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Quick Cryptic 1334 by Orpheus

I enjoyed this, and I don't think it's too taxing. A couple of engineered anagrams, a tad of slightly obscure vocab, and some pleasingly corny homophones. I got repeatedly interrupted so I don't know how long it took - no more than 10min, I think. I look forward to the kicking I shall no doubt receive in the comments regarding my knowledge of Indian history.

1 Noisy bird —type of spaniel also, some say (8)
COCKATOO - sounds like COCKER, TOO. Arf
5 Assist with a B movie? (4)
ABET - A + B + ET, saccharine 80's Spielberg film that I've never seen
8 Lie about Republican disharmony (8)
9 Smile broadly, having right to dip into drink (4)
GRIN - R inside GIN
11 Heartless mob in EU’s to board vehicle (5)
EMBUS - Heartless mob is MB, with EUS outside. Rather soutenu word for 'get on a bus'
12 Shrub recollected in Gray’s Inn mostly (7)
SYRINGA - Anagram ('recollected') of GRAYS IN, (i.e. most of GRAY'S INN)
13 Second go required to orbit a planet (6)
SATURN - S + TURN around A
15 Steal from school, carrying can back (6)
SNITCH - SCH with TIN backwards inside
18 Act like a shopaholic, so to speak — eventually (2,3,2)
BY AND BY - Sounds like BUY AND BUY
19 Country featuring in main diagram (5)
INDIA - hidden word: maIN DIAgram
21 Exchange prisoners from the east (4)
SWOP - POWs backwards. Less familiar spelling of SWAP.
22 Workers securing sick leave at last in WI islands (8)
ANTILLES - Workers are always ANTS (unless they are BEES, or TU for trade union, or MEN, or HANDS). Insert ILL  and E (end of LEAVE)
23 Unfeeling Greek character, one with medical qualification (4)
NUMB - NU is the Greek character, MB is the medical qualification.
24 Meanly swindle leaders of Ireland’s loyal youths (8)
STINGILY - swindle is STING, + first letters of Ireland's Loyal Youths

1 Reportedly people unpopular in theatre boxes? (7)
COFFERS - Sounds like COUGHERS. Ha ha. I ran off on a massive wild goose chase to start with because of the word BOXES, which I though might be a verb. Overthinking it as ever.
2 Caught arm, perhaps, in mountaineering activity (5)
3 Travelling most of Saturday to a Continental motorway (10)
AUTOSTRADA -  Anagram ('travelling') of  SATURDA (most of SATURDAY) + TO + A. Remember Curarist's Law: any word that one is instructed to shorten, is only ever reduced by one letter, unless it's specified (half, two thirds etc)
4 Player primarily on bench, or in second team? (6)
OBOIST - Initial letters of On Bench, Or In Second Team
6 Titled man’s circle in London borough (7)
BARONET - London borough is BARNET, with O inside. BARNET also means hair via Cockney rhyming slang (Barnet Fair = hair)
7 Knight wearing Roman garment in the Friendly Islands (5)
TONGA - N for Knight (in chess) inside TOGA
10 Change criminal into saint? About right (10)
TRANSITION - Anagram ('criminal') of  INTO SAINT + R
14 Players entertaining Aussie native in café (7)
TEAROOM - Players are TEAM, Aussie native is ROO
16 Tries always to identify gossip (7)
HEARSAY - Tries (in court) is HEARS, AY is always.
17 Extremely clumsy snare trapping tail of young bird (6)
CYGNET - Extremely clumsy is CY, snare is NET, with G (tail of younG) inside. Although a cygnet is a young bird, the definition here is just 'bird', because 'young' is part of the cryptic clue.
18 Pudding bowl, as found in rubbish receptacle (5)
BASIN - AS inside BIN
20 Once a capital food shop, we hear (5)
DELHI - Sounds like DELI. 'Once a capital'? hmm. Not sure that Delhi (as opposed to New Delhi) was ever capital of India. Before New Delhi was established, the capital was Calcutta. Am I right?
I didn't find this puzzle particularly hard, but I did enjoy it, with its assured control of cryptic devices and a bit of wickedness to some of its choices: I particularly liked the almost invisible definition parts of 14dn and the Rufus-esque simplicity of 7dn, my clue of the day. LOI was 26ac after 25dn finally fell and proved that the poet couldn't be an ODIST. Perfectly satisfactory crossword to end the week with, thanks setter. Alright, what did the rest of you lot like best today?

1 A vision of loveliness as I moved to end of quay (4)
PERI - take PIER [quay] and move the I to the end it, to find a word for a beautiful mythological being.

3 Architect initially welcomes housing staff's contracts (10)
AGREEMENTS - A{rchitects} + GREETS [welcomes] "housing" MEN [staff]

10 Bowdlerise "pure" novel, wherein kiss has suggestion of scandal? (9)
EXPURGATE - (PURE*) ["novel"] wherein X [kiss], followed by -GATE [suggestion of scandal]

11 Swapping hands, put down part of spur (5)
ROWEL - take LOWER [put down] and swap round its L and R.

12 Met secretly to destroy jockeys, with all love lost (7)
TRYSTED - (T{o} DESTR{o{}Y) ["jockeys"]

13 Contributor to soap showing everyone in drag (6)
TALLOW - ALL [everyone] in TOW [drag]

15 Condensed, as a walk in the park should be? (4,5,4,2)
MADE SHORT WORK OF - if something is a walk in the park you should make short work of it; it you make a work into a short work, you have condensed it.

18 Reverend sat uneasily after fellow's precise testimony (7,3,5)
CHAPTER AND VERSE - (REVEREND SAT*) ["uneasily"] after CHAP [fellow]

21 Knight's advance across wide area (6)
GAWAIN - GAIN [advance] "across" W A [wide | area]

23 Current Lothario back on song (7)
AIRFLOW - reverse WOLF [Lothario] on AIR [song]

26 Poet's material going west (5)
ELIOT - reverse TOILE [material] to find good old T.S.

27 Minstrel with a pipe returned at end of dance (9)
BALLADEER - A + reversed REED [pipe], at end of BALL [dance]

28 Always keeping dry, he looked over, poised for action (2,3,5)
AT THE READY - AY [always] "keeping" TT HE READ [dry | he | looked over]

29 One particular man's on time (4)
THIS - HIS [man's] on T [time]

1 Charming chum treated roughly (6,4)
PRETTY MUCH - PRETTY [charming] + (CHUM*) ["treated"]

2 Specialised troops practise counterattack? (5)
REPLY - R.E. PLY [specialised troops | practise]

3 Golf organised, diversion avoiding key educational trip (5,4)
GRAND TOUR - G RAN [Golf | organised] + D{e}TOUR [diversion, "avoiding (musical) key"]

5 Up before court (5)
ERECT - ERE CT [before | court]

6 Sour red fruit, not quite ripe but golden inside (7)
MORELLO - MELLO{w} ["not quite" ripe] with OR [golden] inside

7 Statesman's amended style of delivery (3,6)
NEW YORKER - NEW [amended] + YORKER [style of (cricket) delivery]

8 Periodic losses suffered by skilled young swimmers (4)
SILD - S{k}I{l}L{e}D

9 Revolutionary Indian instrument good for nothing (6)
GRATIS - SITAR G [Indian instrument | good], reversed

14 Dessert's without charge, then? (10)
AFTERWARDS - AFTERS [dessert] is "without" WARD [charge]

16 Wordsmith shot, craftsman runs away (9)
DRAMATIST - DRAM [shot] + A{r}TIST [craftsman, "R (= runs) away"]

17 Cook talented with cephalopods, primarily like squid (9)
TENTACLED - (TALENTED + C{ephalopods}*) ["cook..."]

19 Piggy grabbing wine and hot snack (7)
TOASTIE - TOE [piggy] "grabbing" ASTI [wine]

20 Seasonal meat cut with force at sea? (6)
VERNAL - VEAL [meat] "cut" with R.N. [force at sea]

22 Magnanimous knight served up joint, with wife away (5)
NOBLE - N [knight] + reversed ELBO{w} [joint, "with W (= wife) away]

24 Doctor's check after fish has been brought up (5)
LEECH - CH [check] after reversed EEL [fish]

25 Unknown insurgent worried Spartan character (4)
ZETA - Z [unknown] + reversed ("insurgent") ATE [worried]

Times Quick Cryptic No 1333 by Hurley

Another sub-10-minuter for me at exactly 8 minutes, so easy on the Rotterometer.  There is little here to cause any problems to experienced solvers, with a minimum of gentle general knowledge required and the usual mix of Setter’s tricks.  That’s not to say that this was boring – I enjoyed the succinctness of the clues.  However, the puzzle seemed to me to be lacking in any stand-out humour or surprise.  Thanks Hurley.  How did you all do?

