on vacation" led me instantaneously to "DY" so another automatic fill; "posh girls' establishment" at 21a is basically a concise crossword clue, and surely everyone immediately thinks of PICT for "ancient Scot", SIGN for "Leo possibly" and FEE for "Payment... (3)"? Perhaps I should check my privilege and realise that not everyone has done ten thousand crosswords before, and the times currently on the scoreboard don't seem to bear out a theory that this was a totally predictable puzzle, but I don't know, something about it felt a bit underwhelming to me. Or perhaps I'm just being a bear with a sore ear today. I am confident anyway that the normal phenomenon will occur in the comments wherein if I'm effusive about a puzzle everyone gives it a hard time, and if I'm lukewarm it attracts universal praise.

My LOIs were 5d (always nice when a hidden word evades capture until the very last minute; the clever lift-and-separate requirements of both 1a and 10a held out till almost the end) and 14a. COD-wise, I liked 7d and 23a: smooth surfaces incorporating the wordplay indicators in clever and elegant ways. So I guess I did enjoy it a fair bit really: many thanks to the setter!

1 Nonsense talked about approved fairy stories kept here? (9)
6 A question of identity, both hands showing fingerprint feature (5)
WHORL - WHO + R L (right and left: both hands)
9 Notable first female priest's powerless (5)
ASTOR - {p}ASTOR (losing his P for power). Nancy Witcher Langhorne Astor, the first female MP to take her seat.
10 I set on first mate in savage fashion (9)
BESTIALLY - I set on BEST [first] + ALLY [mate]
11 The deficient retail supply (8,7)
13 Absurd noun dropped by Eastenders' editor? (8)
COCKEYED - N dropped by COCK{n}EY ED
14 Devious devil touring East in disguise (6)
VEILED - (DEVIL*) touring E
16 Fine isn't collected by deputy on vacation (6)
DAINTY - AIN'T collected by D{eput}Y
18 Scorer's firm marks a problem (8)
COMPOSER - CO M POSER [firm | marks | a problem]
21 Posh girls' establishment disposing of tutor? (9,6)
23 Disease that would be passed quickly by mouth when contracted (9)
INFLUENZA - the contracted form of which is a homophone ("by mouth") of FLEW.
25 Were bachelor to join this marriage there'd be trouble afoot (5)
UNION - if B joins UNION we get BUNION, a podiatric but far from footling complaint.
26 Divine visitor almost succeeded (5)
27 Before submission, one typically makes a claim (9)
PRETENDER - PRE TENDER [before | submission], one who makes a claim of thrones.
1 Put identifying mark on torch (5)
BRAND - Double definition
2 Abroad, old group's unable to operate (3,2,6)
OUT OF ACTION - OUT O FACTION [abroad | old | group]
3 3 Religious instruction accepted by dramatist that supplies dope (7)
SYRINGE - R.I. accepted by SYNGE, John Millington, playwright of the western world.
4 This writer knocked back pub drink in anger (8)
EMBITTER - reverse of ME [this writer, "knocked back"] + BITTER [pub drink]
5 Housewife's talk, not entirely joyous (6)
FESTAL - some of {housewi}FES TAL{k}
6 Sound a warning, perhaps, when crossing street (7)
7 Member of parliament fed up with Liberal decline (3)
OWL - LOW [fed up], with the L declining to the bottom. Parliament being the collective noun for wise owls, presumably on the grounds that great wisdom was a prerequisite for a seat in the House, in some remote, near-mythical bygone age.
8 Churchman responsible for poetry recital? (3,6)
LAY READER - a play on LAY, which can mean both "non-ordained" and a sung poem.
12 Remembers what visiting carer does? (5,2,4)
CALLS TO MIND - A visiting carer being a calling minder...
13 Commander improving without first getting organised (9)
15 Fibre, and estimate of how long it's been around? (8)
ROUGHAGE - My rough age is certainly a lot rougher than it was a decade or two back, I'll tell you that...
17 Government finally delivers something to deal with the cold? (7)
TISSUES - {governmen}T ISSUES
19 Ancient Scot on river shot (7)
PICTURE - PICT on the URE. Quite right too, if he's come down as far as North Yorks we can presume he's part of a raiding party, and shooting certainly indicated.
20 Leo possibly completed what recruits do (4,2)
SIGN UP - SIGN [Leo possibly] + UP [completed]
22 Mortgagee, they say, not the man for company (5)
LONER - homophone of LOANER, eschewer of company.
24 Payment offered on a regular basis (3)
FEE - {o}F{f}E{r}E{d}

TLS Crossword 1132 by Talos - July 1, 2016

No accurate time for this but I did it in the train between Grand Central and Ossining (the tracks run right through Sing Sing) so that means under 45 minutes.  I'm biased in favour of puzzles I can do all on my ownio and this was one of them.  Blogging is another pair of shoes because I had a fair bit of guesswork.  There were a couple of clever traps for the unwary seasoned solver who may have been tempted to think - hot damn, I'm on a roll, and then found him/herself in a hot mess.  11a was one and the tricky non-Spooner Spooner clue at 18d was another.  Nice playful puzzle with a soupcon of French flavouring.  No quibbles.  I won't be back online until Monday so won't be able to check in here until then unless there are Friday early birds.  Definitions in italics underlined where appropriate.  Answers in bold caps.

P.S.  I'd put this together before Sotira's blog last week, and the ensuing comments, so it will go out as is.  I'll do some digesting and if I need to tweak the format before the next one I will, but I'm sort of used to this and it's no trouble to load in the clues.

