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Solving time: 90 minutes

Music: John Coltrane, A Love Supreme, Ballads






Maybe I have been spending too much time on Mephisto, maybe I was not on the wavelength, but after five minutes I knew I was in trouble. This one screams Bank Holiday Puzzle, made to last all day so you have something to do. Well, here in NY I have plenty to do already, and so was a bit irked.

Was it really that hard? It is difficult to say; I could have solved many clues faster with a little bit of a push. For example, I saw 'violate' early on, but rejected it because it does not mean 'disregard', only to see much later that there is indeed a sense of 'disregard' that fits very well.

So I don't know what to expect for times for our usual crew. This is probably the sort of puzzle that you either get or don't get. We'll see.

Across
1RELATIVE, double definition. I was tempted by 'personal' at first, but couldn't make it work.
5PURSES, PURSE[R]S, my LOI, but not really that hard.
10FUSEE, FUSE + E; I needed a few crossing letters, not having heard of the watch part. It is actually quite a clever device to solve the problem of variable force as a spring loses tension.
11MANICHEAN, MANIC HE + AN. Not 'gent', and not 'man', but the simple 'he'.
12ECONOMISE, ECO + NO(M1)SE.
13RADAR, R[oyal] A[cademy of] D[ramatic] A[rt] + R.
14AL DENTE, A[-r+L]DENT + E[ast], our favorite bridge player.
16SIMPER, SIMP[L]ER.
18ACCORD, sounds like A CHORD, and in many dialects and pronunciations too!
20VANILLA, ALL IN A V backwards, surprisingly never seen before.
22ALARM ALA R[oyal] M[arines].
23PROBOSCIS, PRO + BOS(C[hannel] I[slands])S
25KAMA SUTRA, anagram of TRAUMA, ASK. At first glance I was afraid this was some sort of dreadful homonym clue ('ask for') involving sutures, but then enlightenment struck.
26SHAKO, SHAK[espeare] + O.
27REDUCE, RED + [p]UCE, another modest but clever clue.
28RECYCLED, R.E. CYCLED, which sounds like a stunt in Monty's attempt to capture Caen.
 
Down
1RIFLEMAN, NAME L FIR upside-down.
2LASSO, LASS + O, the only chestnut in the whole puzzle.
3THE SOUND OF MUSIC, anagram of TOUCHES OF NUDISM. I don't know what the Trapp family would say about this one....
4VAMPIRE, [-e+VA]MPIRE, another substitution clue.
6UNCEREMONIOUSLY, anagram of MERELY INNOCUOUS. I had trouble with this one because early in my solve I miscounted the letters and thought it couldn't be an anagram.
7SPEEDWELL, S(DEEP upside-down)WELL, a rather complex clue, especially if you don't know the flower. The only 'Speedwell' I knew was the second ship on the first voyage to Plymouth, which had to return to England due to leaks.
8SENTRY, S ENTRY; OK, maybe another chestnut.
9UNLESS, double definition, where 'more' is the 'un-less'.
15DECLAIMED, double defintion, similar to the last, where 'withdrawn' is 'de-claimed'
17PASSWORD, PASS WORD, where the literal requires you to complete the cross-reference.
19DEPUTY, D(E.P)UTY.
20VIOLATE, VIOLA + T[iresom]E. What I did not see, vide supra, is the sense of 'disregard' required, i.e. 'violate the law'.
21HACKER, the evident answer, but I don't see how the cryptic works. I do hope this is not an outrageous homonym.
24CRAWL, CRAW + L, my FOI.

Quick Cryptic 645 by Orpheus

A crossword that I found slightly easier than average, which is not unwelcome for a Monday morning. For those with no interest in gardening, 9D may come as an unpleasant sting in the tail - if you've never heard of the answer then you may struggle to guess the letter ordering, with even the correct version looking a little strange. As someone whose knowledge of plants has come mainly from the contents of my parents' garden, I was lucky that said garden contains a specimen of the answer (which is popular with the blackbirds). Thanks, Orpheus.

The puzzle can be found here if the usual channels are unavailable: http://feeds.thetimes.co.uk/puzzles/crossword/20160829/18046/

Definitions are underlined.

Across
1 Very thin person employed to train runners? (8)
BEANPOLE - double definition, with a deceptive surface attempting to put you in mind of athletes rather than runner beans
5 Flightless birds exhibited in innumerable museums (4)
EMUS - hidden (exhibited) in innumerablE MUSeums. In Crosswordland, you rarely have to venture beyond emu or rhea if "flightless bird" is in the clue, though the surface here might make you think of (extinct) moas.
8 Does it dispense rough justice in leaps and bounds? (8,5)
KANGAROO COURT - extended definition alluding to the usual mode of locomotion of kangaroos. The exact same clue appeared in Jumbo 1149 last year and I believe Orpheus is also a Jumbo setter - hmm.
10 Relax about one’s further examination (5)
RESIT - REST (Relax) about I (one)
11 Aerial made by worker a girl rejected (7)
ANTENNA - ANT (worker) + reversal (rejected) of ANNE (a girl)
12 Sound location for fish (6)
PLAICE - homophone (Sound) of PLACE (location)
13 Woman wearing a kid’s first waterproof jacket (6)
ANORAK - NORA (Woman) inside (wearing) A + K (kid's first, i.e. the first letter of the word "kid")
16 Mass meeting following game in the country (7)
RURALLY - RALLY (Mass meeting) following RU (game, i.e. Rugby Union)
18 Park keeper loses head, displaying fury (5)
ANGER - {r}ANGER (Park keeper loses head, i.e. the word "ranger" without its first letter)
20 Girl introduces distant object, an old bike (5-8)
PENNY-FARTHING - PENNY (Girl) + FAR (distant) + THING (object), and the third of our random female names for the day. Having said that, Penny can be a man's name, at least in the US. Further, a bit of Googling tells me that Anne is a man's name in Frisian. Nora, however, seems to be resolutely female all over the globe.
21 Affectedly dainty sound made by small bird, mostly (4)
TWEE - TWEE{t} (sound made by small bird, mostly, i.e. the word "tweet" without its last letter)
22 Cheese eaten by habitual drunkard unknown for temperance (8)
SOBRIETY - BRIE (Cheese) inside (eaten by) SOT (habitual drunkard) + Y (unknown, as in a mathematical equation)


Down
1 Tradesman Charlie once followed, able to come first? (5)
BAKER - apparently some early phonetic alphabets began Able, Baker, Charlie (as opposed to the Alfa/Alpha, Bravo, Charlie encountered nowadays). Chambers indicates that phonetic letters can be either capitalised or not, so the lower-case "able" may be deceptive but not unfair.
2 Forgetfulness of men wandering in large continent (7)
AMNESIA - anagram of (wandering) MEN in ASIA (large continent)
3 In a businesslike manner, almost (11)
PRACTICALLY - double definition
4 Sponge a twerp stood up on end of bath (6)
LOOFAH - reversal (stood up) of A FOOL (twerp), + {bat}H (end of bath, i.e. the last letter of the word "bath")
6 Early in the day for poet, say, to lament? (5)
MOURN - homophone (say) of MORN (Early in the day for poet, i.e. a poetical word for morning)
7 Determined defender’s reversal of progress (7)
SETBACK - SET (Determined) + BACK (defender, as in football for example)
9 Tree on coast, possibly, or shrub? (11)
COTONEASTER - anagram (possibly) of TREE ON COAST. Perhaps a word on the rise - after appearing in a Times puzzle in 2007, COTONEASTER disappeared from view for the best part of a decade until re-emerging in May of this year in a Jumbo, and now again today. A shrub that isn't necessarily pronounced the way you might think, its name derives from the Latin for quince. If you've never heard of it, then the anagram might not be the most helpful clue but at least you'll get to enjoy a game of Guess Which Vowel Goes Where.
12 Airborne soldier standing on favourite part of fortification (7)
PARAPET - PARA (Airborne soldier) + PET (favourite)
14 Period when students raise funds for music? (7)
RAGTIME - as per Chambers, rag is "Riotous festivity, esp and orig of undergraduates (now, in British universities, associated with the raising of money for charity)", so the period when this occurs could be described as RAG TIME (though the actual expression used would probably be Rag Week)
15 Energetic person upset a lot in party (6)
DYNAMO - reversal of (upset) MANY (a lot) in DO (party)
17 Stove not initially in fashion (5)
RANGE - N{ot} (not initially, i.e. the first letter of the word "not") in RAGE (fashion, perhaps most often seen in the phrase "all the rage")
19 Floor-covering laid on by Warwickshire school (5)
RUGBY - RUG (Floor-covering, though the hyphen seems unnecessary) on BY. I couldn't name you another school in Warwickshire but, with the checkers and wordplay, the county was arguably a superfluous bit of info anyway. One of the sports which takes its name from the school is Rugby League, which was born on this day in 1895.

Mephisto 2921 -Paul McKenna

Struggled a little with this one, though I think a lot of it was confidently putting in NEARNESS at 18 down. My printout still has a few question marks on it, hopefully those will be figured out as I write this up.

I hope he doesn't mind me telling the blogiverse, but Paul McKenna assured me recently that he has a backlog of puns to go across the top row of Mephisto puzzles, and this time around we are treated to a pun on ADOLESCENCE. Speaking of which, commiserations to my friends Mark and Daniel who are hosting a teenage exchange student for a semester.

Away we go...

