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Times Quick Cryptic No 873 by Joker

Twelve minutes to complete, and then a couple of minutes scratching my head over the parsing of 14A.  I’m not entirely satisfied even now, so maybe a chance for someone to ILLUMINE the setter’s thinking.  Other than 14, I found this entertaining, fair and just about right for a QC, with some lovely surfaces, nice words and clever cluing.

My personal clue of the day (CoD) is 2D and my word of the day (WoD) is a choice between WHELP and MENDACITY.  Thanks Joker.

1          Mark, John, Luke and Matthew finally understood (4)
KNEW – Last letters of (finally) the Apostles’ names
4          One needs this to go beyond Dover, for example (8)
PASSPORT – To go beyond is to PASS and Dover is an example of a PORT
8          Son tearful doing some housework (8)
SWEEPING – S{on} and WEEPING (tearful)
9          Defeat decisively and right away (4)
ROUT – R{ight} and OUT (away)
10        Bound with energy during circuit (4)
LEAP – E{nergy} inside LAP (circuit)
11        Besides, Rome's destroyed and finished (8)
MOREOVER – Anagram of [ROME] (destroyed is the anagrind) and OVER (finished)
12        Short musical number follows for each individual (6)
PERSON – ‘For each’ gives PER and the short musical number is a SON{g}, short meaning to drop the last letter
14        Nearly running from Malmo to Stavanger? (6)
ALMOST – Whilst the answer is obviously ALMOST, I found the reasoning to be more obtuse.  The best I have been able to come up with is that the answer is a kind of split hidden, ‘running’ from the end of {m}ALMO into the start of ST{avenger}, but I don’t see a hidden indicator, unless it is ‘nearly’ doing double duty as definition and indicator.  Perhaps someone out there sees something more obvious that I have missed.
16        Style judge is not at all radical (8)
MODERATE – Style gives MODE and to judge is to RATE
18        Composed about fifty minuets initially (4)
CALM – About gives CA as in C{irc}A, fifty in Roman numerals is L and the M is from M{inuets} (initially)
19        Brave British veteran (4)
BOLD – B{ritish} and OLD (veteran)
20        Throw light on being unwell next to uranium workings (8)
ILLUMINE –Being unwell is ILL plus U{ranium} and MINE (workings).  ILLUMINE is a literary form of illuminate, or throw light on
22        Shut up about unusually grey play by Ibsen (4,4)
PEER GYNT – Shut up provides PENT into which is slotted an anagram of [GREY] indicated by ‘unusually’.  PEER GYNT is a five act play based loosely on a Norwegian fairy tale
23        Article new at that time (4)
THEN – THE (article) and N{ew}

2          Present after present is not to be found in any location (7)
NOWHERE – NOW (the present) and HERE (present).  Clever construction this, much appreciated
3          Puppy needs assistance after start of winter (5)
WHELP – Start of W{inter} and HELP (assistance).  A WHELP is a young dog or puppy, or occasionally a young man
4          Greek character appearing in amphitheatre (3)
PHI – not to be confused with pi.  Hidden (not very well) in {am}PHI{theatre}
5          Oddly stung over secret source of sweetener (5,4)
SUGAR CANE – Oddly stung gives the odd letters of S{t}U{n}G, and secret is ARCANE
6          In favour of interrupting hair treatment to play a part (7)
PERFORM – Being in favour of something is to be FOR it, which is inserted into the hair treatment PERM (short for PERM{anent wave}
7          Trick is introducing oxygen to wake from sleep (5)
ROUSE – The trick is a RUSE into which is inserted O{xygen}
11        Many cited terrible untruthfulness (9)
MENDACITY – straightforward anagram of [MANY CITED], anagrind is ‘terrible’
13        Thin line into transmitter (7)
SLENDER – SENDER is the transmitter, which includes L{ine}
15        Peace after getting round the French (7)
SILENCE – After gives us SINCE which surrounds LE (the French)
17        Gas ring needs a belt (5)
OZONE – ring is O and belt is ZONE
18        Orbiting body has to arrive on time (5)
COMET – To arrive is to COME which sits on top of T{ime}
21        See tons in auctioneer’s batch (3)
LOT – See is LO and T{ons}
Solving time : 9:59 on the club timer, as close as you can get to under 10 minutes! I'm the third time on there and the fastest, so maybe I'm more on the wavelength with the setter, or I just knew a few obscurities and had some lucky guesses.

There is a lot here for the experienced solver, with some more unusual words mostly clued by solid wordplay.

Away we go!

1HYPNOTISE: HYPE(ballyhoo) with SIT ON(brood) reversed inside
9ADIPOSE: A(rbuckle), then DIP(swim), O'S(ducks), (shor)E
10COEQUAL: E,QU(queen) in COAL
11TEPID: DIET(assembly) containing P all reversed
12EPICENTRE: EPIC(great), ENTRE(e) (course, finishing abruptly)
13ROOSTER: O(nothing) in ROSTER
15CAIRN: R(Rex, king) in CAIN(an example of oneinvolved in fratricide)
17TUTEE: alternating letters in ToUr ThErE
18COCKY: take COCKNEY(Londener) and remove NE(Tyneside)
19TORCH: CR(councillor) in HOT(to the minute) all reversed
20IMMERSE: use the R to replace the N(any number) in IMMENSE
25KNOWN: hidden in crooK NOW Nicking
27AMIABLE: ABLE(talented) containing AIM(plan) reversed
28ROSEATE: ROSE(grew), ATE(obsessed) - maybe the definition should be pink-y
2PEEPING TOM: cryptic definition
3OPULENCE: U(nusua)L inside O,PENCE - an all in one clue
4ISLET: IS,LET(permissible) - "An inch" being the definition
5EASTERNER: RN(seamen) on E inside EASTER
6BISTRO: BIRO surrounding ST
7SOAP: remove the centre from PANTOS and reverse - you don't often see the two letter deletion from the middle of a word with an even number of letters
8TENDERLY: TENDER(present), L(orr)Y
14TICKETY-BOO: I think this is TICKET(party's policies)
and an anagram (het up) of O,BOY
16INTERVIEW: move W to the bottom of WINTER VIE
17THINKERS: TINKERS(monkeys) surrounding H
18CHILDISH: CHIL(l), DISH(collation)
21RENTAL: another reversal(mounted), this time of N in LATER
24GRAFT: double definition
26OUSE: sounds like OOZE
A general knowledge flavour to this one, I thought, with more unusual or obscure words than in recent Wednesday challenges, but all gettable with the wordplay. We uncover a cactus, an antelope, a Japanese art form, a Greek God reference, a minor book of the Bible, a Latin musical term, a kind of trousers probably derived from Kipling's India, a musical instrument ... and the name of a Greek Titan, also one of my granddaughters. When 21a went in I thought it was going to be a pangram but I can't see J or V.
I don't quite get the definition part of 11a, maybe it will come to me before I finish the blog.

Definitions underlined.