Helps gullible people, you say? (8)
SUCCOURS – Sounds like (you say?) SUCKERS (gullible people).
5  Photo on Net? Impressive! (4)
EPIC – A photo on the world-wide interwebby thing might be described as an e-pic.
8 Abandon holiday (5)
LEAVE – Double definition.
9  Quiet girl on Irish river (7)
SHANNON – SH (quiet) ANN (girl) and ON (on).
11  Rock hero given to playing well (2,3,6)
IN THE GROOVE – Anagram (rock) of [HERO GIVEN TO].  The expression IN THE GROOVE can mean ‘in excellent form’.
13 Criminal dealer meets resistance fighter (6)
FENCER – A criminal dealer is commonly known as a FENCE, which is followed by R{esistance}.
14 Clergyman’s previous life with ordinary soldiers (6)
PASTOR – PAST (previous life) with OR (other ranks or ordinary soldiers).  In my experience, soldiers, sailors and airmen are rarely ‘ordinary’!.
17  It’s small, wobbly – I’ll nail it up (11)
LILLIPUTIAN – Anagram (wobbly) of [I’LL NAIL IT UP].  A LILLIPUTIAN is ‘an inhabitant of LILLIPUT, an imaginary diminutive country described by Swift in Gulliver’s Travels, inhabited by tiny people’ (Chambers).  It can also mean diminutive (or small) as an adjective, so an object that is LILLIPUTIAN is one that is small.
20  Envy, no end, returning Pole’s wrap (7)
ENVELOP – ENV{y} (no end) and POLE (reversed or returning).
21  From Treviso, a very Italian wine (5)
SOAVE – Hidden in (from) {trevi}SO A VE{ry}.
22  Had impact at first that one loved dearly (4)
TOLD – First letters of (at first) T{hat} O[ne} L{oved} D{early}.
23  Ten years associated with heartless nest, corrupt (8)
DECADENT – DECADE (ten years) and N{es}T (heartless).

1         Only one flatfish (4)
SOLE – Double definition
Such inspiring call from family about Brazilian port (7)
CLARION – CLAN (family) with (about) RIO (Brazilian port).  A CLARION call is a stirring summons to perform a duty, etc.
3  Learner in their hovel, dilapidated, past best (4,3,4)
OVER THE HILL – Anagram (dilapidated) of L{earner} and [THEIR HOVEL].
4  In thesaurus setter finding name of apple (6)
RUSSET – Hidden in (in) {thesau}RUS SET{ter}.
6  Criticise extremely taboo stage show (5)
PANTO – PAN (criticise) and (extremely – first and last letters of) T{abo}O.  A PANTO{mime} is an informal stage show around Christmas-time.
7  Charlie near bar, rebuilt, in capital city (8)
CANBERRA – C{harlie} and an anagram of (rebuilt) [NEAR BAR].
10  A cadet’s air I blasted sailing here? (8,3)
ADRIATIC SEA – Anagram (blasted) of [A CADET’S AIR I].
12  Rich, a female speaking foreign language well (8)
AFFLUENT – A (a) F{emale} and FLUENT.
15  One complaining in distinctive voice seeing capacity of ship (7)
TONNAGE –  NAG (one complaining) inside (in) TONE (distinctive voice)
16  Addition not meant, we hear, to be flexible (6)
SUPPLE – SUPPLE{ment} (addition) dropping the MENT (not meant, we hear)
18  The French versus the Spanish, with neither side leading? (5)
LEVEL – LE (the, in French) V{ersus} EL (the, in Spanish).
19  Right to interrupt indulged person, impudent (4)
PERT – R{ight} inside PET.  PERT as a noun is defined as an impudent person in my Chambers app, which surprised both myself and Kevin (see below).  Here it is an adjective meaning impertinent or impudent.
Solving time: 14:36 - a little slower than usual, and today it was some of the anagrams that held me up the longest. I'm the fourth of the seven times in so far, and the early lightning crew hasn't shown up yet, but of the names on the list it is ones I am usually a bit quicker than so this could be a puzzle some will find easier, and some will find more tricky.

The first definition in each clue is underlined

Away we go...

1 Upon which, catch cold (11)
STANDOFFISH - the catch would be on a STAND OF FISH
7 Name game (3)
TAG - double definition
9 Secure cages in, for each person controlling hounds (7-2)
WHIPPER-IN - WIN(secure, gain), containing HIP(in), PER(for each)
10 Header missed in tight draw (5)
LOTTO - remove the first letter from BLOTTO (tight, drunk)
11 First of pints gone in seconds, one can't bend the elbow! (7)
TRICEPS - this is an odd clue and I hope I have parsed it correctly - I think it is the first letter of Pints, "gone in" TRICES(seconds), and the definition refers to that there is no singular to this muscle. Edit: as pointed out by those with a far better grasp of anatomy than I, the triceps straightens the elbow
12 Whistler painting attributed to Turner at first — that's a bloomer (7)
TREFOIL - REF(whistler, one who blows a whistle), OIL(painting) with the first letter of Turner
13 Bones in line, like back (5)
SACRA - ARC(line), AS(like) all reversed
15 Moreover, nation developed at a slowish pace (9)
ANDANTINO - AND(moreover), then an anagram of NATION
17 Put a lot in a tin for pets (9)
CANOODLES - if you put a lot in a tin you would CAN OODLES
19 Infants pictured playing with umpteen toys, though irascible initially (5)
PUTTI - first letters of Playing, Umpteen, Toys Though Irascible
20 Where brothers are taken care of? (2,5)
IN ORDER - double definition
22 A revolution on the horizon (7)
ARISING - A, RISING(revolution)
24 Card cheat of old (5)
KNAVE - double definition
25 Grease smeared on brown trousers (9)
DUNGAREES - anagram of GREASE after DUN(brown)
27 King wrapped up in short skirt (3)
TUT - shorten TUTU(skirt)
28 She perhaps is in shorter novel about the origins of diverse peoples (5,6)
THIRD PERSON - anagram of IN,SHORTER, containing the first letters of Diverse Peoples

1 Broadcast, like that on the radio? (3)
SOW - sounds like SO(like that)
2 One in England missing out on defence (5)
ALIBI - England is ALBION, remove ON
3 Flies partied, buzzing around (7)
DIPTERA - anagram of PARTIED
4 Anticipate growth of planes etc, the entire fleet? (9)
FORESTALL - FOREST(growth of planes, etc), ALL(the entire fleet)
5 Tavern has appeal, do you agree? (5)
INNIT - INN(Tavern), IT(appeal)
6 Flaw in entertaining British artist (7)
HOLBEIN - HOLE(flaw), IN containing B(British)
7 Rubbish also is written on top of table in permanent marker? (9)
TATTOOIST - TAT(rubbish), TOO(also), IS then the first letter of Table
8 Pretty decent leader in the throne room? (4-7)
GOOD-LOOKING -  GOOD(decent) then the leader in the throne room could be the LOO KING
11 River insect, slow mover to many watching? (4,7)
TEST CRICKET - the river TEST and the insect CRICKET. I disagree with this definition, having spent a great day drinking and watching Australia lose in December.
14 Hypocrisy surrounding working issue in agreement (9)
CONSONANT - CANT(hypocrisy) surrounding ON(working), SON(issue)
16 Jerk inside with dad, getting scorned (9)
DISDAINED - anagram of INSIDE and DAD, and my last in
18 Occasional books inspiring me a bit (7)
ODDMENT - ODD(occasional), NT(New Testament, books), containing ME
19 Archbishop in particular put away (7)
PRIMATE - PRIM(particular), ATE(put away)
21 Run commercial on two lines (5)
RADII - R(run), AD(commercial) on II(two in Roman numerals)
23 Articles in the mess, alternating (5)
ITEMS - hmmm... at the risk of opening Pandora's can of worms, this clue doesn't quite work for me. Not all of the letters are alternating... maybe the intent is that they are alternating in the individual words... In, ThE, MeSs
26 Warmer in Skegness, unusually (3)
SUN - hidden in skegnesS UNusually
I like a struggle on a Wednesday; I enjoy the frisson of solving a tough test under pressure and understanding every clue so as to write a convincing account. This week I was disappointed. This is a perfectly good puzzle, of course, but it was done and dusted in 12 minutes, an equal PB for me. The parsing, likewise, held no difficult secrets.
It's always good to see a less popular element come along, here at 6d, although these days if you watch the Pointless quiz show at tea time on BBC you'll know that everyone is swotting up on them; especially from 95 Americium to the latest to be named, 118 Oganesson, of which 5 atoms have been fleetingly produced.