Across
1ADDLE: tricky one to start with - ADDLE can describe an egg that has gone bad, and WADDLE is a fraud of the footsies - remove a W from it to get the answer
5ESSENCE: anagram of E,SCENE'S
10PATIO DOORS: anagram of PAIRS,TOO containing DO(ditto, the same)
11CO,PLAN,AR: nothing difficult about the clue, but the definition is kind of literal for a Mephisto, I thought
13AP,PAL
14VIEWY: VIE(compete),W,Y(youth hostel)
17DUNLIN: sounds like DONE before LIN(pool)
18NEXTNESS: NESS(point) next to N, EXT
19BETH: double definition based on there being two Queen Elizabeths
21TRAD: D following ART reversed
22PROSECCO: PROS(bona robas being prostitutes), ECCO(there in Italian)
24FEMORA: anagram of MARE,OF
27ANILE: A(about), NILE(river known for crocodiles)
29RADGE: D in the middle of RAGE(row)
30PURITIES: PURI(Indian fried cake), TIES(obliges)
31EVEN-STEVEN: ST,EVEN(fair) after EVEN(evening, end of day)
32TARTLET: TART(prostiture, hostess),LET(canceled served in tennis)
33ENARM: ANE reversed, then RM
 
Down
1AS,C,AUNT
2DROP SERENE: anagram of NEEDS PROPER minus a P
3LA-LAS: SALAL reversed- comp referring to an accompanist
4ETALON: NO, LATE all reversed
5EINE: hidden in valuE IN Exchaning
6SO-AND-SOS: SAND(grit), containing O then SOS
7EOSIN: anagram of ONE,IS
8NON-ELECT: N(name),ONE(only), then LECT(or)</b>
9EST,Y,N: Ofsted is an English education board, ESTYN is a Welsh one
12SWITCH-GEAR: anagram of CHARGES containing WIT
15EXAMINER: AXE(fire) reversed, then MINER(digger)
16PERACUTE: PERAI(piranha, river fish) with the I replaced with CUTE
20HOLESOM: HOLES(puts/pots, think pool or golf),OM(intonation)
23SCR,I'VE
24FACE,'T
25OLENT: SOLENT missing S
26OATEN: ATE(tucked in) inside ON(in addition to)
28ARET: ARE(a) then T

Sunday Times 4708 - bleeurgh

I normally write this blog during the week, and set the timer so that it will be posted at 1am on Sunday. For one reason or another I have not had time this week, so I find myself posting in real time. Unfortunately this also means that as I write these words I am really quite drunk, so let’s see how that goes.

This was an entertaining puzzle, spoiled for me by 5dn. Obscure words clued with ambiguous wordplay are a particular bugbear of mine, and this was a classic example of the type. On the other hand the Olympic theme was fun, and unlike the football-themed puzzle we had a week or two ago the theme was applied selectively and so didn’t intrude.

Right, I really need to go to bed. Here’s how I think it works.

[Music: Shostakovich string quartets, Schubert piano sonatas, John Denver, Turin Brakes]

Across
1 Why northerner can’t smoke in retirement club?
BATON - reversal of NO TAB. I had no idea that ‘tab’ for a cigarette was a northern term: I used to use it when I smoked, many years ago.
4 Initial advantage of saint visiting madam?
HEADSTART - ‘saint’ can be just S, as well as ST. Here it is surrounded by HEAD TART. I’m glad I changed that sentence from its first version.
9 Fight small publication involved in offence
SCRIMMAGE - S, CRIM(MAG)E.
10 Rock on the radio for a nit?
LARVA - sounds like ‘lava’, rock in its molten form, of course. I thought a nit was just an egg, but it can also be the LARVA of a louse or similar insect, apparently.
11 Individual contracted to separate band in dispute
ROWING - R(OWn)ING.
12 Return no-good rubbish delivered by Spooner
COMEBACK - which Spooner would have delivered as something that sounds like ‘bum cack’. Shall we move on?
14 Labour energy taxes: soft soap and flannel?
TOILETRIES - TOIL, E, TRIES.
16 Half-cut tramp opening for Pete and Dud
FLOP - FLOozy, Pete. At least I think so: FLO is the first half of quite a few words.
19 Steaming after the last of this?
SHOT - thiS, HOT, &Lit. Because you would be steaming drunk after the last SHOT. Admittedly this assumes there were more than (say) two shots to begin with, but you get the idea.
20 One with dog and errant bats as concerns
IN REGARD TO - (I, DOG, ERRANT)*. Often ‘in/with regards to’ these days, which I always find a little grating. It somehow makes me think of Sybil Fawlty.
22 A French nut taking in the French Open?
UNHEALED - UN, HEA(LE)D. Open as in a wound.
23 Note that’s on about my past performance
RECORD - D (note) on RE (about) COR (my).
26 Antidote for non-union employment: liquor
SERUM - uSE (non-union employment), RUM.
27 Fit into a schedule at last!
ABOUT TIME - BOUT (fit) into A, TIME (schedule).
28 Their tone upset East Asia
THE ORIENT - (THEIR TONE)*.
29 Doctors covering the first of 999 calls
RINGS - RIGS containing N (the first letter of nine nine nine). I’m not sure I’ve seen this device before: the first letter of a word that isn’t actually in the clue.

Down
1 When dons scold son for interest levels
BASE RATES - B(AS)ERATES. ‘Dons’ in the wearing sense..
2 In what manner grips run after tense cast
THROW - T (tense), H(R)OW.
3 Those against boxing in explosive runners
NOMINEES - NO(MINE)ES.
4 Level of spice in Goethe: a truckload
HEAT - contained in ‘Goethe a truckload’.
5 Men eat more after playing a wind instrument
ANEMOMETER - (MEN EAT MORE)*. And not AMENOMETER.
6 Grey-haired flake promoting India
SILVER - SLIVER with the I (India) moved up (promoted).
7 Fresh Madeira cakes Illinois sent via Dakota?
AIRMAILED - (MADEIRA)* containing I (Illinois).
8 Having lost heart, con hoovers up a line
TRACK - take the word TRICK (con), take the middle letter out (having lost heart), then add (hoovers up) A. This is really neat.
13 Awfully game red and dominant lady in a field
GRANDE DAME - (GAME RED AND)*.
15 Something that drew loads of people out West?
IRON HORSE - CD.
17 By a loch, an old maid endlessly drinking Old Pride
PROUDNESS - PR(O)UDe, NESS.
18 An insatiable female great-white shark
MAN-EATER - DD.
21 One avoiding more theatrical clobber
HAMMER - HAMMIER.
22 Put out unopened box of matching mugs
UPSET - super-tricky wordplay here: a cUP sET would be matching mugs. Bravo, you bastard!
24 Love sex, but not with you and a veggie
ONION - O (love), uNION. A brilliant clue, this.
25 Leg it and consume apace in bar
BOLT - DD. Edit: or rather a triple (see below). The idea of consuming in bars was perhaps too close to home at the time of writing.

Saturday Times 26496 (20th August)

Solving time 16:10 for this top-class puzzle which was full of wit and invention. I'm thinking of the wordplay to clues like 14ac especially, but also 17ac, 4dn and 16dn. The praise is not all just for the setter though - the editors of Chambers Dictionary also deserve a mention for the 5dn definition.

BTW, sorry about the missing definition indicators - I tried to modernise my html markup with style definitions and span tags, but obviously LJ prefers the old-fashioned way, as it's all just been ignored. I don't have time to fix it at the moment either.

Across
1 Recoiling part of gunpowder-based cavalry weapon (5)
SABRE - hidden reversed in "gunpowder-based".
4 Base used for rest to live, not live across street (8)
BEDSTEAD - BE (live) + DEAD (not live) around ST(reet).
8 Hamlet feature is divine scenes in ruins (14)
INDECISIVENESS - (is divine scenes)*. Hamlet the Shakespeare character, not a small village! Definition ref his famous "To be or not to be" speech I presume.
10 Branch I wrapped in drained aromatic herb (9)
SPEARMINT - ARM (branch) + I, inside SPENT (drained).
11 Spaniard known for penning large whale (5)
LORCA - L(arge) + ORCA (whale, the killer whale to be precise). Federico Garcia Lorca, Spanish poet.
12 Old Bailey hack has no love for disorder (6)
RUMPLE - RUMPOLE (self-described "Old Bailey hack" in the TV series) minus the O (no love).
14 Service’s founder to close large town’s front before the rest (8)
FACILITY - FAIL (founder) around C (large town's "front"), followed by ITY (the rest of the word for a large town). Tricky wordplay which I don't think I've seen before.
17 Is obliged to cross road in difficulty (8)
HARDSHIP - HAS (is obliged) around RD, + HIP (in).
18 Bar occupied by old William Archer (6)
BOWMAN - BAN (bar) around O(ld) WM (William).
20 Pick up head of lettuce to take home (5)
LEARN - L(ettuce) + EARN (take home).
22 Game with boxes of plant for brewer, alternative to rye? (9)
HOPSCOTCH - HOP (plant for brewer) + SCOTCH (alternative to rye, as in types of whisk(e)y).
24 Alternately 20 and work on this / stage of afternoon tea? (8,6)
SANDWICH COURSE - double definition.
25 Entire manoeuvres having enlisted men turn around (8)
REORIENT - (entire)* around OR (enlisted men).
26 Fashion line displayed in eyesore (5)
STYLE - L(ine) inside STYE (eyesore).