1 A black horse, caught entering a monk’s office (6)
ABBACY - A, B(lack), C(aught) inside BAY.
4 Pampered head of science group in school (8)
COSSETED - S(cience), SET = group, inside CO-ED = school.
10 Arab nomad’s base in Paris or Indiana (7)
BEDOUIN - BED = base, OU = or in French, IN(diana).
11 US investigator with mobile for underground worker (7)
FROGMAN - A G-MAN was a US 'Government Man' or investigator. Then 'FOR mobile' = FRO goes in front to give FROGMAN. But a frogman is possibly an underwater worker, not an underground one? Que pasa aqui?
12 Good to abandon one form of control for another (4)
REIN - REIGN loses G.
13 Aimed, perhaps, to present integrated methods of communication? (5,5)
MIXED MEDIA - AIMED is an anagram, i.e. 'mixed' of MEDIA.
15 Bits of iron, mark, and other things with gold inside.
METALWORK - Apologies to all, my foolproof method of blogging every clue seems not to have been foolproof after all. The parsing goes: MK (mark), insert et al = and other things, W(ith), OR = gold. As Jimbo says below, M-ET-AL-W-OR-K.
16 Draw along vessel, king having advantage (5)
KEDGE - K(ing) has EDGE (advantage). To kedge is to pull a ship along by winding in an anchored hawser.
18 Revolutionary leader initially followed by figure from east (5)
LENIN - L (leader initially) followed by NINE reversed..
19 Unresponsive, not very overbearing (9)
21 With restricted credit, encase musical instrument (7-3)
SQUEEZE-BOX - SQUEEZE = restricted credit; BOX = encase.
23 Reportedly not her expression of praise! (4)
HYMN - HYMN sounds like HIM so not HER. A fair enough homophone, unless you can pronounce the N in HYMN,as I have sometimes heard when I lived in that fine country where they often say fil-um and col-yume.
26 Work unit moving a prickly plant (7)
OPUNTIA - OP = work, (UNIT)*, A. Scientific name for the prickly pear genus, perhaps the 'punti' bit is devived from the same root as 'pointy'.
27 Academic circle sure to be taken in by mistake (7
BOOKISH - BISH = mistake, takes in O and OK = circle, sure. Perhaps academic people (or I) should be called KINDLISH now not bookish, I find it hard to read a real book these days unless it's in Big Type.
28 Pot youth leader is able to put beside cape (8)
BILLYCAN - BILL = cape, as in Portland Bill; CAN = is able. Insert Y(outh). My Dad, an Army Man, liked his billycan, I recall, when we went on camping holidays in the rain. Wiki tells me "It is widely accepted that the term "billycan" is derived from the large cans used for transporting bouilli or bully beef on Australia-bound ships or during exploration of the outback, which after use were modified for boiling water over a fire; however there is a suggestion that the word may be associated with the Aboriginal billa (meaning water; cf. Billabong). I look forward to learned input on the subject from our friends down under.
29 Bottle Geordie’s mother shows, catching large antelope (6
MAGNUM - Me MAM catches a GNU. And a-gnother gnu perhaps. It's a good few years since I heard that song.

1 Cautionary signal recognised at first by doctor in A&E (5)
AMBER - MB (doctor) inside A E, R(ecognised).
2 Horse trials venue using inferior porcelain? (9)
BADMINTON - Well, bad Minton would be inferior porcelain, if there was such a thing as bad Minton.
3 Youngster consuming hot fish (4)
CHUB - CUB consumes H.
5 Leaving tip, avoiding busy periods (3-4)
OFF-PEAK - Leaving = off, tip = peak.
6 She marks Old English exercises? Cobblers! (10)
7 Little can keep yours truly subdued (5)
TAMED - TAD = little, insert ME = yours truly.
8 Manure a Welshman collected — wearing these? (9)
DUNGAREES - DUNG = manure, A, REES = Welshman.
9 Trendy pad son leaves for introduction of Oxford blue (6)
INDIGO - IN = trendy, DIG(S) = pad loses S; O(xford).
14 Prepare calmly but with sadness (10)
PLANGENTLY - PLAN = prepare, GENTLY = calmly.
15 Explosive device in writing about sick man keeping minutes (5,4)
MILLS BOMB - MS (writing) about ILL (sick), BOB (man) about M(inutes). A Mills Bomb was a kind of hand grenade introduced in 1915.
17 Orgiastic incident initiated in council upset Scotsman (9)
DIONYSIAN - SYNOD = council, reverse, insert I(ncident), add that universal Scotsman IAN.
19 Supporting old president, prohibit a craft from the Far East (7)
IKEBANA - IKE as in Eisenhower, BAN = prohibit, A. Japanese flower arranging.
20 Woman originally producing house keys (6)
PHOEBE - P(roducing), HO(use), E, B, E are keys in music.
22 Typical American university man (5)
USUAL - US, U(niversity), AL = man.
24 From Perelman, a humorous book? (5)
NAHUM - Hidden word in PERELMA(N A HUM)OROUS, 7th in order of the 12 minor prophets, book of the Old Testament.
25 Musical canon’s duty list (4)
ROTA - Double definition, one being a 'round' in music.

Quick Cryptic 872 by Flamande

One at the easier end of the spectrum today, I thought, although solvers who don't have a nodding acquaintance with Middle Eastern currencies may have had to trust to definition and cross checkers at 8ac.

18dn kept me guessing for a while, but other than that I found it relatively plain sailing with some neat surfaces to enjoy along the way.

Thanks to Flamande for an enjoyable puzzle.

Definitions underlined: DD = double definition: anagrams indicated by *(--): omitted letters indicated by {-}

3 Illegal occupier of property is more stocky (8)
7 Some Europeans hurry round Northern Ireland (6)
DANISH - DASH (hurry) goes 'round' NI (Northern Ireland)
8 Plain gold coin used in Kuwait and Yemeni capital (8)
ORDINARY - OR (gold) + DINAR (coin used in Kuwait - and in other Middle East countries for that matter) + Y (Yemeni capital)
9 Turning thin wood mostly is a piece of cake (4)
SLAB - Most (all bar the last letter) of BALS{A} (thin wood) reversed (turning)
10 Race for all to see in Navy (3)
RUN - U (for all to see - referencing the censor's rating applied to films) 'in' RN (Navy)
11 A joke drowned by microphone, briefly? Great! (8)
MAJESTIC - A JEST (a joke) covered by (drowned by) MIC (microphone briefly - i.e. short form)
13 Sign to approve credit (4)
TICK - DD - the second being the usage of "getting something on tick", a phrase that was widely used when I was growing up but which doesn't seem to crop up that much these days
15 Still sick, accepting these? (4)
ILLS - Cryptic definition with the answer hidden inside (accepting) stILL Sick
17 Father's prenatal exercising (8)
PATERNAL - *(PRENATAL) with "exercising" signalling the anagram
19 English bishops decline (3)
EBB - E (English) + BB (bishops - i.e. chess notation)
22 Just organised projects (4)
JUTS - *(JUST) with "organised" signposting the anagram
23 View old liner finally going through a canal in S America
PANORAMA - O (old) + R (last letter - 'finally' - of lineR) inside (going through) PANAMA (a canal in S America)
24 Empty metal container covered by tax (6)
VACANT - CAN (metal container) 'covered by' VAT (tax)
25 A. N .Other's drunk lots of water (5,3)
NORTH SEA - *(A N OTHERS) with "drunk" indicating the anagram

1 Prime Minister receives everyone — everyone in
Westminster thoroughfare (4,4)
PALL MALL - P[ALL] M[ALL] - ALL (everyone) introduced into (received by) PM (Prime Minister) plus another ALL (everyone), giving us the street most people first come across by playing Monopoly
2 Agile medic goes into river (6)
NIMBLE - MB (medic) 'goes into' NILE (river)
3 Son given very warm drink (4)
SHOT - S (son) 'given' HOT (very warm)
4 Insufficiently sliced steak (8)
UNDERCUT - If something is 'insufficiently sliced', it might be said to be 'under cut'. I wasn't familiar with the cut of meat (although it sounded sufficiently feasible for me to write it in with a high level of confidence) - apparently it's an alternative name for what is more widely called fillet steak.
5 Temporary accommodation receiving a new renter (6)
TENANT - TENT (temporary accommodation) 'receiving' A + N (a new)
6 Nobleman covered in pearls (4)
EARL - The peer is found inside (covered in) pEARLs
12 Important people drink endlessly, having money (3,5)
TOP BRASS - TOP{e} (drink endlessly) with BRASS (having money)
14 Agnostic at sea, cruising (8)
COASTING - *(AGNOSTIC) with "at sea" signalling the anagram
16 Arrange to leave (3,3)
18 Refuse to admit about a hundred in plane (6)
REJECT - RE (about) and C (a hundred) 'in' JET (plane). Took me a while to figure out what was going on here thanks to some neat misdirection by our setter. I spent some time thinking we were looking for something to be put inside a word meaning 'refuse', with 'plane' providing the definition.
20 Tortilla and steak cook regularly supplied (4)
TACO - Every other letter (regularly supplied) of sTeAk CoOk
21 Sparkling wine in the region of Virginia (4)
CAVA - CA (circa - in the region of) + VA (standard abbreviation of state of Virginia), giving the Spanish bubbles that are the staple sparkling option at drinks parties in our household - eminently drinkable and good value.

Times Cryptic 26774

55 minutes for this one. I seem destined to report a slow solving time on blogging days. I don't suffer from 'blogger's nerves' any more but in the course of duty one likes to consider every possible aspect of a clue once the answer has been found instead of trusting to memory later. That slows me down of course but it's not really an excuse as I have accepted long ago that I am a slow solver.  I don't think there was much (if anything) to scare the horses here so I expect the hares will report very favourable solving times.

