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Times Quick Cryptic No 1339 by Teazel

Our Friday entertainment today comes from Teazel. And a very neat puzzle it is too. Lots of very straightforward clues to give the less-experienced a good foothold, I think, and a good variety of clue types. Lessons today include how to spot a definition by example, the use of the NATO phonetic alphabet, insertions, deletions, anagrams, charades, a double definition and a lovely semi-&lit. But my COD goes to 18d for the little joke in the wordplay. Only 1a and 2d gave me any significant pause for thought as I completed this in 4:50. Thanks Teazel! How did everyone else get on?
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I didn't find this particularly difficult, though my time wasn't blazing-Monday-fast either; but I'd certainly rate it on the gentle side, with all the definitions being entirely straightforward and most of the wordplay involving quite basic cryptic operations, a lot of putting X into Y to find Z. There was a hint of the old-fashioned about this too with the vehicular fly, and duffers getting laced, which made me think it might have been the work of an older setter? Perfectly acceptable fare of course, cheers setter!

FOI was 10ac, LOI 19d. My Clue of the Day was probably the comparatively elaborate 2dn, but for once I have an anti-COD, the slur that is the surface of 22ac. The only way I'm going to countenance "light blues good, dark blues bad!" in these parts is if it's just an Orwellian prelude to "light blues good, dark blues BETTER!" Despite, um, the two most recent boat race results...

ACROSS
1 First stronghold to protect an indefinite number after retreat (8)
FOREMOST - FORT [stronghold] to "protect" reversed SOME [indefinite number].

5 Something surgeon provides for pain (6)
STITCH - double def

10 Artefact of Catholic priest being held? (5)
RELIC - R.C. [Catholic], ELI [priest] being "held"

11 Bound to take chaps into extraterrestrial sort of escape (9)
ELOPEMENT - LOPE [bound] to take MEN [chaps], into E.T. [extraterrestrial]

12 The fellow is entertained by Greek following rationalist philosophy? (9)
ATHEISTIC - HE IS [the fellow | is] "entertained" by ATTIC [Greek]

13 Language of love used by wise man (5)
OSAGE - O [love] used by SAGE [wise man]

14 Stand where gateman has returned (7)
ETAGERE - hidden reversed in {wh}ERE GATE{man}

16 A top man, weak initially, is getting aroused (6)
WAKING - A KING [a | top man], W [weak] initially

18 Old soldiers being gathered came to the same conclusion (6)
AGREED - AGED [old], R.E. [soldiers] being "gathered"

20 Food Rosy brought around as a possible first course? (7)
CHOWDER - CHOW [food] + reversed RED [rosy]. Soup is a good first course

22 Oxford will always be beaten (5)
LACED - double def, Oxford as in a shoe. Outrageous surface

23 Glow of one about to engage in 11? (9)
FIRELIGHT - I RE [one | about] to "engage in" FLIGHT [11 = elopement]

25 Conservative head receiving a guy who lives on an island? (9)
CARIBBEAN - C BEAN [Conservative | head] "receiving" A RIB [a | guy]; guy as in "tease"

26 Part of America with no room for trendy goddess (5)
DIANA - {in}DIANA [part of America, with "no room for" trendy = IN]

27 One going quickly turning miserable, star losing love (6)
DASHER - reversed SAD [miserable] + HER{o} [star, "losing" love = O]

28 Diner travelling in carriage prepared to talk to fellow passengers? (8)
FRIENDLY - (DINER*) ["traveling"] in FLY [carriage]

DOWN
1 Confronts having to collect ash container — they may be very hot (8)
FURNACES - FACES [confronts], having to "collect" URN [ash container]

2 Man perhaps writing half of the letters (5)
RALPH - R [perhaps writing] + ALPH{abet} ["half of" the letters]. Reading, writing and arithmetic are the "three R's"

3 A line became hard to sort out, as only fit for computer input? (7-8)
MACHINE-READABLE - (A LINE BECAME HARD*) ["to sort out"]

4 Son — little couple’s beloved one (7)
SWEETIE - S WEE TIE [son | little | couple]

6 Mad golfer keen to wed — a temptation that should have been avoided? (4,2,9)
TREE OF KNOWLEDGE - (GOLFER KEEN TO WED*) ["mad"]

7 Parent upset over boy getting cut in the head (9)
TREPANNED - (PARENT*) ["upset"] over NED [boy]

8 Instruction to give girl corporal punishment here? (6)
HITHER - or else, HIT HER! [instruction to give girl corporal punishment]

9 Great big bully pursuing maiden in the capital (6)
MOSCOW - OS COW [great big | bully] pursuing M [maiden]

15 Cigars given out with ale and port (9)
ALGECIRAS - (CIGARS + ALE*) ["given out"]

17 Dry area sinking into sea somewhere across the Channel (8)
BRITTANY - TT A [dry | area] "sinking into" BRINY [sea]

19 Minimal length after incompetent person cut cloth (6)
DUFFEL - L ["minimal" length] after DUFFE{r} [incompetent person "cut"]

20 Investigator given a ring in awkward situation (7)
CORONER - O [a ring] in CORNER [awkward situation]

21 Not half thin, like many a birthday cake cut up (6)
SLICED - SL{im} ["not half" thin] + ICED [like many a birthday cake]

24 Delighted to take in Jehan’s last for organ (5)
GLAND - GLAD [delighted] to "take in" {jeha}N. Just discovered that Jehan Alain was a French composer and organist, which does help appreciate this clue

Times Quick Cryptic No 1338 by Mara

I found this on the trickier side of things, being pushed over the 15 minute mark thanks to some faffing about in the NE. I mis-parsed 7d, and spent some time trying to square the answer with only half the definition. I also came a cropper at 9ac having entered a plausible enough alternative answer (well, plausible except for that pesky little detail about it having to intersect with other clues). Further time was spent at 10ac trying to remember that word for "delicate" that was on the tip of my tongue ("diaphanous" - right length, as it happens). I don't think I was particularly quick round the rest of it either , but there were some nice clues - I remember particularly liking 4ac,16d and the two double definitions at 8ac and 24ac. Very good puzzle - many thanks to Mara!