Down
1 Use of pins to prevent movement on mat (8,4)
SCISSORS HOLD - cryptic definition for a wrestling term.
2 Person turning up for one hash (5)
BODGE - BOD (person) + EG (for one) reversed. IT term for what in my current job they prefer us to call a "tactical solution".
3 Questionable silence about Catholic rings (9)
ENCIRCLES - (silence)* around RC (Roman Catholic).
4 Balkan region stunted trees after making a couple of switches (6)
BOSNIA - BONSAI (stunted trees) with the N and S switched, and the A and I too.
5 Not working, certainly needs to check in for unscheduled time off (5,3)
DUVET DAY - DUD (not working) + AY (certainly), around VET (check). bigtone53 on the Forum suggested checking out the Chambers definition for this, which is one of their classics: a day's absence from work arranged at short notice between an employee devoid of inspiration for a plausible excuse and an employer who has heard them all before".
6 Weight, area and length of pitches (5)
TONAL - TON (weight) + A(rea) + L(ength).
7 Drum and bass I mixed for Madness in performance? (9)
ABSURDISM - (drum bass I)*.
9 Pretty / painless, as contact should be? (4,2,3,3)
EASY ON THE EYE - double definition, one cryptic.
13 Spread disease mainly carried by horse (9)
MARMALADE - MALAD(y) (disease mainly) inside MARE (horse).
15 Smooth ruffled decoration from Prussia (4,5)
IRON CROSS - IRON (smooth) + CROSS (ruffled). Originally a Prussian war medal instituted in 1813, but reintroduced by Hitler in 1939.
16 Towering intellect genius has recorded initially is accepted by ambassador (4-4)
HIGH-RISE - first letters of Intellect Genius Has Recorded + IS, all inside HE (His Excellency, ambassador.
19 Consequence of varying South Park's opening (6)
UPSHOT - (South Park)*.
21 Free article raised most profound point (5)
NADIR - RID (free) + AN (article), all reversed.
23 Drag heels, like lips after many a drag? (5)
TARRY - double definition, one cryptic.
Competition! I have one wrong but haven't been able to pin it down. First one to spot the mistake gets a signed copy of William Byrd's The Thieving Magpie.

Edit: I've now identified my mistake but shan't spoil the fun by correcting it just yet.

A bevy of composers to identify here, some of them clued by what they would have written in a world ruled by nominative determinism. I found it great fun once I cottoned onto the device. Other composers, and a few other musical items, are clued more conventionally.

A bit of musical knowledge is distinctly helpful in parsing 11 across, where I had to seek help when the penny refused to drop.

In my continuing bid for innovation, I've tried yet another variation on the format. Comments appreciated.






Notes:

The Composers

- WOLF, Hugo, who should have written Peter and the ....
- BARBER, Samuel, who clearly should have written about the marriage of the loveable Spanish hairdresser
- BERG, Alban or Gunnar, take your pick. Berg can also mean mountain
- BLISS, Arthur
- GADE, Niels. Just the keys of G,A,D and E
- MASSENET, Jules. MASS (requiem) + ENE(scu) + Tippett
- Hans WERNER Henze. Anagram of (newer) + R(igoletto)
- GLUCK, Christoph. I may be on the wrong track here but I'm seeing this as the German word which can translate as 'happiness'
- Joachim RAFF also crops up as part of the solution to 15d


1a. KRAKATOA .. from Clive James' memorable days as the Observer's TV critic. I still remember the first time I read his paragraph on Konrad Bartleski (par 6). The McEnroe quip is in Dan's Winning Lob, indexed on the same page

8a. RASPE - (Pears)* ... author of the Baron Munchausen tales. I'll admit I had no idea who wrote them. I'll use the excuse that Raspe hid is authorship for many years, fearing lawsuits from the real Baron M (who apparently had no sense of humour — imagine that!)

11a. SPRINGER - Tricky one to parse. Schumann's 1st symphony is known as 'Spring'. The fifth and sixth letters of Mahler are -ER

15a. RATES OF EXCHANGE - Dr Petworth (also called Pitwit, Pervert, and Petwurt by his Soviet-bloc hosts) is the professor of linguistics in Malcolm Bradbury's 1984 Rates of Exchange who finds misunderstanding and romance in a small eastern European country. The sort of thing I used to read in my youth but which seems to have dated badly. Maybe it's just me but it feels like satire is a dying genre in the 21st century. Perhaps we've created a self-satirising world

18a. FRIENDLIER - I think 'whisky' is the rather novel anagram indicator. The fodder for it is (relief in dr)

20a. PLUM - PG Wodehouse tended to sign his personal letters "Yours, Plum", a pet name I always take a while to recall


23a. ANANKE - Nan (or The Tragedy of Nan) was one of John Masefield's plays

1d. KERB - 'break' reversed with the first of 'angel' removed. The reference to the Priestley novel is a red herring

5d. ASAR - hidden in 'Sands as a rule' (edit: as Z8 points out, more accurately in "as a rule"). The answer seemed inescapable, yet verifying it caused me much head scratching. Chambers does have it as "A kame or esker", and spells it Swedishly as åsar


7d. My Brilliant Friend is one of Elena Ferrante's so-called Neapolitan Novels

TLS Report today

Some of you may have seen a TLS report earlier, that's no longer visible. It was about TLS crossword 1138 (mistakenly "1139" in the header), and was a week too early. As I'm the owner of this LJ community, I used my powers and deleted it, but I have sent a copy of the content so that it can be reconstructed next week. The puzzle that should be blogged today is 1137, but I'm guessing that there may be some delay before you see a report about it.

Times 26,501: Llamrei or Hengroen

Hello, I'm back, did I miss anything, did you miss me? The better part of a week in Amsterdam, mostly crossword-free, has blunted my abilities rather, and so I took a whole ten minutes over this pleasant but largely very straightforward number. 11ac, 13ac, 21ac and 24ac all went straight in with pleasing rotational symmetry, but I struggled more in other places, notably with 19dn, which I feel like I might have seen in puzzles before but had definitely forgotten. I should have trusted the wordplay instead of racking my vocabulary, of course, because the answer seemed clearly right once the clue was teased out.

I wasn't sure about the cluing for 7dn, but then my brain is as previously stated very rusty, so if it does work fine then please fill me in and perhaps I'll be back to normal levels of comprehension for next week, though I am off to North Wales with the family as of tomorrow morning, which may or may not be even more stultifying than the Low Countries. COD to 25ac just because I like seeing slightly more unusual devices in my clues. I also took the liberty of looking up the answer to the bonus quiz question in row 11, and have included this in the title of this blog. Massive props to anyone who knew it already. And hartelijk bedankt to the setter!

Across

1 Composer has group leaving out middle piece (4)
BACH - BA{t}CH

3 Material coming to us from space (10)
EARTHBOUND - EARTH [material] + BOUND [coming] After conferral with my esteemed colleagues, probably a double def

9 Crashing bore very sensitive about conflict (4,3)
BOER WAR - (BORE*) ["crashing"] + RAW reversed

11 Tangier reconstructed in stone (7)
GRANITE - (TANGIER*) ["reconstructed"]

12 Heavens! Royal Mail has last word in fine computer systems (9)
FIRMAMENT - R.M. has AMEN [last word] in F I.T. [fine | computer systems]

13 Depressed about river in flood (5)
DROWN - DOWN about R

14 Started flying? (3,3,6)
OFF THE GROUND - double def

18 Girl with grand invested in old car to provide what’s needed (6,3,3)
BRIDGE THE GAP - BRIDGET with G invested in HEAP

21 Drug user finally caught in Tube (5)
HORSE - {use}R caught in HOSE

22 Two men in kingly legend (9)
ARTHURIAN - ARTHUR and IAN

24 Garment that’s almost neckwear (7)
NIGHTIE - NIGH TIE [almost | neckwear]

25 Stuff material used to fill woven wreath (7)
OVEREAT - {w}OVE{n} {w}REAT{h}

26 Prompt to accept Conservative changing (10)
INCONSTANT - INSTANT to accept CON

27 Russian leader succeeded in turning informer (4)
TSAR - S in reversed RAT

Down

1 Restricted diet born of a body that’s not in good shape (4,4)
BABY FOOD - B [born] + (OF A BODY*) ["that's not in good shape"]

2 Go away untroubled on holiday (5,3)
CLEAR OFF - CLEAR [untroubled] + OFF [on holiday]

4 An ecologist denied new grant (5)
AGREE - A GREE{n}

5 Drunk secure with line to walk on (9)
TIGHTROPE - TIGHT ROPE [drunk | secure]

6 Where one may stop getting on with noble family (8,5)
BOARDING HOUSE - BOARDING [getting on] with HOUSE [noble family]

7 Universities working as one (6)
UNISON - UNIS ON (thanks to robrolfe for explaining, below, that this is a musical instruction)

8 Adding colour reportedly becoming less strong (6)
DYEING - homophone of DYING

10 We nearly fed on plant, consumed with damaged skin (7-6)
WEATHER-BEATEN - WE + AT{e} + HERB + EATEN

15 Sponsor of moulded garden pot (9)
GODPARENT - (GARDEN POT*) ["moulded"]

16 Unpleasant quality of upper-class actor’s part in G&S (8)
UGLINESS - U + LINES [actor's part] in G, S

17 Single old woman endlessly frowning about legs (8)
SPINSTER - STER{n} about PINS

19 Okra, not European, to the back of one (6)
BHINDI - B{e}HIND I

20 Soldier in wagon turned up suffering great distress (6)
TRAGIC - GI in CART reversed

23 Spine damaged by stretching, needing input from hospital (5)
THORN - TORN [damaged by stretching] "needing input from" H
This is a fine Friday QC offering from our esteemed Puzzles editor, an excellent start to the Bank Holiday weekend. Although finished in just under eleven minutes, I found more and more to comment on while writing the blog. Definitely fewer than usual of the sometimes very obvious anagram indicators – just consider the various ways here of indicating an anagram (mixture of letters): playing, grotesquely, nuts, disguised, dodgy, around… Plus some very fine 'surfaces' - first or literal readings of the clues, which can mislead, or perhaps allude to the answer.

ACROSS


7. Ruffian who loses head playing in goal (8)

HOOLIGAN Definition is ‘ruffian’ – WHO loses head = HO + anagram (playing) of ‘in goal’.

8. I governed Middle Eastern state (4)

IRAN ‘governed’ = ran. ‘Emir’ was the first word to spring to mind, but I resisted the temptation to biff (bang in from definition).

9. Stick advertisement in this place (6)

ADHERE advertisement = AD + ‘in this place’ = HERE, definition is ‘stick’. This one may be becoming a chestnut, am pretty sure we had it recently.

