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Sunday Times 4648 by Tim Moorey

9:34 on the club timer. Tim Moorey has produced quite a lot of straightforward, 'vanilla' puzzles of late, and this is another. As ever though this is in no way intended as a criticism. If you think this is a bit too easy, you can have a crack at the Mephisto.

1 High fliers in resort stick firmly together mostly
6 Draw second sailing-boat
9 Recall one dense part of France
MIDI - reversal of I, DIM.
10 Sort of wine for an OAP?
ELDERBERRY - bit of a strange one this. You can make wine from these berries, and an OAP would be ELDER. Seems a bit loose somehow, which probably means I'm missing something subtle.
11 Dropping round, trio invited me to arrange entertaining pieces
14 A number on ecstasy? Prevalent in holiday island
15 Pronounced hardship for an oil worker
RIGGER - sounds like'rigour'.
16 Extremely exciting sort of poker
RED HOT - DD. The first reminded me of Zoolander ('so hot right now'), the second of Edward II.
18 Golf in Dubai? Move abroad
EMIGRATE - EMI(G)RATE. The question mark after 'Dubai' signals a definition by example.
20 With wife away, quiet man works out?
QUESTION MARK - (QUIET MAN wORKS)*. One of those cunning clues where the definition is just a punctuation mark.
22 Rio ignored deterioration abroad and adjusted appropriately
24 Left port unopened
OVER - dOVER. You don't hear 'over' meaning 'left' (remaining) very often. 'Left over' is more common, which confuses matters.
25 Story about American behind dog
26 Member in men’s clothing

2 Elite fan griped about foul
PRIVILEGED - (GRIPED)* containing VILE. 'Fan' is the anagram indicator.
3 Game on board eastern auditors mentioned
CHINESE CHEQUERS - CHEQUERS sounds like 'checkers' (auditors). This board game.
4 Suspect Frenchman irate about ending of bus conductors
MAESTRI - (M, IRATE)* around buS. M for 'monsieur', bien sur.
5 Agree fellow’s shown up
NOD - reversal of DON.
6 Comparatively calm tennis champion on the radio
SERENER - sounds like 'Serena'.
7 Give spinner more bowling? It’s blooming late!
8 Fish and beef getting praise? The opposite
CARP - a triple definition, the second and third being more or less the same thing.
12 Ultimate in desire, ’twas me bust!
MAE WEST - (desirE TWAS ME)*. The whole clue is the (rather odd) definition and the wordplay, so this is an &Lit.
13 Chaps in more effective town initially getting property improvement
BETTERMENT - BETTER (more effective), then Town containing MEN. Using BETTER as part of the wordplay for a word stemming directly from it is a little bit awkward.
17 Two articles on saving time in operations room
THEATRE - THE, A (two articles), then RE (on), the whole thing containing T for time.
19 Working, as many nuns are
IN ORDER - can you be a nun without being in an order? I've no idea.
21 Song in West Side Story needing no introduction
ARIA - mARIA. Is 'song' doing double duty in this clue, or is it a clue without a definition? I suppose you can read the whole thing as a definition of sorts, which would make it an &Lit, but would you describe a song in a musical as an ARIA? And why would an ARIA need no introduction? My advice is not to worry about it: it's perfectly clear what the answer is.
23 Measure of resistance understood to be rising
TOG - reversal of GOT. I suppose 'resistance' here is resistance to the cold.

Mephisto 2861 - Paul McKenna

I found a few parts of this very tricky indeed, with a bit of delving into sub-headings in Chambers, though in the end I don't think I have any questions and I believe I have all the wordplay sorted out, which is a good idea for when it's blogging time.

I'm typing this up on the 4th of July, so happy birthday 'Merica!

Away we go...

5S(ucceeded) before WASHER(small change, based on resemblance to a washer in plumbing)
10REBECCAITE: (BEATRICE)* containing EC - referencing the toll-gate riots, found under REBECCA in Chambers
11NAGMAAL: NAG(hack) then LAM reversed surrounding A
15GHERAO: GHOST(soul) missing ST(stone) with ERA inside
16DENIAL: DEAL(act) containing NI
18WASABIS: SAW(got) reversed followed by A(before),BIS(twice)
27REPOSE: SOP(concession) reversed in REE(yard for keeping cattle in the winter)
28SEARCH: hidden in japaneSE ARCHipelago
29TEMPE: remove L from TEMPLE(rollers on a loom)
30OFF-PEAK: F inside OF PEAK - this meaning of PEAK is found under PEAG in Chambers
31A SHORT FUSE: anagram of USAF and OTHERS
32MUST-SEE: S(section) after MUST(new wine) then E(xtravaganc)E
33LYSED: (YES)* in LD
1ALNAGES: (LASAGNE)* - inspection of cloth
3REMARK: KRAMERIA without the last two letters
4ABADAH: anagram of (ABU,DHABI) less BU(t)
5SEA GOWN: SEWN containing AGO
6ACUTES: angram of (CAUSE,T)
7SAY,ON: wordplay clear, definition not so easy to find - it's under SAY(3) in Chambers
9REVEL: LEVER reversed
17BODACHS: OD(arbitrary force, and the nickname of one of my predecessors on the Mephisto blog) in BACHS (bachelors)
19AGRAFFE: R in GAFFE after A
24APEPSY: PEP(go) for R (last letter in Alka-Seltzer) in ARSY(irritable)
25ASSAM: tea - MASSA reversed

Saturday Times 26136 (27th June)

Hope to get this done sometime this afternoon when I get a minute to spare. I've been busy all morning trying to rescue what's left of the garden after last night's battering! OK, here it is - I forgot to note my solving time but don't remember struggling too much with it, probably sub-15 mins. A really fun puzzle though - I don't think 18ac has ever been used as an answer before (although no doubt someone will come up with the exact puzzle number where it last appeared...) It's something Kenneth Connor might have come out with in a Carry On film, so our American friends might have struggled with that one!

1 Habit of Conservative Member of Parliament (4)
COWL - C(onservative) + OWL (member of parliament - the collective noun for a group of them).
3 Animal in OT reincarnated three times as lamb (7,3)
BALAAM'S ASS - (as,as,as,lamb)*. Talking donkey from a story in the Book of Numbers.
9 Young politician touring at the appropriate time, briefly (4,3)
LION CUB - LIB (politician) around ON CU(e) (at the appropriate time, briefly).
11 Tie to be broadcast: semi, indeed (3,4)
NOT HALF - NOT (sounds like "knot", tie) + HALF (semi).
12 Post holder’s description of US bodies — I hesitate to say: corrupt (9)
INCUMBENT - INC (description of US bodies? I suppose it means Inc. as in US company names) + UM (I hesitate to say) + BENT (corrupt).
13 Small antelope in pen recoiling before one (5)
ORIBI - BIRO (pen) reversed + I (one).
14 What has fellow worker maybe initially helping poor? (12)
PHILANTHROPY - PHIL (fellow) + ANT (worker) + H(elping) + ROPY (poor). I guess this must be semi-&lit (or 3/4-&lit?) because "What has" isn't part of the wordplay.
18 School audio plays without children’s initial agreement, ironically (1,6,5)
I SHOULD COCOA - (school audio)* around C(hildren).
21 Saw underneath wheels, removing front (5)
MOTTO - BOTTOM (underneath), first letter removed and reversed.
22 Back America to beat much of India (9)
HINDUSTAN - HID (back) + US (America) + TAN (beat).
24 Paparazzi sneak forwards (7)
RAT PACK - RAT (sneak) + PACK (forwards - in rugby).
25 Italian city is situated in plain to the west (7)
TREVISO - IS inside OVERT (plain) reversed.
26 Head boy left to squeal: he was out for the count (3,7)
VAN HELSING - VAN (head) + HE (boy) + L(eft) + SING (squeal). Vampire hunter in the original Dracula by Bram Stoker.
28 Jelly range confectioner ultimately wanted (4)
AGAR - AGA (range) + (confectione)R.