1.  "My heart is in the - there with Caesar" (Julius Caesar) (6)
COFFIN. Spoken by Mark Antony in Act III Scene II, at the end of his "I come to bury Caesar not to praise him" speech, with all its oratorical flourishes and heavily ironic references to Brutus as an "honourable man".  It works - he turns the crowd against the conspirators.
4.  Very occupied by warm ham display units? (8)
THEATRES.  TRES (en Francais)=very, containing (occupied by) HEAT=warm.
10.  Mr. Chips, perhaps, forwarding a Block novel (10)
AMSTERDAM.  Mr. Chips is the [school]MASTER (from the 1930s novella by James Hilton, adapted into more than one screen version).  We advance the A to the front (forwarding) and add DAM=block and we have the 1990s novel of that name by Ian McEwan.
11. Noble with yen for Augusta's behind! (5)
BYRON.  George Gordon, 6th baron.  Romantic poet (Childe Harold, The Corsair, the Giaour, Don Juan) of the Regency period and contemporary rock star fame.  Died in Greece aged 36.  Replace the A from Augusta's behind with the Y=yen.  This was the fence at which some of our mightiest thoroughbreds (Verlaine, Dave Howell) fell, having stopped at "baron", but the clever clue had a sting in  its tail.  A not-so-oblique reference to the apparently well-founded rumour of incest between Byron and his half-sister Augusta Leigh.
12.  On vacation, take Rushdie to unusual work by 6 (3,8)
THE OUTSIDER.  By Albert Camus (6d).  Anagram (unusual) of T[ak]E (having been vacated of its middle) and RUSHDIE TO.  Some of us d'un certain age had to read the original L'Etranger en Francais at school and I haven't opened it since.
14.  Bond tale in which M's predecessor becomes tense (3)
TIE.  Slightly convoluted but very well executed substitution clue.  I'd guess those of us not on blog duty didn't stop to parse.  Tale=LIE and then you replace the L (comes before M in the alphabet) with T=tense.
15.  Play villain in piece possibly for Sopranos?
ARCADIA.   By Tom Stoppard.  CAD=villain contained in ARIA=piece for sopranos.  Not Tony and his mob family.  Time travel drama of two families, centuries apart, living in the same stately home and considering the ramifications of mathematics and philosophy.  I'd like to see this on stage sometime because on the page it sends me into a trance of incomprehension.
17.  He wrote of Joad and people without home (6)
RACINE. Jean Baptiste.  17th Century French playwright. Not Steinbeck and his Grapes of Wrath displaced Okie family.  Joad is the high priest in the play Athalie, set in the ancient kingdom of Judah.
19.  Dress circle to see Babbington in three act tragedy? (6)
CLERIC.  Anagram (dress) of CIRCLE.  The Rev. Babbington is a character in Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot book A Three Act Tragedy.
21.  Cipher-breaking branch that's backed Ogilvy? (7)
COMRADE.  ARM=branch backwards contained in (breaking) CODE=cipher.  Comrade Ogilvy is a character invented by Winston Smith, the protagonist in George Orwell's 1984.
23.  Rhyming weaver and Belvoir ultimately divides men (3)
ORR.  The last letter in [Belvoi]R (ultimately) comes in the middle of (divides) OR=other ranks (men).  James Orr was one of the artisan poets of 18th Century Ireland.  Shades of Nancy Mitford and U shibboleths (Cholmondely=Chumley and Leveson-Gower=Loosen-Gore), a tease to distract the solver because although Belvoir is pronounced "beaver" you don't need to know that to solve.
24.  Maybe a gallery boss with son in Big Brother? (4,2,5)
HEAD OF STATE.  The director (boss) of the Tate Gallery would be its head.  Insert S=son and you get Orwell's Big Brother.  Rather old-fashioned feel to this clue.
26. Poet wanting Jane to undergo heart transplant (5)
AUDEN.  W.H.  Replace the centre (heart) of AuSTen with a D.
27.  Look to repair mansion housing husband, a TLS reader? (9)
LOGOPHILE.  Sneaky.  Hands up anyone who wasted time looking for an anagram of MANSION plus H plus ? Yes, I did.   LO=look.  GO=repair (leaving not mending).  PILE=mansion with H[usband] in it.
29.  New curate taking religious education in Victor's work? (8)
CREATURE.  Anagram (new) of CURATE  and R[eligious] E[ducation].  Another one you didn't strictly need to parse.  I think the reference is to Victor Frankenstein, the creator of the creature in Mary Shelley's novel.
30.  Reading can put ideas in a poet's mind for one! (6)
BALLAD.  I may not have vacuumed up all the references here, am I missing something?  The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde was put in his mind by his sojourn doing time for homosexual offences (autre temps autre moeurs) after the debacle of his libel suit against the Marquess of Queensberry in the 1890s.