10. Make amends an hour after midday (5)

ATONE - ‘an hour after midday’ is one o’clock, i.e. AT ONE, ATONE means to make amends. The fine novel Atonement by Ian McEwan shows that attempts to make amends can be tortuous.

11. Gobble some treats (3)

EAT- Gobble = EAT, some treats = EAT, contained in the phrase

12. Where one might find glove available (2,4)

ON HAND – definition is ‘available’, and you might find a glove on a hand, or more likely in a lost property office or sock drawer.

14. Coating of luxuriant hair receding — then finally none left (6)

ENAMEL – the coating is ENAMEL, as on teeth or older baths. ‘Luxuriant hair’ is MANE, receding means backwards. ‘Finally none’ indicates the last letter of none – E, and ‘left’ = L. A brilliant clue, in that it reads very sensibly, like many in this puzzle. The key word for me was ‘receding’, which triggers thoughts of words or parts of phrases going backwards.

16. Thirsty person, perhaps, drinks River Test! (3,3)

DRY RUN – the definition is ‘Test’. The ‘thirsty person’ is a DRY’UN, containing (drinks) R for River

18. Shameful broadcast observed and performed (6)

SORDID – definition is ‘Shameful’. ‘Broadcast’ indicates a homophone/sounds like, so ‘observed’ = SAW = SOR. ‘Performed’ = DID. Hence SOR + DID. This was my LOI (last one in).

19. Answer point as appropriate (3)

APT – all abbreviations, A for answer, PT for point. ‘Appropriate’ is a useful word in crosswords as it can also mean ‘steal’.

20. Classical writer’s hero grotesquely seizing head of Medusa (5)

HOMER – the ‘classical writer’ is HOMER, who allegedly wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey, although they’re more likely products of a committee. ‘Hero grotesquely’ indicates an anagram of ‘hero’, HOER, seizing (including) the head of Medusa, M. This wonderful clue contains very fine potential misdirection. Taking, wrongly, ‘Classical writer’s hero’ as the definition we could think of Perseus who took the Gorgon Medusa’s head (even if we can’t remember the details, the statues and paintings may be half-remembered, and the whole image is ‘grotesque’). Hint: If you ever see an apostrophe in a cryptic clue, ask yourself whether it is possessive (belonging to the ‘writer’ in this case) or short for, for example, ‘writer is’. Plus see 1d below.

21. Vegetable right next to a plate (6)

RADISH – Right (R), next to ‘a plate’ = A DISH. A radish is definitely a vegetable, so no need for discussion about fruit, legumes or tubers, unless…why is it never cooked?

23. Toil endlessly to produce smile (4)

GRIND – this is GRIND (toil) endlessly, without its last letter. Not sure that a grin is quite a smile. On the other hand, if you try to smile and do not fully succeed, you can end up with a stupid-looking grin, so maybe that’s the point.

24. Disregard past appearance (8)

OVERLOOK – ‘Past’ = OVER, ‘appearance’ = LOOK, and if you OVERLOOK something, you disregard it. Worth noting that this is only one of the two common uses of OVERLOOK, which can mean (1) to see, then ignore, or decide to forget, as in this clue, or (2) to not see at all.


DOWN

1. Hermit accepting university teacher’s become capital fellow (8)

LONDONER – definition is ‘capital fellow’, in this case someone from London, the capital of England. ‘Hermit’ is LONER, including (‘accepting’) DON ‘university teacher’. Having until recently been a teacher/lecturer in a Millennium University, I was never, ever, referred to as a don. Note particularly in this clue that the ‘s is short for ‘has’. See above at 20 ac.


2. Lose nuts and fruit (4)

SLOE - from which a type of gin can be made. Definition is ‘fruit’. ‘Lose nuts’ indicates an anagram (‘nuts’) of ‘Lose’ = SLOE

3. A truncated Green Day set (6)

AGREED – definition is ‘set’ = AGREED. A + GREE (truncated Green) + D (day). I am not familiar with the works of Green Day, who I believe are, or were, a band. ‘Set’ has the largest number of definitions of any word in the English language, but in this case the misdirection refers to the (list of) songs played during a live performance.

4. Con man disguised in dodgy tie (6)

INMATE – definition is CON, short for convict, the present (or past) inmate of a prison. ‘Man disguised in dodgy tie’ indicates an anagram (disguised) of MAN in an anagram (dodgy) of TIE. Fans of Orange is the New Black will know that the women prisoners are all called ‘inmate’ by the guards.

5. Reptile is around rocks (8)

DINOSAUR – a dinosaur was a reptile, although there was no-one around to call them that. ‘Rocks’ indicates an anagram of ‘is around’. The clue nicely conjures up images of lizards scuttling over rocky terrain.

6. Prepared venison, for example (4)

GAME – possibly the most difficult clue, as the checkers only give the vowels, and short answers are in my opinion usually more difficult than long ones. If one is GAME, one is ready, prepared, for something. Venison still counts as ‘game’, i.e. hunted meat, but is more likely to be farmed nowadays.

13. I’m puncturing a friend’s spleen (8)

ACRIMONY – ‘spleen’ = acrimony, possibly from the belief that the emotion was centred in the bodily organ. IM (disregarding the apostrophe) is in (puncturing) A CRONY, where a crony is a friend – although I think the word ‘crony’ has negative connotations.

15. European campaign issue (8)

EMISSION – an ‘issue’ is something that issues, in this case, EMISSION, made up of E (European) and MISSION (campaign). Also, note, EMISSIONS (CfCs, diesel, nuclear) tend to indeed be European campaign issues, so this may possibly be what some call an ‘&lit’ clue.

17. Slender tip of Neolithic projectile (6)

NARROW – N (tip, first letter, of Neolithic) + ARROW (projectile), ‘slender’ is the definition. And the tip of an arrow or stone knife is narrower than the rest.


18. Road from outskirts of Stockport lined with oak, perhaps (6)
STREET – ‘outskirts of Stockport’ = ST, first and last letters, lined with (i.e. has inside), TREE (oak, perhaps). A street is a road, a road is not necessarily a street… hang on, what about Watling Street?


20. Feather duster harbours group of creatures (4)

HERD – The ‘group of creatures’ is a HERD, the phrase ‘Feather duster’ contains the word: {featHER Duster}

22. Artist brought up one boy (4)

DALI – being a down clue, ‘brought up’ indicates reversing words for ‘one boy’ i.e. I LAD. How many artists have four letters? GOYA, MIRO, HALS….

I am definitely enjoying this blogging, and all comments are most welcome.

Club Monthly 20191 - August 2016

Quite straightforward this month, with fewer unknown words than usual and some clues that wouldn't be out of place in the daily cryptic, such as 10ac or 4dn.. took me about 40 minutes in all, quicker than usual for me.
Also, I have previously mentioned my quirky habit of seeing how far I can get through the clues, without finding a proper noun .. well, for the first time ever that I can remember, this one has none at all! Arguably jacuzzi should perhaps have one, being a trademarked brand name, but I shall ignore that.
cd = cryptic definition, dd = double definition, rev = reversed, anagrams are *(--), homophones indicated in ""
Dictionaries: The Club Monthly uses several dictionaries as sources, and why not? The main ones are the Concise
Oxford Dictionary (COD), Collins, and Chambers. I however can't afford all those, so I use Chambers, the online Collins
dictionary and the ODO (Oxford Dictionaries Online). I use the online Oxford English Dictionary too (OED) though it
sometimes goes beyond what we may reasonably be expected to know
Across
1. For investment I’ll borrow shillings as well, with almost nothing (7)
stoozer - S(hillings) + TOO (as well) + ZER(o). What I would call arbitrage.
5. Mark taking in jaunt slaughtered small deer (7)
muntjak - *(JAUNT) in MK (mark)
9. Commonwealth member in charge splits following American quite agitated (9)
frenzical - NZ (commonwealth member) + IC (in charge) in F + REAL (American quite). a real tricky clue
10. Knock down old butcher’s (5)
decko - DECK (knock down) + O. I would spell it dekko, myself but it is in Collins
11. Wasting time in pub in Paris, the lowest one, last character bled (13)
phlebotomized - PH (public house, ie pub) + LE (in Paris, the) BOT(T)OM (lowest, wasting time) + I (one) + ZED (last character). Bled as in made someone else/something else bleed..
13. Tons more sensible as a measure of distance? (8)
waywiser - WAY (tons, ie a great deal) WISER (more sensible)
15. Good stroke for curling hot part of lamp (6)
inwick - IN (hot) + WICK (part of lamp)
17. Whistle-blower depressed when tide turns? (6)
reflow - well I suppose it is REF (whistle-blower) + LOW (depressed). Not a very precise definition..
19. Good rebuke in a sweet thing Jesus said (8)
agraphon - G(ood) + RAP (rebuke) in A HON(ey)
22. Perhaps dishy leader’s position among the deficient could be a fluke (13)
platyhelminth - PLATY (perhaps dishy) + HELM (leader's position) + IN (among) + TH(e)
25. One who sees much potential in egg’s round, endless prospect (5)
ovist - O + VIST (a) (endless prospect, eg of Whitby)
26. Weather-changing event, mostly in short tapering form, rapidly changing direction for snow (9)
wedelning - EL NIN(o) (weather-changing event, mostly) in WEDG(e) (short tapering form)
27. Force joint daughter twisted in Perth (7)
fankled - F(orce) + ANKLE (joint) + D(aughter). Perth, Scotland not Perth, WA...
28. Once covered in fat, work off with a welcoming gesture? (7)
enarmed - I think it is OPEN ARMED, ( with a welcoming gesture), with the OP (work) removed
Down
1. Religious mystic provided bone from the south (4)
sofi - IF (provided) + OS (bone), both rev. Sufi a more common spelling..
2. Bend too much in full view when back of garment yields to pressure (7)
overply - OVERTLY (in full view), with the T replaced by P(ressure)
3. Chipmunk of variable proportions apart from small and large (5)
zizel - tricky to parse! It is Z (variable) + (s)IZE (proportions, apart from s(mall)) + L(arge)
4. Coolness in R&B, always for poetry’s sake? (4,4)
rice beer - ICE (coolness) in R+B, + EER, poetic "ever." Cunningly hidden def...
5. Drug carrier volunteers as red rag to a bull? (6)
muleta - MULE (drug carrier) + TA (volunteers)
6. Egg cases repelled noise? I accept that, thanks (9)
nidamenta - DIN (noise) rev., + AMEN (I accept that) + TA (thanks)
7. Sailor shortened gun with duplication in underwater jet system (7)
jacuzzi - JAC(k) (sailor, shortened) + UZZI (gun with duplication, the gun actually being an UZI...)
8. Selling direct to Europe affected only Denmark’s extremists and ruler (10)
klondyking - *(ONLY + D(enmar)K), + KING (ruler)
12. Second bit of language on editor’s printout unaffected by cuts? (10)
swordproof - S(econd) + WORD (bit of language) + PROOF (editor's printout)
14. So, hail spread about even is linked to matching rain (9)
isohyetal - YET (even) in *(SO HAIL)
16. Reptilian family beset by article probing generation (8)
agamidae - AMID (beset by) + A (article) in AGE (generation)
18. Female arrested in possession of ring is former lover (7)
franion - O (ring) in F + RAN IN (arrested). Useful word..
20. ANC leaving human chain in disarray as elements were called earlier (7)
hahnium - *(HUMAN CHAIN), with the ANC removed. Hahnium, in honour of Otto Hahn, was a suggested name for Dubnium, element 105.
21. In Glasgow, crazy guy runs up to pinch wife (3-3)
red-wud - W(ife) in DUDE (guy) + R (runs) rev.
23. Indian ravine protected by international law (5)
nalla - hidden in internatioNAL LAw
24. Ancient heavens spread evenly across Rio Grande (4)
igad - alternate letters of rIo GrAnDe