1 Brand ten exercises for a female “inspiring” (8)
CALLIOPE - CALL (brand) + 10 + PE (exercises). The muse of eloquence and epic poetry.
2 Go after sort of current trendy wallpaper style (8)
WOODCHIP - WOO (go after) + DC (sort of current) + HIP (trendy).
4 Maybe take constitutional risk, deposing leader (5)
AMBLE - GAMBLE (risk), without the first letter.
5 Type appearing in drag, topless or nude (2,7)
AU NATUREL - NATURE (type) inside (h)AUL (drag, topless).
6 Film competition different university runs internally (6,7)
MOTION PICTURE - (competition)* around U(niversity) R(uns).
7 Sort of race gear a bicycle needs (6)
ARABIC - hidden in "gear a bicycle".
8 Cockney sulks when opening number’s ending (6)
SUFFIX - 'UFF (Cockney sulks) inside SIX (number).
10 Kind of pacifist, moderate at first, then consumed with rage (13)
COMPASSIONATE - CO (Conscientious Objector, pacifist) + M(oderate) + PASSION (rage) + ATE (consumed). (
15 A second drinks order? (3,6)
TWO SHAKES - double definition.
16 Object after this rustic Johnny finally gets old harvester’s job? (8)
SCYTHING - THING (object) after last letters of this rustic Johnny.
17 An easy target, but donor’s unsettled (4,4)
BARN DOOR - BAR (but) + (donor)*.
19 Rally, in short, not taking the rehearsed route (6)
IMPROV - IMPROV(e) (rally, in short).
20 Drug crime stopped by volunteers over time (6)
STATIN - SIN (crime) around TA (volunteers), T(ime).
23 Impossible, raising leg weight (3,2)
NOT ON - ON (leg side in cricket) reversed + TON (weight).

Jumbo 1155

I thought this was a very enjoyable offering, with some smooth (e.g. 15A, 27A) and amusing surfaces (e.g. 57A, 31D). Only a few unknowns and nothing too fiendish in the wordplay, leading to a solving time of 21m 2s.

cd = cryptic definition, dd = double definition, * = anagram

1 STRIP CLUB - STRIP (band) + CLUB (hit)
6 SHALLOW - HALLO (greeting) in SW (Cornwall area, i.e. South-West)
10 WEILL - {prelud}E inside WILL (desire), for the composer of The Threepenny Opera and others. I spent some time pondering whether there was a composer Weish that I'd never heard of.
13 LABOURS - could be read as LAB(rador) OURS
14 R AND R - reverse hidden in absuRD NARratives, definition: "rest abridged"
16 THE WORLD IS TOO MUCH WITH US - literal reading where US is to be read as U.S. This is a sonnet by Wordsworth with disappointingly no apparent connection to The World Is Not Enough. Not a poem I'd heard of but fortunately the checkers didn't leave many options.
17 PIERRE - PIE (Shepherd's, possibly) around ERR (stray)
18 FACTOTUM - FACT (no story) + OT (books) + UM (I hesitate to say)
19 BOHEMIA - HEM (border) + I (one), all inside BOA (Stole)
22 RAT-A-TAT-TAT - RA (artist) + TA (cheers) + TAT + TAT (shoddy stuff repeating), definition: "Sound of rap". Nice use of "lift and separate".
23 WEATHERSTRIP - (W{ith} + THREE + PARTS + I)* I'm not sure I've come across this word before but, seeing as it looked likely to begin with "weather", there weren't any other alternatives from the anagram fodder.
27 DIP IN - DI (say, Morse - a reference to Colin Dexter's literary protagonist Inspector Morse, who presumably was at some point a Detective Inspector) + PIN (code, i.e. Personal Identification Number)
29 WOODRAT - WOO (Go after) + DRAT (damn), to give an alternative name for a pack-rat
30 HAYFIELD - F in (DAILY + HE)*, definition: "that's worked best in the Sun"
32 DYE-WORKS - YEW (tree) inside DORKS (Idiots), definition: "plant that changes colour"
34 JANACEK - JK (couple coming after I, in the alphabet) around AN ACE (expert), for the composer of The Cunning Little Vixen and others
36 KABUL - alternate reversed in cLoUd BlAcK
39 PLAIN SAILING - PLANS (Schemes) + AILING (laid up), around I (one)
41 PRIZE MONEY - homophone of PRISE, + MO (second) + NEY (French marshal - one of Napoleon's commanders). Chambers gives prize as an alternative spelling to prise, so the homophone indicator perhaps isn't needed.
44 ROLLBAR - ROLL (List) + BAR (to exclude)
46 EMBER DAY - (READ + BY + ME)* Ember days are fasting days in some Christian churches.
48 ILL SAY - ILLS (Problems) + AY (without end, i.e. forever)
50 BUTTERFLIES IN THE STOMACH - dd, the second cryptic and referring to the type of butterfly known as a comma
53 IMPRECISE - EMPIRE*, around (closing) C (century) + IS
54 NAIRA - AIR (Atmosphere) in N (North) A{merica}, to give the monetary unit of Nigeria, definition: "change from W Africa". A is a standard abbreviation for America and NA is a standard abbreviation for North America, so arguably the "to start with" isn't needed.
55 AMENITY - AMITY (Fellowship) around EN (Parisian in)
56 MERCY - could be read as MERC-Y, i.e. like a Mercedes (posh car)
57 YTTRIUM - initial letters of Your Twin Tub Rolled In Under Mine, short and sweet definition: "Y", the chemical symbol for yttrium
58 SWEETENER - WEE (Minor) + TEN (figure), inside SE (Home Counties) + R{ugby}, definition: "substitute in cup"

1 SPLIT - triple definition, the peach one in the sense of being an informer
2 ROB PETER TO PAY PAUL - mildly cryptic definition playing on the fact that "peter" is a slang word for a safe
3 PLUTOCRAT - PLUTO (world) + C (cold) + RAT (despicable one)
4 LASTLY - ST (Stumped, as seen in a cricket score) + L (line), all inside LAY (song)
5 BURKINA FASO - BURKAS (Moslem garments) + O (old), around IN + A + F (fine), for the country once known as Upper Volta
6 SANCTITY - CT (court) inside SANITY (being all there)
7 AIRPORT - AIR (state) + PORT (left), Charles de Gaulle being one of the airports of Paris
9 WATCHABLE - WAT (Temple) + CABLE (lead) around H (husband)
10 WASPISH - reversal of H (Hot) + SIP (drink) + SAW (marked)
11 IRISH - how a drunk might pronounce IRIS (flag, as in the plant)
12 LOOK SNAPPY - LOOKS (Beauty) + NAPPY (something applied to a baby), definition: "hurry", as an imperative
17 PARED - RED (wine) after PA (a year, i.e. per annum)
20 MARYLEBONE STATION - (M + ALTERATIONS + BY + ONE)*, definition: "property on square". I've only been near Marylebone Station a handful of times and I don't recall any particularly obvious square there, so I'm assuming that this is a reference to a Monopoly board.
21 STOWER - S (Small) + TOWER (campanile, perhaps)
24 EXTANT - {s}EXTANT (Navigational aid, after taking the first), definition: "left"
25 SLICK - dd, the first "Showing Polish" and making use of a nicely misleading capitalisation
26 TROJAN - TRO{p} (almost too much for French person) + JAN (month), definition: "Paris for one"
28 NO-WIN - if you were once out then perhaps you are NOW IN
31 YAKUZA - YAK (Hairy creature) + UZ{i} (sub-machine gun cut down) + A
35 CARPATHIANS - CAR (Vehicle) + PATH (lane) + IS around AN, for the mountain range in Central and Eastern Europe
37 LAY-BY - LAY (Release clutch, perhaps - think eggs) + BY (alongside)
38 OPPROBRIUM - OP (Work) + PRO (for), + I (one) in BRUM (Birmingham)
40 AIRY-FAIRY - AI (Fine) + RY (line) + FAIR (just) + {sadl}Y
42 MELLOWEST - M (Maiden) + 'ELLO (greeting for Cockney) + WEST (bridge player)
43 CRONYISM - (R{ewarding} + M{ates} + IN + COSY)*, pretty much an &lit
45 BREWERY - R (right) + EWER (jug), inside BY. Definition: "Porter works, possibly", where a porter is a type of beer.
47 BASENJI - BASE (Found), + J (judge) in NI (part of UK, i.e. Northern Ireland), for the hunting dog that doesn't have much of a bark
49 ASHAKE - something fishlike might be AS HAKE
51 TAPER - dd
52 HEYER - HR (Personnel) around EYE (study), referring to Georgette Heyer, who died today in 1974. I know her more for her historical romances than her crime writings. Heyer is regularly mentioned on this blog as a useful source of crosswordese.

Sub required for next Tuesday

Jackkt has told me he's going to be unavailable to blog next Tuesday's main puzzle (7th July).

Any takers?

Quick Cryptic No 344 by Flamande

Unable to solve ahead because the URL number was not in sequence from yesterday's, I tackled this in bed on waking and had hardly begun my tea and toast before finishing it in 5 or 6 minutes. It's at the shallow nursery slope end of the mountain, with a nice mix of clue types, no obscurities, a good work-out for a novice at cryptics.