Across
1 Some discontent on gallant island nation (5)
TONGA - Hidden in "some" of the letters of discontenT ON GAllant
4 Surrender vilified after retreat (7)
DELIVER -  REVILED = vilified, reversed = after retreat. Surrender/deliver/hand over/etc.
8 Heavy trampolinist? (7)
BOUNCER - double definition, a heavy = a guard, etc. Nice!
9 Average is capital! (5)
PARIS - PAR (average) IS. I had MEANS (mean's = average's) entered, and forgot on returning to the NE that I wasn't quite 100% happy with it.
10 Expensive clasps are, almost entirely, delicate (10)
PRECARIOUS - PRECIOUS (expensive) clasps/holds AR ("ARe" almost entirely)
14 An American girl far from home? (6)
ABROAD - A broad = an American girl
15 Nebuchadnezzar, for example, daring (6)
BOTTLE - double definition. I thought a Nebuchadnezzar was the largest bottle size, coming in at 20 normal bottles of champagne/claret, but I see the largest is 40 bottles and called either Melchizedek or Midas. Good luck giving that thing a shake. Normally a stupid custom, but I'd have it as the opening round of a decadent strong man competition: a minute to shake it, points for highest fountain, and whatever's left in the bottle must be consumed before continuing.
17 US president plying heroes with wine (10)
EISENHOWER - anagram (plying) of HEROES with WINE
20 Artist mid-morning, maybe, returning (5)
MANET - TEN AM is plausibly mid-morning, reverse/return
22 Hearing of our nation, this English composer (7)
BRITTEN - is heard the same as BRITAIN (our nation)
23 Give account of art near complex (7)
NARRATE - anagram (complex) of ART NEAR
24 Arctic fleet (5)
NIPPY - double definition. Fleet/quick/nippy. In my book, the lovely surface more than makes up for any temperature differential there might be between "arctic" and "nippy".
Down
1 Instrument neighbour put up (4)
TUBA - to ABUT = to neighbour, put up/reversed
2 Absence of American intelligence (4)
NOUS - NO (absence of) US (American)
3 Discover fluff in car seat (9)
ASCERTAIN - anagram (fluff) of IN CAR SEAT
4 Frank having credit renewed (6)
DIRECT - anagram (renewed) of CREDIT
5 Drink: a complete round (3)
LAP - double definition
6 So bottomless, opening for drink (8)
VERMOUTH - VERY = So, bottomless = remove the bottom letter ; MOUTH (opening)
7 Incredible dessert I held back (8)
RESISTED - anagram (incredible) of DESSERT I. I was just blindly convinced that the parsing was an anagram of "dessert" within which the "I" was held, giving "back" for "resisted". I know, doesn't make any sense.
11 Old African horse and I, struggling (9)
RHODESIAN - anagram (struggling) of HORSE AND I
12 Out of order, nameless traders (8)
SALESMEN - anagram (out of order) of NAMELESS
13 Voting system about right, is one captive? (8)
PRISONER - PR (Proportional Representation = voting system) going about/around R(ight) IS ONE.
16 Fix strange blue drink (6)
DOUBLE - DO (fix) ; anagram (strange) of BLUE. Do = fix as in "the person came to do the boiler. Also works as a noun: in a do / a fix / a tight spot.
18 Cease work below street (4)
STOP - OP (work) below ST(reet)
19 Sole aplenty, reel in two, all tails up (4)
ONLY -  all tails up = all last letters, reversed of aplentY, reeL iN twO
21 Food and drink (3)
TEA - double definition.
I made rather a dog’s brexit of this one, badly mis-entering 5d and thus rendering 13ac as vaguely plausible AMNESTY and making 6d impossible.  Dozing off didn’t help this fluffery, so a not-difficult crossword stretched me to 27.31 to reach a satisfactory conclusion. 1ac I parsed post-submission, and would probably have left it to the blogger du jour if it wasn’t me. I was rather blind to the lettuce leaves at 26d and entered with fingers crossed.
It’s notable for some of the more straightforward anagram clues scattered through the grid
Clues are in italics, definitions in underlined italics, and solutions in BOLD CAPITALS.



Across
1 Officer's co-worker decorated in famous Venetian building at last (6,3)
POLICE DOG Right. Your famous Venetian is (Marco) POLO, insert ICED for decorated and at the last letter of buildinG
9 Secret affair left couple holding a child (7)
LIAISON L(eft) II, Roman for couple, with A held therein and SON for child.
10 Organise AGM, or be subject to ban (7)
EMBARGO “Organise” practically screams “anagram!” Fiddle with the next few letters (AGM OR BE) and get the name of the apocryphal brassiere that was taken off the market when they realised how it read when reflected.
11 Alluring female is short of shilling after time (5)
HOURI  One of the rewards for the faithful in Moslem paradise, IS without S(hilling)  after an HOUR of time.
12 Working girl has an ideal place to live (7-2)
SHANGRI-LA Working suggests (in a barely less stentorian voice) “anagram!”. Muck about with the letters GIRL HAS AN. The earthly paradise imagined by James Hilton in “Lost Horizon”.
13 Humility means transcending yourself, primarily (7)
MODESTY I think MODES just about translates means, ways to an end. Whatever, add TY, the first letters of the next two words.
15 Adjutant returned after month for papers etc (5)
MEDIA The adjutant is an AIDE, reversed after M for Month
17 Sheepish male with drug, pursuing fine physique (5)
FRAME The sheepish male is, of course, a RAM, add today’s drug of choice E, and tack both onto F(fine)
18 Division of gas producer changing hands (5)
SHARE The gas producer is the controversial SHALE, changing hands means the L becomes an R
19 Give birth with anguished cry? (5)
WHELP I thought this was a double definition, but it’s the sneaky W(ith) plus a cry of HELP!
20 Don't drink tar and varnish! (7)
ABSTAIN AB for tar, both seamen, and STAIN for varnish
23 Most unjust if nature's destroyed (9)
UNFAIREST “Destroyed” is this clue’s merest hint of anagram, this time of IF NATURE’S
25 Run home with rogue (5)
INCUR I think run as in “run a tab” at the bar, thus incurring costs. At home IN, rogue supplying CUR
27 Turned to use backless cooker, perhaps explosive (7)
APPLIED The backless cooker iis an APPLE without the E, and the explosive an Improvised Explosive Device
28 Develop case of gangrene, say (7)
GESTATE The case of gangrene yields the G and E the rest provided by say: STATE
29 Figure on plane reportedly demolished fish (9)
RECTANGLE Sounds like wrecked plus ANGLE for the verb, fish