Quick Cryptic No 643 by Tracy

This started quickly and finished slow for me, with the left-hand side of the grid being completed before any significant incursion into the right-hand side. It took about 15 minutes, so for some reason was scoring about 50% harder on the Rotterometer scale than usual – I wonder how you all found it.

Some nice misdirections, plenty of anagrams, a sprinkling of double definitions, all perfect fare for the QC. Thanks to Tracy for an enjoyable puzzle.

Definitions are underlined, anagrams indicated by [square brackets] and deletions with {curly ones}

Across

1 I agree to pick up judge (4,4)

HEAR HEAR – To pick up is to HEAR, and to judge is to HEAR, and together they make the well-known exclamation of approval (I agree!) from the hearers of a speech

5 Sales campaign conceals dishonest scheme (4)

SCAM – Hidden word in {sale}S CAM{paign}

9 Daughter left for Channel port (5)

DOVER – D{aughter} and OVER (left) – my FOI (first one in)

10 Wiped out text, start to finish, about elected Conservative (7)

EXTINCT – take TEXT, move the first T to the end (start to finish) and insert IN (elected) C{onservative}

11 What may be extracted from first half of olives treated? (3)

OIL – anagram (indicated by treated) of [OLI]{ves} (first half). The whole clue can also work as the definition, making this a kind of &lit

12 Traditional in Harrow for example (3,6)

OLD SCHOOL – A kind of double definition. Harrow school was founded in 1572, although there is some evidence of a school on the site since 1243, which makes it pretty old – pre-America as we tend to say in our house!

13 Waste energy making jam (6)

SCRAPE – Waste equals SCRAP with E{nergy} to make the kind of jam that Billy Bunter used to get in to, rather than the preserve. My COD (clue of the day) for the misdirection

15 The last word I caught back in picture palace (6)

CINEMA – AMEN (the last word) with I C{aught} all reversed (back) – my LOI (last one in) for no discernible reason – it should have been easy

17 Embargo on developing a missile (9)

BOOMERANG – anagram, indicated by ‘developing’, of [EMBARGO ON]

19 Well-liked dad (3)

POP – double definition. I worried about the well-liked abbreviation of POPular, but my Chambers says it is OK

20 Beatles song with odd title starts to beguile everyone (3,2,2)

LET IT BE – anagram of [TITLE] indicated by ‘odd’, with (starts to) B{eguile} E{veryone}. Beguile is my WOD (word of the day)

21 Confused, sailing in the Mediterranean (2,3)

AT SEA – another double definition

22 Nimble undercover agent runs inside (4)

SPRY – undercover agent (SPY) with R{uns} inside

23 Surveillance post exposed (8)

STAKEOUT – STAKE (post) OUT (exposed)

Down

1 Ghastly house I’d renovated (7)

HIDEOUS – anagram, indicated by ‘renovated’, of [HOUSE I’D]

2 Moving van I left in smithy’s block (5)

ANVIL – another anagram, indicated by ‘moving’, of VAN I L{eft}

3 Edible type of mushroom, an overflowing supply (4,2,6)

HORN OF PLENTY – a double definition. HORN OF PLENTY is both a type of edible fungus and a cornucopia or abundant source of supply

4 Winning answer had to involve English (5)

AHEAD – A{nswer} with HAD involving E{nglish}

6 Forgive swindler swindled (7)

CONDONE – Swindler (CON) is himself swindled (DONE)

7 Perhaps gold award after change of heart (5)

METAL – Gold is an example of a metal. The award is a MEDAL experiencing a change of heart, i.e. substituting a T for the D to give the answer.

8 Carrying cloak, an item robber may wear (8,4)

STOCKING MASK – Carrying gives STOCKING, as in we are stocking a particular item, and to cloak is to MASK. A STOCKING MASK was de rigueur for all villains in the crime films that I grew up with.

14 Bird, duck in list (7)

ROOSTER – something of an old chestnut this one. Duck is a score of zero in cricket, indicated by O, which is inserted in ROSTER (list)

16 Stop after snake makes for pitch (7)

ASPHALT – The snake is an ASP and to stop is to HALT, and think pitch as in tar or, erm ASPHALT

17 Building Society initially keeps bad accounts (5)

BILLS – bad is ILL inserted in B{uilding} S{ociety} (initially)

18 Prevent a check pinning rook (5)

AVERT – the check is A VET (as in to vet a candidate), with R{ook} inserted

19 Quickly spilling drop of red sauce (5)

PESTO – Quickly is PRESTO, spilling (removing) the R{ed} to leave the Italian sauce made with basil, cheese, pine nuts and olive oil (as in 11 across)

Times 26500 - feeling like a 5 down

Solving time : 21:05 - for a moment I didn't think I was going to finish this one, then got a flash of inspiration that solved 10 across which helped the last few fall all of a sudden. I suspect the individual level of difficulty will depend on knowing the terms at 4 and 5 down, the substance at 1 across, and seeing through some of the crafty (and possibly UK-centric) definitions.

Even if you do figure out the definitions, there's some crafty wordplay involved here.

Away we go...

Across
1GUM ARABIC: definition is "it sticks" - ARABIC(tongue) next to GUM(part of the mouth)
6POSSE: I'm more used to the police version of this term, but Chambers has "a gang or group of young friends" - the rather vile sounding drink POSSET shortened
9THRIFTY: RIFT in THY
10CUP TIES: CUTIES with P inside - not 100% sure of the definition here, is a cup tie always a knockout game?
11DRIVE: DR,I'VE - think of taking a car for a spin
12NEON LIGHT: EON,L in NIGHT
13BURST: would have the same definition if it was BUST
14TAILGATER: one who drives too close behind - TAIL(back),GATE(one you might crash uninvited),R
17INSURGENT: GENT after INSUR(e)
18ORRIS: a root - MORRIS dance missing the first letter
19FANCY FREE: FAN(supporter) then FREE(released) after CITY missing IT,
22ELAND: remove NG from ENGLAND
24ABSTAIN: to not be tempted - in A BIN, S(alvation),TA(army)
25EATS OUT: one of two clues like this in the puzzle - since EATS is an anagram of SEAT
26ECLAT: C in TALE reversed
27ECTOPLASM: anagram of PLACES,TO, then M(mass in scientific equations)
 
Down
1GATED: I think the definition is just "kept in" - you may DE-TAG an offender, reverse it
2MARDI GRAS: M(month), ARRAS(hanging) surrounding DIG
3REFLECTOR: REFECTOR(y) containing L
4BEYOND THE FRINGE: sketch comedy revue first performed in Edinburgh almost exactly 56 years ago - BEYOND(the other side), THE, FRINGE(border)
5CUCKOO IN THE NEST: my last one in - IN THE NEST is an anagram of THE TENNIS. Odd clue, with THE being an anagram of THE, having also appeared as THE in the previous clue
6P,A,PAL
7STING: T(hieves) in SING
8EASY TERMS: two definitions, one cryptic
13BRIEFCASE: BRIE, then an anagram of FACES
15GOOSE-STEP: "progress that is inflexible" is the definition - a GOOSE is a sort of iron with a neck-like handle, then PETS reversed
16TARRAGONA: Spanish port - TAR, then (ORGAN)*, A
20NASA,L
21YEAST: YET containing AS
23DA,TUM
Tranquillity reigns this morning in the household, having dispatched the little ones on to EasyJet yesterday (including over half an hour queuing in 37 degrees of blistering sun waiting to get inside the overcrowded, cheapskate Billi terminal in Bordeaux). Consequently I was up before the larks and had this polished off in 24 minutes. At first read it looked difficult but once the long cross clues 11a and 21a fell in, the rest seemed to tick along nicely, ending with the well constructed 10a and the slow-to-see 7d.