1.  Cobblers applaud reflective Simon Eyre in theatre? (8)
CLAPTRAP.    CLAP=applaud with PART backwards (reflective).  Eyre is a role (part) in the Elizabethan play The Shoemaker's Holiday, by Thomas Dekker.
2.  Fair with a heart of saint, I'm a fool for Olivia (5)
FESTE.  Why thank you Harry.  I got the wrong end of the stick - see Kevin, infra.  [F=fair.  ESTE= the middle part of a saint's name but I'm not sure which.  Hester, Lester, anyone?]  Feste is the fool in Twelfth Night and part of Olivia's household.  He has some of the best lines, as in "Oh mistress mine where are you roaming" et seq.  I recall Cleo Laine doing a wonderful version years ago.
3.  Finally take Pier Pasolini to Look Back In Anger (3)
IRE.  Last letters (finally) in [tak]E [Pie]R [Pasolin]I baclwards (to look back).
5.  Buzz one gets with staff around Havana boxer? (7)
HUMIDOR.  HUM=buzz. I=one. DOR=rod (staff backwards - round).  The box for keeping your Havana cigars fresh now that we in the US are allowed to have them legally.  Many years ago in a fit of extravagance I gave my husband a silver one from Dunhills - whereupon he promptly gave up his cigars to train for the NYC marathon, never to resume the habit.
6.  In error, book smart-alec United keeper? (6,5)
ALBERT CAMUS.  Anagram (in error) of B[ook] SMART-ALEC U[nited].  The Algerian-born French writer and philosopher, author of 12a.  I had forgotten (if I ever knew) that he was a football goalkeeper.  Some of his reported prowess in the position seems to have been apocryphal.  Why is it that I think Talos is a football aficionado...
7. Land of Hope and Glory's fourth part sanitarium endlessly plays (9)
RURITANIA.  Anagram (plays) of [Glo]R[y's] (fourth letter) and SANITARIU[m] (endlessly).  Fictional country invented by Antony Hope in The Prisoner of Zenda and Rupert of Hentzau.
8.  "I have heard a - begin so to one's mistress"  (Henry V) (6)
SONNET.  Act III Scene VII.  Tent in the French camp before Agincourt.  Spoken by the Duke of Orleans.  The Dauphin is boasting about his horse, Orleans gets bored and tries to shut him up.
9.  Poems associated with Sedakova's case file? (6)
ODESSA.  ODES=poems.  With S[edakov]A (first and last letters - case).  The Odessa File by Frederick Forsyth.  Set in 1960s Germany.  Less successful than Day of The Jackal but well done.
13.  Foreign articles on the web in Murdoch publicaton (5,3,3)
UNDER THE NET.  UN and DER are the foreign articles.  THE NET= the web.  Iris, not Rupert.  Enduringly popular 1950s novel.
16.  Note line conveyed by funny Geordie poet (9)
COLERIDGE.  Samuel Taylor, English Romantic poet.  Anagram (funny) of C=note, L=line and GEORDIE.
18.  Novel's opening parts had huge respect for Spooner? (8)
REVEREND.  Setter plays gotcha.  REVERED=had huge respect for, with N=opening letter in novel coming in the middle (parts).  So we're not looking for the usual letter/syllable switcheroo (you have tasted two worms) but the man himself, William Archibald, Doctor of Divinity of New College, Oxford.
20.  Heep's one to take tip off careless writer (7)
CRAWLER.  Uriah, sycophant from Dickens's David Copperfield.  Remove the S (tip) from [s]CRAWLER=careless writer.
21.  Peace protagonist found in scenic Loughborough (6)
CLOUGH.  Contained in [sceni]C LOUGH[borough].  I did not know this at all.  The reference is to The Damned UTD, a novel by David Peace about a Leeds United football manager named Brian Clough.  Hmmm football.
22.  Married pair out of unromantic kind of novel (6)
MOSAIC.  Take PR=pair out of PROSAIC (unromantic) and replaced it with M=married.  Individual short stories pieced together to make a whole.
22.  Part which we hear gets good reception in a storm (5)
ARIEL.  The role (part) of the sprite in Shakespeare's The Tempest (storm),  Homophone (we hear) for "aerial".  Around here a storm is just when we don't get good reception.
28.  Vacuous prince a problem for princess? (3)
PEA.  First and last letters in P[rinc]E (vacuous), with A.  The Real Princess, by Hans Christian Andersen, proves she is the real thing by being unable to sleep because her skin is so sensitive she can feel a pea through the thickness of several layers of mattresses.

Times Quick Cryptic 619 by Hurley

As Emma (emu66)'s stint as blogger has come to an end I am covering Friday Quickies for the moment. I had a few problems getting started on this one and lost several minutes hopping around the grid putting in odd words here and there, but eventually things settled down and I completed the puzzle in 13 minutes. I'm not sure there's anything particularly difficult here but we shall see what others think. Here's my blog...

As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]

1 Redesigned forms treated to show economists’ ratio (5,2,5)
TERMS OF TRADE - Anagram [redesigned] of FORMS TREATED. I've heard this expression without knowing precisely what it means. The SOED defines it as:  the ratio between the prices paid for imports and those received for exports. I guess we'll be hearing a lot more of it during years of Brexit negotiations.
8 Moved fast around resort — more than needed (2,5)
TO SPARE - TORE (moved fast) around SPA (resort)
9 Widow’s share some shrew, odd, recalled (5)
DOWER - Hidden [some] and reversed [recalled] in {sh}REW OD{d}. I'm aware of dower house and dowry but again I had to consult the dictionary for the exact meaning here: The share of a dead man's estate that was formerly allowed to his widow for life. The term is now described as "historical".
10 Coffee, second of two, unfinished (5)
LATTE - LATTE{r} (second of two) [unfinished]. This can also be used more loosely to refer to the last of several mentioned,  and not just two.
11 French king tucked into fowl, English, wonderful lady supplied (7)
HEROINE - ROI (French king) contained by [tucked into] HEN (fowl), E (English)
12 Clubs fancy something spicy? (5)
CLOVE - C (clubs - cards), LOVE (fancy)
14 Endlessly, the guard returned bringing sort of beer (7)
DRAUGHT - [endlessly] TH{e} + GUARD reversed [returned]. A rather unusual clue with the answer hiding in full view waiting to be reversed with one letter removed.
15 A missing Citroen car crashed? Wrong (9)
INCORRECT - Anagram [crashed] of CITROEN C{a}R [a missing]
17 Trade Union at first meet Corporation (3)
TUM - TU (Trade Union), M{eet} [at first]. "Corporation" being a colloquial word for protruding stomach that I suspect only appears in crosswords these days. "Corporation / Tum" was also in yesterday's 15x15.
19 Clandestine people see City sector in trouble (6,7)
SECRET SOCIETY - Anagram [in trouble] of SEE CITY SECTOR
21 Become active in Antibes, tireless (6)
BESTIR - Hidden in {Anti}BES TIR{eless}. Somewhat poetic, methinks.
22 Server missing one essential liquid (5)
WATER - WA{i}TER (server) [missing one - I]
1 Organised top celestial event in the heavens (5,7)
TOTAL ECLIPSE - Anagram [organised] of TOP CELESTIAL
2 Dish — very dry, provided in port (7)
RISOTTO - SO (very) + TT (dry - teetotal) in [provided in] RIO (port). Many ports appear in puzzles of course but I suspect RIO is up there in the top two or three, along with Aden.
3 Ascending in medieval society, one worked hard (5)
SLAVE -  Reversed [ascending] and hidden in{medi}EVAL S{ociety}
4 New farmer oddly quiet (5)
FRESH - F{a}R{m}E{r} [oddly], SH (quiet!)
5 Darts, beer, excited Robin? (9)
REDBREAST - Anagram [excited] of DARTS BEER. The bird so beloved by designers of Christmas cards.
6 Duke having setter, strangely, in place of PM (7,6)
DOWNING STREET - D (Duke), OWNING (having), anagram [strangely] of SETTER
7 Eager to be hugged by wizard, enthralling (6)
ARDENT - Hidden in [hugged by] {wiz}ARD ENT{hralling}
13 Serious attention retreat needed (7)
EARNEST - EAR (ear), NEST (retreat). "Needed" completes the surface reading but is otherwise surplus to requirements. It's unusual to have such a word at the end of a clue.
14 Lady’s maid, / part of the furniture? (7)
DRESSER - Two definitions
16 Introduction of competition hurt store (5)
CACHE - C{ompetition} [introduction], ACHE (hurt)
18 Municipal head from Irish county? Right (5)
MAYOR - MAYO (Irish county), R (right)
20 Raven’s cry, primarily croaky and whiny (3)
CAW - First letters [primarily] of C{roaky} A{nd} W{hiny}