Down
1 People, as ever, welcoming polite word (6)
PLEASE Today’s hidden. I’ll leave you to spot it...well done!
2 Larkin and colleagues tease liars in bar (10)
LIBRARIANS “Tease” stage whispers “anagram!” Reorder LIARS IN BAR Philip Larkin (“They f*** you up, your mum and dad) was a custodian of books at the University of Hull
3 Perhaps hare after eccentric old maid? (4,4)
CARD GAME Of which “Old Maid” is an example. A CARD is an eccentric person. And a hare counts amongst GAME for the huntin’ shootin’ set.
4 Policeman seizing stolen loincloth (5)
DHOTI Most famously worn by Gandhi Ji. Today’s policeman is a Detective Inspector, who takes HOT for stolen on board.
5 Feed a friend too much salt (9)
GLUTAMATE Feed too much GLUT, A for a, MATE for friend
6 Hit piece of furniture, gathering dust (6)
BASHED The furniture is a BED, the gathered dust is ASH
7 Rebecca's son oddly ignoring new status (4)
ESAU Was the hairy one of Jacob’s favourite missus’ twin boys. Ignore the odd letters of nEw StAtUs
8 The setter writes to support worker, contrary sort (8)
ANTITYPE  Translate “the setter writes” to “I TYPE” and tack on the worker ANT
14 Condemned English art, laying it on thick (10)
SLATHERING Not the nasty house in Harry Potter, but an anagram of ENGLISH ART signalled in a meaningful whisper by “condemned”
16 One shunning less stylish nursing sister in Oz? (4,5)
DOWN UNDER Less stylish is DOWDIER, which I (one) shuns and is replaced a little earlier with NUN for sister
17 Wretched old bird (8)
FLAMINGO Wretched is represented by FLAMING, a milder emphatic swear word than others beginning with F. Old just donates the concluding O
18 Leave gym with initially accelerated pulse (5-3)
SPLIT-PEA Oddly enough, my version of Chambers offers only the plural version with no hyphen. Leave is SPLIT (as in the joint), gym is PE and A the first letter of Accelerated
21 Ethereal and extremely attractive hideaway seen from the south (6)
AERIAL The two extremes of AttractivE plus LAIR for hideaway reversed
22 Perhaps Dorothy's served up heavy food (6)
STODGE Perhaps gives EG, and Dorothy’s short version is DOT’S Reverse all
24 Head of Finance sped about Swiss capital (5)
FRANC Head of Finance F, sped: RAN, about (more often ca) C
26 Leaves hotel for club (4)
COSH Leaves as in lettuce leaves COS plus Nato H(otel)
19 minutes for me to solve and parse this one, nothing to frighten any horses here. It has a slight literary flavour, with Kipling, Dickens and Shakespeare (for example) cropping up. I've never read Kipling's poetry, which seems to be regarded as non-PC these days, but 1a was clear enough. I remembered 9a from Dickens' David Copperfield, although I only read now that Dickens' own father was incarcerated there for a while.
I can't think of more to say about it, except that it was pleasantly straightforward and fair. No obscure elements, antelopes, plants, subatomic particles... nothing for a scientist to drivel on about.



Across
1 Crew beginning to digest a poem — one by Kipling (8)
MANDALAY - MAN = crew, D(igest), A, LAY = poem.
5 Podgy head of company introducing partner (6)
CHUBBY - C(ompany), HUBBY = partner.
8 Way to engage English class (3)
SET - ST = street, way; insert E.
9 Old prison mother will inevitably visit, do we hear? (10)
MARSHALSEA - MA = mother, SHALSEA sounds like 'shall see'. Old prison in Southwark, referred to often in Dickens' works.
10 Fairly plump soldiers about to take a French course (8)
ROUNDISH - OR = soldiers, ordinary ranks; reversed = RO: UN = a in French; DISH = course.
11 Detached territory, one with seaside feature spanning lake (6)
ISLAND - I = one, SAND = seaside feature, insert L for lake.
12 Terminates alliances (4)
AXES - Double definition.
14 Pirate captain twinkles, entertaining last of many children (10)
KIDDYWINKS - KIDD being the pirate captain; WINKS = twinkles; insert Y being the last of manY.
17 Geometrician rejected books, heading off one arguing in defence (10)
TOPOLOGIST - OT = books; rejected = TO; (A)POLOGIST = one arguing in defence, with the head removed.
20 Exploit of daughter on river (4)
DEED - River Dee, D for daughter.
23 It may be fired about 45 inches in temper (6)
PELLET - An ELL measured 45 inches; insert it into PET which can mean a fit of temper.
24 Wicked one put out by my sneering? (8)
SCORNFUL - wicked = SINFUL; drop the I (one put out), insert COR = exclamation my!.
25 Limited view initially of girl missing point, hating some Brits (10)
ANGLOPHOBE - ANGL(E) = limited view; O = initially of; PHO(E)BE = girl missing E a compass point.
26 Aristocrat using good French in retirement (3)
NOB - French for good, reversed.
27 Port Wellington left before onset of engagement (6)
BOOTLE - BOOT = Wellington, L = left, E = onset of engagement.
28 Delaying getting accommodation for books, perhaps (8)
SHELVING - Double definition.

Down
1 Perpetrator of terrible crimes — a soldier, possibly (9)
MISCREANT - (CRIMES)* then ANT = soldier possibly.
2 Carved toggle teens sported touring our country (7)
NETSUKE - (TEENS)* around UK. NETSUKE, as I have seen on the Antiques Roadshow, are small Japanese carved pieces, made of ivory or more recently of hippopotamus tooth. They are usually in the form of a toggle to close a bag with a string, as Japanese robes had no pockets so chaps had to carry a pouch or box for their bits and bobs.
3 Naval force represented by rising male artist (6)
ARMADA - ADAM = male, RA = artist, rising = reversed, ARMADA.
4 Striking? Police officers are doing it regularly (9)
ARRESTING - Double definition.
5 Miss Pecksniff, for example, showing wariness about appeal (7)
CHARITY - CHARY = showing wariness, IT = appeal, insert IT into CHARY. Charity Pecksniff was one of two daughters in Martin Chuzzlewit (the other was Mercy).
6 Pure evil on the up! Not taken to court about it? (9)
UNSULLIED - evil = ILL; reversed (on the up) = LLI; insert into UNSUED = not taken to court.
7 Attend prison, leaving note for 1950s dropout (7)
BEATNIK - If you attend prison you would BE AT NICK, drop the note C.
13 Draw attention to rebuff outside bank (9)
SPOTLIGHT - SLIGHT = rebuff, insert POT = bank, as in pot of money at poker perhaps.
15 Outmanoeuvre Charlie, reluctant washer-up (9)
DISHCLOTH - DISH = outmanoeuvre, C for Charlie, LOTH = reluctant.
16 Carrier starts to ship goods, securing awfully bad deal (9)
SADDLEBAG - S and G being the 'starts' to ship, goods; insert (BAD DEAL)*.
18 Circles in which literary princess is offered culinary herb (7)
OREGANO - REGAN daughter of King Lear, goes inside O O being circles.
19 Result of the writer supporting public business enterprise (7)
OUTCOME - OUT = public, CO = business, ME = the writer.
21 High-ranking old Turk’s aim visiting parts of Fife (7)
EFFENDI - END = aim, goes into (FIFE)*.
22 Trying experience of boy turning up during exam (6)
ORDEAL - ORAL = exam, insert ED reversed, Ed being a boy's name.