Across
1 PEPPER-POT - Cryptic definition.
6 STROP - PORT (left), S(on), all reversed; D rage.
9 LILLE - ILL = bad, inside LE = there, the; D French city.
10 CASHEW NUT - AS (when) HEW (cut) inside CNUT (old Danish king); D bit of food. KNUT or CNUT are alternative spellings of CANUTE. Be careful how you spell CNUT.
11 TWENTY-FOUR-SEVEN - TWENTY = score, FOURS = boundaries in cricket, EVEN = drawing; D all the time.
13 LACROSSE - (CAR LOSES)*; D game. This was easier than I realised, I'd started working with (CAR)* followed by a synonym for loses.
14 ARMADA - A, RMA (Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst), DA (lawyer): D a lot of craft. I've seen ARMADA clued several ways but I don't remember this neat one.
16 FLURRY - FURRY = like warm coat, wrapped round L; D a little snow.
18 PORPOISE - OR is cornered into P (quietly) POISE, which I think relates to 'collected' else how does poise arise? D sea creature. See headline above.
21 ON THE WATERFRONT - (TENTH-RATE FOR NOW)*, D film. 1954 movie, arguably Marlon Brando's best.
23 ENSCONCED - Hidden word, in ATH(ENS CONCED)ES, D in firm settlement. I could see Athens wasn't going to be part of an anagram or there for a cryptic reason so the search for a hidden word was a giveaway.
25 CUT UP - TU = workers organised, inside CUP = competition; D dice.
26 SCUFF - S(ingular), CUFF = blow, D damage caused by rubbing.
27 OKEY-DOKEY - O (old), KEY KEY (opening pair), DO (perform) splits; D word of approval.

Down
1 PILOT - PI = devoted, LOT = crew, D navigator. Another one where I searched for harder answers (CABOT?) before seeing the easy one.
2 POLLEN COUNT - POLL (vote) EN (in, French), COUNT (aristocrat); D measure to aid allergy sufferers, like me. Not that it helps any.
3 ELECTRO - ELECT = return, RO = OR (gold) revolutionary, D silver plated articles. Short for Electroplate, I suppose.
4 PACIFIST - I CAP = I beat, 'up' = PAC I , FIST = means to punch; D reluctant fighter.
5 TOSS-UP - TO, PUSS (kitty) reversed; D even chance.
6 SPENSER - PENS = writes, inside SER(B) = Balkan language releasing B(ook); D poet.
7 RUN - a double definition?; I can see RUN = last, as in a stage play, how does RUN = stand?Ah, as the wizard chap points out in first comment below, you can run / stand for Parliament.
8 POTENTATE - E in OT NT (parts of Bible) inside PATE (crown); D ruler.
12 VLADIVOSTOK - Anagram fodder is (TV AVOIDS L OK)* where L OK = large, fine; D Asian city. According to a friend who passed that way, not worth a passing visit.
13 LEFTOVERS - LOVERS are more than good friends, insert E (close to mE) and FT (daily paper); D they remain. My CoD for a smooth surface.
15 BONE IDLE - Cryptic definition, ha ha.
17 REEL OFF - (FEEL FOR)*, anagrind 'cast', D to recite. Another one where the route to the answer was easier than I at first thought.
19 PO-FACED - OF ACE (of one) inside PD (symbol for Palladium the element); D with solemn expression. No theatres involved.
20 GAUCHO - GAUCH(E) = most (of) awkward, O = round, D cowboy.
22 TIPSY - TIPS = bonuses, Y = ultimately unlikelY, D rather tight.
24 SOU - SOU(R) = tart, without the T; D a bit of old (money).

Quick Cryptic 642 by Joker

An elegant puzzle today from Joker, a delightful man I had the pleasure of meeting at the TfTT anniversary shindig last November. A couple of bits of GK required (nothing too taxing, I'd have thought) but - even if you did not know the name of Darwin's ship the associated wordplay was generous and could lead you quite easily to the answer.

5d was the stand-out clue for me, but several other delightful surfaces and constructions. Many thanks to our setter.

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


Across
1 Stiffener for fabric of structure to right of street (6)
STARCH - ARCH (structure) follows (to the right of - in an Across clue) ST (street)
4 Company returning mongrels is found to exist (6)
OCCURS - OC (CO - Company - reversed - returning) + CURS (mongrels)
8 Reliable writer I rubbish? I have (13)
AUTHORITATIVE - AUTHOR (writer) + I + TAT (rubbish) + I'VE (I have). Neat word sum.
10 Toxic gas round area (5)
OZONE - O (round) + ZONE (area)
11 Burn wooden case outside empty emporium (7)
CREMATE - CRATE (wooden case) goes round (outside) EM (empty EmporiuM)
12 Hate picture designed so as to have a healing effect (11)
THERAPEUTIC - *(HATE PICTURE) with "designed" as the anagrind
16 Ribbon development of street naught will interrupt (7)
ROSETTE - *(STREET) - with "development of" as the anagrind - and O also thrown into the mix (naught will interrupt)
17 Work very hard to put money aside when about fifty (5)
SLAVE - SAVE (put money aside) goes around (about) L (Roman 50)
18 Gold strong box has sailor planning behind the scenes (13)
ORCHESTRATING - OR (abbrev. gold) + CHEST (strong box) + RATING (sailor).
19 Therefore tops must be three-dimensional figures (6)
SOLIDS - SO (therefore) LIDS (tops)
20 Bad cut given by key (6)
SEVERE - SEVER (cut) + E (musical key)


Down
1 Follow famous Irish playwright around party (6)
SHADOW - SHAW (famous Irish playwright) goes 'around' DO (party)
2 Say a rich plot’s needing development, like properties of the
stars
(13)
ASTROPHYSICAL - *(SAY A RICH PLOTS) with "needing development" as the anagrind
3 First among chefs to be very fond of a piece of garlic (5)
CLOVE - C (first letter of Chefs) + LOVE (be very fond of)
5 Two forms of Assam, say, served by upper-class French
house
(7)
CHATEAU - CHA + TEA (two types of tea - 'Assam, say') with U (upper class - as opposed to 'non-U'). Super clue, I thought - elegant, inventive and very neat surface.
6 Dull local is led by university wise men (13)
UNIMAGINATIVE - NATIVE (local) preceded by (led by) UNI (university) + MAGI (wise men).
7 Run through botanic gardens amid heads of some English roses (6)
SKEWER - KEW (botanic gardens) inside (amid) first letters (heads) of Some English Roses
9 In Channel Islands, inept manoeuvring just beginning (9)
INCIPIENT - IN CI (In Channel Islands) + *(INEPT) with "manoeuvring" as the anagrind
13 Consult text again about temperature for remoulded tyre (7)
RETREAD - REREAD (consult text again) around (about) T (temperature)
14 Good accommodation for those looking after horses (6)
GROOMS - G (good) + ROOMS (accommodation)
15 British bird of prey on which Darwin worked (6)
BEAGLE - B (British) + EAGLE (bird of prey) giving us HMS Beagle, the ship on which Darwin sailed and conducted much of the work that enabled him to develop his theories
17 Point seen in last agenda (5)
STAGE - Hidden in (indicated by 'seen in') laST AGEnda

Quick Cryptic 641 by Felix

What an excellent QUICK cryptic. It was quick - 7.47 which may be a record but also full of humour. Several stand out - my favourites being 10dn and 21ac.
Thanks for a great start to the day Felix.

ACROSS

1. Radio ham - set operator. Anagram (worked) of HAD MAORI.
5. Boob - error. (B)rought (O)ut (O)ne's (B)riefcase.
8. Board - double definition.
9. Jabbers - double definition.
11. A pig in a poke - risky purchase. Anagram (after repair) of PIPE OK AGAIN.
13. On edge - tense. One (ONE), director general (DG), programm(E).
14. Skater - person moving on ice. Runs (R) after fish (SKATE).
16. Yellowstone - US national park (or/and what is seen in it). Chicken (YELLOW), fourteen pounds (STONE.
18. Riviera - holiday region. Anagram (excited) of I ARRIVE.
19. Froze - stopped dead. Mostly free (FRE) around Australia (OZ).
20. Turk - countryman. Se(T) yo(U) easie(R) tas(K).
21. Attendee - one present. Two hours before noon (AT TEN), by river (DEE).

DOWN

1. Ruby - gemstone. Polish (RUB), (Y)our.
2. Draw a veil over - hide. Anagram (unusually) of REVEAL VIA WORD.
3. Old King Cole. A cryptic definition - in his reign he called, as I remember, for his pipe and his fiddlers 3.
4. Adjoin - come together. (A), radio presenter (DJ), round (O), at home (IN).
6. One for the road - a final drink. Trapped in st(ONE FORT HERO AD)vised.
7. Basketry - the craft of wickerwork. King (K) inside mean (BASE) and attempt (TRY).
10. Black coffee. COD for this cryptic definition. The instant (coffee) one did not turn pale (by adding milk) so it is black.
12. Holy writ - scripture. Anagram (translated) of WORTHILY.
15. Aslant - sloping away. When (AS), left (L), worker (ANT).
17. Cede - to give way. Homophone (we hear) of top player (SEED). Anyone in doubt over which was the definition had 21ac to confirm the final 'E'.