1 They’re a blow to Conservatism? (5,2,6)
WINDS OF CHANGE - Cryptic definition.
8 Seafood, cold, local sent back (4)
CRAB - C followed by BAR reversed.
9 Zest of primate left clutching sword (6-4)
ORANGE-PEEL - ORANG = primate, L = left, insert EPEE = sword.
10 Single idea lost in translation (8)
11 Marrow jam (6)
SQUASH - Double definition.
13 S American rang up AA a year after crashing (10)
16 13th or 15th, team’s heading into last place (4)
IDES - SIDE = team has its S moved to the end. In Roman times the Ides was on the 15th in March, May, July and October, and on the 13th otherwise. Thanks to deezzaa for pointing out I had initially typed 13 / 15 the wrong way round. My Latin master, one Mr Percy Cushion (really!) didn't make it stick well enough to last 60 years.
17 In which one could be expecting stick (4)
CLUB - Double definition; a stick, and if one were 'in the club' and a female person, one could be expecting.
18 Ace having people following India in test (10)
EXPERIMENT - I (India) MEN, inside EXPERT = ace.
20 Display containing goods one can’t choose? (6)
BEGGAR - BEAR = display, insert GG = goods; beggars can't be choosers, they say.
22 Tracks one in run continuously (8)
RAILWAYS - R = run, ALWAYS = continuously, insert I.
24 No longer having to conduct tourist periodically alfresco (3-2-5)
OUT-OF-DOORS - OUT OF = no longer having; DO = conduct; O R S = alternate letters of t O u R i S t.
26 Reversed bank’s repeated instructions (4)
LOOP - POOL = bank, reversed.
27 Read wrong notes: foreign articles tolerated (13)
MISUNDERSTOOD - MI'S = notes, UN, DER = articles in foreign, STOOD = tolerated.

1 Wife formalised renewed expression of astonishment (5,4,2)
WORDS FAIL ME - (W FORMALISED)* where W = wife.
2 Chemist’s lack of alarm when speaking (5)
NOBEL - Sounds like "NO BELL" = lack of alarm. With time on my hands I read up the life of Alfred Nobel on Wiki, he was a more interesting chap than I'd realised.
3 Quick temper of female with uniform — wearing trousers, note (5,4)
SHORT FUSE - F and U have SHORTS around, then add an E note.
4 Charity event in Florida welcome in Australia (4,3)
FLAG DAY - FLA = Florida; G'DAY what allegedly Australians say in greeting, although I've never met one who did.
5 Trips with school society (5)
HIGHS - HIGH school, S(ociety).
6 Element in UN put me off (9)
NEPTUNIUM - (IN UN PUT ME)*. Element 93, not surprisingly being the one following Uranium and before Plutonium.
7 Girl’s flat unfinished (3)
EVE - EVEN = flat; unfinished.
12 Serial killer sugared rum to entrap marshal (7,4)
SWEENEY TODD - SWEET (sugared) ODD (rum) has Marshal NEY inserted.
14 Equivocal claim to generosity by posh old American (9)
AMBIGUOUS - AM BIG could be a claim by a generous person, big-hearted for example; U (posh) O(ld), US.
15 Drug agent I figure out on reflection is a plant (9)
NARCISSUS - NARC = drug agent, I, SUSS (figure out)  reversed.
19 End of contract entered into by Post Office (7)
PURPOSE - PURSE = contract, e.g. lips; insert PO. END as in 'to what end?'
21 Stick with popular French form master (5)
RODIN - ROD = stick, IN = popular. The sculptor or 'form master'.
23 I’ll do that when I’m legally called on, initially (5)
WILCO - Initial letters of W hen I 'm L egally C alled O n. Origin WILL COMPLY in early radio talk.
25 German city firm ludicrously upset hosts (3)
ULM - City reversed hidden in FIR(M LU)DICROUSLY.

Times Quick Cryptic No 1332 by Tracy


I solved this puzzle in just under 10 minutes, and enjoyed every second of it thoroughly! If you're looking to improve your solving skills, this puzzle is chock full of chestnuts and will undoubtedly reward close study.

I'll intersperse my solutions with a play-by-play on my solve.

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Times Cryptic 27326

Solving time: 55 minutes. All but one answer in the NW went in very easily but I struggled through most of the remainder of the puzzle. There were several unknowns either in answers or wordplay and as with the puzzle I blogged last week I made the wrong choice with one answer when required to assemble an unknown foreign name from wordplay

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Times Quick Cryptic 1331 by Oink

A quick QC - coming in at just under 8 minutes. Our setter may be making a commentary on current politics at 8, 10 and 11ac but this doesn’t preclude a porcine reference or two. Loi 16ac.
I don’t foresee too many problems - but do ask if anything is unclear.

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Times Quick Cryptic 1330 by Mara

On reflection this seems pretty straightforward but for some reason I needed 12 minutes (2 over my target 10) to unravel it all. If anything requires further explanation, please ask.

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Times 27325 - Settlements Abounding

A rare excursion under 20 minutes for me, so easy, but perhaps not as easy as I made it, since it had very little sciency stuff. No, looking at it again, I'd say this was pretty darned easy. Apologies to anyone who was done by ACRE or PRENUPS or whatever, and no aspersions aimed towards the setter, as this was a very enjoyable run-out and hopefully a graduation opportunity for fledgling solvers seeking to give their wings a good flap and take to the sometimes rarefied air of the main cryptic.


1 Finger problem exhibited by party pooper (4)
TYPO - hidden in[par]TY PO[OPER]
3 Fail to criticise a suggestion about power (10)
DISAPPOINT - P (power) in DIS (variant of diss) A POINT
9 Completed a couple of lines on average (7)
11 Confident when taken to court about source of revenue (7)
ASSURED - R[evenue] in AS (when) SUED
12 Living area accommodating French art gallery (7,6)
HOUSING ESTATE - HOUSING (accommodating) ES (French for '[you (s)] are' - as in 'Tu EStrès méchant') TATE
14 Emperor backs a follower of another one (5)
RASTA - reversal of A TSAR; besides carrying a ghetto blaster a RASTA traditionally reveres Haile Selassie, erstwhile Emperor of Ethopia
15 A nice long novel can be relaxing (9)
17 Stimulate boxer to eat large starter (5,4)
19 Reserves place for supplier of ham that's appetising (5)
TASTY - TA (Territorial Army, renamed Army Reserve in 2014 after Gareth Keenan had done irreparable harm to the body's reputation STY
21 Real sociable type's a help for builder (8,5)
CONCRETE MIXER - CONCRETE (real) MIXER (sociable type); not the sort of clue they'd give you if you were an aspirant to Bletchley Park duties
24 Fortress initially constructed with ornate detail (7)
CITADEL - C[onstructed] DETAIL*
25 Running races after rocket: that’s guts! (7)
VISCERA - VI (a rocket developed by the Nazis) RACES*
26 Take weight off Green politician in bandage (10)
27 Turning, smack annoying flier (4)
GNAT - TANG reversed; 'tang' as in 'You've given quite a smack to your spaghetti alla puttanesca'


1 Also spotted singer keeping book cleaner (10)
TOOTHBRUSH - TOO (also) B (book) in THRUSH (spotted singer)
2 Union rules schools introducing new uniform (7)
PRENUPS - N U in PREPS; prenups should be banned and couples forced to have joint bank accounts instead
4 Having no base in Paris he meets soldier in pub (9)
ILLOGICAL - IL (in Paris 'he') GI in LOCAL
5 Stockpile a lot of documents head of army sent in (5)
AMASS - A (a) A (head of 'arm') in MSS (manuscripts/documents)
6 Frank often replaces these collector's items (7,6)
POSTAGE STAMPS - a cryptic definition (CD); franking is a means of replacing the good old stamp, which can be valuable enough to collect
7 Someone in acre with capital? (7)
ISRAELI - another CD; ACRE is in northern Israel
8 Flap over Dorothy lifted (2-2)
TO-DO - reversal of O (over) DOT (abbreviation of Dorothy)
10 A milkman doing trips for beasts in general (6,7)
13 Miss school drama article placed for son in trust (4,6)
PLAY TRUANT - PLAY (drama) AN instead of S in TRU[s]T
16 Original shots, say, drunk by locals (9)
18 Frugal, like soccer team having had to spend pounds (7)
ASCETIC - AS (like) [Glasgow] CE[l]TIC sans the L
20 Observed transporting nine tons in square (7)
SIXTEEN - IX T in SEEN for the number that is 4x4
22 One who regrets imprisoning Liberal head of state? (5)
RULER - L in RUER; an escapee from the Quickie
23 Dispatched two varieties of diamonds (4)
ICED - ICE D; 22's accomplice...