Times Quick Cryptic No 618 by Izetti

I enjoyed this puzzle - some novel clues and lots of nice surface readings. Within the bounds of average difficulty, I'd say, almost coming witin 2 minutes of my target 10 mins. I particularly liked the 'match supporter' definition in 13d, and the 'two-thirds of the people' cryptic in 14ac. One or two bits of obscurity, for me at least - notably 16ac, where I hadn't heard of either the abbreviation or the answer. I'd vaguely heard of 4ac, but my guess as to what the architectural feature in question was got about as far as: is it something to do with a balustrade? Quite what I didn't actually venture. Turns out it's the decorative triangle bit above the entrance to a classical building (or part of the PVC moulding to the front door-frame in my last house, now that I think about it). But its secondary meaning is a base or pedestal for a statue or pillar. So, my guess, broadly speaking, was that a pediment is something to do with a row of pillars, and the answer is it can either be the crown or the base to a row of pillars - I'm chalking that up as a quite inspired guess (rather than a bad memory). Definitions underlined, and many thanks to Izetti.

1 Old ruler introducing French friend to king
AMIR: AMI (French friend) is introduced to R (king)
4 Architectural feature an obstruction? I'm put off
PEDIMENT: impediment = an obstruction, remove (put off) I'm.
8 Hard outgrowth Ray found in wood
HORNBEAM: HORN (hard outgrowth), BEAM (ray). Hornbeam, rather than the lesser-seen "cornbeam", which first popped into my head.
9 Nimble son to poke his nose in
SPRY: S (son) to PRY (poke his nose in).
10 Holy mother runs into another woman
MARY: R (runs) into MAY (another woman).
11 One female in music group is dismissed
BANISHED: I SHE (one female) in BAND (music group).
12 Sort of tea served in higher balcony
HERBAL: hidden in (served in) higHER BALcony. Technically a sort of tea; more accurately a nice smelling thing that tastes of hot water.
14 Two-thirds of the people in the old country
THRACE: TH = 2/3 of "the"; RACE = people.
16 Charles sure upset attendant
CHASSEUR: CHAS (Charles); anagram (upset) of SURE. "Chas." is a shorthand abbreviation, apparently, used in the days of yore when writing records of people was time-consuming and ink was expensive, rather than a nickname a la Chaz. And a chasseur, according to the OED, can be a hunter, a soldier, an attendant, or a white wine sauce: sauce chasseur - also known as hunter's sauce, presumably to avoid confusion with soldier's tipple, or servant's lip.
18 Quiet worker to show sign of exertion?
PANT: P (quiet), ANT (worker).
19 Proper flowering plant, but not rose
PRIM: primrose = flowering plant, remove the "rose".
20 Takes hold of Greek fruit
GRAPPLES: Gr (Greek), APPLES (fruit).
22 Woman wants not so much about her — being not fat
LEANNESS: ANNE (woman) wants LESS (not so much) to go around her.
23 Sale itemsthey may be selected at random
LOTS: double definition, the first you bid for, the second you draw.

2 Canal fee makes one utter beastly noise with anger
MOORAGE: MOO (utter beastly noise), RAGE (anger). "Makes one" used here means "gives you:", with a similar device in the next clue.
3 Strong drink — with head going, one gets aroused
RANDY: brandy = strong drink, remove the head, and you get (one gets) the answer. I was initially looking for a noun for "one [who] gets aroused". Two nice uses of flowing linkwords, with the answer/definition "making" the cryptic in 2d and vice versa in this clue.
4 Top of pastry that is used for this?
PIE: P = top of pastry, I.E. = that is.
5 Matron, I do fancy, is controlling type
DOMINATOR: anagram (fancy) of MATRON I DO.
6 Stingy person goes around America, one handling things badly
MISUSER: MISER (stingy person) goes around US (America).
7 Bottle among finer vessels
NERVE: hidden in fiNER VEssles.
11 Bad gale buffeted the French flier
BALD EAGLE: anagram (buffeted) of BAD GALE ; LE (the French)
13 Match supporter surprisingly absent, male staying in
BEST MAN: anagram (surprisingly) of ABSENT ; M(ale) goes inside. Cracking cryptic definition of a best man! COD.
15 Capacity to be happy
CONTENT: double definition.
17 Water ultimately coming in pipe for Arab?
HORSE: R (wateR, ultimately) goes in HOSE (pipe).
18 The old man and friend from top bishop's office
PAPAL: Pa (the old man) and pal (friend).
21 Unhappy, leader dropping to the floor flyers
ADS: sad = unhappy, S (leader) dropping to the floor. And a nice little one to finish off.
By a couple of minutes, my quickest of the week, possibly because our setter give us the chance to practice the sort of clue where two words which make one sort of sense merge into one to provide the answer. Keep a lookout for three facts, two rims and two News, giving the impression that the setter has discovered there is a charge for each different word and is anxious to economise. I can’t for the life of me identify anything which our esteemed community won’t know, though some of you will have to pretend you’re British and living somewhere in Britain.
Clues, definitions SOLUTIONS