Here's my blog...Collapse )

Times Quick Cryptic 871 by Corelli

Another Corelli, another 15 minutes of entertainment - finished, finally, at 20ac with a far from obvious hidden clue.
I had a double take on the parsing at 6dn and a triple take on whatever was going on at 22ac but all was 3dn. COD to 4ac - having gone through the Drake bowling scenario it was a pleasure to see the simple, yet elegant, clue.
So this wasn't easy - but it was fun - thanks Corelli.

Read more...Collapse )

Times Quick Cryptic 870 by Teazel

I neeeded 11 minutes to complete the grid parsing as I went, so missed my target by 1 minute. There are a few words here that may only be easy if the solver has met them before, so I've no helpful view on the overall level of difficulty and we shall have to wait to find out what others made of it.

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

1 Sort of book has story about bachelor on drink (6,5)
COFFEE TABLE - COFFEE (drink),  TALE (story) containing [about] B (bachelor)
8 Red Cross is in the market (7)
MARXIST - X (cross) + IS contained by [is in] MART (market)
9 In north-east, for example, start of virtual desert (5)
NEGEV - EG (for example) contained by [in] NE (north-east), V{irtual} [start of]. This desert gave me problems when it came up a few weeks ago in the main puzzle but fortunately I rememberd it today when nudged in the right direction by wordplay.
10 Woman following area of interest in Northern city (9)
SHEFFIELD - SHE (woman), F (following), FIELD (area of interest)
12 It’s different. but equivalent (3)
TIS - Anagram [different] of IT'S - including the apostrophe - gives us 'TIS  which means exactly the same (equivalent). I think this is semi&lit but no doubt I shall be corrected if I'm mistaken. I can't see that the full-stop adds anything to the proceedings so I'm assuming it's a misprint. I shall check the facsimile newspaper later to see if it's the same there.
13 Almost cause sensation, performing as female warrior (6)
AMAZON - AMAZ{e} (cause sensation) [almost], ON (performing)
15 One making a joint with senior (6)
WELDER - W (with), ELDER (senior)
17 Setter perhaps is to make good (3)
DOG - DO (make), G (good). Dear, oh dear! Yet again I have a setter/dog clue on my blogging day. I'm starting to feel paranoid about it.
18 Fellows moving around in steamship? (9)
SHIPMATES - Anagram [moving around] of STEAMSHIP
20 Holy object oddly laid in playing field (5)
RELIC - L{a}I{d} [oddly] contained by [in] REC (playing field)
22 Ruler’s stately dance (7)
MEASURE - Two meanings, the second one archaic and somewhat obscure
23 French holiday area made quiet during recess (8,3)
BASTILLE DAY - A (area) + STILLED (made quiet) contained by [during] BAY (recess)
1 Evil spell needs smoke, with sulphur involved (5)
CURSE - CURE (smoke) with  S (sulphur) contained (involved)
2 Abruptly changes mind, producing footwear (4-5)
FLIP-FLOPS - Two meanings. I thought the first one meant continually changing one's mind either on the same issue more than once or on a number of issues, but rather to my surprise I can't find any support for that reading.
3 Freedom of access in centre expected (6)
ENTREE - Hidden in {c}ENTRE E{xpected}. I don't recall seeing this meaning before in a crossword  although I was aware of it. More usually it's  clued as a course or dish served as part of a meal.
4 Brown river coming out of mountain lake (3)
TAN - TA{r}N (mountain lake) [river coming out]. Remembered from geography lessons at school, but again this is possibly a word that's not on the tip of most tongues.
5 Having closed mind, I got into bed (7)
BIGOTED - I GOT in BED. Back to the basics of how to construct a cryptic crossword clue!
6 The King verily sleeps awkwardly (5,7)
ELVIS PRESLEY - Anagram [awkwardly] of VERILY SLEEPS. I liked him singing ballads but not much else.
7 Bash grandmas with violence in this raid? (5-3-4)
SMASH-AND-GRAB -Anagram [with violence] of BASH GRANDMAS. Charming surface reading!
11 I must leave Milan in fear, a place of fond imaginings (9)
DREAMLAND - M{i}LAN [I must leave] conatined by [in] DREAD
14 Heavenly being is over us in prayer (7)
ANGELUS - ANGEL (heavenly being), US. The wordplay is helpful but those not of a certain religious persuasion may struggle with the word itself.
16 Miserable sergeant-major breaking clock face? (6)
DISMAL - SM (sergeant-major) contained by [breaking] DIAL (clock face)
19 Genuinely the end of a letter? (5)
TRULY - A straight defintion and a cryptic hint - as in 'Yours truly' to sign-off to a letter.
21 Greek character’s cold greeting (3)
CHI - C (cold), HI (greeting)

Times 26773 - Double Cross

I was going along swimmingly (not Mark Spitz, exactly - more like a middle-aged bloke with a dodgy crawl stroke) on this one until I hit a wall at the 9d/18a crossing. Now, if I was American or could remember words from previous puzzles, the latter should have been no problem, but as it was I was completely stumped. As for 9d, it goes without saying that my chances of getting such a geeky clue were somewhere between zero and a paltry p-Value. (Hope I got that right - just Googled it.)

So, in a nutshell, I had to cheat to polish the thing off after getting the rest in 30 minutes. Anyway, as a certain Australo-American cruciverbal thespian would say, here we go!


4. OPENNESS - PEN in [ONES + S].
10. RADICCHIO - ID A CHICOR[y]* (anagram).
11. PROVE - PRO (for) + [le + a]VE.
14. SPELT - S + PELT (pepper, as in 'The coast was peppered with hailstones').
16. SIMPATICO - SIMP + AT + I (current) + CO. Simp is mainly American usage, I believe, although 'moron' would appear to be the insult of choice in the intellectual denigration arena.
18. MINUTEMAN - MINUTE + MAN (Tommy, perhaps) for the 18th century US volunteer. A pretty weak clue, I thought, but I guess I would...
20. METER - METE[o]R.
21. PHANTASMAGORIA - SIGHT PANORAMA A*. I had to check the anagrist carefully to make sure that the fourth A was not an O.
25. MOVER - M + OVER.
27. GANGLING - G[one] + ANGLING.
28. ASSENT - AS SENT. I guess A-S is a pukka abbreviation for the Old English descriptor, even though I don't recall ever coming across it.


2. MIDAS - hidden somewhat in plain sight.
3. ENCHANT - [p]ENCHANT. In Crosswordland, 'entrance' is typically used in the bewitching sense.
5. PROWL - PROW (navy's front - well, it is 'front' in navy speak, so I think this passes muster) + L (line).
6. NAPHTHA - reversal of H + PAN followed by THA[t].
7. ECONOMIST - ONE SITCOM* gives you JS...perhaps.
8. SHED - S + HE'D for given away, as in 'he has shed blood doe the cause'.
9. CHECKSUM - okay, here's Collins, since I'm Clueless in Gaza: 'a digit representing the number of bits of information transmitted, attached to the end of a message in order to verify the integrity of data'. Wevs...
15. EINDHOVEN - E + [w]INDHOVE[r] (no, I'd never heard of it either) + N. Dutch city famous for Philips electronics and football team that gives Ajax and Feyenoord a run for their money.
17. MONUMENT - NUMEN in MOT for a commemorative thingy.
19. TENDRIL - TEND + RIL[e].
20. MUGGINS - GIN in MUGS. An excellent word, and surely Horryd's WOD.
22. ARSON - S in [b]ARON.
23. RANGE - [o]RANGE.
24. SMOG - a reverse hidden - in a single word, unusually - with a deletion: take LO out of GLOOMS reversed.

By the way, well done Lions, and a tough call for the refereeing team at the end there. The ball actually looks to have gone backwards not forwards off Liam Williams and the 'receiver', Ken Owens, cannot with any certainty be considered to be intentionally offside, especially since he was running back towards his own try line, although he was in front of Williams. A scrum was very possibly the right call.