Times Cryptic 26498

I found this one quite hard but resolved it eventually without resorting to aids in 50 minutes parsing as I went. 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]


Across
1 Water not hot now? (4)
WASH - "Water not hot now" suggests that previously the water WAS H (hot).   I think the definition works best as a noun as in an expanse of shallow water or the bay/estuary in East Anglia where King John is said to have lost the Crown jewels
3 Great achievement having bottle back to drink nothing (6,4)
MAGNUM OPUS - MAGNUM (bottle), then  SUP (drink) + 0 (nothing) reversed [back]
10 What fills blimp, in general, is to have an effect (7)
IMPINGE - Hidden [what fills] in {bl}IMP IN GE{neral}
11 One speaks about going both ways when touring most of large town (7)
RECITER - RE (about - forwards) + ER (about - reversed) [going both ways] contain [touring] CIT{y} (large town) [most of]
12 It's still on the conference agenda? That's a physical impossibility (9,6)
PERPETUAL MOTION - A very clever clue that I find hard to categorise. The first part I take as a cryptic definition, a motion being a proposal that could be on a conference agenda and if it finds its way back time and again it might be said to be "perpetual".  The second part of the clue is a straight definition of which the answer is an example. I like the juxtaposition of "still" in the clue and "motion" in the answer, a bit like "dry food" and "water biscuit" in yesterday's Quickie.
13 Man on board that is a new arrival? (6)
ROOKIE - ROOK (man on board - chess), I.E. (that is - id est)
14 Hint eventually used around answer time (8)
INTIMATE - IN TIME (eventually) contains [used around] A (answer) + T (time)
17 Indicate tirade as outrageous (8)
FLAGRANT - FLAG (indicate), RANT (tirade)
18 One investigates broken lute in case of Sherlock Holmes initially (6)
SLEUTH - Anagram [broken] of LUTE is contained by [in case of] S{herlock} H{olmes} [initially]
21 Wind, then I twisted and bent, perhaps — a hidden danger (5,2,3,5)
SNAKE IN THE GRASS - SNAKE  (wind), anagram [twisted] of THEN I, GRASS (bent, perhaps). "Bent" as a type of grass was something I learnt quite recently from crosswords.
23 What many do with Hair (a collection of pieces of music)? (7)
PARTITA - PART IT (what many do with hair), A.  A German suite, if I remember my music studies correctly. J S Bach wrote a lot of them.
24 Manufactured material against one from Liverpool University dismissed (7)
VISCOSE - V (against - versus), I (one), SCO{u}SE (from Liverpool) [University dismissed]
25 Openings for top artists — organised show with a dance (10)
TARANTELLA - T{op} + A{artists} [openings], RAN (organised), TELL (show), A. Another musical form. Here's one by Liszt
26 Refuse to accept lie out of stupidity (4)
DENY - DEN{sit}Y (stupidity) [sit = lie, out]
Down
1 Keep things quiet, with chap's permission, abandoning assignment (7)
WHISPER - W (with), HIS (chap's), PER{mission} [abandoning assignment = mission]
2 Prove sun may explode, leading to a ________? (9)
SUPERNOVA - Anagram [may explode] of PROVE SUN. I can't stand clues with blanks in them.
4 Beautiful woman with cut is blocking A&E access (6)
AVENUE - VENU{s} (beautiful woman) [with cut] is contained by [is blocking} A&E
5 Hurry up and get rid of the child (8)
NURSLING - RUN (hurry) reversed [up], SLING (get rid of)
6 Scientist married big solicitor, sadly suppressing love (14)
MICROBIOLOGIST - M (married), anagram [sadly] of BIG SOLICITOR containing [suppressing] 0 (love)
7 Material easily moulded, we hear, producing cherubs? (5)
PUTTI - Sounds like [we hear] "putty" (material easily moulded). These cherubs came up very recently in another puzzle.
8 Jabber, say, neglecting a telephone voice at last (7)
SYRINGE - S{a}Y [neglecting a], RING (telephone), {voic}E [at last]
9 Layout of room represented trendies' origin (8,6)
INTERIOR DESIGN - Anagram [re-presented] of TRENDIES ORIGIN
15 Redundancies in senior management? Excellent (1,3,5)
A CUT ABOVE - A cryptic definition and a dodgy straight one as to be "a cut above" means to be better than something, not necessarily to be excellent.
16 One sister takes boyfriend to swamp (8)
INUNDATE - I (one), NUN (sister), DATE (boyfriend)
17 One agitates failsafe component, reducing difficult situation (4-3)
FUSS-POT - FUS{e} (failsafe component) [reducing],  SPOT (difficult situation)
19 Hurry to stock outsize line in legwear (7)
HOSIERY - HIE (hurry) contains [to stock] OS (outsize),  RY (line - railway)
20 One used in digs: small, mean dwelling (6)
SHOVEL - S (small), HOVEL (mean dwelling)
22 Increasingly just ignoring first item in laundry (5)
AIRER - {f}AIRER (increasingly just) [ignoring first]

Times 26497 – We’re Not All Rob Roys

Not a personal best, but my 26’59” sees me on the first page of the leaderboard, ahead of certain luminaries, who shall remain nameless. (Hint: They have been known to finish faster than Jason.) It would appear that it is not the Zika virus, or indeed the equally virulent housemaid’s knee, that has caused carnage this morning, but a visit to the lowlands of Scotland.

Those that have been tripped up are in good company, though, as no less an intellect than Anthony Aloysius St John Hancock of 23 Railway Cuttings, East Cheam, was confounded by the tongue of Burns, Scott and MacDonald on one famous occasion, as he sought to perform his civic duty with the minimum of fuss.

A rather peppy offering overall, I thought. Just the thing to revive one after an evening spent celebrating the toppling of the overlords in Peking by their sinful predecessors as rulers of the barren rock I call home.

Way hay an’ away we go!

ACROSS

1. FUCHSIA – anagram* of I + SUCH in FA. If you can’t remember how to spell the plant, just remember it was named after a Mr. Fuchs.
5. SOBER – SOB + RE reversed.
9. HOCUS – CU in HOS (Biblical book Hosiah - in my RSP [Revised Substandard Perversion] - everywhere else, HOSEA: thanks to Rob Rolfe for pointing out my boob with such gentleness); a verb that really sound as if it ought to be a noun (like ‘hokum’).
10. ENAMOURED – E + O in NAMUR + ED; Belgium has ten provinces, but, as far as crossword setters are concerned, it might be just one.
11. ZILLION – ILL in ZION.
12. TIEPOLO – TIE + POLO; Giovanni Battista Tiepolo was an 18th century decorative painter.
13. KEYBOARDER – KEY + BOARDER; we have a goodly number among us, as I learnt on this board that a true computer geek may be distinguished by his (or her) hatred of a mouse, and use whenever possible only of the keyboard.
15. OKRA – O + K[enyan] + R + A.
18. DICK – a (Lord Peter) whimsical definition; spotted dick, bangers and mash, fish and chips, bubble and squeak: the list of healthy foods given to the world by the British is a long one, indeed.
20. OPHTHALMIC – CHAP [wi]TH LIMO*; the spelling rule here is just keep adding the aitches where they look impossible.
23. DULLARD – LUD reversed + LARD.
24. CROWDED – D ([sta]D[ium]) in CROWED.
25. GONDOLIER – LIDO* in GONE + [pie]R; I initially had ‘gondalier’; the spelling rule here is use your brain not your ear.
26. SMIRK – SM + IRK.
27. AGLEY – ‘gang agley’ (meaning ‘go awry’ or ‘go wrong’) is a Scots phrase, entering the lexicon from Burns’s poem ‘Tae a Moose’ (‘To a Mouse’), where it occurs in the oft quoted line ‘The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft agley’.
28. ERITREA – E + RIT(R)E + A; definition ‘state’.

DOWNS

1. FACULTY – C in FAULTY.
2. CAST-IRON – CON around A STIR (there is a jail in Brixton, South London); I had ‘iron-clad’ at first.
3. SKEIN – S[ic]K + EIN.
4. APARTMENT – PART + MEN in a reversal of TA (the erstwhile Territorial Army, which, like the old soldiers of which it was composed, will never die in Crosswordland).
5. STONED – another whimsical one, referencing Stephen, celebrated as the first Christian martyr.
6. BURDOCK – RUB reversed + DOCK (sounds like DOC, the dwarf in the Disney classic famous for his Spoonerisms).
7. RODEO – ROMEO with the middle letter changed.
8. WHIZZ-KID – WHIZZ + KID to give us someone like Verlaine.
14. RAPID FIRE – P[rojectiles] in RAID + FIRE.
16. ARCHDUKE – UK in ARCH + DE. There must have been many – like Randy Van Warmer songs – but only one is remembered.
17. CAROUSER – CAROUSEL with R for L.
19. COLONEL – definition ‘officer’; COL + ONE L (cos fieLd marshaL has got two).
21. MADEIRA – MADE + RA about I[nnkeeper].
22. SAXONY – X + ON in SAY (‘for example’); the number one place on my places-to-visit list.
23. DOGMA – AM + GOD reversed.
24. CORGI – [troope]R in CO-GI (‘fellow soldier’ – geddit?)