Times Quick Cryptic 1337 by Marty

I struggled accross the line in twice my normal time, and didn't really get to enjoy much of it unitl writing the blog. I thought the last few down clues were really good fun, for example, and my favourite is 18dn despite not knowing the word! Some others also took a bit of working out (14dn, 15dn, and inexplicably the anagram at 17ac), and I'm still not convinced by 6ac - what am I missing?

It's not unusual for me to turn red when, after blogging a puzzle I found quite easy, several commenters report that they had the very opposite experience. Let's hope it's the other way round today, and I turn green instead!

Definitions underlined.

Across
1 Utilise CV somehow to create Biblical work (9)
LEVITICUS - anagram of (somehow) UTILSE CV.
6 Uniform worn by daughters is no good (3)
DUD - U (uniform, phonetic alphabet) surrounded by (worn by) two Ds (daughters). I think we may have had this conversation before, but to me 'X worn by Y' naturally indicates 'Y surrounded by/wearing X', not the other way round. Anyway, it's not Xs and Ys, it's Ds and Us, so the answer was easy enough.
8 Trouble removing edging from aperture, black (7)
PERTURB - all but the outermost letters (removing edging) from aPERTURe, with B (black).
9 Proportion grasped by adroit artist, looking back (5)
RATIO - reverse hidden (grasped by... looking back) adrOIT ARtist.
10 Put a different way, this order now transformed (2,5,5)
IN OTHER WORDS - anagram of (transformed) THIS ORDER NOW.
12 Every so often, bear will cry loudly (4)
BAWL - every other letter from (every so often) BeAr WiLl.
13 Previously, and never to be repeated? (4)
ONCE - double definition.
17 Ponder dismal moves to find paradise (8,4)
PROMISED LAND - anagram of (moves) PONDER DISMAL.
20 Bell for dinner perhaps catches one leaving (5)
GOING - GONG (bell for dinner, perhaps) surrounding (catches) I (one).
21 Pipe crossing road by a green (7)
VERDANT - VENT (pipe) surrounding (crossing) RD (road) and A.
23 Organ is present for Cockney speaking (3)
EAR - sounds like a Londoner saying (for Cockney speaking) "ere" (here, present).
24 Where to place billiards cue, being alert? (2,3,4)
ON THE BALL - double definition.

Down
1 Bound to cut loose in the end (4)
LOPE - LOP (to cut) and the last letter of (in the end) loosE.
2 Queen entering London museum’s portico (7)
VERANDA - ER (queen) inside (entering) V AND A (Victoria and Albert, London museum).
3 Greek character is tense, failing to reach conclusion (3)
TAU - TAUt (tense) without the last letter (failing to reach conclusion).
4 Unfortunately, owe BBC for item of spin? (6)
COBWEB - anagram of (unfortunately) OWE BBC.
5 In which to gauge the opinions of suckers? (5,4)
STRAW POLL - cryptic definition.
6 Prevent gent leaving cleaning fluid (5)
DETER - DETERgent (cleaning fluid) with the 'gent' bit missing (leaving).
7 Sleepy and thirsty, suppressing pained cries (6)
DROWSY - DRY (thirsty) surrounding (suppressing) OWS (pained cries).
11 Lecture from monarch in total disarray (7-2)
TALKING-TO - KING (monarch) inside an anagram (disarray) of TOTAL.
14 Preserve farewell musical setting (7)
CANTATA - CAN (preserve) and TA-TA (farewell).
15 High point of a river: wow! (6)
APOGEE - A, PO (river), and GEE (wow).
16 Material taken from novel vetoed (6)
VELVET - hidden in (taken from) noVEL VEToed.
18 Willow, abnormally large, that is overlooking river (5)
OSIER - OS (outsize, abnormally large), I.E. (that is) on top of (overlooking) R (river).
19 Turned up after hours with others (2,2)
ET AL - reversal of (turn up) LATE (after hours).
22 Eggs in a line picked up? (3)
ROE - sounds like (picked up) "row" (a line).

Times Cryptic 27332

I'm not sure why I needed 51 minutes to complete this one as on reflection some of the clues that might not have been out of place in a QC. However things usually seem much easier with hindsight.

Here's my blog...Collapse )

Times Quick Cryptic 1336 by Izetti

Another fine offering from Izetti. Not, for me at least, an easy write in (I took over 12 minutes) but all the clues seem clever and well defined. LOI was 6dn as I groped for this quite common crossword-land term - then I also gave it COD for the switch.

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Times 27331 - My tenth anniversary blog!

Time: 34 minutes
Music: Berlioz, Harold in Italy, Menuhim/Davis.

Yes, my very first blog for Times for the Times was that of April 20, 2009, which is still available in the archives.   I got the assignment from our founder, Peter Biddlecombe, at the beginning of April: Kororareka and I were to replace Foggyweb, a fine blogger who has disappeared without a trace, with Kororareka to go first.   I was quite chuffed at the time just to be a blogger, never imagining I'd that eight years later I'd be taking over running the blog.   Things were a little different back when I started: for some mysterious reason it was customary to omit one or two clues, and of course we didn't have the fine automated blog-generating templates that Mohn2 later developed.   Over the years, I've had a lot of fun, blogged a lot of puzzles, and recruited and trained a number of rather good bloggers.

Now for today's puzzle.   I did not find this as easy as I should have, stumbling over some answers that should have been obvious, and having to resort to an alphabet trawl to finish.   However, I seem to acquired the knack of preparing my brain to recognize the correct answer and parsing when it finally does show up.   I did biff a few, and will have to figure out the cryptics for the blog.