Mephisto 2966 - Tim Moorey

Straightforward puzzle with no particular points of interest


1 Old silver coin seen in special case time and again (6)

SCEATT; (case)*-T-T

7   My eccentricity shows in old-fashioned thong (4)


10 Flyer upset following ordinary compass (9)

ORANGE-TIP; O-RANGE-TIP; a butterfly;

11 Birds with wings clipped disappear (4)

ANIS; (v)ANIS(h);

13 Agreed about keeping a cue in spider (6)

KATIPO; OK reversed contains A-TIP;

14 Timeless Glaswegians to embrace pop singers of another age (6)


16 Oxford publisher’s edited piece? (4)

OPUS; Oxford publisher’s=OUP’S then edit to OPUS;

18 Sharp instrument coming from legendary Knight, look out! (6)

LANCET; Lance(lo)t;

20 War minister abroad has second important date with one needing a lift (9)


21 Levelling ground for growing, only one end in sight (9)

PLANATION; PLAN(t)ATION; “t” from (sigh)t;

24 Gas about one Spanish region (6)


25 Man perhaps with heart changing places for a German girl (4)

ILSE; Man perhaps=isle then “change heart” to give ILSE; Koch perhaps;

28 Publicity put about after leader’s sacked, European football union line is honest! (6)

AEFALD; A(EFA-L)D; EFA from UEFA with U removed;

30 Military type detained by plan for terror (6)


31 Murdoch’s backed mobile assistant (4)

SIRI; IRIS (Murdoch) reversed; SIRI is a mobile phone app;

32 Little time with staff for early American fighter (9)


33 Stipends once originating from kirk announcement bishop released? (4)


34 Argument regularly about the Gunners no good in US lodge (6)

GRANGE; G(RA-NG)E; GE from (ar)G(um)E(nt);



1   Russian leader seen in station repeatedly before going back inside (8)


2   Hundred dollars being nominal annual payment in Quebec (4)

CENS; C-ENS; being=ENS;

3   Puree I can rustle up for someone who’d appreciate it (9)

EPICUREAN; (puree I can)*;

4 Journey beginning at Oxford, ending with honours in Cambridge list (6)

TRIPOS; TRIP-O(xford)-(honour)S;

5   Delay follows headless golf-course hack (10)


6 Large stove Dad put on first for extravagant feasts (6)

AGAPAE; AGA-PA-E(xtravagant);

7 Faulty service beginning to trouble northerner (4)

LETT; LET-T(rouble);

8 Passages for all must inspire orchestra’s leader (8)

RIPIENOS; (inspire + o)*; “o” from o(rchestra);

9 Verse set down without limits (4)

EPOS; (r)EPOS(e)

12 Cheeky chappie Charlie briefly grabbing back of neck (10)


15 Large number in month sick at home to carry on shortly (9)


17 Brilliant, leading product of Worcester (8)

PEARMAIN; PEAR-MAIN; brilliant=PEAR; a type of apple;

19 Anger once prevalent in holiday resort (8)


22 A line to be bent like a lug (6)

LOBATE; (a l to be)*; l=line;

23 Fair equipment starts off alarm once (6)

AFFEAR; (g)AFF-(g)EAR; and not (c)arouse(l) as I mindlessly entered at first;

26 With hesitation, old woman’s seen in Muslim community (4)


27 City’s pounding United to make money in Europe as before (4)

ECUS; EC(U)S; pounding=enclosing;

29 Trace of pike turned up in river? The reverse (4)

DREG; GED reversed contains R=river; pike=GED

Jumbo 1272 June 24, 2017

I seem to have fallen into a pattern with the Jumbos, where the easier ones take just over half an hour, and the harder ones take about an hour.  This one took 32:54, so you do the maths.

Here's how I parsed it...
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Sunday Times 4753 by David McLean

I found this one decidedly tricky, and had to chip away at it over several sessions. When writing up the blog, I was trying to figure out why it had seemed so hard - there were no real obscurities (other than a somewhat unusual but eminently guessable word at 8dn), no particularly odd definitions, and minimal general knowledge was required.

I think maybe the answer is simply that Harry seems very adept at cunning misdirection and disguising definitions and anagram indicators - with 23ac being a particular case in point. Anyway, some fine clues and an enjoyable challenge, so thanks very much to our setter.

Definitions underlined: DD = double definition: anagrams indicated by *(--): omitted letters indicated by {-}.

1 Novelist working in credit these days (6)
CONRAD - ON (working) 'in' CR (credit) + AD (these days - as opposed to BC) giving us Joseph, who amongst other achievements features at number 7 in the Daily Telegraph's "Top 12 Authors' Beards"
4 Romantic sort of ladies sex appeal enthrals (8)
IDEALIST - *(LADIES) - with "sort of" indicating the anagram - inside IT (sex appeal)
9 Take off with sec, always flipping swallowing it (6)
REMOVE - EVER reversed (always flipping) 'swallows' MO (sec)
10 I run out of gear usually where others score (8)
STREAKER - Cryptic definition. A streaker sheds his/her gear, and I think the rest of the clue refers to the fact that this phenomenon is generally associated with major sporting events where others are focused on scoring runs, tries, goals or baskets.
12 Pit outfits offering retirement coverage? (10)
BEDCLOTHES - BED (pit) + CLOTHES (outfits)
13 The sort of beast the solver sounds like (3)
EWE - Sounds like 'you' (the solver - from the setter's perspective)
15 Texan behind movie, valuable sort (5)
ASSET - ASS (Texan behind) + ET (movie). Not sure there's anything specifically Texan about the use of 'ass' for 'behind' - I think any American place would have worked equally well - but the point is presumably the American 'ass' as opposed to the British 'arse'
16 Not lively, after wrestling in a wild way (9)
VIOLENTLY - *(NOT LIVELY) with "after wrestling" signalling the anagram
18 I might finally bring up acquiring safe (9)
TREASURER - T ({migh}T finally) + REAR (bring up) with SURE inside (acquiring safe), with the whole thing suggesting the sort of agenda item that a treasurer might indeed raise. To my shame I've never fully got to grips with such matters, but I think this might qualify as a Semi & Lit type of clue. Anyway, I thought it was quite clever (meaning I was particularly chuffed when I finally rumbled what was going on...)
20 Exercise time, then shower (5)
TRAIN - T (time) + RAIN (shower). Probably the only gimme in a tough puzzle.
22 Don’t start off one such as Lynn. Period (3)
ERA - {V}ERA - the Forces Sweetheart loses her first letter (don't start off one such as Lynn)
23 Reorganise free housing for some mandarins (10)
ORANGERIES - *(REORGANISE) with "free" signposting the anagram, and the mandarins being fruits rather than civil servants
25 Ways to knock out another successful play? (5,3)
SMASH HIT - There are many 'ways to knock out another' - including smashing them and hitting them
26 Delight in Our Lord Jesus Christ? Not I (6)
SAVOUR - SAV{I}OUR - our Lord without the I
27 Head of state taxing blue emissions? (8)
SWEARING - S (head of State) + WEARING (taxing)
28 Scoff as a joke is delivered by a dictator (6)
INGEST - Sounds like "In Jest" - "as a joke" when said by one dictating. Very neat.

1 Stop Labour only if the leader’s replaced (4)
CORK - WORK (labour) with its first letter replaced
2 What leads newsman to go over Brown’s figures (7)
NUMBERS - N (what 'leads' Newsman) + UMBERS (brown's)
3 Bit of stretching at the rear of support briefs? (9)
ADVOCATES - S (first letter - or 'bit of' Stretching) at the rear of ADVOCATE (support), with the definition being a slang term for lawyers, who also act as advocates in court
5 Bottle of sauce? (5,7)
DUTCH COURAGE - COURAGE (bottle) derived from alcoholic drink (sauce). Took a while for the penny to drop. Thinking about it, I'm not sure how widespread "sauce" as slang for alcohol is in the UK, but when I was living in Australia it was very common to hear "he's been on the sauce..."
6 They might tramp up and down pollarded trees (5)
ACERS - {P}ACERS - people who tramp up and down losing their top (i.e. being pollarded), giving the type of maple tree. It all works fine, but there just seemed something a bit odd about this one to me, although I can't really work out what it is...
7 Most unpleasant trick I esteemed (to a degree) (7)
ICKIEST - Contained within (to a degree) trICK I ESTeemed
8 Rambling poetry, if no good, is deadening (10)
TORPEFYING - *(POETRY IF) - with "rambling" signalling the anagram - and NG (no good). Not a word I knew but it sounded feasible enough, as being something similar to torpid.
11 Talk of change and a time to stop it (12)
CONVERSATION - CONVERSION (change) with A T inside (A T{ime} to stop it)
14 Bank job, perhaps, held by very poor religious folk (10)
PANTHEISTS - HEIST (bank job perhaps) 'held by' PANTS (very poor)
17 Please flirt with host (9)
ENTERTAIN - Triple definition
19 Give out article online friend’s penned (7)
EMANATE - AN (article) surrounded (penned) by E MATE (online friend)
21 Volatile stuff Blair commonly has expert overlook (7)
ACETONE - TONE (Blair commonly) 'overlooked' by ACE (expert)
23 To put up with that woman is not like you (5)
OTHER - TO reversed (to put up) + HER (that woman)
24 Singer supporting note that expresses annoyance (4)
DRAT - RAT (singer - i.e. one who rats on another or 'sings' as they say in criminal circles) under (supporting) D (note).
After struggling last week, this week went very smoothly until the last answer! I started well, finishing the bottom half (all bar one) and then the NW followed by the NE, but then found myself still staring at that last one. If not for blogging duties, I would have biffed it. I suspected others would turn in impressive times. (As I prepare to post, I see that times for the top 100 solvers are the fastest I’ve ever noted for a Saturday.)