Times Quick Cryptic 640 by Mara

9 minutes for this pleasant puzzle that seems fairly mainstream to me but there may be hidden difficulties that haven't occurred to me and I look forward to reading others' comment. 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]



Across
7 A series of confusing paths perplex (5)
AMAZE - A, MAZE (series of confusing paths). I wasn't quite sure that "perplex" and "amaze" are synonymous but the dictionaries confirm they can both mean "bewilder".
8 Sour food, rubbish (7)
RHUBARB - Two definitions. "Rhubarb" is often used in theatrical circles for background burbling of a crowd, for instance, but it can also be an interjection meaning "rubbish".
10 English actor I savaged for saucy stuff (7)
EROTICA - E (English), anagram [savaged] of ACTOR I
11 Magic / giant (5)
GREAT - Two definitions
12 Male asleep, perhaps, in powerful tractor (9)
BULLDOZER - A BULL is a male and if it's asleep we'd have a BULL DOZER
14 Switch over circuit for a friend (3)
PAL - LAP (circuit) reversed [switch over]
15 TV / group (3)
SET - Two definitions
16 A mansion built around river in the country (3,6)
SAN MARINO - Anagram [built] of A MANSION contains [around] R (river). The enclave on the Italian peninsula.
18 Extremist involved in awful tragedy (5)
ULTRA - Hidden [involved in] {awf}UL TRA{gedy}
20 Butcher came with the big knife! (7)
MACHETE - Anagram [butcher] of CAME THE
22 Glass, one falling? (7)
TUMBLER - Two definitions
23 One of fifty in America, say (5)
STATE - Two definitions
Down
1 Dry food produced in cities raw, but extraordinary (5,7)
WATER BISCUIT - Anagram [extraordinary] of CITIES RAW BUT. Inedible without loads of butter or cheese (or both!)
2 Terribly long wait for a sleeping car (5-3)
WAGON-LIT - Anagram [terribly] of LONG WAIT. Not so well-known in these days of universal air travel but familiar enough from tales of the Orient Express and other continental adventures in less hurried times.
3 Shop in Indian city, by the sound of it? (4)
DELI - [by the sound of it] "Delhi" (Indian city)
4 Substitute possessed by Rangers at Zagreb (6)
ERSATZ - Hidden in [possessed by] {Rang}ERS AT Z{agreb}
5 European country swell, but not entirely on song (8)
BULGARIA - BULG{e} (swell) [but not entirely], ARIA (song)
6 Spice may appear curious, especially for starters (4)
MACE - First letters [for starters] of M{ay} A{ppear} C{urious} E{specially}
9 Cricketer after courage getting access to beer, possibly? (6-6)
BOTTLE-OPENER - BOTTLE (courage), OPENER (cricketer)
13 Old PM first to depart from Tel Aviv, for example? (8)
DISRAELI - D{epart} [first], ISRAELI (from Tel Aviv, for example). PM for under a year in 1868 and then again 1874-1880.
14 Cost per act I fixed, good (5,3)
PRICE TAG - Anagram [fixed] of PER ACT I, G (good)
17 New moon about to be late (2,4)
NO MORE - Anagram [new] of MOON, RE (about). "Late" in the sense of "deceased" here.
19 Period when discharge comes up (4)
TIME - EMIT (discharge) reversed [comes up]
21 Rewrite acts for actors (4)
CAST - Anagram [rewrites] of ACTS

Mephisto 2920 by Tim Moorey

Standard middle of the road puzzle with no queries or hold-ups or (amazingly) Scottish words


Across
1CHAMB - CH-A-MB; check=CH (chess); abbreviation of Chamberlain;
5FI,DONC - FI-DON-C; cocaine=C; Latin tag for "shame";
11HAANEPOOT - (onto a heap)*; a grape from SA;
12RASTRUM - hidden (orchest)RA'S-TRUM(peter);
13FRET - two meanings 1=ridge on guitar neck 2=worry;
14BIREME - BI(g)-REME;
15STYRE - S-TYRE; old word for "stir";
16HADARIM - HAD-A-RIM; religious schools (see cheder in C);
17ARIMASP - (pairs)* surrounds MA; mythical one-eyed people who had lots of fights over gold;
21PERTUSE - PER(T)USE; boxing=containment indicator; punched;
23SNORKEL - (onlookers - o-o)*;
24AESIR - RISE-A(delphi); Norse gods;
26ODD-MAN - O(D-D)MAN; Man Friday;
27SHOE - sounds like "shoo";
29THEBANS - THE-BAN(n)S;
30IN,SPECIAL - (a nice slip)*; old phrase for particularly (see "special" in C);
31GESTES - GE-S(i)TES; GE=General Electric; old word for exploits;
32RANDY - (affai)R-ANDY;
 
Down
1CORF - COR-F(ish); my!=COR; a cage for fish;
2HEARTRENDING - HEAR(TREND)ING;
3ABSEY - A-B(S)EY; children's book (see ABC in C);
4BARBE - BARBE(d); French religious teacher;
5FAUGHS - FA-UGHS; expressions of disgust=UGHS and FAUGHS;
6DECIDER - DE(CID)ER;
7OPERANT - OPERA-N(o)T; "not" after vacation=NT;
8NOTERS - (tenor + s)*; s=soprano;
9COMMISSIONED - CO(M-MISSION)ED; M from (ter)M;
10ATTEMPER - ATTEMP(t)-ER; moderate;
15SASSOLIN - SAS(SOL)IN; solution=SOL; Indian antelope=SASIN; an acid;
18MORMOPS - MOR (sounds like "more")-MOPS; shocks=hair=MOPS; bats;
19ALKANET - (talk)* contains A-N-E; red dye;
20NODOSE - NO(D)OSE; bit of D(ifficulty)=D; having nodes;
22ELCHIS - (chile)*-S; Sweden=S; ambassadors;
24ANEAR - AN-EAR;
25SHARN - cut=shorn then change "o" to "a"; mucker's business=cow dung=SHARN;
28ESKY - (p)ESKY;

Sunday Times 4707 by Dean Mayer

Another super puzzle from Dean this week, showcasing the trademark economy of cluing, witty oddball definitions and sheer inventiveness of our tormentor. Several top notch clues, with 3A, 20A, 25A and 14D all outstanding in my book.

For me this was one where (aside from a couple of unknown words which - unfortunately for me - happened to intersect at 19D and 23A) most of the answers went in reasonably quickly, but the devil was in the detailed parsing. Here is my best shot at unravelling it all, but I look forward to being corrected where necessary as I found myself frequently operating at or beyond the edges of my competence during the parsing process!

Across
1 Mess about in rescue vessel on lake (4)
LARK - ARK (rescue vessel) follows (on) L (abbrev. lake)
3 Killers that woman also reported (10)
HERBICIDES - HER BESIDES (that woman also) - with "reported" putting us on the 'sounds like' track. Terrific clue - whimsical definition giving (me at least) misdirection and a gorgeous homophone.
10 Search weird sorcerer (7)
RUMMAGE - RUM (weird) + MAGE (sorcerer)
11 Squeaky clean? No son (7)
UNOILED - UN{S}OILED - "clean" - loses its S (no Son)
12 See one’s pants go slack (6)
LOOSEN - LO (see) + *(ONES) with "pants" as the anagrind.
13 How thrilling is extended bike stunt display? (8)
WHEELIES - WHEE (how thrilling - imagine it with an exclamation mark following) + LIES (is extended)
15 Rogue sniper claims one sort of killing (5,10)
CRIME PASSIONEL - *(SNIPER CLAIMS ONE) with "rogue" as the anagrind
18 Sewer needs essential liquid, then a ladder (6,3,6)
NEEDLE AND THREAD - NEED (essential) + *(THEN A LADDER) with "liquid" as the anagrind. At least, I think that's how it works. Once the penny dropped regarding 'sewer' as one who sews, we were clearly into anagram territory. The "needs", however, in the surface threw me somewhat when it came to the precise parsing.
19 Around 1pm, flog a guide (5,3)
STRIP MAP - STRAP (flog) goes 'around' IPM.
20 Rub salt on circular parts (6)
ABRADE - AB (salt - as in seaman) then AD (circular) 'parts' RE (on). Particularly cunning (and tight) wordplay, I thought - which roughly translates as "took me an age to work out exactly what was going on here".
23 Mooring post you measure on river (7)
RYEPECK - YE (you) + PECK (measure - a close relative of the bushel as I recall) 'on' R (river), giving us the quaintly named mooring for punts. Despite having fallen off more punts than you could shake a pole at on the Cam, this was a new term to me. Fortunately the answer was pretty inevitable from the wordplay and cross checkers.
24 Offer houses with a charity (4,3)
BAND AID - BID (offer) 'houses' AND (with) + A
25 Crossing ravines, scans for good air quality (10)
CATCHINESS - CATS (scans - as in CAT scans) goes around (crossing) CHINES (ravines). Loved the definition.
26 Just over 50 in US city (4)
ONLY - O (over) then L (Roman 50) 'in' NY (US city)


Down
1 Missing man caught, held by all-round rogue (4,5)
LORD LUCAN - *(ALL ROUND) - with C (caught) also in the mix - and "ROGUE" as the anagrind. The death certificate has now been issued, but the mystery endures...
2 Lover runs rings around yours truly (5)
ROMEO - R (runs) + O O (rings) going around ME (yours truly)
4 Quits contest without finishing (4)
EVEN - EVEN{T} ('contest' without its final letter)
5 Ignore hurry, as in “endure” (5,5)
BRUSH ASIDE - RUSH (hurry) + AS inside BIDE (endure)
6 Naughty dog might be so protective (5,2,3,4)
CLOSE TO THE BONE - DD, the first being synonymous with 'near the knuckle' and the second picturing the canine jealously guarding its treat
7 Affair and, ultimately, marriage? (9)
DALLIANCE - last letter (ultimately) of anD + ALLIANCE (marriage)
8 Very sorry about drinks (5)
SODAS - SO (very) + SAD reversed (sorry about)
9 It’s so long even if it’s short (8,6)
FAREWELL SPEECH - Cryptic based around "so long"
14 Item on sole of slipper? (6,4)
BANANA SKIN - One who slips might have... very neat, droll cryptic
16 Seriously, I’m almost home (2,7)
IN EARNEST - I NEAR NEST (I'm almost home)
17 Last pair of horses in posh accommodation for racing event (6,3)
LADIES DAY - ES (last pair of horsES) in LA DI DA (posh) + Y (which I think is probably a slang abbreviation for YMCA - accommodation - but I'm not too sure about that...)
19 When climbing, fears icy pinnacle (5)
SERAC - CARES (fears) reversed (when climbing - given the context of a Down clue). Another unknown for me, but when the C and S hove into view then the possibility arose and it sounded feasible as a word.
21 Over cooker, alight (5)
AGAIN - AGA (cooker) + IN (alight)
22 Bird, single, 21 (4)
IBIS - I (single) + BIS (musical term meaning 'repeat' or 'again' - being the answer to 21 Down)

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