Mephisto 3058 by Don Manley

Unless you’re very experienced you are unlikely to solve a Mephisto without using Chambers. The idea is that you use the precise wordplay to derive an answer that you then verify in the dictionary. 1A is a perfect example.

I found this a straightforward puzzle

In the clues, definitions are underlined. Wordplay explanation is followed by very helpful comments.


2 Unconventional beard associated with revolutionary transvestite (8)
BERDACHE: (beard)*-CHE; considered offensive by many Native American communities, BERDACHE began to fall out of use in the 1990s; two-spirit is now used instead.
10 Nonsense by 30 frolicking (7)
11 Bring back a carrier with food, my bonny (5)
YARTA: A-TRAY reversed; term of endearment in East Yell;
12 Pluck / grass (6)
TWITCH: two meanings; newer solvers should beware solving this type of clue until they have some checkers. “Finger” would be a perfectly acceptable solution so wait until you can separate the grass from the grass;
14 Sheep, for example, having nothing to eat (4)
15 Settled down but not quietly — wanted to scratch? (6)
16 Face work with limit circumscribed (6)
18 Such pancakes if badly cooked may be flakiest (6)
LATKES: (flakiest – if)*; potato pancakes;
20 Time of denial with one having inadequate room and little breathing space (8)
23 Cleansing process incorporating complicated rite could be this? (8)
WATERISH: WASH surrounds (rite)*;
25 Old cow in East Sussex river (6)
ROTHER: two meanings; no need for the same caution as mentioned at 12A – there just aren’t that many rivers in East Sussex
28 Roman house in Iberia maybe writer’s abandoned (6)
30 Stuck in creek is brown gypsy man (6)
31 Steal from wrecks gone over (4)
SMUG: GUMS reversed;
32 One to trap hunted animal, tail being chopped off with little hesitation (6)
SNARER: SNAR(k)-ER; reference Lewis Carroll “The hunting of the Snark”;
33 Char’s manner of speaking putting any number off (5)
34 Words of warning from gentlemen gardening (7, two words)
EN GARDE: hidden (gentlm)EN-GARDE(ning);
35 Mark, an old rocker, given officer status (8)


1 Gunners shoot going over island, needing skills to capture it (12)
2 Pop singer around end of concert? One may be seen with DJ (6, two words)
BOW TIE: BOW(T)IE; T from (concer)T; reference David Bowie;
3 First person to get upset, with confession of inability to be sparkling (7)
EMICANT: ME reversed – I CAN’T;
4 Coldness of manner in doctor who may be taking risks? (5)
5 Fabrics produced in a hundred tiny places (8)
CHAMLETS: C-HAMLETS; goat’s hair fabric;
6 Wood has some squelchy leaves (4)
HYLE: hidden (squelc)HY-LE(aves);
7 Below base of cloud bird gets thoroughly wet in Scotland (5)
DROOK: (clou)D-ROOK;
8 Things one habitually eats, having removed fifty bones (6)
9 So there may be new principle used for statistical data (12, two words)
BAYES THEORM: (so there may be)*; Bayes' theorem is named after Reverend Thomas Bayes 1701-1761; it evaluates the probability of an event given prior knowledge of relevant conditions
13 No longer put straw on the playing area — not very good (6)
17 Old insect bringing panic around Lincoln (8)
19 Monstrous things sailor found surfacing in the drink (6)
TERATA: TE(TAR reversed)A;
21 Father has stain inside coat (7)
22 Witty words on tomb out of order (6, two words)
BON MOT; (on tomb)*;
24 Seen getting drunk, one who should stay sober in Welsh Assembly (6)
SENEDD: (seen)*-DD; DD = Designated Driver; The SENEDD, also known as the National Assembly building, houses the debating chamber and three committee rooms for the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff
26 Tree a sudden wind upended (5)
TSUGA: A-GUST reversed; a genus of conifers;
27 Footballer’s endless complaint (5)
29 Recipe requiring fish to be turned over in oven (4)
LEER; R-EEL reversed; recipe=R; an oven in which glassware is annealed
Well, that went down easily, a very smooth blend with some vivid, if uncomplex, notes, which left me with a warm feeling inside.

I am just back from the fantastic Guggenheim show of the heretofore-unsung pioneering heroine of abstraction, Hilma af Klint, and then sharing a pizza with my sculptor friend David, briefly back in his old SoHo stomping grounds (though this part is now called NoHo) and staying for a couple weeks in a $15,000-a-month apartment one of his rich collector friends has on the market now. So I hope no one minds that I’m getting to this a little later this week, but I had to have a second Remy Martin.

I do (argnasam)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.

 1 Soldier going this way is unbriefed? (8)
COMMANDO — CD. We all know that “going commando” means doing without underpants, but there seems to be no consensus on where or when the term originated.
 5 Ruddy green used in sketch again! (6)
REDRAW — ”Ruddy” being RED and “green” being RAW, I bet no one had to go back to the drawing board on this one.
 9 Current craft beer stores, offering a choice (1,2,5)
A LA CARTE — ALE, “beer,” “stores” AC (“current”) and ART, “craft.”
10 A posh couple’s nanny (2,4)
AU PAIR — A + U (upper-class, “posh”) + PAIR
12 Bloated stomach, wind periodically expelled (5)
TUMID — TUM + every other letter of wInD
13 Students should read this old morning tabloid (4,5)
14 Are film icons pitching in these? (12)
INFOMERCIALS — &lit. (are film icons)*
18 Tennis match associated with oversized shorts (5,7)
MIXED DOUBLES — MIXED is “associated” and “oversized shorts” are drinks, DOUBLES (great time savers. Ha).
21 Dish to accompany a poet’s mutton chops (9)
SIDEBURNS — SIDE is the accompanying dish, and the poet is BURNS.
23 On a telephone call for work (5)
KNEAD — Sounds like “need,” or “call for.”
24 Maybe cricket’s stylish division (6)
INSECT — IN is “stylish” and SECT “division.”
25 What not to ask a lady about Italian traditions (8)
HERITAGE — HER(IT) AGE. Does anyone here deem this a passé sexist trope? Just kidding, let’s not start…
26 Putting a stop to topless relaxation (6)
EASING — Prudes! [-c]EASING
27 Rambles close to canal welcomed by swimmers (8)

 1 Hunted for an auditor that’s not corrupt (6)
CHASTE — ”Chased”
 2 Bad atmosphere some teams aimed to overturn (6)
MIASMA — Hidden rev.
 3 A forbidden drinking party? Crazy! (9)
 4 Perform, working in a film starring Nicole Kidman as host (2,3,7)
DO THE HONOURS — DO is “perform,” and “working” is ON, which is in(serted into) THE HOURS, which does indeed star Nicole Kidman, though it is actually Julianne Moore who plays the host(ess) (one of two in the film; the other is played by Meryl Streep) who is planning a party for her hubby though having difficulty in putting down the book by VIrginia Woolf (Kidman) about a woman in a similar situation (Mrs. Dalloway. I’ve read the book, but haven’t seen the movie). I don’t think this clue is wordy or over-specific at all, but a rather elegant fusion of wordplay and definition that nevertheless keeps the two parts strictly separate.
 6 Supply crack online? (5)
EQUIP — CD, “E(lectronic)-QUIP,” har har
 7 Gather fruit is to make a comeback (8)
 8 Guard in combat gear (8)
WARDRESS — Not a DD, as “war dress” is two words. Enumeration counts.
11 This biographer styled small jobs “wee” (5,7)
JAMES BOSWELL — (small jobs “wee”)* Who else?!
15 Reminder, itemised bill has tip added (9)
CHECKLIST — Obviously an American restaurant… CHECK + LIST, “tip” as in “tip over”
16 Love letter is prone to leave things out (8)
17 Former wives restrict comic duo’s outgoings? (8)
19 Not the first sign great service is under threat (6)
20 Runs off with large sum? We do (6)
ADDERS — [-l]ADDERS, “runs” in stockings, that is. Grammatical infelicity disconnects the second from the first sentence, hinting at what’s up.
22 Black fleece worn by a famous artist (5)
BACON — B(A)CON. Rasher artist? The punkish Francis favored black leather jackets, but I can imagine him swanning around in something more plush.