3 SHARP - S = small, HARP = musical instrument, def. note.
7 PRIEST - PRIES = asks many questions, T = end of sacrament, def. cleric.
8 AJAR - Double definition; partly open, a container. When is a door not a door?
9 TERRAPIN - Insert P = quietly, into TERRAIN = ground; def. reptile.
10 TASK - T = little time, ASK = demand, def. something to do.
11 NELSON'S COLUMN - Mandela's = Nelson's, regular newspaper spot = column, def. a capital feature.
15 SPILL THE BEANS - Double definition, one literal, one meaning 'own up'.
16 KILT - KIT = set of clothes, insert L for large, def. skirt.
18 BLUEBELL - BLUE = unhappy, BELL(E) = beauty queen maybe, cut; def. flower.
20 HEAR - (HARE)*, anagrind 'jugged', def. try, as in court case.
21 RESIST - Hidden word in CHART(RES IS T)ERRIBLE; def. weather, as in bear.
22 YIKES - Alternate letters (odds missing) of mY sIcK pEt'S; def. Gosh!

1 FREEZE-UP - Def. very cold spell, sounds like FREES UP = is liberating.
2 BEAR - BEAR(D) = whiskers being trimmed, def. put up with.
3 STEP ON IT - (IN TOP SET)*, anagind 'after revision', def. make quick progress.
4 AMEN - The last word, hidden in L(AMEN)TATIONS.
5 PASTILLE - PAST = sort of tense, ILL = unwell, E = start to eat, def. throat lozenge.
6 DAIS - DA = US Lawyer, IS, def. platform.
12 SOLITARY - (ROYALIST)*, anagrind 'struggling', def. lone.
13 CHEQUERS - Double definition, one a board game also called draughts, one a mansion.
14 MINDLESS - Def. ill-considered; if you reduced baby-sitting commitments, you'd MIND LESS.
17 IDEA - (IDEA(L) = perfect, almost; def. concept. A crossword chestnut.
18 BOOK - Obvious double definition.
19 BUST - Another double definition; bust = broken, bust = work by sculptor.

Times 26,141: Infotainment Interrobang

Ah, it's good to be back in the world of hot mattresses, soft mattresses and daily crossword puzzles. Many thanks to pipkirby for covering for me last week, and clad in such fashion-forward apparel too!

Glastonbury was pretty great of course: Patti Smith was the definite highlight, managing to get the Dalai Lama up on stage with her and serve him birthday cake: top that, Kanye West! But going beyond the big names I'd like to recommend the lovely up-and-coming Australian songstress Courtney Barnett to you all. The title of her latest album "Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit" speaks I think to all of us, especially if you replace the word "think" with "fill in answers". Also, the chorus to one of her best songs, "History Eraser", runs "In my brain I rearrange the letters on the page to spell your name". Surely secretly one of us.

Anyway, this was a lovely puzzle to return to blogging on, seemingly designed to appeal to me with its multitude of classical cameos: Paris, Vesta, Ceres, Leonidas, Antenor. I know this kind of thing is not everyone's cup of tea but perhaps the editor has learned that if he schedules it on a Friday it will get an easy ride, on one blogging site at least. Timewise I continued my streak of solving puzzles in the 10-12 minutes bracket (11:36 here); LOI was 1a despite it being another excellent classical word, and COD must be the delightfully compact 4D.

Right, must rush, the school run awaits! Many riotously flung bouquets to the setter.

1 APOCALYPSE - revelation: CALYPS{o} ["short" ballad] "penned" by A POE [a | mystery writer]
6 TRAM - vehicle: RAM [stuff] "brought to" T [junction]
8 FIVE STAR - brilliant: FIR [Christmas tree] "entertains" VESTA [domestic goddess]
9 TROJAN - Paris(?): T{reguie}R "vergers" + O JAN [love | month]
10 CARD - double def: celebratory communication / wit
11 ADMINISTER - control: AD [notice] + I [one] in MINSTER [cathedral]
12 INELEGANT - uncouth: (AGENT*) ["breaks up"] on (LINE*) ["faulty"]
14 CERES - goddess: ER [HM] enters CE S [church | society]
17 NIAMH - Irishwoman: reverse ["redirected"] of H MAIN [gas | pipe]
19 VENEZUELA - country: reverse ["knocked back"] of ALE after VENEZ [French arrive] + U [university]
22 CANTALOUPE - "that's refreshingly tasty": OUP [publisher] "cuts" CAN TALE [prison | story]
23 SPAR - metal pole: SPARTAN [Leonidas(?)] minus TAN [beat "off"]
24 LINEAR - one-dimensional: LINE [words] + A{nteno}R ["disheartened"]
25 OLIGARCH - "boss in limited company": (GLORIA*) ["misused"] + CH [companion]
26 FESS - ordinary: {wi}FE'S S{uccess} "in part"
27 NED SHERRIN - broadcaster: (SEND*) ["battered"] + HERRIN{g} [fish "minus tail"]

1 AFFECTION - liking: F F [forces] + E [E{ngaged} "initially"] in ACTION [battle]
2 OBVERSE - side facing: B [bowled] in OVERS [stint] with E [English]
3 LETHARGY - condition: G [good] in (HARLEY {stree}T ["finally"]*) ["treated"]
4 PORTMANTEAU WORD - literotica(?): (A PART TUDOR WOMEN*) ["played"]
5 EXTENT - amount: TENT [accommodation] after EX [former partner]
6 TROUSSEAU - bottom drawer: T ["opening for" T{heoretical}] + ROUSSEAU [philosopher]
7 ACADEME - intellectual world: A CAME [answer | arrived] about D{iscursiv}E ["extremely"]
13 LIMITLESS - unending: and "the fastest stretch on Autobahn" has no speed limit
15 SEA URCHIN - spiny animal: SEARCH [look] around U [posh] + IN [home]
16 FEVERISH - excited: EVER [at all times] in FISH [school(?)]
18 IMAGINE - see: I'M AGILE [the writer's | Swift] swapping the L for an N [changing name (N) for L{illiput's} leader]
20 EMPEROR - top man: reverse ["rises"] of REP [salesman] splitting ROME [capital]
21 FLORIN - coin: FLIN{t} [stone "cut"] "to set" OR [gold]
Hi everyone

Solving time: straightforward

We are in the capable hands of Sir Don of Manley today who has produced a nice friendly puzzle that fully sits within the QC canon. Apologies about the format again. I have lost the template and editing an old posting seems to produce the gaps.

A pleasant solve with little to trouble you although 8 across needs a little knowledge which comes with regular solving. Thanks to our setter and see you next week!
1 THUG - We start with a wordsum. T (first letter of TENSE) + HUG (embrace).
4 DIVISION - The definition is rift. DI (Girl) + VISION (imagination).
8 PERILOUS - Dangerous is the definition. PERI (the name of a middle-eastern fairy) + LOUS(E) [insect - minus its first letter, briefly].
9 HA-HA - Double definition. Another name for a drainage ditch is the noise made by laughter.
10 MARGIN - Profit is the definition. MAR (spoil, damage) + GIN (drink).
11 TROLLS - Mischievous types is the definition. T (first letter of TYPES) + ROLLS (bread).
12 DEMONSTRATION - Protest is the definition. DEMON (wicked person) + STATION (HQ) with R (right) inside.
16 DEGREE - Double definition - A Mathematical unit is the same as a qualification from a univesity.
17 BRANDY - Drink is the definition. BRAND (label) with Y (last letter of BREWERY).
19 TABU - A hidden answer. The whole thing defines the clue with the answer hidden inside INCANDESCENT A BUILDING.
20 TRASHING - Destroying is the definition. ASH (tree) inside TRING (place in Herts).
21 SHADIEST - Most disreputable is the definition. An anagram of HEAD SITS.
22 ROOK - Swindle is the definition. (C)ROOK [criminal, minus its first letter]

2 HYENA - Animal is the definition. Y (first letter of YOU) inside HEN (bird) + A.
3 GOING TO GROUND - A double definition with one of them slightly 'off-the-wall' hence the question mark. A phrase that means disappearing could be described as how one travels to a sporting venue.
4 DROWN - Flood is the definition. DOWN - A county in N Ireland with R (river) inside.
5 VISITOR - Guest is the definition. SIT (take a seat) + OR (often found in crosswords, OTHER RANKS, as opposed to officers) all after VI (six).
6 SCHOOLTEACHER - Member of academic staff is the definition. An anagram (munching) of HER CHOCOLATES.
7 OTHELLO - Tragic hero is the definition. OT (old books) + HELLO (modern magazine).
10 MAD - Very angry is the definition. DAM (mother) reversed.
13 EYELASH - It's hairy is the definition. E (end, last letter, of GAME) + YE (you) + LASH (get hit).
14 SPECTRE - Ghost is the definition. An anagram (around) of CREEPS with T inside.
15 NAY - No! is the definition. An anagram (changes) of ANY.
17 BLAST - Reprimand is the definition. B (bishop) + LAST (endure).
18 DINGO - Australian mammal is the definition. DIN (noise) + GO (journey).