My choice for the clue of the day was 24dn for the elegance of the surface, closely followed by 26ac and 17ac. Congratulations to the setter.

Clues are reproduced in blue, with the definition underlined. Anagram indicators are bolded and italicised. The answer is in BOLD CAPS, followed by the parsing of the wordplay. (ABC)* means 'anagram of ABC', {deletions are in curly brackets}.

1. Unknown American fellow can take drugs (4,3)
JOHN DOE: JOHN=can, DO=take, E=drug of crossword setters’ choice.
5. Make half-baked blunder documenting stocks (7)
UNDERDO: hidden.
9. Domestic trouble diverts a man (11)
10. Job in theatre goes on fine and dandy (3)
FOP: F=fine, OP=job in theatre.
11. Staff in jacket of ermine, with diamonds worn (6)
ERODED: ROD=staff, in E{rmin}E, with D.
12. Film headliner's clothing turned green (4,4)
STAR WARS: STAR’S “clothing” WAR=turning of RAW=green.
14. What diocesan prepared, welcoming bishop and aspiring ministers (6,7)
SHADOW CABINET: (WHAT DIOCESAN B*). Aspiring to be Caesar’s ministers, not God’s.
17. Utterance from me, perhaps a setter? (13)
PRONOUNCEMENT: PRONOUN=“me, perhaps”, CEMENT=“setter”.
21. Work is copied in different sections (8)
23. Newspaper accepting alcoholic drink is a slippery slope (3,3)
SKI RUN: SUN accepting KIR.
25. Single currency agreement, one that can’t get off the ground (3)
EMU: double definition: (European) Economic and Monetary Union, or the Australian bird.
26. Doctor writing to renegotiate role with patient (11)
INTERPOLATE: (ROLE PATIENT*). Chambers’ first definition is “to insert a word or passage in a book or manuscript, esp in order to mislead”. I was only familiar with the numerical sort of interpolation.
27. Hero in strip clubs leaves raciest dancing, getting cross (7)
ASTERIX: (RA{c}IEST*) plus X. Wikipedia: Asterix or The Adventures of Asterix is a series of French comics. It first appeared on 29 October 1959.
28. What we inherit with lives beginning (7)

1. The athlete who is top (6)
JUMPER: double definition.
2. Ambassador across Atlantic admits nothing shocking (7)
HEINOUS: HE=ambassador, IN US, “admitting” O.
3. Bandit's gone round, holding sellers up (9)
DESPERADO: DEAD=gone, O=round, “holding” REPS=sellers “up”.
4. Rake in pot, we’re told (4)
EARN: sounds like “urn”.
5. Sort of case in German and it's not fixed (10)
UNATTACHED: ATTACHÉ=case in UND=German for “and”.
6. Put off time to cut grass back (5)
DETER: T in REED backwards.
7. Card-carrying official drops burden (7)
REFRAIN: REF=(red/yellow) card-carrying official, RAIN=drops. Refrain (n) = burden = a line or phrase recurring esp at the end of a stanza. But of course you knew that.
8. Work place around Post Office counter (8)
OPPOSITE: OP=work, SITE=place, around PO.
13. Barrister changes direction, articulating charge householder faces (7,3)
15. Rolls maybe occupied by king to have mechanical trouble (5,4)
BREAK DOWN: BREAD=rolls, maybe, “occupied” by K=king, OWN=have.
16. They rapidly pass border in record time (8)
18. Old bridge, not a place where eggs are transported (7)
19. Pope in street brought round clothes for believers (7)
TURBANS: URBAN in ST reversed.
20. Except if overcast, going topless (6)
22. Person selling legwear, but not opening set of branches (5)
24. What's on TV is something tedious (4)
DRAG: double definition. The first relies on your knowing that “TV” can be an abbreviation for transvestite. I didn’t know, but I see it’s commonplace in “setter world” – it turned up again six days later in the Friday Cryptic! Not knowing, I wondered for a long time whether some neologism like “prog” also meant tedious.
An easy puzzle by Friday standards, I thought: I was drunk enough from prior festivities to have typed BETTLE instead of BEETLE in the Concise, but even taking a little extra care over the main event accordingly, it was all done and dusted in a little over 6 minutes. FOI 1ac, clearly, LOI the brilliant and appropriate 4dn.

Sometimes having an easier puzzle at the end of the week proves a source of disgruntlement for me, but this one gets a pass because of the high quality of the construction: there are some really good surfaces in here, and I mean really good. Loved the great surface of 9dn, the simplicity of 12ac, the smoothness of "cream crackers" at 3dn and "marshalling yard" at 5dn and "German city state" at 15dn, the clever double duty of "cast off" in 17ac, "stand" in 20ac, "account" in 24ac, "free press" in 25ac and "TV" in 1dn... it takes a lot of art to make writing clues this elegant and deceptive look so easy, hats off to the setter.

I think I'll stick with 4dn as my COD though as I just can't get enough of crossword clues about crossword clues, as you probably know by now, self-reflexive meta-cluing as it were. Plenty of candidates to choose from though: which did you all like?

1 Charles Martel's heading for great breach (5)
CHASM - CHAS [Charles] + M{artel}
4 You no longer must wear breeches in sweaty place (8)
HOTHOUSE - THOU [you no longer] "must wear" HOSE [breeches]
8 Fancy Dublin manor's home to Queen Elizabeth the First and Second? (7,7)
ORDINAL NUMBERS - (DUBLIN MANOR'S*) ["fancy"] "home to" ER [Queen Elizabeth]
10 Takes in food covered in spots, an unsavoury quality (9)
SEEDINESS - DINES [takes in food] "covered in" SEES [spots]
11 Characters in flamboyant unicyclist's garment (5)
TUNIC - hidden in {flamboyan}T UNIC{yclist}
12 One in shop is helping (6)
RATION - I [one] in RAT ON [shop]
14 No more butter? Starter from Italy is meat (8)
PASTRAMI - PAST RAM [no more | butter] + I{taly}
17 Maybe Lady Macbeth's wrong to follow cast off (3-5)
SHE-DEVIL - EVIL [wrong] to follow SHED [cast off]
18 Queen wanting Arsenal's sides to toughen up (6)
ANNEAL - ANNE [Queen] wanting A{rsena}L
20 Stand in line, with no trouble going to the front (5)
EASEL - L [line], with EASE [no trouble] going to the front
22 Count welcomes old partners bidding for agreement (9)
CONSENSUS - CENSUS [count] welcomes O N+S [old | partners bidding]
24 Tell alert saver to change dubious account (10,4)
25 Pitch from US government's leader to get free press (8)
GRIDIRON - G{overnment} "to get" RID IRON [free | press]
26 Professional leaving right and left boot out (5)
EXPEL - EXPE{rt} [professional "leaving right"] and L [left]
1 Piqued person who helps actor for TV (5-7)
CROSS-DRESSER - CROSS [piqued] + DRESSER [person who helps actor]
2 Go off with clumsy gait, putting away whiskey (5)
ADDLE - {w}ADDLE [clumsy gait, "putting away W{hiskey}"]
3 Monstrous creature into cream crackers (9)
MANTICORE - (INTO CREAM*) ["crackers"]
4 Solver needing minutes to fill in gaps (6)
HOLMES - M [minutes] "to fill in" HOLES [gaps]
5 Marshalling yard shut for a time (8)
THURSDAY - (YARD SHUT*) ["marshalling..."]
6 Go round river, with notice about passing around (5)
ORBIT - R [river], with OBIT [notice about passing] around
7 Weight loss, say, from period of psychiatry? (9)
SHRINKAGE - a "period of psychiatry" could be a SHRINK AGE
9 A cold fish accepting woman's weakness (8,4)
ACHILLES HEEL - A CHILL EEL [a | cold | fish] "accepting" SHE [woman]
13 Time firm's restrained by stern money handler (9)
TREASURER - T [time] + SURE [firm] "restrained by" REAR [stern]
15 Figure backing East German city state (9)
TENNESSEE - TEN [figure] + reverse of E ESSEN ["backing" East | German city]
16 O is this kind of letter (8)
CIRCULAR - double def
19 Rent out cracking home for novice worker (6)
INTERN - (RENT*) ["out"] "cracking" IN [home]
21 Wild clip uncovered, short film (5)
LIVID - {c}LI{p} + VID ["short" film]
23 Quiet way to speak about a cheat (5)
SHARP - SH RP [quiet | way to speak] about A

Quick Cryptic 869 by Hawthorn

Morning all.  No surprises from Hawthorn today, all the answers are well-known words or expressions, and I would imagine everyone's heard of the movie.