Jumbo 1373

Nothing unusual to report in this one apart from a couple of definitions that I was unaware of.

I am not sure whether the date of publishing this puzzle was intentional given 28A.

Apologies for any typos - this was written up in haste.

1 CELL PHONE - CELL = cadre, P = pressure, HONE = sharpen up
6 SOBER - SO, BE(a)R = endure
9 CHECK-UP - CUP = let blood, around HECK = expression of surprise. I was not aware of that definition of CUP, although I was aware of the spa treatment of cupping which appears to be related
13 DENIM - DNIM = MIND = care, reversed, around E = European
14 PROVOKE - PROVE = show, around OK = permissible
15 DIPHTHONG - the central E of ENCYCLOPEDIA is sometimes shown as Æ, a diphthong
17 DISGRUNTLED - DIED = deceased, around GRUNT = US soldier, and L = left
18 SCARAB - initial letters of S(acred) and C(reature), ARAB = Egyptian. The whole clue is the definition
19 INFRARED - FIND* around RARE = how some cook steak
21 GRAVEL - G(ood), RAVEL = composer
25 AVERAGED - (r)AVER = partygoer, AGED = grew old
26 INDIRECT SPEECH - IN, DIRE = terrible, CT = court, SPEECH = language
28 LEAVE - LE = the in French, AVE = welcome. The puzzle was published the day after Brexit was supposed to happen
29 CANTER - CAN = is able to, TE(a)R = go quickly
30 CATALEPTIC - CAT = tiger, ALE = beer, PIC = photo, around T = tons
33 CODSWALLOP - CODS = fish's, WALLOP = batter
35 THRUSH, THRU = during, in America, SH = quiet
36 PURGE - P = power, URGE = press
38 LENDING LIBRARY - L = line, ENDING = finishing, LIBRA = sign, RY = railway
40 WATERLOO - double definition - the second cryptically referring to the song by the Swedish group ABBA
42 BRIEFS - BRIE = cheese, initial letters of F(or) S(ellers)
43 GONDOLAS - (D (= delta), LAGOONS)*
44 DIVERT - DIVE = low bar, RT = right
47 INSUPERABLE - IN, SABLE = fashionable fur, around UP = in high state and E.R. = queen
50 ROMANTICISM - ROMANISM = Catholicism, around TIC = involuntary response
52 APOCRYPHA - APPROACH*, around Y = unknown
53 IMPASSE - I.E. = that is, around MP = parliamentarian and ASS = fool
54 OFTEN - (s)OFTEN = relent
55 BATHTUB - BATH = spa, TUB = vessel
56 SOGGY , S = small, (m)OGGY = cat
57 TREASURER - (RE-ARREST, U(niversity))*
1 CEDAR - hidden reversed in favouR A DECiduous
3 POMEGRANATE - POM = small dog, E.G. = for instance, RAN = raced, ATE = consumed
4 ORPHAN - alternate letters in oN oAtH, PRO = for, all reversed
5 EMOTIONS - EM OT = TO ME reversed, I = one, ON = touching, S = son
6 SLOANE RANGER - (LORNA ENRAGES)*. Do these still exist - I recall it as an Eighties/Nineties classification
7 BREADFRUIT - BREAD = cash, FRUIT = benefit
8 RIDES - (b)RIDES = marrying women
9 COPYRIGHT - COPY = ape, RIGHT = immediately
10 EATING APPLE - EATING = what consumers like, ALE = beer, around PP = very quietly
11 KNOLL - KNO(w), (J)(i)LL
12 PAGODA - P = quiet, A = area, around A GOD = a deity
18 SMALL-SCALESALE = act of selling, around MALLS = shopping centres and C = caught
20 DAEDALUS - DAED = DEAD reversed, AL(l), US = American
22 ELECTORAL REGISTER - ELECt = chosen, ORAL = exam, REGISTER = set down
23 PENCIL - PL = place, around NICE*
27 ANNOYING - (t)ANNOYING = talking over PA system. I had not seen tannoy a verb before but it is in Chambers
31 ASHRAM - ASH = tree, RAM = sheep
32 CHOREOGRAPHY - CHORE = task, O = round, GRAPH = plot, (nurser)Y
36 PRECIPITOUS - PRECIOUS = valuable, around PIT = stone
37 PRINCELING - PRINCE = pop singer, LING(er) = loiter
39 GASTROPUB - (TOP GRUB)* around AS = what
41 MARMOSET - MAR = month, MO = second, SET = group
45 BICARB - BIB = protection for baby around CAR = vehicle. The definition is "what helps to raise" in baking
46 ANNEXE - AN, (in)N, EXE = river
48 SHOOT - double definition
49 BRASS - BRASS(ie) = old fashioned (golf) club
51 MANOR - MAR = spoil, around NO = number
All done on the morning of, so not outrageously hard. Still, harder than the week before. Fortunately, I had the luxury of doing it on paper, not on a phone, and so, again fortunately, don’t have a time. It all went fairly smoothly except for the south-west corner, in particular 19ac and 23ac. They were my last two in.

I always struggle with the long clues involving assembling random pieces, particularly when I don’t know the answer I’m looking for, but with 23ac I saw the theatre after a while, and then had an “aha” moment when I saw the sacred part! There it was: an ode, but no connection to what a Grecian earns.

I also didn’t know the answer for 19ac, and had to struggle with the wordplay. My clue of the day was 2dn, for the elegant wordplay. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

Clues are in blue, with definitions underlined. Answers are in BOLD CAPS, then wordplay. (ABC*) means 'anagram of ABC'. Deletions are in [square brackets].

1 Boycott is no way to face discrimination (9)

6 Panic, grabbed by fanatical army (5)
ALARM: hidden in fanatic(AL ARM)y.

9 Freedom-fighter’s actions inept — I am worried (15)
EMANCIPATIONIST: anagram (“worried”) of (ACTIONS INEPT I AM*).

10 Muscles relax, about to let oneself down (6)
ABSEIL: ABS (muscles), EIL=LIE backwards=relax “about”.

11 Preach, or otherwise censure (8)
REPROACH: anagram (“otherwise”) of (PREACH OR*).

13 Analysed range of perception dog nearly had in colour (6,4)
BROKEN DOWN: KEN (range of perception), DO[g], all inside BROWN (colour).

14 Poet’s dry, but sounds visionary (4)
SERE: sounds like SEER.

16 Stink in river that’s frightening (4)
REEK: R for river, EEK.

17 Entirely unopened, white wines which may be placed in bed (10)

19 Told to go round capturing Ice Age in painting (8)
SEICENTO: SENT (told to go) + O (round), all “capturing” ICE.

I struggled for some time trying to think of a three-letter word for “Ice Age”! The key is to realise you need to separate “Ice” and “Age”.

Seicento is Italian for 600 but, oddly, in this context refers to the 1600s. Presumably the millennium is taken for granted. The seventeenth century must have been big for Italian art, but don’t press me for details! You can see for yourself here.

20 Diagnostician perhaps right person to see about infestation (3,3)
DRY ROT: DR (doctor, or diagnostician), YROT=TORY i.e. right(wing) person “about”.

23 In theatre, compere retains vigour to introduce sacred verse (3,2,10)
ODE ON MELANCHOLY: ODEON (theatre), MC (compere) “retaining” ELAN, HOLY.

Apparently one of five odes composed by Keats in the spring of 1819, along with "Ode on a Grecian Urn", "Ode to a Nightingale", "Ode on Indolence", and "Ode to Psyche". I didn’t know it.

24 Rhythm is just keeping time (5)

25 One stops diver unintentionally moving fast with energy across river (6,3)
SAFETY NET: the river TYNE inside an anagram (“moving”) of (FAST E*). I’m not quite sure how to read the definition. If they dive, wouldn’t it be intentional? But, you get the gist. Acrobat artists or high wire performers, for example.

1 For example, Julius Caesar’s works in Latin (5)
OPERA: Julius Caesar is an opera, and “opera” is Latin for the noun “works”.