Times 26140 - pickles on the side

Solving time : 10:07 on the club timer - I would probably have cracked 10 minutes if I knew the stew at 9 across - had to pick through the alphabet for correct part of the clue that meant "pickle". There's also a double definition that has been in Mephisto more often than I recall seeing it in the daily Times.

Good one for wordplay this. Didn't have to do any of that biffing stuff at all!

Away we go...

1VOTER: REV reversed containing TO reversed
4SADDLE-BAG: SAD(blue) then an anagram of (L,BADGE)
9LOBSCOUSE: LOB(throw) then SOUSE(pickle in the most W.C. Fields possible way) around C
10GENUS: GENIUS(a guardian spirit) missing 1, and a word I first remember encountering in Trivial Pursuit
15FLEA CIRCUS: cryptic definition
18END PRODUCT: odd little double definition with "final outcome" and the result of multiplication being called the PRODUCT - hey maths!
19VIVA: double definition, one being an oral examination
24ALL-IN: FALLING missing the outside letters
27IMPEACHED: ACHED after PE after I'M
28NIMES: N then SEMI reversed
2TUB: TUBBY missing BY
3RECITE: REC(park) then ITEM missing M
5DOE(a female rabbit),ST(ew)
6LEGAL AID: DIAL,GEL all reversed containing A
7BENEDICTION: 1,ON(taking place) under BENEDICT(monk)
8G,ASH: slang for extra
16ARCH,1,BALD: though many will say that bald men have plenty of charm
17SRI LANKA: AIRS reversed around LANK. I believe "thin" is part of the definition
20PARDON: I beg your double definition
22BELCH: BELL missing one L, CH
23MALI: ISLAM reversed missing the S(succeeded)
26DIM(e): the dime is the smallest of the regular US coins

Times 26139

I found this significantly more difficult than yesterday's or Monday's, although having consumed enough wine for both Mrs K and me last evening during our celebratory dinner, I am not at my sparkling best this morning. I got as far as 14a before finding a write-in, then 11d, and the rest unravelled steadily in about 25 minutes. I had 10a from the word play but did check it afterwards to be sure.

1 HEADS OFF - I saw soon enough what was going on here, but wanted to put in TEES OFF (which of course doesn't fit) and ended up waiting for 1d to arrive before writing in the correct one. Def. sets off, take the heads off THIS > HIS and TOWN > OWN.
5 IGUANA - I (one), GUYANA = country, remove the Y (year not found); def. scaly reptile.
9 THOROUGH - Insert O = love, into THROUGH = via; def. consummate, as in 'showing consummate ability'. A nice misleading surface.
10 RAJPUT - JAR = clash, reversed = RAJ, PUT = place; def. member of warrior caste. A top ranking Hindu chap in Northern India, apparently.
12 CANON - C, ANON = shortly, soon; def. clergyman.
13 TIN-OPENER - NOPE = definitely not, N = new, inside TIER = one drawing, in a tie; def. kitchen tool. No doubt you biffed it.
14 FRENCH POLISH - A well polished chestnut, this one; two languages; def. shine as a specialist may do.
18 TOTALITARIAN - (TO ITALIAN ART)*, anagrind 'forms', def. person allowing no opposition.
21 MARSEILLE - MARS = heavenly body, ELLE = a Parisienne, insert I = one, def. Frenchman's city.
23 GRILL - G = good, ILL = bad, insert R = first letter of Regular; def. quiz.
24 ITALIC - Today's hidden word, in (PERM[IT) A LIC]ENSEE; def. sort of letter.
25 PARAQUAT - PART = component, insert AQUA = blue, def. weedkiller. N,N′-dimethyl-4,4′-bipyridinium dichloride, banned in the EU since 2007 but still used (under restrictions) in the USA. Chemistry, for me and Jimbo.
26 GHETTO - GET TO = bug, annoy, around H = hospital; def. isolated area.
27 REHEARSE - HE = a man, inside REAR = seat, SE = S(OMEON)E vacated; def. train. Took me a minute or two to unravel this one.

1 HI-TECH - HITCH = couple, insert E = police at last; def. very modern.
2 ABOUND - A = answer, BOUND = sure to be, def. to be everywhere, or &lit.
3 SCOUNDREL - SOUND = report (bang!), around C = constant, REL = regular letters of oRdEaL, def. rogue.
4 FIGHTING TALK - (TAKING FLIGHT)*, anagrind 'getting in trouble'; def. scrapping speech. My COD.
6 GRASP - GASP = sound astonished, insert R = Republican, def. understanding.
7 APPENDIX - APP = phone software, END = design, I X = one shown by Times, def. supplement.
8 AUTARCHY - (ACTUARY H)*, anagrind 'in a state', def. rule applied without limitation. Another word for autocracy.
11 ONE-HORSE RACE - ONE = individual, HORSE = heroin, RACE = speed; def. the outcome's obvious here. So was the answer.
15 ORANGEADE - RANGE = to order, inside (R)OAD = way, initially defective; E; def. a drink. I can't just see where the final E is coming from? Thanks McText, for pointing out it is (M)ODE for way, not (R)OAD; (M)O(RANGE),A,DE.
16 STUMPING - UMP(IRE) = match official, suppressing anger (IRE), inside STING = con; def. puzzling.
17 STARGAZE - S (succeeded), (A GREAT)* around Z (unknown character); def. daydream. How one can gaze at stars in the daytime is another matter.
19 LIQUOR - Today's homophone, sounds like LICKER = someone who beats, def. the booze.
20 CLOTHE - CLOT = fool, HE = EH? (what's up?) reversed; def. turn out.
22 EXIST - (S)EXIST = prejudiced about women, topless; def. be.

Quick Cryptic Number 342 by Teazel

Thought this one was of moderate difficulty - some easy ones and a few that were quite tricky.
Couple I did not know (4dn and 15dn) but both were reasonably clear from the wordplay and cross checkers.

Thanks to Teazel for an enjoyable puzzle.

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

If anyone has difficulty accessing the puzzle, the link is here

On edit: apologies for accidentally omitting 1dn on the original posting, and thanks to Anon for pointing out my sloppy error.

1 Do well to dispense with a certain condiment (3,3,7)
CUT THE MUSTARD - Guess this could possibly be classed as a double definition, although I think it is more correctly a definition with a secondary cryptic supporting road to the answer (not that it really matters provided you get there in the end!)
8 Not happy, getting stick for eucalyptus (7)
BLUEGUM - BLUE (not happy) with (getting) GUM (stick). Fortunately straightforward wordplay as my knowledge of eucalypts (or, indeed, trees generally) is extremely thin
9 College window (5)
ORIEL - DD. The Oxford college and a type of bay window
10 Without direct involvement, but less than a metre away? (2,4,6)
AT ARMS LENGTH - Not unlike 1ac in terms of clue type, with a primary definition and a secondary cryptic one (the reference being to the fact that a yard - being just less than a metre - was originally conceived as a measure based on the length of a man's arm, to wit the arm of Henry 1)
12 Threat from people, one in a suit (6)
MENACE - MEN (people) + ACE (card - in a suit - with a value of "one")
14 Awful critic is sort of acid (6)
CITRIC - *(CRITIC) with "awful" as the anagrind
17 Quiet exercise at river, say, being something of a fish (4,3)
SOFT ROE - SOFT (quiet) + ROE (homophone - indicated by "say" - of "row" - exercise at river) giving part of a fish
19 Compound kept by some Westerners (5)
ESTER - Hidden (indicated by "kept by some") in wESTERners, giving a type of chemical compound
20 Instrument played by old Marx (5)
HARPO - HARP (instrument) + O (old) giving the Marx brother - the one with the curly hair who never spoke. Apparently, he was a pretty good self-taught harpist, and also an excellent croquet player
21 Trade vehicles (7)
TRAFFIC - Nice straightforward DD
22 Lean over a short distance in tournament centre (8)
TILTYARD - TILT (lean over) + YARD (short distance) giving centre stage in a jousting arena
23 Desperate man, eastern European (4)
DANE - "Desperate" DAN (legendary comic character in The Dandy) + E (eastern)