Across
1 Peg once adjusted with skill in instrument (12)
GLOCKENSPIEL - Anagram of PEG ONCE + SKILL
9 Poor knight, feeble, wanting wife (5)
NEEDY - N + [w]EEDY.
10 Fellow lawyer Conservative required (9)
MANDATORY - MAN + D.A. + TORY.   It is rather surprising that the American 'D.A.' has become so familiar it can be casually referred to as 'lawyer' in a UK puzzle.
11 Putting arachnid in pipe? (8)
STICKING - S(TICK)ING.  If you think a spider is the only arachnid, well, you're wrong.
12 Reflected on hard image in code (6)
CIPHER - RE H PIC backwards, biffed by me.
13 Story from a relative omitting one gripping point (8)
ANECDOTE - A + N[i]EC(DOT)E, a rather busy cryptic.
15 Holy ship’s company mostly in blue (6)
SACRED - SA(CRE[w])D.
17 Walk out on expanse of land without water (6)
DESERT - double definition, although the 'without' tries to make you think otherwise.  Deletion?  Enclosure?   Why, no.
18 Anxious at home with scoundrel coming into view (8)
INSECURE - IN + SE(CUR)E.  Another biff for me.
20 Stop business, enthralled by stone church (6)
SCOTCH - S(CO)T + CH.
21 Beginners lead rest astray (8)
STARTERS - STAR + anagram of REST, and not an anagram of LEAD REST at all.   If you glanced at the clue and wrote in 'learners', you didn't count the letters.
24 Boring sport, one followed by a few (9)
WEARISOME - WEAR + I + SOME.
25 Weakness about love, say (5)
VOICE - V(O)ICE, I think we just recently had the reverse in another puzzle.
26 Revolutionary behind lines, protected by new name, unusually polite (4-8)
WELL-MANNERED - LL in an anagram of NEW NAME + RED.
Down
1 Style of rap starts to generate almost overwhelming dread (7)
GANGSTA - G[enerate]ANGST A[lmost].
2 Chaps in team, number climbing on Scottish island above loch lacking depth (3-11)
ONE-DIMENSIONAL -  ON EDI(MEN)S + IONA + L, one everyone will biff.
3 King and leader of armada chat in boat (5)
KAYAK - K + A[rmada] + YAK.
4 Propose an item broadcast after drama (8)
NOMINATE - NO + anagram of AN ITEM.
5 Long stretch of trip in Europe (4)
PINE - hidden in [tri]P IN E[urope].
6 Destroy order, losing time after time (9)
ERADICATE - ERA + DIC[t]ATE.
7 Impure hero, sort mistakenly being made head of religious community (6,8)
MOTHER SUPERIOR - Anagram of IMPURE HERO, SORT.   For this one, I actually did use the cryptic.
8 Cross in past hour, upset, then relieved (6)
HYBRID -  BY H upside down, + RID.  I couldn't think of anything to fit the checkers, came back and saw it at once.
14 Dreadful in operation, ignoring a command (9)
DIRECTIVE -  DIRE + [a]CTIVE.   I had at first put 'direction', which sort of fits the cryptic, but doesn't work with WELL-MANNERED.
16 Area guarded by soldier perhaps on border, a thing that’s abhorred (8)
ANATHEMA - AN(A)T + HEM + A, another biff, and one that caused me to erase 'learner'.
17 Reject racket broken by seed (6)
DISOWN - DI(SOW)N, with 'seed' as a verb.
19 Dean set to work in part of London (4,3)
EAST END - anagram of DEAN SET.
22 Bird that’s black and yellow, not caught (5)
RAVEN - [c]RAVEN, a chestnut I was slow to recognize.
23 Mere share (4)
POOL - double definition.   I had prepared myself by thinking 'mere' might refer to a body of water, so when I did an alphabet trawl I saw at once what the answer must be.

QC 1335 by Joker

Another very brief visit from me this week as this solve and blog were squeezed into the early morning fog in the middle of a packed bank holiday weekend of entertainment and general feeding and watering of both sides and three generations of the astartedon family over Easter.

FOI was 10A. LOI was 8A. I was thinking IMMORALLY if you see what I mean, and was beginning to doubt my ability to spell when it wouldn't fit. That must be my COD as well. Took me just under 10 minutes while dealing with a lot of other stuff (see above) so I think it was probably pretty straightforward for most people. Good mix of clues, with only one anagram as far as I can see, with a hardly a ripple in the hyaline surfaces. Thank you Joker for a skilfull Monday-morning composition.

Definitions are underlined as usual and everything else is explained just as I see it in the simplest language I can manage. NATRAF did not even give a flicker although there were some interesting combinations of words that I might have commented on had I had but world enough and time.

Across
7 Secret language of fish — English? (4)
CODE - COD (fish) + E (English).
8 Unethically taking a medicine initially by mouth (8)
AMORALLY - A + M (medicine initially) + ORALLY (by mouth).
9 Fix up couple again (6)
REPAIR - RE-PAIR (couple again).
10 Dull field study (6)
LEADEN - LEA (field) + DEN (study).
11 Roman sea horse (4)
MARE - MARE = sea in Latin.
12 Where batter needs to stand to rise (8)
INCREASE - in cricket the batsman, or batter, stands IN the CREASE.
15 Uncalled for to provoke Nazi police (8)
NEEDLESS - NEEDLE (provoke) + SS (Schutzstaffel, Hitler's notorious bodyguard and special police force).
17 Bivalve left in river (4)
CLAM - L (left) in CAM (river).
18 Go along with sector changes (6)
ESCORT - straight anagram ('changes') of SECTOR.
21 Noticed big ship in Mediterranean (6)
MARKED - the ARK was a big ship, and here it is 'in' the MED(iterranean).
22 Concerned with large ship round cape that goes flat out (8)
RECLINER - RE (concerned with) + LINER (another large ship) 'round' C (cape).
23 Endlessly examine horses at breeding farm (4)
STUD - STUDy 'endlessly'.
Down
1 All the press reports Conservative too old? (8)
COVERAGE - C (conservative) + OVER AGE (too old).
2 Discussion with girlfriend, perhaps about English book (6)
DEBATE - DATE (girlfriend, perhaps) 'about' E (English) + B (book).
3 Very fine hotel supported by British Airways? (8)
HAIRLINE - H (hotel) 'supported by' (in this DOWN clue) AIRLINE (British Airways? - the interrogation mark is because alternative airlines are available).
4 Bird, female bird (4)
FOWL - F (female) + OWL (bird).
5 Is able to copy small snack (6)
CANAPE - CAN (is able) + APE (to copy).
6 Bill used regularly to be sad (4)
BLUE - BiLl UsEd 'regularly' = BLUE.
13 Just after money for expensive fabric (8)
CASHMERE - MERE (just in the sense of 'only') 'after' CASH (money).
14 Spies finally remove surveillance (5-3)
STAKE-OUT - S (spieS 'finally') + TAKE OUT (remove).
16 Error removed from V-1 missile sketch (6)
DOODLE - DOODLEBUG (nickname for the V-1 missile during WWII) with BUG (error (in computer programming)) removed.
17 Dead body of rook in a group of trees (6)
CORPSE - R (rook as in chess piece) 'in' COPSE (group of trees).
19 Oven-cooked dish starts to smoke the embarrassing way (4)
STEW - intial letters of ('starts to') Smoke The Embarrassing Way.
20 Some unfortunate fish (4)
TUNA - hidden word: unforTUNAte.