1 Drink after side's second half winning goal?  (7)
DECIDER  The second half of side and CIDER, a drink made from fermented apples and whatever else falls in.
5 Struck or fascinated as we hear what's covered by paper (7)
WRAPPED  A triple soundalike: rapped and rapt being the ones you don’t use
9 Bad behaviour from one side in sex wars?  (11)
MALEFACTION  Possibly one of the oldest cryptic clues in the book, one side of the sex wars being the MALE FACTION. The other side being right, of course.
10 Part of our army securing island's border  (3)
RIM Presumably part of our army is the Royal Marines, but it might also be aRMy. Whichever, insert Island for the first rim of the day.
11 He's set to challenge all-comers in small field  (6)
SENTRY   Small ENTRY (field as in athletics competition)
12 European citizen having half-empty beer vessel  (8)
BERLINER  take half the contents out of BEeR and add a LINER/vessel. While Kennedy shouldn’t really have used the indefinite “ein”, Berlinsprache for doughnuts is Pfannkuchen, so nobody at the time thought he was a doughnut. So there.
14 Unusually clean kind of punishment for one of low rank  (5,8)
LANCE CORPORAL  An “unusual“ spelling of CLEAN plus CORPORAL as a type of punishment. One stripe or many, depending on whether you’re referring to the answer or the wordplay
17  Agitated perhaps in one's fears  (13)
APPREHENSIONS  Perhaps in this case doesn’t indicate an anagram; agitated does, and is applied to PERHAPS IN ONES
21 Organized crime group's seized control of racket back in island  (8)
TRINIDAD  Your organised crime group is a TRIAD. Insert DIN for racket once you’ve reversed it.
23 Person from one part of Africa thus joining another  (6)
SOMALI Thus provides SO, MALI is the other part of Africa required. Another 2 into one, along the lines of 9a?
25 Caddy holds this thing golfer needs we hear  (3)
TEA Sounds like TEE, “thing a golfer needs” (not therapy, then). Apparently the two caddies are not even distantly related
26 Resolving to prevent deployment of explosives in the main?  (11)
DETERMINING  As with 9ac, the art is to make one word out of two.
27 Good monthly forecast for part of our capital (7)
MAYFAIR  “Our” capital (this is an English puzzle. For English solvers) contains the dark blue Monopoly™ property. Again, as in 9 and 26, the wordplay splits the one word and this time makes it into a laconic forecast.
28 Fine and altogether dandy ultimately — that's how this clue comes across  (7)
FINALLY  ...because it’s the last one. I’m going for F(ine) IN ALL for altogether and the (dand)Y “ultimately”.

1 Woven fabric daughter put on a screen  (6)
DAMASK  D(aughter) on A MASK or screen
2 Officer I stationed in part of Hebrides  (7)
COLONEL  I in this case is ONE, which leaves you with COLL for part of the Hebrides. Any combination of letters can be a part of the Hebrides. This, however, is your actual Coll. Jolly nice.
3 One party in court securing monarch's respect  (9)
DEFERENCE Stick an ER for monarch into DEFENCE for the court party.
4 Part in thriller I chose that's full of comic potential  (4)
RICH Today’s hidden:  thrilleR I CHose
5 I.e. how the US rebuilt what British set on fire  (5,5)
WHITE HOUSE  Mildly &littish, but looks so much like an anagram it’s hard to miss. IE HOW THE US the fodder. The dirty deed was during the Anglo-American war of 1812 but rather disconcertingly occurred in 1814.  Since then, “war with America” has tended to mean on the same side, and is occasionally qualified by “whatever”.
6 On-line article reflected account of year's activities  (5)
ANNAL  The article to be reflected is AN, keeping both versions, placing them on L(ine)
7 Catch up with right associate  (7)
PARTNER  Catch here is ENTRAP, which gets reversed (“up” -  it’s a down clue). Attach R(ight)
8 Object over site of cathedral with affected modesty  (8)
DEMURELY  Yet another two words into one. DEMUR object and ELY, possibly the only cathedral site known to setters.
13 Supporter's complaint about new player  (10)
BENEFACTOR Complaint is BEEF, which cuddles N(ew) and waits for ACTOR to tag along and spoil the romantic moment.
15 Publicity campaign with most of capital invested in medicine perhaps (9)
PROMOTION   Not “our” capital this time but the Italians’. Because it’s short, it matters not if you spell it “our” way or theirs, Mix it into POTION, medicine.
16 Piece of data corporation childishly stated about old and versatile worker  (8)
FACTOTUM The third appearance of FACT, this time in the guise of a piece of data. TUM is a childish version of the allegedly humorous “corporation” for “belly”. You need the O from Old to complete the wordplay. For those of you with a proper education, the figure O would do just as well, by and Largo.
18 Quick to secure edge in leadership  (7)
PRIMACY  Hello again RIM, this time edge, not border, and accompanied by an enfolding PACY for fast.
19 Speech about a new breed of dog  (7)
SPANIEL  SPIEL for speech embracing A N(ew).
20 Small boat hard to find in dark  (6)
DINGHY  created by inserting H(ard) into DINGY/dark
22 Land in East as I heard from control tower?  (5)
INDIA  Land in East from “our” perspective. If you listen to control tower traffic, you’ll sooner or later discover that what you hear as India is really I. Natospeak.
24 Supporting female chairperson, in short  (4)
PROF  Now you see if you didn’t insist on gender neutral sillinesses such as chairperson, you wouldn’t have to qualify it with “female” for the lady version. Not much to do with this clue: PRO stands in for supporting, F stands in for Female, and a chairperson is whimsically a professor, reduced here as instructed to the short version.