2 I’m happier now I recognise St Thomas: say so on Facebook? (5,4,4,2)
THAT’S MORE LIKE IT: “That’s (Sir Thomas) More”. I’ve never liked any part of Facebook, but “liking it” is what you do there.

3 Skilful composer makes records (8)
ARCHIVES: an ARCH composer, IVES may have been.

4 Cheeky fellow, one in African force (4)
IMPI: IMP, I. A Zulu word.

5 A team of Scots make good parents (10)

6 “Riding a pig” day (6)

7 Suggesting no actor involved in this? (8,7)
ANIMATED CARTOON: one of those clues with the roles reversed. The answer is suggesting an anagram (“animated”) of (NO ACTOR*).

8 Unique, unlike Andersen’s little girl (9)
MATCHLESS: reminding us of The Little Match Girl, a short story by Hans Christian Andersen

12 Notice sister working with no finesse (10)
ADROITNESS: AD (notice), then an anagram (“working”) of (SISTER NO*).

13 Tour show in pubs across the north — decline to go up motorway (9)
BARNSTORM: BARS around N, ROT “going up”, M for motorway. Strange word, that. Perhaps originally referring to stunt flying?

15 Easier way to get a number one? (5,3)
SHORT CUT: double definition, the second referring to the size of comb you ask the barber to put on the hair clippers.

18 Pulse, that is, one on the head (6)
BEANIE: a BEAN is a pulse, IE meaning “that is”.

21 Hear hard men are thrown out of short meeting (5)
TRYST: TRY (hear), then remove H OR from S[hor]T.

22 Young trumpeter’s signal that’s short and loud (4)
CALF: CAL[l], F. The trumpeter here is an elephant, of course.

Times 27,323: Sandwich Watch

With hindsight there was nothing too intricate about the cluing here, which is just as well as I tackled it after an Anchor Steam Beer (Made In San Francisco since 1896), but there was a lightness of touch and faint sense of mischief about it that slowed me down at least a little. One can only assume though that the beer was solely responsible for me sticking RUN TO HEART in at 9ac for a while and solemnly changing 12ac to HOLD ONES HORSES, both of which howlers slowed me down somewhat. Thanks, and grr, to the setter!

FOI 10ac, LOI 17dn, Liked 26ac, 16dn and 20dn. What were your own favourite fillings in this cryptic sandwich?

1 Type of sandwich? Food, say, to be rejected in change of direction (10)
VEGEBURGER - GRUB, E.G. [food, say] reversed in VEER [change of direction]

6 Type of sandwich, large, fed to youngster (4)
CLUB - L [large] "fed to" CUB [youngster]

9 Find another rut requiring ploughing (3,2,5)
RUN TO EARTH - (ANOTHER RUT*) ["requiring ploughing"]

10 Cheers sources of light comedy — it’s soft stuff (4)
TALC - TA [cheers] + L{ight} C{omedy}

12 Stable-boy’s offer? Not so fast (4,4,6)
HOLD YOUR HORSES - double def with "Hold your horses, sir?"

14 Route through a yard? There’s no interest in it (6)
APATHY - PATH [route] "through" A Y [a | yard]

15 Pop group cut record? It goes to the head (8)
BANDANNA - BAND [pop group] + ANNA{l} ["cut" record]

17 Bull frolicked endlessly in late spring (8)
MALARKEY - LARKE{d} [frolicked "endlessly"] in MAY [late spring]

19 Some weather presenter (6)
SHOWER - double def with "one who shows"

22 Unhelpful union is an impediment to moving on (8,6)
NEGATIVE EQUITY - EQUITY being a union, for workers of a thespian persuasion, and negativity being an unhelpful frame of mind.

24 This love rejected would leave you bitter (4)
EROS - reversed SORE [bitter]

25 Reduced opening for leasing arrangement (6,4)
GROUND RENT - GROUND [reduced] + RENT [opening]

26 Far from expansive lie, heartlessly presented (4)
POKY - PO{r}KY [lie, "heartlessly"]

27 Sheer rage, though not entirely harsh (3-7)
SEE-THROUGH - SEETH{e} [rage, "though not entirely"] + ROUGH [harsh]

1 Win or lose, perhaps, it’s some clever betting (4)
VERB - hidden in {cle}VER B{etting}

2 Leave to see the sights of US city, adopting new water transport (7)
GONDOLA - GO to DO L.A., "adopting" N

3 Savage, doing this to body, right and left (12)

4 Studies dismissing Democrat regarding intellect (6)
REASON - REA{d}S [studies "dismissing" D for Democrat] + ON [regarding]

5 Outward-looking, not stopping to accept mark of censure (8)
EXTERNAL - ETERNAL [not stopping] to "accept" X [mark of censure]

7 Article is probing famous person’s affair (7)
LIAISON - A IS [article | is] "probing" LION [famous person]

8 Supports sailors imprisoning one behind the scenes (10)
BACKSTAIRS - BACKS TARS [supports | sailors] "imprisoning" I [one]

11 Clearly avoid yesterday’s meat served up today? (4-8)
COLD-SHOULDER - double def, almost, with a cold shoulder of some kind of meat.

13 Place to see flying fish, same on all trips over Pacific, initially (6,4)
SALMON LEAP - (SAME ON ALL*) ["...trips"] over P{acific}

16 Peculiar proposal for paying poets? (8)
PERVERSE - one could pay a poet PER VERSE.

18 It records quantity of wood found on reserve (3-4)
LOG-BOOK - LOG [quantity of wood] found on BOOK [reserve]

20 I will leave to serve meal attended by university artist (7)
WATTEAU - WA{i}T [I "will leave" to serve] + TEA [meal] attended by U [university]

21 First person in Avignon to satisfy Catholic scholar (6)
JESUIT - JE [first person (singular) in France/Avignon] + SUIT [to satisfy]

23 Long pain after exercising to lose stone (4)
ITCH - {st}ITCH [pain after exercising, "to lose" ST for stone]

Times Quick Cryptic No 1329 by Izetti

It's Friday and we have our old friend Izetti to give us a proper Friday work-out. He has treated us to some great clues and entertaining and smooth surfaces today. Nearly all perfectly fair, although I only knew the scottish hooligan at 11D from a Mephisto crossword, I think. But sometimes you have to recognise the word from the definition and some of the wordplay and checkers and cross your fingers. Did anyone else have to do that here? Lots of worthy candidates for clue of the day, 10A, 13A, 17A , 21A and 4D all raised a chuckle, but I pick the concise 9A. This took me a sub-average 5:40, but I suspect some of our less experienced solvers may have found this a bit tricky. I enjoyed this a lot. Thanks Izetti! How did everyone else like it?
Read all about it...Collapse )

Times Quick Cryptic No 1328 by Des

I'm afraid I have no time to offer. Self-inflicted cognitive impairment. Drunk, you might call it. I did try, I stared at the swimming letters for nearly ten minutes, even got an answer or two, but no. So I just clicked on the answers. Good fun parsing though - many thanks to Des for what looked like might have been a decent puzzle! 

1 Deadly spray a fellow used with fruit (5,6)
AGENT ORANGE - A GENT (a fellow) with ORANGE (fruit)
8 Means to control extremes of rage at home (4)
REIN - extreme letters of RagE and HomE
9 German city-dweller to live right next to ship (8)
BERLINER - to live = to BE, R (right) next to LINER (ship)
10 Establish unit: set it in motion (9)
INSTITUTE - anagram (in motion) of UNIT SET IT.
11 Visibly embarrassed as books are spoken of (3)
RED - Books are READ (sounds like red)
12 Is not prudent using paper at first: expecting litter! (2,3)
IN PUP - This is a very satisfying clue: for the addled mind, it's a join-the-dots mystery novel pitched at about the right level of difficulty.
15 Use train signal (5)
POINT - Nice triple defintiion, I reckon: what's the use/point?; train/point/aim a gun; and point/signal the way. 
18 Sardonic and cautious, dismissing article (3)
WRY - wary = cautious, ditch the A (article)
19 People on a mission could be rude, crass (9)
CRUSADERS - As close enough to a litotes &lit as makes no difference: anagram (could be) of RUDE CRASS.
23 English novelist’s description of one cricket team (8)
FIELDING - double definition
24 Fuel that’s firm and pale in the middle (4)
COAL - Co. (firm) AL (pALe "in the middle"). This was one the clues I did manage to get...
25 Address mute, deranged Shakespearean fairy (11)
MUSTARDSEED - Seeing the answer, I guess there's a neuron in my mind somewhere devoted to the fairy Mustardseed, but if so it's one neuron too much.  A Midsummer Night's Dream is a loathsome play. Anagram (deranged) of ADDRESS MUTE.