1 Youngster on a Caribbean island</u> (4)
CUBA - CUB (youngster) on A
2 Keep making fun of West Country town (7)
TAUNTON - Pun based on "taunt on" (keep making fun of) giving the county town of Somerset. Wild excitement for your blogger as this was the town where I spent my childhood!
3 Embrace with hesitation, being so much bigger (5)
HUGER - HUG (embrace) + ER (hesitation), giving the comparative of "huge" - something I think you are only likely to encounter in Crosswordland!
4 Plant, one most short, held by mother (6)
MIMOSA - I (one) + MOS ("most" short - i.e. minus its last letter) all inside MA (mother), giving a kind of shrub with a bluish flower. Had to resort to the wordplay (which was generous enough) as I did not know the plant
5 What Lincoln wore as top - Veep has it covered (9,3)
STOVEPIPE HAT - *(TOP VEEP HAS IT), with "covered" as (I think) a somewhat cryptic anagrind. One of the more remarkable types of headgear devised by man over the centuries
6 Copying a high pitched sound (5)
APING - A + PING (high pitched sound - forever associated for me with the "machine that goes ping" in the Python sketch)
7 I'd help to rebuild boat - I gave ambiguous advice (7,6)
DELPHIC ORACLE - *(IDHELP) - with "rebuild" as the anagram - plus CORACLE (boat). And if you think The Times cryptic is impenetrable on occasion, try the old Delphic oracle...
11 Break with smack: big success (5,3)
SMASH HIT - SMASH (break) + HIT (smack)
13 Superficial nursery rhyme (7)
CURSORY - Rhymes with "nursery". Must admit this is not a clue type I'd seen before. Either I've led a sheltered life or this was quite inventive...
15 Rodent with a fine instinctive appetite at first for biscuit (7)
RATAFIA - RAT (rodent) + A + first letters (at first) of Fine Instinctive Appetite, giving the almond flavoured biscuit similar to the Amaretto. Another unknown, but obtainable from the wordplay
16 Sample getting street excited (6)
TESTER - *(STREET) with excited as the anagrind. A tester might usually be though of as someone doing the sampling rather than the sample itself, but by analogy with "taster" I think either works fine
18 Some prefer a lion that's untamed (5)
FERAL - Hidden (indicated by "some") in preFER A Lion

Times 26,138

After we were eased into the week with yesterday's puzzle, today's didn't require any greater stretching of the little grey cells. I think most people would like a little more challenge in the daily cryptic, but there's no reason why every puzzle should be a titanic struggle either - sometimes a brisk sprint can be very invigorating, even if less satisfying to complete than a marathon. Once more I managed to dash to the finish within 2(Magoo), although today it was Jason who set the neutrino-like pace at the top of the leaderboard.

Actually, I always maintain it's actually harder to compile a good easy puzzle than a tough one, and this had appropriately concise clueing, and some very readable surfaces, even if the vocabulary was pretty standard (barring perhaps one French word, a slightly baroque synonym for "travel", and a London location which non-UK solvers may not know). I also note quite a few people with one error, possibly the result of jumping to conclusions at 6dn or 12dn. Have I called these things correctly? Only one way to find out...

1DEMONIAC - DEMO(=march), (CAIN)rev. The Bible's first murderer is always the first thought when you see the word "murderer".
6DIVEST - DIVE(=joint), S{ilen}T.
9PETTICOAT LANE - (ETCAPOTENTIAL)*; location of an East End street market, appropriately enough specialising in clothes and fashion, and thus adding an &lit. element to the anagram indicator "for tailoring".
10COQUET - QUE("that" in French) in COT. More commonly seen in the feminine version "coquette".
11TERRAPIN - ERR(=sin) in TAP-IN(=shot from close range).
13STABLEMATE - cryptic def.
15TIFF - STIFF=tough, knocking off the first letter (i.e."wiping mouth") gives the spat.
16EWER - W{ater} in E'ER.
18TALK TURKEY - two defs, one giving a literal explanation of the common metaphorical expression.
21WOODLAND - (DOWNLOAD)*; for once, nothing to do with cricket, which was excellent misdirection for those of us who are eagerly awaiting the series which begins in a little over a week.
22SNAPPY - NAP(=forty winks) in SPY(=look).
23PEREGRINATION - lift and separate to reveal the definition "travel"; [R{wandan} + (TONIGERIA)*]in PEN(=writer).
25LEGEND - EG(=say) in LEND(=advance).
26ENDANGER - END(=death) + ANGER(=passion).
2EXPLOIT - LO(=look) in EX-PIT(=old mine).
3OUTNUMBERED - OUT(=dismissed), then Her Majesty "E.R." in NUMBED(=without feeling).
4IDIOT - 1 in (1 DOT).
5CROATIA - C{old}, [OAT in (AIR)rev.].
6DETERRENT - {investmen}T in DEER RENT(=maybe does, payment). Doe, a deer, a female deer, can confuse the unwary when it's pluralised.
7VIA - V{isiting} I{talian} A{irport}.
8SHERIFF - H{ickock} in (FIRES)rev., then {standof}F.
12ALTERCATION - C(=Roman hundred) in ALTERATION(=switch).
17WHOOPEE - HOOP(=ring) in WEE(=minute).
20EXPANSE - PANS(=vessels) in EXE(river of Exeter and other parts of Devon, and beloved of crossword setters).
22SHARD - S{ingular} HARD{demanding}.
24RYE ="WRY", as in a wry neck rather than a wry remark.

Quick Cryptic no 341 by Felix

I wish I'd been able to find this in advance and enjoyed a more leisurely solve of this challenging crossword. If others found it easy I will know I've been rushing but I currently believe this to be 15x15 level.

There's lots of entertainment here - from odd penguins to an impenetrable NW. My LOI was 3dn which was also the cause of my DNF - as I biffed a colour with one letter different to the answer.

So - hoping you fared btette than me - here we go!

Definitions underlined, cd=cryptic definition, dd=double definition, deletions CROSSED OUT

1 In France I must keep a horse, it being for James (8)
   JACOBITE - In France 'I' is JE which holds a (A) , horse (COB), it (IT). 'Being for James' is the definition of (British, history) an adherent of James II after his overthrow in 1688, or of his descendants in their attempts to regain the throne.
5 Question wide headgear (4)
   WHAT - Wide from cricket (W), HAT.
8 Mark article in colour (5)
   TAINT - Article (A) in colour (TINT). Interesting that this 'tint' crosses 3dn's 'tone'.
9 A sniper’s awful language (7)
   PERSIAN - Anagram (awful) of A SNIPER. Just for the record this isn't only an ancient language - it's the language of Iran or Persia in any of its ancient or modern forms, belonging to the West Iranian branch of the Indo-European family See also Avestan, Old Persian, Pahlavi2, Farsi
11 Fantasist, amusing, about to modify dream finally (6,5)
   WALTER MITTY - Amusing (WITTY) around modify (ALTER), drea(M). So that we're all on the same page - the definition is a person who imagines that their life is full of excitement and adventures when it is in fact just ordinary ⇒ He's a bit of a Walter Mitty character.
13 Recruit French in good time (6)
   ENGAGE - French in is EN, good (G), time (AGE).
14 Spaniard, maybe, in gang eloping (6)
   ANGELO - In g(ANG ELO)ping.
17 Pets from Asia, etc, mess all over the place (7,4)
   SIAMESE CATS - Anagram (all over the place) of ASIA ETC MESS. A smooth if rather unpleasant surface!
20 It’s used to fasten head on fly (4,3)
   WING NUT - Head (NUT) after fly (WING). As I understand it 'on' as a positional indicator in an across clue would normally indicate NUT before WING.
21 Dismal daughter to bring up (5)
   DREAR - Daughter (D), to bring up (REAR).
22 Catch about ten subsequently (4)
   NEXT - Catch (NET) around ten (X).
23 Skeleton staff so lazy? (4,4)
   BONE IDLE - I believe this to be a partial &lit - which is another way of saying I don't 100% get this one. If the bare bones of the staff are lazy they could be bone idle.