That doesn't guarantee that it's easy of course, you still have to put all the bits together in the right order.  But it was fairly clued, with some nice whimsical double defs thrown in for our solving pleasure.

Here's how I parsed it....
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This one definitely had its points of interest, not to say contention. Initially hiding his light under a bit of Printer’s Devilry, Talos has provided us with some devious and mind-stretching cluing. With a fine anagram and a slightly condescending (but it serves him right) definition 14d is the pick of the bunch for me.
In the course of an hour’s solving, I achieved the distinction of two mistakes, one of which I have identified while writing up this commentary, the other of which I am clearly too brain-impaired to spot, so if you have come here for the definitive solution, you’ve got me and my remaining error instead. Best of luck!
I have enjoyed the process of chasing down the gristly lit bits, and present my findings below, trying LJ’s delay feature with some trepidation but little alternative given time restraints. The usual clue/definition/SOLUTION conventions.


1. Blair book fan mail poor, member scoffs (6,4)
ANIMAL FARM   Not too tough to begin with, so long as you remember Orwell’s real name. An anagram of FAN MAIL (poor) plus ARM for member and scoffs for no particular reason.
6. “Who is John ?” (Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged) (4)
GALT  A recurring question in the cited book.
9. This type of opera is of little worth (10)
THREEPENNY Dreigroschenoper doesn’t fit very well, so we make do with the English version of Bertold Brecht’s version of John Gay’s Beggars Opera
10. Step out of a place Louis’s twin knew well? (4)
STIR  Well now. In at least one version of the Man in the Iron Mask, King Louis (no, not the King of the Jungle, the French guy) has a twin who is kept locked in the titular kit and incarcerated in case something terrible happens which could only happen in a Dumas novel. So I figure STIR: prison and STIR (just about) to step out as of bed. Perhaps a better explanation of the step bit is that step is STAIR, then “out of” A, making it wordplay not double definition.
12. Eyre’s cruel aunt is always contrary, note (4)
REED  The wordplay is E’ER always  in contrary fashion (backwards, natch) and D as an any one from 7 note. Mrs Reed is in Jane Eyre and performs the function advertised without benefit of baptismal name.
13. Silver relative planted on flash swordsman (9)
DARTAGNAN  Silver AG, relative NAN, flash DART. Assemble in order proposed, and resist the temptation to slip in a tiny apostrophe.
15. She put out Squire Arden in old Plath novel (8)
OLIPHANT  There was me looking for a Sylvia Plath novel about a Squire and his female nemesis. But it’s not. Margaret Oliphant is the novelist of “Squire Arden” and old Plath is the anagram (novel) fodder.
16. For court and duke, I told a handmaid’s tale (6)
ATWOOD  I think you equate for to AT, court to WOO and of course D to Duke. The Handmaid’s Tale is one of her many books. Now lives in Toronto, hooray.
18. Quiet husband in thrall to European nymph (6)
DAPHNE I think “in thrall” just means “possessed by”, in this case P (quiet) H(usband) by DANE, definitely still a European.
20. Drink manly maiden chucked over Argos boss (8)
MELAMPUS  Ruler of Argos in ancient Greece. Drink: SUP, manly: MALE, maiden: M. Assemble and reverse all.
23. London-set novel: vampy parody of Zadie’s debut? (5,4)
WHITE FANG Jack LONDON’s novel, originally serialised (Set? Maybe). Zadies’s 2000 novel is White Teeth, so I suppose one is a vampire-ish version of the other.
24. Argument going on about Ted Hughes’s character (4)
CROW  About is C(irca) onto which ROW is tacked.
26. Listen to forward royal, the woman’s a titan (4)
RHEA is our Titan(ess) clued by listen: HEAR with the R(oyal) advanced to the front. A secondary clue, the woman’s: HER plus A suggests a different answer who also happens to be Rhea’s daughter Hera. Kind of confusing.
27. Police often brace one of Magwitch’s kind (10)
BENEFACTOR  Police is the ingenious anagram indicator, the fodder being OFTEN BRACE. So Pip’s benefactor wasn’t Miss Haverham after all. Make mine a Stella!
28. Bad reaction to ham appearing at Christmas event? (4)
HISS  Fair cop. The (Christmas) pantomime villain is invariably a ham actor, and it traditionally so greeted. I think that’s it.
29. Honest and resilient clue-solving kid (5,5)
FRANK HARDY One of the Hardy Boys brought to life by Edward Stratemeyer and friends, and translated for us as honest and resilient.


1. Play parts musical’s lead turned down (4)
ACTS  Cats the musical with it’s lead demoted one place.
2. Island priest must ring artist in Oz, perhaps (7)
ISRAELI  A reference to Amos Oz, celebrated Israeli writer, now living in Arad, Israel. IS from island, ELI the priest, RA the artist encircled.
3. “The sky above the port was the colour of television, tuned to .” (William Gibson, Neuromancer) (1,4,7)
A DEAD CHANNEL  Look it up.
4. He put an end to Tom Jones taking questions (8)
FIELDING  Henry, who wrote Tom Jones, characterised by taking or fielding questions. I suppose he puts and end to TJ if you count a happy one.
5. Foxville’s king gets worked up with ruddy skin (6)
RENARD the wordplay is RAN (worked) backwards (up) with a RED (ruddy) skin. King Renard IV is king of Foxville in L. Frank Baum's “The Road to Oz”
7. Against eating at work? No, I could have lost weight! (7)
ANTONIO  ANTI for against “eats” ON for at work, then O comes from no (I think). Antonio is the pound of flesh unwilling donor in MoV
8. Poet who laments half-baked rotten dish (10)
THRENODIST and an anagram (half baked) of ROTTEN DISH
11. “Vaughan died yesterday in his .” (J.G. Ballard) (4,3-5)
LAST CAR CRASH guess it, or look it up.
14. Worst Dr Who? That could the flowery-talking chap! (10)
WORDSWORTH A surprising and rather wonderful anagram of Worst Dr Who.
17. At sea, eager writer describes a beautiful boat’s colour (3-5)
PEA GREEN  The beautiful boat can only be the Owl and the Pussycat’s. Lay down a keel built from the letters of EAGER “at sea”, then supply and surround the remaining works with your writer, PEN not Lear, the letters of which “describe” in its sense of trace out or delineate.
19. Better travelling around with a valet, Jean? (7)
PHILEAS Ah, I have found one of my errors, in that (possibly influenced by grandchild TV) I spelled Mr Fogg (for it is he) with an N. His valet was Jean Passepartout, though knowing he was called Jean is a lot like knowing Jeeves was called Reginald. Smashing clue, I thought: the use of the valet’s first name steers you to Fogg’s, who is the well-described “better travelling around”
21. Expert player squandering a lead in The Crucible (7)
PROCTOR  The chief male victim of the Salem events, thinly disguised as a McCarthy-accused communist in Arthur Miller’s play. The point where his wife lies to the court to “protect” her husband, thereby accidentally condemning him to death for witchcraft, broke the fourth wall comprehensively when I first saw it, with many audience members crying out advice to her. Oh, the wordplay. Expert: PRO. Player ACTOR, from which you “squander” the A
22. Cathedral planner not against taking on English brickie? (6)
CAREER Possibly the most contentious clue. The answer is suggested by “brickie”, one of many careers culled from the National Careers Service (sic). Then you need to know that American Raymond CARVER wrote a short story called The Cathedral, understand “not against” to require removing the V, and English to provide the replacement E. And....relax.
25. His artwork aged badly, being dull so they said (4)
GRAY As in the Picture of Dorian, which recorded the ravages of a dissolute life while allowing the said liver to remain unblemished. And which sounds like grey, which for our US readers is British English for dull.