2 Gather what’s finally going spare (5)
GLEAN - G ("finally" goinG) LEAN (spare). Nice.
3 Old Poles in National Trust work continuously (7)
NONSTOP - O(ld) N/S = North/South (poles) in NT (National Trust) OP (work)
4 Manoeuvre around hint of rumour in death notice (5)
ORBIT - R (hint = first letter of Rumour) in OBIT (death notice)
5 Helipad moving to Paris (7)
AIRSTOP - move the letters of TO PARIS
6 Win something Gateshead, Galashiels, Dungannon, Donegal and Reigate all have (4)
GAIN - cryptic definition - generous, perhaps, but still nicely done: what do these five hubs of humanity have in common? Well lots of things, but on a trivial level they all have "GA" IN their names.
7 Pokes quietly with sticks (5)
PRODS - P = piano = quietly, with RODS (sticks)
11 Manage to flee (3)
RUN - Double definition, of the stock variety
13 French marshal appearing periodically in Annecy (3)
NEY - appearing "periodically" in aNnEcY. I know nothing about him, but honourable-seeming dying words: "Soldiers, when I give the command to fire, fire straight at my heart. Wait for the order. It will be my last to you. I protest against my condemnation. I have fought a hundred battles for France, and not one against her ... Soldiers, fire!"
14 Is salesman turning up on street last? (7)
PERSIST - IS REP = is salesman, reverse = turning up, ST = street
16 Signs I’d since altered (7)
INDICES - anagram (alteration) of ID SINCE
17 Fleet of foot, after short swim (5)
SWIFT - FT (foot) goes after a short(ened) SWIm. Nice!
20 Tease us for bringing up term of endearment (5)
SUGAR - to RAG US = to TEASE US, bring up = reverse.
21 Author dreaded missing tips (5)
READE - take the tips off dREADEd to get the famous author, Sophie Reade, contestant of Season 10 of Big Brother, who won the Nobel prize for literature a record seventeen times in one year, before turning her mind to physics, invented the "multiverse engine", and thereafter took to jumping between universes to promulgate her unparallelled insight into the human condition. She hasn't been seen for a while, admittedlty, so I guess she's moved on to a different filament of existence and is now granted access into the pantheon of Times crossword worthies. Wikipedia also lists some other people called Reade, should you prefer.
22 Chief attraction featuring in scenic lough (4)
CLOU - hidden in the letters of sceniC LOUgh. Completley new to me, this word: literally French for "nail", and in English means exactly as underlined: chief attraction. As in a 1927 quote from the Observer: "The ‘clou’ of the evening, a new string quartet by Arnold Schönberg". Probably best used sparingly.
Not as much “fun” as George had last week, which is probably just as well. I didn’t initially get much at the top end, and bumbled through the lower clues steadily enough before discovering that the upper ones weren’t that tough after all, coming in just under 20 minutes.
There are an inordinate number of first/last letters variously indicated with a veritable Thesaurus of words for, um, first and last, and what seems like a lot of English and foreign definite articles.
One clue, 14a, I only parsed when I had to in order to satisfy any curiosity you may have.
There’s a Latinate plural that is perfectly sound, but which is not in Chambers (other dictionaries offer it while noting the rarity of its usage)
I offer you clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS to be discovered by clicking on any random pixel on the screen
[any random pixel]

1 Fur or feather stole, acquired in that city (6)
BOGOTA The fur or feather stole is BOA, and in that place GOT for acquired
4 One appraises a couple of vessels taking gold round east (8)
ASSESSOR A is A, the two vessels are both SS , with OR gold, all placed strategically round E(ast)
9 The listener’s part in a murder resolved (7)
EARDRUM Much simpler than I thought, an anagram (resolved) of A MURDER
11 Two bachelors in farm machine, one muttering incoherently (7)
BABBLER Your two bachelors are both B, falling into the BALER farm machine as if in a gruesome episode of The Archers
12 Article framed by extremely emotional woman (5)
ETHEL The extremes of EmotionaL surround THE article
13 Worldwide rules Ivan abused (9)
UNIVERSAL Abuse the letters of RULES IVAN
14 Ominous, having shelter with spongy walls! (10)
PORTENTOUS Ah, right. I thought the shelter was (any old) PORT (in a storm), but it’s not. It’s a TENT, and its wall are constructed by POROUS for spongy
16 Deficiency of the Spanish sierra (4)
LOSS the LOS bit is the plural Spanish “the”, and S is the Nato Sierra
19 Guy appearing in Weber opera (4)
ROPE One of the easier “hiddens”, in WebeR OPEra. Not a random bloke, then
20 Newspaper mostly covering African party’s ritual (10)
OBSERVANCE The Observer (the one I know) is the venerable British Sunday newspaper, first published 1791, the world’s oldest. It’s not quite all there, with an insert featuring the ANC, Mandela’s party, founded in 1912
22 Parts of theatres represented in Paris once (9)
PROSCENIA The presumed plural of proscenium. The letters of PARIS ONCE are re-presented
23 Fast mover reversing army vehicle (5)
RACER The army is represented in brief by the Royal Engineers their vehicle an unprepossessing CAR. Engage reverse gear
25 Employ Aussie truck to tour the Italian islands (7)
UTILISE An antipodean  truck is a UTE (utility vehicle, presumably). The Italian is IL (as in Trovatore) and the islands IS
26 French city mayor originally adopting current travel industry (7)
TOURISM The French city is the rather wonderful TOURS, with a reconstructed 18th century bridge named for Woodrow Wilson. Add the “original” letter of Mayor and insert I (electrical) current
27 Edicts primarily embracing the old will get you the gold (5-3)
BULLS-EYE Edicts are (Papal) BULLS, and we have E from Embracing “primarily”. Add YE for the old version of the. Early printers substituted Y for þ, thorn, and it should always have been pronounce as th, before  Olde Tea Shoppes got hold of it
28 What Smith may be doin’, we hear, being sure to win? (4-2)
SHOO-IN Derived from US slang for a dead cert, sounding like a blacksmith shoeing (a horse) while not botherin’ with the g.

1 Breeder providing accommodation for drones? (9)
BEEKEEPER I assume this is a (not very) cryptic definition, drones being, well, bees. Wiki rather sniffily says “Honey bees are not domesticated and the beekeeper does not control the creatures”: rather like cats, the most we can hope for is that we are suffered to provide them with home comforts and unstinting service. But Wiki also says that “Queen breeders are specialist beekeepers who raise queen bees for other beekeepers”, so that’s alright then
2 Courtyard right in centre of Goliath’s city (5)
GARTH Fine if you know that Goliath came from GATH, and that a garth, once you put the R(ight) in, is “an enclosure or yard (now dialect ); [...] a courtyard within a cloister” (thanks, Chambers)
3 Certain type of singer engaging husband as pageturner (8)
THRILLER Your singer (once you have discarded altos and mezzos and such) turns out to be a TRILLER, engaging his/her Husband
5 Naval officer’s place secured by rent-payer (13)
SUBLIEUTENANT Place is LIEU (French/military)and the rent payer is a SUB-TENANT. It is indeed a specifically naval rank
6 Symbol English doctor associated with the Parisian Metro at first (6)
EMBLEM French the provides the LE, after E(nglish) MB (doctor as in Medicinae Baccalaureus). Finish off with the first bit of Metro
7 Old sailor readily assuming power — Silver, possibly? (4,5)
SALT SPOON Old sailor: SALT, readily SOON, plus P(ower) carefully assembled. The result might indeed be silver(ware)
8 Country river, one in central Russia (5)
RURAL River provides the R, and defines what the “one” is, namely the river URAL, which forms much of the border between Europe and Asia
10 Put on play ultimately about key financier’s charlatanism (13)
MOUNTEBANKERY Put on: MOUNT, plus the “ultimate” letter of plaY surround random one of 7 notes E and BANKER for financier
15 Reportedly criticised exam absorbing one like a hobby? (9)
RAPTORIAL It helps if you see hobby and think falcon. Criticised would be rapped, but sounding as RAPT, the exam an ORAL surrounding I, one
17 Person driving oxen over island (9)
STEERSMAN Does  a helmsman “drive” a boat? Close enough for our purposes, perhaps. Oxen STEERS and the random island MAN
18 Excessive deliveries initially made at a London hospital (8)
OVERMUCH Today’s cricket reference, 6 deliveries producing an OVER. “Initially” Made and University College Hospital (on Euston Road, yours for a hundred quid).
21 Bags of writings showing no end of talent (6)
SCRIPS The writings are SCRIPTS, but with no (neither?) end of talent. The clue would work perfectly well with just the first three words as a DD.
22 It sounds like a fruit tree? Exactly (5)
PLUMB Hooray for silent B!
24 Senior officer drinking in atmosphere in African capital (5)
CAIRO Our senior officer is a CO, and AIR is the atmosphere imbibed.