Mephisto 3059

This puzzle was not attributed, but if the normal order of things was followed, it should be a Tim Moorey Mephisto - it certainly feels like it, since there's a bit of cricket, the usual crafty wordplay, and some pop culture references (though this time I thing I get them).

Oh dear, and in writing this, I just realized it must be Tim Moorey as he appears in one of the answers. Wonder if that threw anyone.

Definitions, the first of which is underlined, can be verified in Chambers.

Away we go...


Across
1 Sailors to meet Italian topless ladies — with any luck! (9, two words)
ABSIT OMEN - ABS(sailors), IT(Italian) then WOMEN(ladies) missing the first letter
11 Catches in practice area (4)
NETS - double definition, with nets being a practice area for cricket
12 Nausea or runs associated with spidery stuff (8)
ARANEOUS - anagram of NAUSEA,OR
13 Lamb made by TV cook needing bit of dill (4)
ELIA - pseudonym of the author Charles Lamb, the TV cook is DELIA Smith, remove the D(ill). A reminder that living people (save the Queen) are off limits in the daily puzzle, living people can appear as entries or worplay elements in Mephisto
14 Constant publicity absorbing state bodies (8)
CADAVERS - C(constant), then ADS(publicity) containing AVER(state)
15 Relish pop of recent times (6)
PALATE - PA(pop), LATE(of recent times)
16 Kind of skirt oddly twee around posterior (5)
TASSE - alternating letters in TwEe surrounding ASS(posterior)
17 Glossing over distant sound (7)
FARDING - FAR(distant), DING(sound)
20 Mean types restricting time for flowers (7)
LOTUSES - LOUSES(mean types) containing T(time)
24 Indian board game is one behind chap playing (7)
PACHISI - IS, I(one) after an anagram of CHAP
25 Depressions turbulent in Tunis after vacation (7)
TROUGHS - ROUGH(turbulent) inside T(uni)S
27 Public disgrace, alas trapping yours truly (5)
ATIMY - AY(alas) containing TIM (the compiler)
30 Mean guy confronting lad in trouble (6)
RIBALD - RIB(guy, tease) and an anagram of LAD
31 Get into a queue shortly for an antiseptic (8)
FORMALIN - shorten FORM A LINE
32 Note Income support racket from before (4)
UTIS - UT(musical note), IS(income support)
33 Binge drinking in public gets ridicule (8)
FLOUTING - FLING(binge) containing OUT(in public)
34 To some extent, one thrifty European country (4)
NETH - hidden in oNE THrifty
35 Cheapskate brought round guide, one to take you for a ride (9)
MISLEADER - MISER(cheapskate) containing LEAD(guide)

Down
2 Book on English party: discuss at length (8)
BELABOUR - B(book), E(English) then the LABOUR party
3 Fired up in argument getting dagger (8)
STILETTO - LIT(fired) reversed in SET-TO(argument)
4 Patriarch lives with one about to get up (5)
ISAAC - IS(lives) with A(one), then CA(about) reversed
5 Discretion is needed on motorway getting taxis! (7)
TACTISM - TACT(discretion), IS, M(motorway) - biological taxis
6 Furious head accepted in religious college (7)
MADRASA - MAD(furious), RAS(headland), A(accepted)
7 Democrat gets welcome up in North American state (6)
NEVADA - D(democrate) and AVE(welcome) reversed in NA(North American)
8 Deer is active (4)
DOES - double definition (deer can be plural)
9 Hard balls reduced runs (4)
NURS - anagram of RUNS
10 Idiot, for example that’s in Air defence speared and wounded (9)
ASSEGAIED - ASS(idiot), EG(for example) then IE(that's) inside AD(air defence). This word always reminds me of W.C. Fields in The Bank Dick
15 Axes partner overlooking English county (9)
PALSTAFFS - PAL(partner), then STAFFS(Staffordshire, English county)
18 Followed meditation working on cast (8)
IMITATED - anagram of MEDITATION minus ON
19 Voters pick mineral (8)
NOSELITE - the voters are NO'S, then ELITE(pick)
21 Spot record sun, nothing less (7)
EPHELIS -  EP(record) then HELIOS(sun) missing the O(nothing)
22 Surround one arresting cake decoration, not the first one (7)
ACCINGE -  ACE(one) containing ICING(cake decoratiion) missing I
23 Bath’s unpleasant smell? Not a word (6)
HUMMUM - HUM(unpleasant smell) and MUM's the word
26 Rock cake inside for head of church (5)
ABUNA - AA(crosswordland's favorite rock), with BUN(cake) inside
28 Weight in India much served up (4)
TOLA - A LOT(much) reversed
29 Mostly hard to get Revolver (4)
IRON - I think this is meant to be a shortening of IRONY or IRONIC leading to the gun
16:56. I did most of this pretty quickly and had all but two clues solved in under ten minutes, but then I hit a total roadblock on 10ac and 2dn and wasted the rest of my solving time staring blankly at them, in increasing frustration. This sort of thing seems to be happening to me a lot at the moment.

I don’t know why 2dn took me so long to see: it’s not that hard, although it is an excellent clue. But without the crossing R I was completely stumped by 10ac. Even with the R I struggled to make any sense of it until I spotted that the word NURSERIES fitted the checkers, at which point I unravelled the wordplay and entered the answer without any idea about the definition.

Not too much by way of obscurity this week: that meaning of NURSERY, perhaps, the mineral, and the very odd-looking word at 8dn. But the crystal-clear wordplay should guide you through… provided you know what a gam is. All in all a very nice puzzle, as we’ve come to expect from Dean. Concise clues with lovely surfaces and some really neat devices. 4dn is a thing of beauty.