Times Jumbo 1214

Here's the belated blog on Times Jumbo 1214 (published 25 June). I thought this was much easier than the last one I posted about (Jumbo 1209)!

As always, * indicates an anagram.

8 SPAGHETTI - (this pate)* around G
13 DOWSE - sounds like 'douse'
14 GONDOLIER - (or glide on)*
15 CERAMIC - (i mare) in CC, all reversed
16 THUNDERSTORM - (turns mother d)*
24 PEAR-SHAPED - (she'd appear)*
34 MANDIBLE - N, + bid (reversed), in MALE
35 BASEMENT - (seam)* in BENT
36 SWAY - S + WAY
40 LEMON THYME - MEnn, after MONTH in LEY
44 IN THE AIR - double indication
45 BRECHT - ECHT after BR
49 BUTTERMILK - BUTTER + MILK. Here, BUTTER is a cryptic way of referring to a goat, which butts
51 DISCOMPOSURE - DISC, + (more soup)*
53 UNTRIED - first letters of 'Unity' and 'Nancy', + TRIED
54 SWING DOOR - SWING, + rood (reversed)
57 BANK STATEMENT - hidden in MillBANK'S TATE MENTioned

1 CADETSHIP - C + (Spithead)*
4 REGARD - rage (reversed) in RD
5 CONSTITUENCY - (NE city counts)*
6 ISOPRENE - (is opener)*
7 EPIC - reference is to comedian ERIC Morecambe. If you remove the diagonal stroke ('leg') from the R, ERIC becomes EPIC
8 STRENGTHEN - STRING THIN, with I replaced by E twice
9 ARCHER - double definition
10 HORTICULTURE - 'short stick vultures', with the outermost letters of each word removed
11 TEMPI - TEPId around first letter of 'Menuhin'
22 BREAKAWAY - BREAK ('holiday') + AWAY ('home? Far from it')
23 PARALLEL - PARE around ALL, + L
27 MAESTROS - (sort seam), reversed
28 NAZARETH - (he Tarzan)*
37 UNENCLOSED - double indication
41 ENTRECHAT - ERE CHAT, around N + Theatre
42 MAXIM GUN - MAX + I'M, + GUY with N replacing the Y
46 COUTURE - CURE around OUT
47 AMIDST - hidden in 'teAM I'D STrip'
50 TOTAL - TOT + A + L

Times 26469 - wakey wakey!

Apologies for a slightly late posting. It would have been better if we had bedded down on a mattress in the cellar amid the racks of St. Emilion waiting patiently for me to live long enough to drink them at their best; instead we braved it upstairs with fans whizzing but unable to do more than toss and turn in 28 degrees all night (it touched 39 during the day yesterday). Accordingly, I was slow to start and sluggish at solving this, which I suspect on a cool Monday would be a piece of cake. It took me 28 minutes, of which the easy-once-you-see-it 21a and the *I*E of 8d took me the last ten.
Now it's done, I think it's a fair medium weight puzzle with good if sometimes clunky use of the usual wordplay tools and nothing too obscure. Jimbo would probably say 'vanilla.'

1 CUBE - CUB for little creature, E = face of eight; D nine, 3 cubed. Well, 3 cubed is 27, not 9, see discussion below (robrolfe and linxit).
3 ESCARPMENT - EST = French for is, insert CARP for beef and MEN for pieces; D inclination.
10 MACEDONIA - AIM = end, reversed = MIA, insert ACE DON for great scholar; D land. Either a Greek province or a former Yugoslav Republic.
11 RURAL - R = one river, URAL = another river; D country.
12 TANTARA - TAN = beat, TA-RA = so long, (not TA-TA in this case); D trumpet blast.
13 EQUIPE - E E = sides from ElsewherE, insert QUIP = crack; D team, French.
15 PROMETHEUS BOUND - PRO = for, ME = Middle East, THE US = America, BOUND = certain (to): D tragedy. Greek play probably by Aeschylus.
18 STOCKBROKER BELT - Cryptic definition, London related. Do other big cities have stockbroker belts, as such?
21 PRUNED - RUN = race, inside PE = sports, D = day; D cut. Simple but it took me too long.
23 OPEN AIR - D exposed; O ! Pen air ! would be the exhortation.
26 CHEAT - C = cold, HEAT = the opposite; D sharper, as in card sharp(er).
27 WHITEWASH - WHIT = a bit, SH = quiet, insert AWE (dread) reversed; D cover-up.
28 MUSICOLOGY - O LOG = oxygen chart, inserted into MUS = SUM reversed (back problem), ICY = chill; D subject.
29 CHIP - D counter; C = one hundred, HIP = happening (it's happening, man!).