Times 27321 - no fleas in my bed today

After a couple of orange or red zone SNITCH Wednesdays which had me working harder for a living (well, unpaid!) I found this one more like a Monday stroll in the park. Even if you weren't familiar with the plant at 10d, you could derive it from all the checkers and anagram fodder. Nothing else at all obscure, but some nice surfaces and plenty of double definitions.

I see it's running at 111 on the SNITCH so perhaps not quite as easy as I'd thought, must have been one of my rare good days.

1 Ineptly fail to put cap on? (5,2)
SCREW UP - Double definition, one an example.
5 Lie safely masked by dishonest leader (6)
8 Given requisite kit, doctor cured zoo's last cat (9)
ACCOUTRED - (CURED O CAT)*, the O from last letter of ZOO.
9 Void article withheld from almanac, perhaps (5)
ANNUL - ANNUAL loses an A article.
11 First pair eliminated in decider wrongly announced (5)
CRIED - Remove DE from decider, then (CIDER)*.
12 Peacekeepers negotiated without dressing (9)
UNTREATED - UN = peacekeepers, TREATED = negotiated.
13 Peripheral sportsmen criticise fighter's reach, maybe (8)
WINGSPAN - WINGS being peripheral sportsmen, PAN meaning to criticise.
15 National beauty title for wife? (6)
MISSUS - MISS US, or MISS USA, would be a 'national beauty'.
17 Sack a blackleg, ultimately splitting party (6)
RAVAGE - Insert A, G (last of blackleG) into RAVE = party.
19 Dreadful predicament in which one bishop joins another (8)
HORRIBLE - HOLE = predicament, insert I, B (one bishop) after RR (another bishop)..
22 Adjacent to a hypotenuse? (9)
ALONGSIDE - Kind of double definition; alongside means adjacent, and the hypotenuse is the longest side of a right-angled triangle.
23 Opportunities to study conditions (5)
TERMS - Double definition. You study in term times.
24 Provoke supporters on course verbally (5)
TEASE - Sounds like TEES as in golf tees supporting the ball.
25 Means of viewing men on campaign (9)
PROJECTOR - PROJECT = campaign, OR = men.
26 Less productive student lacking one of the basics? (6)
LEANER - LEARNER loses one of his / her three R's = basics.
27 Anticipated word of warning was withdrawn (7)
FORESAW - FORE ! = word of warning in golf, WAS reversed.

1 Three players introducing bridge complete legal document (6,7)
SEARCH WARRANT - S, E and W being three players e.g. in bridge; insert ARCH = bridge, then add ARRANT = complete, as in arrant nonsense.
2 Disturbance in court out of control (7)
3 As bandage was for lesion? (5)
WOUND - Double definition, two different pronunciations; bandages are wound, and a wound is a lesion.
4 Posh guest of HM returns, having previously left country (8)
PORTUGAL - PORT = left; LAG (guest of HM) U (posh) all reversed.
5 Sorted out untidy state some sleepers prefer (6)
6 Priest in government meeting king with more ceremony (9)
STATELIER - STATE = government, insert ELI the priest, add R for king.
7 Special formulation said to be associated with The Times? (7)
LINCTUS - Sounds like LINKED (to) US, The Times being us. To avoid the need for a 'to' in the clue as in 'linked to us', you need to take the parts separately I think, i.e. LINKED = associated, US = The Times.
10 Meadow inhabitant spinning dastardly webs? (5,8)
LADYS BEDSTRAW - (DASTARDLY WEBS)*. One of those plants you find in meadows and crosswords. The name comes from a time when the dried plants were used to stuff mattresses, as the coumarin in the plant acted as a flea repellant.
14 Guru sitting on lawn in shade (4-5)
SAGE-GREEN - SAGE = guru, GREEN = lawn.
16 Exits works (5,3)
COMES OFF - Double definition. Comes off as in exits the motorway perhaps.
18 Profane Shakespearean cross-dresser emptied theatre (7)
VIOLATE - VIOLA being a female character in Twelfth Night who dressed as a man; TE emptied TheatrE.
20 Upbraids informer among queen's workers? (7)
BERATES - RAT = informer inside BEES the queen's workers.
21 Bird, big one in the sky (6)
DIPPER - The Big Dipper being an alternative name for the Plough constellation, Ursa Major.
23 The third person’s one taking over after time (5)
THEIR - T for time, HEIR being 'one taking over'.

Times Quick Cryptic 1327 by Joker

Joker continues this week's run of mid-difficulty puzzles. Nothing jumped out to start with in the NW, so my FOI was 4dn, but one clue led to another nicely after that. I was thrown off by the lack of capitalisation at 19dn (unless I'm ignorant of a valid abbreviation for the religious ceremony), and had to check that the carpet at 12ac was a thing (it is, though usually called a rug). The surface readings are nice and witty, as is usual with this setter, so difficult to choose a CoD; I'm going to plump for 7ac. On edit: it turns out I got stuck in a mental cul-de-sac at 19dn; see Kevin's comment below.

Definitions underlined.

7 Unattached ladies and gents couple finally (5)
LOOSE - LOOS (ladies and gents) with the last letter of (finally) couplE.
8 Chap after info that’s comprehensive (7)
GENERIC - ERIC (chap) after GEN (info).
10 Sloth I train to run with energy (7)
INERTIA - anagam of (to run) I TRAIN and E (energy).
11 Taxi home: there’s room (5)
CABIN - CAB (taxi) and IN (home).
12 Realistic carpet made from fabric strips in picture (9)
PRAGMATIC - RAG MAT (carpet made from fabric strips) inside (in) PIC (picture).
14 Form of enemy, primarily (3)
FOE - first letters of (primarily) Form Of Enemy.
15 Rubbish to run over (3)
ROT - TO and R (run) all reversed (over).
16 High on drugs, son walked some distance (6,3)
SPACED OUT - S (son) and PACED OUT (walked some distance).
18 A fade out in the middle is so long (5)
ADIEU - A, DIE (fade), and the middle letter of (in the middle) oUt.
20 What reminds me to get men in (7)
MEMENTO - ME and TO with MEN inside.
22 Farm vehicle having rubbish to carry about (7)
TRACTOR - ROT (rubbish) and CART (to carry) all reversed (about).
23 Letter of thanks after article (5)
THETA - TA (thanks) after THE (article).

1 Crucial one million left with social worker after everything (3-9)
ALL-IMPORTANT - I (one), M (million), PORT (left) and ANT (social worker), after ALL (everything).
2 Prediction of rising changed in form (8)
FORECAST - OF reversed (rising), then RECAST (changed in form).
3 Sensed the texture of soft material (4)
FELT - double definition.
4 Some fleabag has them horrified (6)
AGHAST - hidden in (some) fleabAG HAS Them.
5 What’s tricky to keep balanced in university round? (8)
UNICYCLE - UNI (university) and CYCLE (round).
6 Lacking brightness, poet is sent up (4)
DRAB - BARD (poet) reversed (sent up).
9 Orthodox religious community on Iona left (12)
CONVENTIONAL - CONVENT (religious community), IONA and L (left).
13 Fly Ecuadorean capital after some uprising doesn’t end (8)
MOSQUITO - QUITO (Ecuadorean capital) after a reversal of (uprising) SOMe without the last letter (doesn't end).
14 Get into difficulties and go down outside loch (8)
FLOUNDER - FOUNDER (go down) surrounding (outside) L (loch).
17 Warmly approve of Merida when travelling (6)
ADMIRE - anagram of (when travelling) MERIDA.
19 I’m holding mass as prayer leader (4)
IMAM - I'M surrounding (holding) MA (Mass., as in Massacheusets). I AM (I'm) surrounding (holding) M (mass).
21 Don’t start to hit small child (4)
MITE - sMITE (to hit) missing the first letter (don't start).

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