Oh, and Happy Easter, of course. I'm not remotely religious but this didn't stop me getting quite upset watching Notre Dame burning this week. You don't have to believe the stories (or know them to Goliath's-birthplace levels of detail) to acknowledge and appreciate their cultural significance and the beauty of a building like that.

Definitions are underlined, anagrams indicated like (THIS)*, anagram indicators like this.

Across
1 Weakness, say, when love is gone
VICE - VoICE.
3 Downing Street’s first defence? Outstanding
SWALLOWING - Street, WALL (defence), OWING (outstanding).
10 Head back before cycle races?
NURSERIES - reversal of RUN (head), SERIES (cycle). A nursery is a type of horse race, apparently. It’s not in Collins or ODO (other than as a qualifier as in ‘nursery stakes’) but it is in Chambers.
11 Fantasy figure finally in shot
DREAM - DR(figurE)AM.
12 Encouraging one citizen to hold back tears
INSPIRATIONAL - I, NATIONAL (citizen) containing a reversal of RIPS.
14 A university asked for a piece of early music
AUBADE - A, U, BADE (asked). A ‘a song or poem appropriate to or greeting the dawn’ (Collins) hence ‘early’.
16 Trouble giver sadly seen in maturity
AGGRIEVE - AGE containing (GIVER)*
18 Catch some balls before he gets a run
OVERHEAR - OVER (some balls), HE, A R.
19 Drains in house superfluous
USES UP - contained in ‘house superfluous’.
21 Thick, green, and fresh veg grown here
KITCHEN GARDEN - (THICK GREEN AND)*.
24 Open book has become visible
BLOOM - B, LOOM.
25 Conductor returning home (twice) after opera
TOSCANINI - TOSCA (opera) then two reversals of IN (home). Arturo of that ilk, an old-timey conductor who appears fairly regularly in these things.
26 Flash, as exploding cannon does
NANOSECOND - (CANNON DOES)*.
27 Left in charge, do a runner
FLEE - F(L)EE.

Down
1 See sign for “champion
VINDICATOR - V (see, short for Latin vide), INDICATOR.
2 The noise made by my army band
CORPS - sounds like ‘cor!’ (my).
4 German city centre lost in wartime bombing
WEIMAR - (WARtIME)*. Lovely clue.
5 They secure a great deal
LASHINGS - DD. The second definition is one I associate with The Famous Five and ginger beer, but I’ve never read any of the books so this could be entirely spurious.
6 Doing his job should be plain sailing?
ORDINARY SEAMAN - CD. We are so used to seeing this chap in a supporting role as just a couple of letters, it’s nice for him to get the starring role for once.
7 In storm, sail needs perfect quality
IDEALNESS - (SAIL NEEDS)*.
8 Waterproof cover offered by school parking
GAMP - GAM, P. Those of us who crashed and burned in the championship a few years ago by entering OPHOD instead of OGHAM will not forget this word for ‘school’ in a hurry. A GAMP is an umbrella, apparently, which was news to me.
9 Old backing paper
BEHIND THE TIMES - not one that needs much explanation.
13 Mineral water created in London
SERPENTINE - ‘A dark green mineral consisting of hydrated magnesium silicate, sometimes mottled or spotted like a snake's skin’. The lake in Hyde Park is man-made, hence ‘created’.
15 Fall through crack on floor
BREAK DOWN - BREAK (crack), DOWN (knock down, floor). I can see how these things mean much the same thing but I’m struggling to come up with a situation in which they would be interchangeable.
17 Poor way to get praise rejected
PATHETIC - PATH, reversal of CITE. I didn’t know that CITE could mean ‘praise’, but it’s there in ODO.
20 Concert in heart of Brunei hasn’t been cancelled
UNISON - brUNei, IS ON (hasn’t been cancelled).
22 School, boring one
DRILL - DD.
23 Old outlaw in Scottish town
OBAN - O, BAN.
A well above average Jumbo, I felt, with the usual preponderance of straight-down-the-line clues pleasingly peppered on this occasion with a nutritious selection of &lits, reverse cryptics and just plain quirky meta-offerings. Many things in contention for COD, but I'll give my award to 35dn as I always enjoy the breaking of the fourth wall, if indeed crosswords can be said to have walls. I'll leave it to the readership (that's you) to enumerate some of the other splendid clues in this grid - many thanks setter, for some real cryptic belters!

ACROSS
1 Side holding power in a splinter group (6)
ASPECT - P [power] in A SECT [a | splinter group]

4 Underworld boss having mobile that goes on by itself (10)
PERSEPHONE - PHONE [mobile] that goes on PER SE [by itself]

10 Go to form new colony as part of vicious war, maybe (5)
SWARM - hidden in {viciou}S WAR M{aybe}

14 Getting hump somehow in ordeal is characteristic of success (9)
TRIUMPHAL - (HUMP*) ["somehow"] in TRIAL [ordeal]

15 Strange edict about one article after another penned by relative is shown to be true (13)
AUTHENTICATED - (EDICT*) about A [one article] after THE [another (arcticle] "penned" by AUNT [relative]

16 Refuse to admit learner that’s less developed (7)
LITTLER - LITTER [refuse] to "admit" L [learner]

17 On foot, it provides quick cover (7)
TOENAIL - cryptic def: quick as in the part of the foot under the nail.

18 Cruciverbalist’s last kind of wordplay, having put out third puzzle (7)
TANGRAM - {cruciverbalis}T + AN{a}GRAM [kind of wordplay, "having put out third" (letter)]

19 Avoiding offence, in a way — like copper, initially (11,7)
POLITICALLY CORRECT - referred to be the initials PC, just like a Police Constable is.

21 Behave like obsequious dog or other little animal (4)
FAWN - double def

24 Decide not to run with small old-fashioned weapon (5)
SPIKE - S PIKE [small | old-fashioned weapon]. As in "to spike an article".

26 Investor finally compensated, holding current issued shares (8)
RATIONED - {investo}R ATONED [compensated], "holding" I [current]

27 Make from sale, having also included promotional activity (8)
BRANDING - BRING [make from sale], having AND [also] included

29 Result of making name for oneself as fighter (3,2,6)
NOM DE GUERRE - cryptic def

30 What can be got from what’s in menu, in short (11)
NOURISHMENT - (MENU IN SHORT*) ["what can be got from what's in..."], &lit

32 Rock group worth breaking up? Not so far (6,5)
STONE'S THROW - STONES [rock group] + (WORTH*) ["breaking up"]

35 Cut back — result of freeze, say — in authoritarian regime (6,5)
POLICE STATE - reversed LOP [cut] + ICE STATE [result of freeze | say]

37 Respite, as European is accepted by British fairly (8)
BREATHER - E [European] is accepted by B RATHER [British | fairly]

39 Bad fortune besetting European — score reduced by six (8)
FOURTEEN - (FORTUNE*) ["bad"] "besetting" E [European]. Score as in "twenty".