1 COME TO PASS - CO = commander, MET= police, OP = work, ASS = fool; D to take place.
2 BACON - BAN = embargo, insert CO for firm; D meat.
4 SUNBATHER - SUN = (news)paper (not much news in it though), THE = article, inside BAR = omitting ("all bar the favourite"); D he wants to get brown, or melanoma perhaps.
5 AGAPE - AGA for Muslim military chief, PE = EP reversed; D love for Christians; I haven't looked it up but I remember it from schooldays as the word used in Greek versions of the bible for 'love' as in the love of man for God and vice versa, as opposed to brotherly love (phileo).
6 PERTURB - a BRUT REP could be a salesman of dry bubbly; reversed = rebuffed; D upset.
7 ENRAPTURE - An anagram at last. (REPEAT RUN)*: D transport.
8 TILE - 'Fin de siècle' = E, LIT = literature, 'revolutionary' - reversed; D e.g. Trilby. TILE is apparently a nickname for a proper hat. It took me a long spell of alphabet-surfing to plump for it even though the wordplay suggested it.
9 IDEATE - I DATE = I see, insert E = ecstasy; D picture in the mind.
16 ODOURLESS - Anagrams like buses now. (EUROS SOLD)*, D unable to be detected.
17 UNKNOWING - D in the dark, hidden word in P(UNK NOW IN G)ARISH.
19 KINETIC - CITE = quote, reversed, supports KIN = loved ones; D moving, as in kinetic energy.
20 REEFER - Double def; 'it's hand crafted for smoking' i.e. a joint; and a sort of jacket.
22 DOWEL - DO WELL = succeed, lose one L; D peg.
24 ABASH - A BASH = a party; D makes you show up.
25 SCUM - S M = case of sadism, insert CU; D nasty film.

Quick Cryptic Number 617 by Tracy

I'm away early tomorrow so it's an early post.

The most difficult crossword I’ve had to blog for a while, and very entertaining too. I couldn’t find a hold anywhere, so flitted around the grid, starting with the shorter answers, before the penny dropped in all corners, all roughly at once. In the end, I was very glad to complete without having to resort to aids (other than to check previously unknown words already entered, for the sake of the blog!). COD to 11ac for the definition!

Hope all is correct and clear - if not, just ask.

Definitions underlined.

1 Charming wise men, almost relaxed (7)
MAGICAL - MAGI (wise men) and all but the last letter of (almost) CALm (relaxed).
5 Eat nothing in a hurry (4)
FAST - double definition.
7 Jack and king Welshman rejected (5)
KNAVE - K (king) and EVAN (Welshman) backwards (rejected).
8 Some discover Montana, a state (7)
VERMONT - hidden in (some) discoVER MONTana.
10 Boy's piece of music, unfinished (3)
SON - SONg (piece of music) without last the last letter (unfinished).
11 Burning desire to see extremely pretty country (9)
PYROMANIA - outside letters of (extremely) PrettY, and ROMANIA (country).
13 Tell about past (6)
RELATE - RE (regarding, about), and LATE (past).
14 Painter in squat, mostly silent at first (6)
STUBBS - STUBBy (squat) without last letter (mostly), and first letter of (at first) Silent.
17 Cleaner, by a stop, caught early coach (9)
CHARABANC - CHAR (cleaner), A BAN (stop), and C (caught, cricket).
19 Old lady eating duck, old bird (3)
MOA - MA (old lady) containing (eating) O (duck, cricket).
20 Disgraceful event boy recalled, on examination (7)
SCANDAL - LAD (boy) backwards (recalled) on SCAN (examination).
22 Nothing pleasant pending (2,3)
ON ICE - O (nothing) and NICE (pleasant).
23 Heads turned in shock (4)
STUN - NUTS (heads) backwards (turned).
24 Useless person with, initially, a reasonable chance? (7)
WASHOUT - first letter of (initially) With, and A SHOUT (a reasonable chance).

1 Records an album, and leaves? (5,6)
MAKES TRACKS - double definition.
2 Anchor angler at sea holds quietly (7)
GRAPNEL - anagram of (at sea) ANGLER, containing (holds) P (piano, quietly).
3 Flying to palace inhabited by king and queen (9)
CLEOPATRA - anagram of (flying) TO PALACE, containing (inhabited by) R (Rex, king).
4 Large, one extremely distinctive dress (6)
LIVERY - L (large), I (one), and VERY (extremely).
5 Tree set alight (not base) (3)
FIR - FIRe (set alight), without last letter (not base).
6 Power in early golf club (5)
SPOON - P (power) in SOON (early).
9 Managed health club with river outside, clear (11)
TRANSPARENT - RAN (managed), SPA (health club), surrounded by (outside) TRENT (river).
12 Medical officer to come over for sport (9)
MOTOCROSS - MO (medical officer) and TO CROSS (to come over).
15 Disney character, no child (7)
BAMBINO - BAMBI (Disney character) and NO.
16 Pale pig devouring everything (6)
SALLOW - SOW (pig) around (devouring) ALL (everything).
18 Modify trailer fitting (5)
ADAPT - AD (advertisement, trailer) and APT (fitting).
21 Faculty head lacking area for study (3)
DEN - DEaN (faculty head) lacking ‘a’ (area).

Quick Crytpic 616 by Alconiere

If you're familiar with saints days then getting the long anagram quickly will speed you through this. I ended up on 14 minutes. A good crossword with plenty to work out - a good balance, I thought - thank you Alconiere.

1. Dessert - pudding. DESERT around seconds (S).
5. Baked - very hot. A and (K)id in BED.
8. Kick one's heels - have nothing to do. Give up wearing stilettos - to give up is to kick, stilettos are heels so to stop wearing them is to 'kick ones heels'.
9. Orifice - opening. An anagram (moves) of twice I (I, I) and FORCE.
10. Aware - conscious. A, major conflict (WAR), close to home - hom(E).
11. Alpine - in the mountains. A, large (L), tree (PINE).
13. Stamen - a bit of a bloomer. Anagram (all over the place) of AM SENT.
15. Sinew - tendon. Stitch (SEW) holding IN.
16. Foresaw - predicted. Gold (OR) inside an anagram (strangely) of FEW AS.
19. Madame Tussaud - founder of exhibition. Anagram (works) of AT A MUSEUM ADDS.
20. Doyen - senior member. Party (DO), intense desire (YEN).
21. Dunedin - city down under - in South Island, New Zealand - the location of my only forage into sheep farming (I helped round up and hold lambs for inoculation for a couple of hours).