1 Old settler for sacking? (4)
   JUTE - dd. I did know the definition of sacking:
- either of two Old World tropical yellow-flowered herbaceous plants, Corchorus capsularis or C. olitorius, cultivated for their strong fibre: family Tiliaceae - this fibre, used in making sacks, rope, etc
but not the old settler:
- a member of one of various Germanic tribes, some of whom invaded England in the 6th century ad, settling in Kent.
2 Punch comedian making conversation (7)
   CHINWAG - Punch (CHIN), comedian (WAG). The two together could 'make' conversation or be 'making conversation' - a sort of double definition.
3 Daring environmentalist’s tone (6,5)
   BOTTLE GREEN - my LOI and downfall - I went, too hastily, for Battle Green. Daring (BOTTLE), environmentalist (GREEN). Tone as in a shade of colour.
4 Upset: as favourite racehorse was? (6)
   TIPPED - dd.
6 Lift one in crowd (5)
   HOIST - One (I) in crowd (HOST).
7 Poet’s sonnet composed about New York (8)
   TENNYSON - Anagram (composed) of SONNET around NY.
10 One let off a wicked thing in the Vatican? (5,6)
   ROMAN CANDLE - dd. The firework is 'let off', a thing with a wick is a candle - and one in the Vatican would be a Roman candle.
12 Whingers upset composer (8)
   GERSHWIN - Anagram (upset) of WHINGERS.
15 English like to look after part of London (4,3)
   EAST END - Emglish (E), like (AS), look after (TEND).
16 Man leading two ducks and a penguin (6)
   GENTOO - Man (GENT), two ducks (from cricket) OO. The first scientific description was made in 1781 by Johann Reinhold Forster with a reference point of the Falkland Islands. They call in a variety of ways, but the most frequently heard is a loud trumpeting which is emitted with its head thrown back - but enough of the GREXIT crisis.
18 Appropriate girl with former partner (5)
   ANNEX - Girl (ANNE), former partner (EX).
19 First of the regulars, usually extremely faithful (4)
   TRUE - First letters of The Regulars Usually Extremely.

Times Quick Cryptic 340 by Joker

It's only three puzzles since we last heard from Joker!  I forgot to note my starting time but I don't think this delayed me longer than 10 minutes. I'm working under adverse conditions at the moment so I'll get straight on with the blog.

Definitions {deletions} [indicators]

1 Best part of golf club: desserts and something to smoke (5,4)
SWEET SPOT - SWEETS (desserts), POT (something to smoke)
6 Company beginning to deliver fish (3)
COD - CO (company), D{eliver}
8 Zappa heartlessly rendered on big instrument is thin material (7)
ORGANZA - ORGAN (big instrument), Z{app}A
9 Piece for nine? No, slightly more than that, on reflection (5)
NONET - TEN (slightly more than nine) + ON, all reversed
10 Benefactor giving gold to college fellow (5)
DONOR - DON (College fellow), OR (gold)
12 Move quickly to discipline killing leader (6)
HASTEN - {c}HASTEN (discipline)
14 Wild ancestors rebuilt historic English stronghold (7,6)
16 So Mint has to move as close to the centre as possible (6)
INMOST - Anagram [move] of SO MINT
17 Part of nice dark forest might contain this (5)
CEDAR - Hidden inside {ni}CE DAR{k}
19 Spot something round in a glass of beer (5)
POINT - O (something round) inside PINT (glass of beer)
20 Hailed deer get confused (7)
GREETED - Anagram [confused] of DEER GET
22 What's regularly present in greasy fish (3)
RAY - {g}R{e}A{s}Y
23 Good reason to limit the supply of alcohol (9)
RATIONALE - RATION ALE (limit supply of alcohol)

1 Final confrontation bringing theatrical production low (8)
SHOW DOWN - SHOW (theatrical production), DOWN (low)
2 With which every goose generally starts (3)
EGG - E{very}, G{oose}, G{enerally}
3 Male voice choir finally finishing off the empty number (5)
TENOR - T{h}E [empty], NO (number), {choi}R
4 Act as if not interested in very abstruse drama? (4,4,2,3)
PLAY HARD TO GET - Two definitions, one straight, one cryptic
5 Mediterranean country is one tucking into fish (7)
TUNISIA - IS + I (one) inside TUNA (fish)
6 Happy with convict living under canvas (9)
CONTENTED - CON (convict), TENTED (living under canvas)
7 Daughter consumed fruit (4)
DATE - D (daughter), ATE (consumed)
11 Intent on working out Bletchley's last cipher (9)
NONENTITY - Anagram [working out] of INTENT ON, {Bletchle}Y
13 Resent, for example, being held by one like O. Twist or D. Copperfield (8)
BEGRUDGE - EG (for example) inside B. RUDGE (Barnaby Rudge cf O{liver} Twist and D{avid} Copperfield)
15 Gunman beginning to spread alarm (7)
SHOOTER - S{pread}, HOOTER (alarm). Oh dear, an unfortunately topical clue and solution, and even more so in the same puzzle as 5dn.
17 Company infiltrated by communist belief (5)
CREDO - RED (communist) inside CO (company)
18 Knocks over in fight (4)
SPAR - RAPS (knocks) reversed
21 Group of footballers, say, mostly drink (3)
TEA - TEA{m} (group of footballers, say)

Times 26137 - Golden cymbals flying....

Solving time: 26 minutes

Music: Dvorak, Symphony #9, Kertesz/VPO

Once again, an easier puzzle has fallen to my lot. I wrote most of the answers in at sight, but got stuck a little at the end. Sometimes I find the simpler ones hard, as I over-analyse the clues and come up with possible answers that are esoteric - and wrong.

Maybe the cause of my difficulties is the struggle I've been having with the Saturday puzzle. Fortunately, I still have five more days to solve it before Andy spills the beans. Or I could just give up and print out Sunday's....

6TULIP, T([b]U[i]L[t])IP.
9OWN UP, [g]OWN + UP.
10SCREWBALL, SCREW BALL. Not exactly a Private Eye type of clue, probably just as well.
12IN TRAIN, double definition.
17BLOW HOT AND COLD, BLOW + HOT AND COLD. There are a number of senses in which 'blow' and 'pipe' might be equivalent, but most solvers will just write in the answer.
21AGA SAGA, double definition; yes, it's a palindrome, where have we heard that before?
23OSBORNE, SO backwards + BORNE. An era of English literature that seems to be slipping away.
25MAKESHIFT, MAKE + SHIFT, where 'make' is treated as a noun meaning 'style'.
26UNITE, double definition, a ridiculously simple one.
27HURON, HUR[l] + ON.
2ERNIE, ERN(I)E. I didn't really get it, but there is a Lough Erne in Fermanagh. In any case, the answer should be obvious.
4AUSTERE, anagram of [f]EATURES, a word on everyone's lips with the pending Grexit.
7LHASA APSO, anagram of A SHOP, ALAS.
8PALING, PAL + IN + [outbuildin]G.
14OIL TANKER, anagram of LIT KOREAN.
19APOSTLE, A POST + L[ucrativ]E.
20WARMTH, W[i](ARM)TH. I wasted a long time trying to make this 'karmah', which is a momble anyway, but couldn't justify it.
24RAISE, R(A)ISE. I rejected this answer as too obvious until I had all the checkers.

Mephisto 2860 by Tim Moorey

Straightforward puzzle for solstice day so even if you were up to see the sun rise you shouldn't have had too much trouble.

1PSIS - P(S)I'S; singular=S; Greek number 700,000 (number of new drachma to the Euro?);
4BY,ITSELF - (I fly best)*;
9HOME,RUNS - cryptic definition I guess - is there more to this that I'm missing?;
15REICH - (d)REICH; deserted=d;
18PLACITA - (capital)*;
22RADAR - RAD-(RA reversed); excellent=RAD;
26ANGELICA - (nice gal)*-A;
27TIMONEER - TIM-ON-EER; reference "Tiny Tim";
28ERKS - (j)ERKS;
2SOCKDOLAGER - SOCK-DO-LAGER; the wife's last word;
3SEATO - SEAT-O; membership=SEAT;
5INTEGRAND - (a trending)*; calculus;
10CHOCK-A-BLOCK - COCK surrounds (lack h o b)*; h(ugely) o(verpaid) b(onuses);
13LITTLEANE - (ad entitle)*;
18PROMPT - two meanings;
23MVULE - Christmas=YULE then replace (lorr)Y by MV=Motor Vessel;

Sunday Times 4647 by Dean Mayer

Some of the comments on the Forum this week suggested this may have been one of Dean's easier offerings (such things are, of course, relative) - but for me it was tricky enough!

I thought this was a beautifully crafted puzzle. Others have waxed lyrical in the past about the economy of cluing that is the hallmark of our setter, and here it was again on show - in spades. Hard to single out a clue of the day from such a rich crop of candidates, but for me 5ac just "edged" 6dn, with 5dn, 23ac and 16ac (lovely surface) well worthy of mentions in despatches.

I'm posting this in advance using the delayed time feature on the web site for the first time as I will be en route from Australia to the UK at the appointed hour for publication - hopefully it will appear by magic at the right time, but apologies in advance if it pops up unexpectedly ahead of schedule. Similarly, if there are any formatting glitches I won't be able to fix them until I land...

Thanks, as ever, to Dean for a highly enjoyable puzzle.

