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Goodness me, this one gave me some problems and took me over an hour for the third consecutive day this week. Right at the outset I fell literally into a bear-trap (probably of my own making rather than one intended by the setter) and never really recovered because it put me on the wrong course for several other clues. Even when I sorted out the mess my confidence was shot to pieces. But for all that, once again this week we have a very fine puzzle. For anyone noticing that I am posting somewhat later than in recent weeks, no, I have not been struggling on this since midnight; I went to bed at a sensible hour and then got up very early.
Across
1PARADIDDLE - A RAP (a popular music - rev) + DIDDLE (do). It's a sequence of strokes in drumming.
7BEAR - Double definition. 'Hack' = 'bear' as in to tolerate, manage or cope with something. Putting 'jade' (an alternative double definition) here as my first answer in the grid gave me endless problems q.v. 7dn. A veritable bear-trap!
9BROKEN IN - ROoK (bird half-heartedly) inside BENIN.
10COWARD - RAW (not cooked - rev) inside COD.
11SHOWER - Double definition. The one meaning 'worthless group' reminds me with joy of the wonderful Terry-Thomas as the Major in 'Private's Progress' (1956): "You're an absolute SHAAAR!".
13IDEALIST - Anagram of 'sailed' inside 'it'.
14FRONT OF HOUSE - In a theatre this is everything on the audience side of the curtain as opposed to 'backstage'.
17CRACKBRAINED - CRACK (go) + BRAIN (head) + ED (man on newspaper). 'Out to lunch' is slang for 'unbalanced' or 'stupid'.
20INVEIGLE - Anagram of 'living' and EasE.
21ARGOSY - lARGO (heading off slowly - in music) + SlowlY.
22MANTUA - MA (graduate - Master of Arts) + NT (books - New Testament) + U + A. It's a 17th century gown named from the city in Lombardy.
23NOTIONAL - 'National' (citizen) with one of its As (American capital) replaced by 0 (love - tennis).
25Double definition deliberately omitted.
26ENTICEMENT - twENTIes (two couples in mid twenties) + CEMENT (bonding).
Down
2AYRSHIRE - IRe (endless anger) inside anagram of 'her say'. Last blog I had Angus cattle as the first Down answer; today it's a different breed.
3AUK - A+UK. Stumped me for ages! Finland, Norway, Sweden? What other countries are there in NW Europe?
4INNER - dINNER
5DONNISH - NNI (pub - rev) inside DOSH (money). Wasted ages trying to think if 'mash' might be slang for money.
6EXCHEQUER - Sounds like 'ex-checker'.
7BEWILDERING - WILDER (rather extravagant) inside BEING (creature). So having convinced myself that 7ac was 'jade' I had J?W?????ING here and came up with 'jawdropping' for 'stunning' which seemed perfectly reasonable, give or take a hyphen, until I tried to untangle the wordplay. Many a moment was lost here.
8I'm deliberately omitting this Down clue.
12WINDCHEATER - WIND (turn) + C (cold) + HEATER (radiator?).
15ORANGEADE - Anagram of 'an edge or a'.
16MESSIAEN - MESS (jam) + I hAvE + N (new). Olivier of that name, 1908-1992, was a French composer, organist and ornithologist. I'm glad the setter didn’t require us to know his third claim to fame.
18KEEPNET - TEN PEEK rev.
19INMATE - IN (ruling,  'in power') + MATE (China plate - CRS).
21ARTIC - ARTICulate (say clearly stopped half way).
24OHM - H (Henry - unit of inductance) inside OM (high honour - Order of Merit).

Comments

martinp1
Mar. 9th, 2012 07:03 am (UTC)
Grin and bear it
Appreciate your travails, jackkt! I also toyed with BOOR for 7ac. Appreciate the Terry-Thomas reference in 11ac. His name came to mind immediately I got the answer. Didn't particularly like CRACKBRAIN for "Go with head" but you pays yer money...As mentioned in The Times Forum, I spent ages wondering, as you did, if MASH was some new word for money. LOI was, I'm afraid to say, the one you omitted: ACROSS. A d'oh moment for me. CODs were 1ac and 21d as I like clues where you have to work at it to find where the pauses should be.
jackkt
Mar. 9th, 2012 07:12 am (UTC)
Re: Grin and bear it
Thanks, Martin, and yes, BOOR was my very first thought at 7ac in the nano-second before JADE sprang to mind. Shame I didn't stick with it as at least then I'd have been on the correct path to solving 7dn.