1. Dekko - butchers (hook = look). Dithce(D) th(E) por(K), a big blow KO - knockout.
2. St. Crispin's Day - October 25th. Anagram (prepared) of SANDYS SCRIPT I.
3. E-Coli - bacteria. Upwards in so(IL OCE)an.
4. The Met - London police. Topic (THEME), (T)hat's.
5. By heart - how to memorise things. Times (BY - multiplication), man (HE), skill (ART).
6. Keen as mustard - raring to go. In the role of Cluedo suspect Colonel Mustard (often to be found in the library with a lead pipe - but each to their own).
7. Discern - make out. Record (DISC), queen (ER), new (N).
11. Assumed - took on. Idiot (ASS), (U)ndress, sea (MED).
12. Newsman - reporter. Novel's (NEW'S), isle (MAN).
14. OFSTED - inspectors. Anagram (version) of FT DOES.
17. Risen - in state of revolt. D(R)u(I)d'(S) b(E)i(N)g.
18. Woden - ancient God. Without (W/O), somewhere to retreat to (DEN).

Times Cryptic 26468

This one took me 25 minutes so I expect some very fast times from the regular hares. Whilst solving I made a note that the bird at 8dn was unknown but I checked later and found I had claimed that on at least three previous occasions over the past four years. It's funny how some words won't stick in the brain! And some spellings too. One thing learnt today though is a new expression for "drunk" (at 23dn). And I thought I knew them all. Here's my blog...

 As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]

1 Stole money, carrying paintings back in coast-bound transport (4,5)
BOAT TRAIN - BOA (stole), TIN (money) containing [carrying] ART (paintings) reversed [back]. BOA came up as "neckwear" recently and caught me out, so it was fresh in my mind today.
6 Broke cover, pursued by stoat finally (5)
SKINT - SKIN (cover), {stoa}T [finally]. The slang for having no money was derived from "skinned" apparenty. It also gave rise to the rhymning slang "boracic lint" which colloquially gets reduced simply to "brassic".
9 Tom can smell this — Tim can’t, unfortunately (7)
CATMINT - Anagram [unfortunately] of TIM CAN'T. Neither of the cats I had most recently reacted to catmint, but one I had years ago lost all reason when in contact with it.
10 Conspirator Harry Lime originally arrested? (7)
PLOTTER - L{ime} [originally] contained [arrested] by POTTER (Harry)
11 Seductive woman’s name associated with father (5)
SIREN - SIRE (father), N (name)
12 Desolate character is magistrate, circling large loch (9)
BLEAKNESS - BEAK (magistrate) contains [circling] L (large), NESS (loch)
13 Surreptitious way able-bodied husband’s abandoned (8)
STEALTHY - ST (way - street), {h}EALTHY (able-bodied) [husband's abandoned]
14 Stars missing opening of revue in Spanish port (4)
VIGO - VI{r}GO (stars) [missing opening of revue)
17 Nervous director general stopping the old retiring (4)
EDGY - DG (Director General - e.g. head of the BBC) inside [stopping] YE (the, old) reversed [retiring]
18 Brave Nordic hero keeping near the centre (8)
CHEROKEE - Hidden [near the centre] in {Nordi}C HERO KEE{ping}
21 Married woman, one of five, becomes model (9)
MANNEQUIN - M (married), ANNE (woman), QUIN (one of five - quintuplet)
22 Judge the aforementioned renovation? (5)
REFIT - REF (judge), IT (the aforementioned)
24 Birds’ breeding-place identified by woman in train? (7)
HERONRY - HER (woman), ON RY (in train - on railway)
25 Inclination Republican has to abandon education (7)
LEANING - LEA{r}NING (education) [Republican has to abandon]
26 Fork out about two pounds, like a friend (5)
PALLY - PAY (fork out) contains [about] LL (two pounds - UK currency)
27 Point we accepted in old PM’s time (5-4)
NORTH-WEST - WE contained by [accepted in ] NORTH'S (old PM's), T (time). Frederick, Lord North was Prime Minister 1770-1782.
1 Supports strikebreaker over accepting sack at last (5)
BACKS - SCAB (strikebreaker) reversed [over] containing [accepting] {sac}K [at last]
2 Working near Leyton, great government legal adviser (8,7)
3 Embroilment involving Rhode Island figure (8)
TRIANGLE - TANGLE (embroilment) containing [involving] RI (Rhode Island)
4 Not a hub, a foreign motorway (8)
AUTOBAHN - Anagram [foreign] of NOT A HUB A
5 Relative’s record upheld by ambassador in 27 (6)
NEPHEW - EP (record - Extended Play) + HE (ambassador - His Excellency) contained by [in] NW (27 - the Across answer abbreviated)
6 Ghostly appearance of tailless bear in the heavens (6)
SPOOKY - POO{h} (bear) [tailless) contained by [in] SKY (heavens)
7 Imprisoned by the enemy at the last possible moment? (2,3,4,2,4)
IN THE NICK OF TIME - IN THE NICK OF (imprisoned by), TIME (the enemy). There are various sayings about time being an enemy but I haven't been able determine the original source.
8 Wader sets about work on Tyneside (9)
TURNSTONE - TURNS TO (sets about work on), NE (Tyneside). Once seen never remembered!
13 Powered vessel? Sons must accept crew with it (9)
STEAMSHIP - SS (sons) contain [accept] TEAM (crew), HIP (with it)
15 Dealer’s name protected by creditor (8)
CHANDLER - HANDLE (name) contained [protected] by CR (creditor)
16 Painter upset soup going round a Scottish port (8)
ARBROATH -  RA (painter - Royal Academician) reversed [upset], BROTH (soup) containing [going round] A
19 Like edible grain knight concealed in miserly way (6)
MEANLY - N (knight - chess) contained [concealed] by MEALY (like edible grain)
20 Trouble afoot, do we hear, for a writer and preacher? (6)
BUNYAN - Sounds like [do we hear] "bunion" (trouble afoot)
23 How we’re urged to sleep, being half seas over? (5)
TIGHT - Two definitions, the second meaning "drunk" was unknown to me - the term that is, not the condition.

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