Definitions underlined, DD = Double Definition, anagrams indicated by *(--)

1 Food which uses spinach in a way (7)
LASAGNE - LANE (a way) containing SAG (spinach as ordered in your local Indian diner, saag paneer being a personal favourite: I've only ever seen it spelled with a double "a", but it seems the single "a" version is sometimes used). I guess the vegetarian version of this dish could also qualify as an & Lit, but not the traditional Italian job
5 Takes away help to stop crossing channel (7)
ABDUCTS - Definition supported by some witty and neat wordplay: ABS (helps to stop - advanced breaking system) "crossing" DUCT (channel)
9 Lifting not just any old foot (5)
THEFT - THE (not just any old - i.e. a specific) FT (foot), with "lifting" being an alternative term for nicking (not sure if this particular euphemism is widely in use outside the UK)
10 Soldiers will copy someone depraved (9)
REPROBATE - RE (Soldiers - our old friends the Royal Engineers) + PROBATE (will copy - as in an official copy of a will). Simple but neat
11 It's usually hot or fairly cool? (6)
RADISH - DD, with the first referring to the feisty tuber, and the second being a play on RAD (trendy slang for "cool", apparently - derived from radical)
12 A film about hilarious old company in 18 (8)
AEROFLOT - A + ET (film) around (about) ROFL (hilarious - text speak for Roll Over Floor Laughing for non-initiates) + O (old), giving the Russian (refer to 18dn) airline company of indifferent repute
14 Bird's rotting flesh cut by beast feeding before (7,6)
CARRIER PIGEON - CARRION (rotting flesh) "cut" by ER[PIG]E: PIG (beast) "feeding" (getting inside) ERE (before)
16 Chocolates chewed by the woman who has class? (13)
SCHOOLTEACHER - *(CHOCOLATES) with "chewed" as the anagrind + HER (the woman). Great surface
19 Confident United about to intensify attack (8)
UNAFRAID - U (united) + FAN reversed (about to intensify) + RAID (attack). A lot of stuff packed into yet another very economical clue
20 Son's direct descendants (6)
STRAIN - S (Son) + TRAIN (direct), giving the biological line
22 With wisdom, plan is yet to develop (9)
SAPIENTLY - *(PLAN IS YET) with "to develop" as the anagrind
23 Follower of golf starts to hear of the easy life (5)
HOTEL - In the phonetic alphabet HOTEL follows GOLF. Answer also comes from first letters of (starts to) Hear Of The Easy Life. Very neat
24 A biological matter being discussed (2,5)
AT ISSUE - Play on A TISSUE (biological matter)
25 Praise Ford Scorpio, extremely hard to reverse (7)
HOSANNA - ANNA+SO+H all reversed. H from Hard, SO extremes of Scorpio, and Anna the newsreader and TV presenter from the '70s & '80s who stimulated a significantly increased level of interest in current affairs across swathes of the male population at the time. An obscure reference for overseas players, but the cross checkers coupled with the definition probably made it relatively attainable

1 Healthy and vigorous education? (8)
LITERACY - LITE (healthy) + RACY (vigorous). Did not readily equate racy with vigorous, but Chambers includes zesty and spirited as meanings of racy so no problems there
2 Thin girl's bottom shown in poster (7)
SLENDER - L (girl's bottom) "shown in" SENDER (poster).
3 With distortion one's stereo might fall apart (2,2,11)
GO TO SMITHEREENS - *(ONES STEREO MIGHT), "with distortion" being the anagrind
4 Shade found in English vineyard (4)
ECRU - E (English) + CRU (vineyard) giving the rather dull yellowy grey shade. Did not know the colour, but the clue was generous
5 See prize rise in value (10)
APPRECIATE - Triple definition. Went in easily enough based on the last of the three definitions, but took me a while to fully, um, appreciate what was going on here. Masterful economy of cluing
6 How to make edge of screen? (4,4,7)
DROP ONES AITCHES - [H]EDGE. Very fine cryptic clue, raising a chuckle if not a full ROFL
7 Film maker's place in company (7)
CHAPLIN - PL (place) "in" CHAIN (company). Wondered a bit about chain for company, until thinking of "Subway is a chain of sandwich shops" (etc.)
8 Hot clothes not right in dirty accommodation (6)
SWEATY - WEAR (clothes without the R - not right) "in" STY (dirty accommodation). Straightforward enough once you spot the wordplay, but this one sent me down a load of dead ends (some of which were quite picturesque though, it has to be said) until seeing the light
13 Traveller from literature toddler gets excited about (2,8)
DR DOLITTLE - *(TODDLER) with "gets excited" as the anagrind, "about" LIT (literature) and an & Lit. The man who aspired to confer with our furry friends was not the first literary traveller to come to mind, but I guess his calling inevitably took him around the world to have discussions with intellectual llamas and what not
15 Dry fruit all over flower (8)
PRUNELLA - PRUNE (dried fruit) + ALL reversed (all over), giving the herbaceous plant
16 Dog that is rejected after biting (4-3)
SHAR PEI - SHARP (biting) with IE reversed (that is rejected) coming "after". Went in based on wordplay and cross checkers as I had never heard of this creature. Research indicates it is Chinese and looks a bit like a pug
17 Buoy made of clay's hard on top (7)
HEARTEN - EART{H}EN (made of clay) with the H lifted and shifted to the beginning (hard on top)
18 A leather article is certainly short from the bottom (6)
RUSSIA - A (article) + IS + SURE (certainly short - i.e. minus its last letter) all reversed (from the bottom), giving a particular type of leather distinguished by a special process involving birch oil, as subsequent research revealed. I'm now none the wiser, but I am significantly better informed (as the old legal gag goes)
21 Jeremy Thorpe's inner fantasy (4)
MYTH - Hidden in JereMY THorpe. Let's not go there...

Saturday Times 26130 (20th June)

Solving time 12:10, so on the easy end of the spectrum. Maybe because there was a lot of General Knowledge required which happened to suit me because I knew it! Well, most of it - I'd never heard of A4e, but then that wasn't required to solve the clue anyway.

1 Wife and mother reclined on rug in tent (6)
WIGWAM - W(ife) + MA reversed, next to WIG (rug).
5 So one left via Tower Hill exit? (8)
HEADLESS - cryptic definition alluding to the fact that it used to be where they held public executions. There's a tube station there now, which explains the surface reading.
9 Horse box enthusiast (8)
CHESTNUT - CHEST (box) + NUT (enthusiast).
10 Speculator backed by mysterious millionaire (6)
GATSBY - STAG (speculator) reversed + BY.
11 Empty contract stops A4e having effect (6)
ACTIVE - C(ontrac)T inside A, IV (4), E. If you're wondering (which I was), A4e stands for "Action for Employment", a company which supposedly supplies training and helps unemployed people find work (but read the Wikipedia article, it's fascinating).
12 Frank describing works of Luke and John? (8)
POSTMARK - in the Gospels, Luke and John come after Mark.
14 Political broadcast on large TV draws people in (12)
GOVERNMENTAL - (on large TV)* around MEN (people).
17 Offensive player demands extra handset (4,8)
WIDE RECEIVER - WIDE (extra, in cricket) + RECEIVER (handset). An American football position.
20 I abhor kale, regularly used as vegetable (8)
KOHLRABI - (I abhor kale)*.
22 Girl's last to start making cake (6)
ECLAIR - CLAIRE (girl), with the last letter moved to the front.
23 One purchasing second discounted jumper (6)
25 Dissonant in Tosca's C superfluous to melodic phrase (8)
OSTINATO - (in Tosca)* + TO.
26 Calculate roughly one million swells assets (8)
ESTIMATE - 1 + M(illion) inside ESTATE (assets).
27 Delay on time machine is ignored (6)
RETARD - RE (on) + TARDIS (time machine), minus IS.