Times Quick Cryptic No 868 by Orpheus

A gentle enough offering from Orpheus today, if my time of seven-and-a-half minutes is anything to go by. One wrong, of course, but I'd say the "Unlucky!" sign was quite accurate on this occasion (as opposed to simply being "Wrong!"): 18ac is an island with the potential for two trendy churches on it, and I entered the wrong one. A bit of a 50-50, unless you're one of the 209 people living in the village of Ince, in which case you'd be much more likely to go for the wrong answer, as it derives its name from inis, the Primitive Welsh word for island. I consider myself fully vindicated by this. As for the rest of the puzzle, it all flowed very nicely, helping clear a slightly groggy head, so for this breezy fun I give my thanks to Orpheus.

Many thanks also to Mohn2, whose blog template I finally got round to using: wow, it works like magic!

1 Gourmet’s dog tucking into last of nice pastry dish (7)
EPICURE - CUR (dog) tucking into E (last of nice) PIE (pastry dish). It would be very difficult to dislike the philosophy of Epicurus.
5 Put up with verbal abuse (5)
STICK - double definition.
8 Abstemious type stocktaking in golfing store? (11)
TEETOTALLER - cryptic definition. If you could count tees for a living and remain abstemious, you're more grounded than me.
10 Vehicle initially transporting a football team, perhaps (4)
TAXI - T (initially transporting) A (a) XI (football team, perhaps: as in the eleven of a sports team)
11 Problem about hot space for edible fungus (8)
MUSHROOM - MUS (sum = problem; about = reverse) H(ot) ROOM (space)
12 Ways to get round old feeling of pity (6)
PATHOS - PATHS (ways) to go round O(ld). Alternatively: PATHS to get/receive O (round), giving an old/ancient feeling of pity.
14 Figure of old boy standing by pine? (6)
OBLONG - O.B. (old boy) standing by LONG (pine: as in the verb)
16 Sadly his dream is incorrectly taken in (8)
MISHEARD - anagram (sadly) of HIS DREAM
18 Island’s trendy church (4)
INCH - IN (trendy) CH(urch): from a Gaelic word for a small island: innis. The OED has a nice second meaning that follows from this: an area of raised ground in a plain - this is also why the village of Ince is so named, being built on a low ridge amid some marshlands.
20 Musket son brought into passenger vehicle by mistake (11)
BLUNDERBUSS - BLUNDER (mistake) by/alongside S(on) brought into BUS (passenger vehicle). "Bus" is an old Dutch word for a gun, and the blunder bit relates to either its haphazard firing or its extremely loud bang that would render those in the vicinity dazed and confused, if not dead. A thing to avoid.
22 Like Lloyd George, say, mostly fit and quiet (5)
WELSH - WELL = fit, mostly = dock the last letter, Sh! = quiet.
23 Son given small number to soften up (7)
SWEETEN - S(on) given WEE (small) TEN (number)

2 Slightly leavened bread: it feeds a social group at school (5)
PITTA - IT feeds/enters PTA (a social group at school). Slightly leavened? Now I know.
3 To some extent, teacher is hard to hold dear (7)
CHERISH - Hidden, "to some extent", in teaCHER IS Hard.
4 Aussie native king banished from castle? (3)
ROO - K(ing) banished from ROOK (castle)
6 Roofing contractor depositing pounds in bank? (5)
TILER - L (pounds, as in the sign for sterling) deposited in TIER (bank)
7 Drawing of box with ring in it (7)
CARTOON - CARTON (box) with O (ring) inside
9 Sailors, swindled, so to speak, do a runner (7)
ABSCOND - ABs (sailors) COND (conned/swindled, when spoken)
11 Reportedly collected condiment (7)
MUSTARD - another soundalike, this time collected = mustered.
13 American — one with capacity to be good-natured (7)
AMIABLE - AM(erican) I (one) ABLE (with capacity)
15 Recreation is taken in the French river (7)
LEISURE - IS taken into LE ("the" French) URE (river)
17 Times? Sounds like yours and mine (5)
HOURS - another soundalike: OURS (yours and mine)
19 Actors taking English class (5)
CASTE - CAST (actors) E(nglish). "Taking" as a linkword here simply means "has", but it could equally mean eating/going around, and I see no reason why it couldn't also mean removing E.
21 Take to river, provoking argument? (3)
ROW - double definition.

Times 26770 - is this the 9 down?

Solving time : 8:52 and relieved that this was a more straightforward puzzle than the last two days as I am in dress rehearsals for a production and am not getting in until pretty late. This might have a bit of "you know it or you don't factor" with an Irish place name I got from wordplay, and an anagram for a term that I've only ever seen in crossword puzzles.

Unfortunately with the play opening on Friday I am unable to make it to the National Puzzlers League convention which is this weekend in Boston. I know a few of the board regulars are going, so have a great time!

Away we go...

1SUBTRACT: SUB(below), TRACT(expanse of land) - nice clue to get us going with the less familiar definition of "dock"
5SPRINT: S(small), PRINT(lithograph)
10PEREGRINE: PE(exercises) and REGRE(t) containing IN.
Chambers confirms it can mean the bird without having "falcon" included
11PETER: PET(favored) and ER
12PURR: UP(finished) reversed, then RR(Rolls Royce)
13BALLYMENA: BALLY(wretched), MEN(fellows), A
15AMANUENSIS: anagram of NAMES,IN,USA - MS PA here is a little sneaky, making the definition "manuscript personal assistant"
17LIMB: M(embers) in LIB
19FORE: R(egiment) in FOE
20BONESHAKER: this was a biff at the time, but it's BONKER(s)
with an anagram of AS,HE
22EMACIATED: reversal of DETAI(l) and CAME
24SAFE: A in S, FE
26EAGER: change the W in WAGER to an E
27DRAIN-PIPE: anagram of RAINED containing PIP
28TRENDY: TRY(hear) around END(the ultimate)
29IN ITSELF: I, NITS and then the German word for 11 is ELF
1SAPS: PASS with the S and P switched
2BERMUDA TRIANGLE: anagram of D(isappearance),LARGE,MARINE,BUT
3RIGOROUS: RIG(equipment) then POROUS missing the P
4CLIMB: the answer to 17 is LIMB, put C on top of it
6PAPAYA: PAPA surrounding A, Y(ard)
7IN THE NICK OF TIME: imprisoned regularly is IN THE NICK OFT then I'M (fre)E
9REAL LIFE: E, ALL in RIFE(current)
14BAFFLEMENT: I work with a BAFFLE on a daily basis,
it is an air regulator, looks like a big vane on a fume hood, follow it with MEANT missing A
16NOONTIDE: NO then a reversal of EDIT(work on magazine),NO(number)
21NIMROD: I'M inside N, ROD
23DRAWN: DR(medic), AWN(bristles)
25LEAF: LEF(t)(abandoned unfinished) containing A
I thought this was a slightly off-beat puzzle, with mainly easy clues and a few less obvious ones (1d, 29a, 11a). It took me around 20 minutes so a medium 5 on my Richter scale of trickiness. I had to look up 1d afterwards to check it was correct, and also looked up 25a in Wikipedia so I could remind myself and bore you with the science. With no double unches in the grid, it should be easy enough to plump for answers once some checkers are in.

Definitions underlined.