2 Using a vehicle, knocking out wings in New York City (6)
ITHACA - (w)ITH A CA(r). A city in New York state. I only knew of the one in Michigan, as my brother had a penfriend from there when he was a teenager.
3 Invest in dreams here with shilling we cast? (7,4)
WISHING WELL - W(ith) + (shilling we)*, &lit. Great clue, almost poetical.
4 Crew given work contrived plan (9)
MANOEUVRE - MAN (crew) + OEUVRE (work).
5 Henry turned up to motivate Percy (7)
HOTSPUR - H(enry) + TO reversed + SPUR (motivate). Nickname of Sir Henry Percy (1364-1403).
6 Guardian contends Egypt's leader must go (5)
ARGUS - ARGUES (contends), without the E for Egypt. In Greek mythology, a giant with 100 eyes who protected the nymph Io.
7 Survivor in Sodom finds destiny (3)
LOT - double definition.
8 Wrong about NKVD boss hailing from Tomsk? (8)
SIBERIAN - SIN (wrong) around BERIA (NKVD boss).
13 Asteroid child, extra-terrestrial, conceals plot (5,6)
MINOR PLANET - MINOR (child) + ET (extra-terrestrial) around PLAN (plot).
15 One famously portrays struggle in Balkan city (5,4)
MOVIE STAR - VIE (struggle) inside MOSTAR (Balkan city).
16 Spirited Russian chap interrupts you in Paris (8)
VIGOROUS - IGOR (Russian chap) inside VOUS (you in Paris).
18 Eastern brute an individual who succeeds (7)
EPIGONE - E(astern) + PIG (brute) + ONE (an individual). Not a word you see every day, and I'm sure I've only ever seen it in crosswords. A Greek word meaning a successor.
19 Easy chance for MP? (6)
SITTER - double definition.
21 Vessel has gold — tons in two areas (5)
AORTA - OR (gold) + T(ons) inside a couple of A(rea)s.
24 Greek character in pub on island (3)
PHI - PH (public house) + I(sland). she's currently somewhere in France with no Internet access. Over to Helen.

Not too difficult, but including a few uncommon words, such as VIDELICET and FAIENCE, one of which - CONDUCTUS - I'd never come across before. When I spotted HOPE appearing in the second row I wondered if there was a special theme, but I think it's just coincidence.

As always, * indicates an anagram.

1 SAMBA - daiS, + A MBA
4 RAVAGES - RAGES around A G
8 THINK TANK - TANK ('tracked vehicle') after THINK ('reflection')
13 OUTWITTED - duo, reversed, around TWITTEr
14 NO-CLAIMS BONUS - cryptic indication
15 OFFICER - OFF ICE, + Relax
16 LARCENY - cryptic indication
17 BUSH TEA - BUS, + (hate)*
18 HAVE ONE'S COLLAR FELT - double indication ('to be picked up' here implies 'by the police')
21 GRID - dirge, reversed. The definition is 'this', i.e. the crossword grid
25 YARDIE - IE after YARD
26 GIRLIE - rig, reversed, + LIE
28 SPOKESPERSON - cryptic indication, referring to bicycle wheels
30 ANTECHAPEL - (palace then)*
33 DENOMINATE - (no dementia)*
34 GO PEAR-SHAPED - definition plus cryptic indication
37 REDONE - RED + ONE (a red ball is worth one point in snooker)
40 CONDUCTUS - CONDUCT US. This word was new to me
42 YURT - YogURT
43 TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER - cryptic indication
46 RECHECK - double definition, second one referring to chess
48 CHELSEA - E + LSE (London School of Economics), in CHA
51 AQUAPLANE - QUA ('as') + P, in A LANE (if you're 'on a carriageway' on a motorway, you're presumably in a lane)
52 SKYWRITER - cryptic indication
54 REMIT - timer, reversed

1 SHOW OF HANDS - double indication
2 MOTIF - fit OM, reversed
3 A PIECE OF ONE'S MIND - double indication
5 VIDELICET - (I've l edict)*
8 TOADY - TODAY, with the A moved up one place
10 KIBOSH - BOy, in KISH (as 'kiss' might be pronounced by someone drunk)
11 AU NATUREL - alternate (even) letters of 'manual', around NATURE
12 KISS AND TELL - (install desk)*
19 VIRGOAN - VIRAGO, with the A moved to the bottom, + N
20 FAIENCE - FENCE around AI (a-one, indicated by 'fine')
22 LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER - LIGHT, + HOUSEKEEPER (Mrs Danvers was the HOUSEKEEPER in the Daphne du Maurier novel 'Rebecca')
24 EXPEND - EX + PEN + D
32 HOLD TO RANSOM - HOLD TO, + RANSOM (sounds like [Arthur] Ransome)
35 DISARMAMENT - decideD + (mainstream)*
36 BLUE-RINSED - (undesirable)*. The a of undesirable is struck through to indicate that it has to be removed - this may not be very visible to readers
38 DIRECTORY - O, in DIRECT ('straight') + RY (short for railway)
41 BANKRUPT - BANK, + RT around UP
44 RECOUNT - double definition
45 CENSOR - hidden in SaraCENS ORiginally
47 CAPER - CAPE + Reprove

Times 26135 - best of the week, for me.

Sorry for monopolising the blogging rights today; I am subbing for Verlaine, who, as we read this, is most likely crawling out of his sleeping bag in a damp field in Glastonbury. I hope V you are not sporting the top hat and monocle and embarrassing Mrs V and the Verlaine minors. Personally I can't imagine anything less like fun, I abhor large crowds; my last gig of any size was at the Stones at Slane Castle in 1982 where I was carried, half crushed and feet off the ground, by some of the 80,000 rockers all trying to pass through one farm gate at once.

Enough irrelevant waffle (well I did have to promise him I'd be verbose if not entertaining). At first read this puzzle looked impenetrable. Then I got going with the NE corner and things went along reasonably smoothly, ending in 25 minutes or so with the cunning 1d and the slightly obscure 12a. At the end I felt this was a superb puzzle with plenty of wit and scope for admiring the setter's art.

1 SEAFARER - Insert AFAR = from a distance, into SEER = observant individual, def. traveller.
5 PRIMER - Insert RIM = edge, into PER = for each; def. undercoat.
9 AUTOBAHN - Insert (U BOAT H)* into A N ; def. route to Germany.
10 CRANIA - RAN = managed, infiltrates CIA = spies; def. top compartments. Very droll.
12 CHERT - CERT = event that's sure, insert H, def. rock; chert is a form of microcrytalline quartz.
13 BE ALL EYES - BEES = potential swarm, insert ALLEY = garden walk; def. carefully watch.
14 FOR THE RECORD - FORT = perhaps keep, CORD = string, around HERE = present; def. just so things are clear. I spent a while with TIE... before the PDM.
18 GAINSBOROUGH - GAINS = proceeds, BO = Boz, mainly, ROUGH = in the manner of sketches; def. artist. Thanks alanconnor for clarifying 'in the manner of'.
21 INNERNESS - INVERNESS = Scottish city; replace the V with an N; def. hidden quality.
23 MOTTO - Insert OTT = too much, into MO = second; def. piece of Xmas paper? Brilliant.
24 ORIGIN - O = round, RIG = drilling equipment, IN; def. wellhead.
25 CLOTHING - CLOG = hard shoe, insert THIN = weak; def. materials designed to wear. I think this is a chestnut or at least has been seen before.
26 YELLOW - YEW = tree, insert LL O (lines with ring); def. showing signs of age. Once you have the initial Y it's easy enough.
27 REARREST - REAR = bring up, REST = remainder; def. book again.

1 SEARCH - The SE arch would be opposite the NW bank, where arch = span of bridge; def. fish around. How many fish did you trawl through before the PDM?
2 ANTHER - Today's hidden word in PL(ANT HER)BALIST; the pointy bit of a flower.
3 ALBATROSS - Def. source of guilt; (BORSTAL AS)*; a reference to the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which was an O level text for me.
4 EXHIBITIONER - EXHIBIT = display; I = unit; ONER = remarkable individual; def. award winner. The second tier of financially benefiting award-winners entering Oxbridge colleges (and elsewhere?), the higher being a Scholarship. I had the longer gown and the £60 a term but disappointed my tutors by doing too much punting, spending too little time in the laboratory poisoning myself, and so failing to get a First. I don't regret it though.
6 RURAL - RUL(E) = exert power over, mostly, insert RA for gunners, def. country.
7 MONEY BOX - MONEY = possible prize, BOX = fight; def. a case for the coppers?
8 ROADSIDE - (B)ROADSIDE = strong attack, remove B for bishop; def. by the way.
11 MADEMOISELLE - MADE MOSELLE = crafted German wine, insert I; def. Bordeaux girl, say.
15 ERGOMETER - ERGO = so, therefore, in Latin; MET ER = satisfied the Queen; def. a measure of effort. There's one in our spare room, like a bicycle with no wheels, but it's very dusty.
16 AGRIMONY - ANY = some, insert GRIM O = unattractive old; def. plant. I'd vaguely heard of it although I couldn't point to one and say 'that's agrimony'.
17 BIENNIAL - B = book, (ALIEN IN)*; def. plant.
19 STRIDE - ST = a little way, RIDE = to take the bus? Def. walk.
20 FORGET - FORGE = furnace, T = temperature, def. overlook.
22 RHINO - R = river, H = horse, I = one, NO = certainly not, def. one of the big five. Being lion, elephant, leopard, rhino (white or black) and Cape buffalo.

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