1 Peculiarity, having no name attached to grand idol (7)
GODDESS - ODDNESS = peculiarity, delete the N(ame), front with G(rand).
5 Day off? Graduates turn to wash (7)
SABBATH - BAS = graduates, turn -> SAB; BATH = wash.
9 Refusals to shorten feature (3)
NOS - NOS(E) shortened feature. There is some debate about the use of the apostrophe in plurals of numbers, and odd words like NO, it seems NOES is preferred over NO'S today but the latter was the norm some years ago.
10 Water fills empty butt, as always getting round problem (5-6)
BRAIN-TEASER - RAIN = water, inside B T = empty butt, then E'ER (always) around AS.
11 Given cat’s instinct, tucking into small fish (8)
SCOURGED - You need to lift and separate CAT from 's instinct here. CAT'S is short for cat is, in this case. URGE = instinct, inserted into S COD (small fish). Scourged, whipped, given the cat.
12 A noble fear is torn clothes (6
ARISTO - Hidden word in FE(AR IS TO)RN.
15 Where surgeon working, above all? (4)
ATOP - A surgeon would be working AT OP(ERATION). Perhaps there's a small typo here; should be surgeon's or surgeon is, for good sense.
16 Tuna scarce? Switch to crab, perhaps (10)
18 Endless fun in tent: magician’s beginning to bend small hat (10)
CIRCUMFLEX - CIRCU(S) = endless fun in tent; M(agician): FLEX = to bend. There was a move recently to abolish this accent in the French language as taught, which of course led to a backlash and millions of tweets to '#jesuiscirconflexe'.
19 Gratified these rags become stylish clothes (4)
GLAD - Your glad rags are your best or party clothes; a phrase dating from 1896 apparently.
22 An Arabian vessel? Yes indeed (3,3)
AND HOW ! - AN, DHOW = Arabian vessel.
23 Who is going to eat these kitchen scraps? (8)
25 Receiving wire “Rash wickets lost” (4,7)
CATS WHISKER - (RASH WICKETS)*. No cats were injured in the making of these instruments. A 'receiving wire' in an antique radio set, where a thin wire just touched a particular spot on a crystal of galena or a similar semiconducting mineral.The diode effect allowed the AC signal to become DC and the audible element could then be extracted from the carrier waveform.
27 Falling over, soldier died — make his grave? (3)
DIG - GI = soldier, D= dead. Fall over = reverse.
28 Considers what may lead to my signature (7)
REGARDS - You could end your note "regards, and your signature".
29 Old philosopher turns to very left-wing papers (7)
DIDEROT - TO RED ID = to (very) left-wing papers. All reversed. I don't see why 'very' is here. Diderot was a French philosopher, I've never read any of his stuff but there is a street named for him in many French towns (Agen for example).

1 In Georgia, dread such aggressive music (7)
GANGSTA - ANGST = dread, inside GA for Georgia. A form of rap music originating in gangland culture, I gather. I guessed it from wordplay.
2 Shamed by defeat over Times leader (11)
DISHONOURED - DISH can mean defeat; then "on our Ed" = over Times leader.
3 Limbs (not head) — they glow (6)
4 Long-distance traveller accepts flying must include relevant service (10)
SPACECRAFT - Anagram of (ACCEPTS)* with RAF (relevant service to flying) inserted.
5 You must leave a cube smooth (4)
SAND - A THOUSAND is 10 cubed; delete the THOU = you must leave.
6 Broadcaster announced it will keep buzzers going (3,5)
BEE BREAD - Sounds like BEEB READ, where BEEB = the BBC.
7 Fool is half in agreement (3)
ASS - Half of ASSENT = agreement.
8 Keep talking about old weapon (7)
HARPOON - HARP ON = keep talking, insert O(ld).
13 One entrancing period of work on farm machinery (11)
SPELLBINDER - SPELL = period of work, BINDER = farm machinery.
14 A danger in horse being accompanied by pointer (10)
ASTERISKED - A STEED = a horse, insert RISK = danger.
17 Its winner most strongly backed (3,2,3)
TUG OF WAR - Cryptic definition.
18 Wide boy has change of heart, becoming poet (7)
CHAUCER - CHANCER changes the N for a U.
20 Darken joy? (7)
DELIGHT - Well, if you DE-LIGHT something, you could be making it darker.
21 Took huge interest in American university ball (6)
USURED - US = American, U = university, RED. Why does RED = ball? A red snooker ball, perhaps.
24 Be sorry to have split from girl (4)
MISS - If you have split from something, you might miss it, or her, and feel sorry.
26 Arose, it appears, showing a measure of warmth? (3)
TOG - A tog is a measure of warmth or insulation of e.g. a duvet, although here IKEA don't seem to know that. GOT reversed = GOT UP = arose.

Quick Cryptic 867 by Hurley

I thought this was going to be a much more light and breezy puzzle than it turned out to be. The first few clues in the NW gave the impression of a break from the the more traditional crossword fodder that we’re used to (surely 1ac requires knowledge of cricket/tennis/rugby…), but it turned out to be rather chewier than that (…ah-ha!).

Plenty to enjoy, of course, but I have no doubt I would have struggled a year ago with the 2 or 3 solutions that are less than everyday. On the plus side for beginners, the wordplay is as fair as you like - if you’ve hit a wall, try looking for the definition at the other end of the clue (!) or trusting your TftT-honed cryptic skills, even if the result is only a “could-be-a-word-that-means-that”.

In the end I was left with several blanks in the NE corner, but had to wait until the very end to solve/bung my LOI 21ac.

Definitions underlined.

1 Sports official ordered inn meals (8)
LINESMAN - anagram of (ordered) INN MEALS.
5 Quarter of pint good? Bad! (4)
GILL - G (good) and ILL (bad). A measure equating to one quarter of a pint.
8 Weak boat repaired? You did well! (4,1,3)
TAKE A BOW - anagram of (repaired) WEAK BOAT.
9 Dubious judge initially leaves short time (4)
IFFY - first letter of (initially) Judge removed from (leaves) jIFFY (short time).
11 Brawl costing no one anything (4-3-3)
FREE-FOR-ALL - double definition.
14 Back, having secured extremely portable farm machine (6)
REAPER - REAR (back) surrounding (having secured) outermost letters of (extremely) PortablE.
15 Negligent about girl (6)
REMISS - RE (regarding, about) and MISS (girl).
17 Central American met a month back with Alan (10)
GUATEMALAN - MET and AUG (a month) all backwards (back), then ALAN.
20 Part of hotel seems different (4)
ELSE - hidden in (part of) hotEL SEems.
21 Severely criticize a rule Bob concocted (8)
BELABOUR - anagram of (concocted) A RULE BOB.
22 Flag that is reluctantly exhibited first of all (4)
TIRE - first letters of (first of all) That Is Reluctantly Exhibited.
23 Daughter agreed toy ad changes as routine (3-2-3)
DAY-TO-DAY - D (daughter) and AY (agreed), with an anagram of (changes) TOY AD.

1 Porky about repast ultimately with few calories? (4)
LITE - LIE (porky) surrounding (about) last letter of (ultimately) repasT.
2 Bomb from this country in North East (4)
NUKE - UK (this country) in NE (North East).
3 Small wait? I’d sounded naively idealistic (6-4)
STARRY-EYED - S (small) TARRY (delay leaving, wait) and a homophone of (sounded) “I’d”.
4 Highest position of a Personnel Officer — that’s surprising! (6)
APOGEE - A and PO (Personnel Officer), then GEE (that’s surprising). The highest point of development, or climax.
6 Terrible rag I find beneath me? (5,3)
INFRA DIG - anagram of (terrible) RAG I FIND. From the Latin infra dignitatem (beneath one’s dignity).
7 Awfully silly to a true friend? (8)
LOYALIST - anagram of (awfully) SILLY TO A.
10 Europeans going over a role having divergent views (5,5)
POLES APART - POLES (europeans) on top of A PART (a role).
12 Piece ragmen wrapped in paper (8)
FRAGMENT - RAGMEN surrounded by (wrapped in) FT (Financial Times).
13 A right fool, taken in by her tormenter (8)
HARASSER - A, R (right), and ASS (fool) surrounded (taken in) by HER.
16 Father and mother embracing the Spanish girl (6)
PAMELA - PA and MA (father and mother) surrounding (embracing) EL (the, in Spanish).
18 Loathsome guy too hard on regular basis (4)
TOAD - alternate letters from (on regular basis) ToO hArD.
19 Ancient city’s weight system for metals (4)
TROY - double definition. A 5000-year-old city and a system of weighing precious metals/gemstones.

Times Cryptic 26768

I hope I was not alone in finding this an extremely difficult puzzle. It took me only a few minutes under 2 hours to complete it, but without resorting to aids from which I take at least a crumb of comfort. Despite the level of difficulty I have to say that it's a fine example of the setter's art and the surface reading quality is quite exceptional for the most part.   [Edit at 06:20. The current league table in the Club suggests that this was more difficult than average but not significantly so to justify the excessive time it took me. I have a natural inclination to want to understand fully every element of a clue solved before moving on to the next, especially when on blogging duty, and there were some toughies to get to the bottom of here. That probably  accounts for much of my lost time. I don't set out to be a fast solver anyway (I gave up on that years ago), but if I can finish within 30 minutes once or twice a week and come near on another couple of days I'm quite happy to go off the scale occasionally, especially in order to savour a fine quality puzzle such as this.]  

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