40 Something outstanding about university’s appearance initially (5)
DEBUT - DEBT [something outstanding] about U [university]

43 What’s the matter with intelligence? Poet’s pronouncement (4)
GREY - homophone of GRAY (Thomas, 1716-1771, of Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard fame). Grey matter is "the matter with intelligence".

44 It’s half a world away from where we are here (8,10)
SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE - cryptic def. Rather assuming that the solver is not in Australia!

47 Improperly dispensed upscale form of medication (7)
CAPSULE - (UPSCALE*)

48 Fruit was revolting with it (7)
ROSEHIP - ROSE [was revolting] + HIP [with it]

50 King protected by subjects in heated situations (7)
TROPICS - R [king] "protected" by TOPICS [subjects]

51 Enjoying, for example, cricket? Over count is repeatedly revised (13)
INSECTIVOROUS - (OVER COUNT IS IS*) ["revised"]

52 Fifteenth century house in city (9)
LANCASTER - double def

53 In peculiar way, how swindler is selected for side? (5)
ODDLY - reverse cryptic of S{w}I{n}D{l}E{r}

54 Full of amazement since a lot of weight I lost (10)
ASTONISHED - AS TON I SHED [since | a lot of weight | I | lost]

55 Oblivion achieved ultimately in drink in this? (6)
BENDER - {oblivio}N {achieve}D, in BEER [drink], semi-&lit

DOWN
1 Wild animals run into stakes (9)
ANTELOPES - LOPE [run] into ANTES [stakes]

2 Painters initially list oil in mixed medium art technique (11)
POINTILLISM - P{ainters} + (LIST OIL IN*) ["mixed"] + M [medium]

3 Left in piece of jewellery on time for royal court (7)
CAMELOT - L [left] in CAMEO [piece of jewellery] on T [time]

5 Report written up about century, brilliant effort (5)
ECLAT - TALE [report] reversed about C [century]

6 House of Lords, perhaps, having ethos tamely changed (7,4)
STATELY HOME - (ETHOS TAMELY*)

7 Confuse pagan with theory of ancient philosophy (11)
PYTHAGOREAN - (PAGAN + THEORY*)

8 See way to support past master, above all (8)
OVERLORD - LO RD [see | way] to support OVER [past]

9 Motor vehicle, say, in competition overturned (6,3)
ESTATE CAR - STATE [say] in reversed RACE [competition]

10 Behind one's back (6)
SECOND - double def

11 Later adjusted temperature in simple option (11)
ALTERNATIVE - (LATER*) ["adjusted"] + T [temperature] in NAIVE [simple]

12 Subject of most original palindrome? (5)
MADAM - I think this is a cryptic reference to "Madam, I'm Adam", allegedly the first palindrome spoken, in the Garden of Eden after the creation of Eve.

13 Current malfunction in LA? (5,7)
SHORT CIRCUIT - reverse cryptic, as a LA{p} is a "short" circuit.

20 Scholarly American's volume found on a railway (8)
LITERARY - LITER [American's volume] found on A RY [a | railway]

22 Female article of clothing close, along with male one (7)
NIGHTIE - NIGH [close], along with TIE [male (article of clothing)]

23 Motivated in this way with drug, in conclusion (8)
ENTHUSED - THUS [in this way] + E [drug], in END [conclusion]

25 Take part in novel event held after ten (8)
ELEVENTH - hidden in {nov}EL EVENT H{eld}

28 One seeing what’s going to be charged for sweet (5,3)
BULL'S EYE - if you're about to be charged by a bull, the thing seeing what's going to be charged (i.e. you) is the bull's eye!

29 What contains primarily oats, say, easily being consumed by horse? (7)
NOSEBAG - O{ats} S{ay} E{asily} B{king}, "consumed" by NAG [horse], semi-&lit

31 Popular with constituents, including female relative that’s erratic (12)
INCONSISTENT - IN [popular] with CONTENT [constituents], "including" SIS [female relative}

33 Given too much publicity about European vote presented (11)
OVEREXPOSED - OVER E X POSED [about | European | vote | presented]

34 Golf clubs holding English Open, finally — competitors don’t want it (6,5)
WOODEN SPOON - WOOD & SPOON [golf clubs] "holding" E [English] + {ope}N

35 Reduce new academic work that immediately follows this (11)
PARENTHESIS - PARE N THESIS [reduce | new | academic work]. The parenthesis follows the clue, containing its enumeration!

36 Moderated about one part of speech being held up, in short (11)
ABBREVIATED - ABATED [moderated] about reversed I VERB [one | part of speech]

38 Specialized publications I create so cryptically (9)
ESOTERICA - (I CREATE SO*)

41 Manager of funds changed rate with more confidence (9)
TREASURER - (RATE*) ["changed] + SURER [with more confidence]

42 Sailor aboard sturdy launch (5,3)
START OUT - TAR [sailor] "aboard" STOUT [sturdy]

45 Liable to embrace sweet girl, initially, being vulgar (7)
PROFANE - PRONE [liable] to embrace F{anny} A{dams} (as in "sweet Fanny Adams")!

46 Forceful or pitifully weak about check (6)
PUNCHY - PUNY [pitifully weak] "about" CH [check]

47 Capital in company affected by inflation? (5)
CAIRO - CO [company] "affected by inflation", which is to say, filled with AIR

49 Cry holding son giving sign of life (5)
PULSE - PULE [cry] "holding" S [son]
Well, nothing easy about this one, although it is all solvable. Certainly there was no biffing for me – each clue required work to unravel. I only got two answers on my first pass, and slowly struggled through the rest. LOI was 19dn. I still have one clue, 12ac, unparsed as I start the blog! Well done indeed, setter!

There were too many good clues to nominate a clue of the day. I liked 1ac, 1dn, 7dn and many more. PS: now I’ve finally deciphered 12ac, I’m going to put it in a category by itself, and ask whether you all loved it or hated it!

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

Across
1 Report men wearing stockings: caught in the act! (4,2,6)
BANG TO RIGHTS: BANG=report, OR=men, “wearing” TIGHTS=stockings.

8 Repair of concrete fencing not everyone wanted at first (7)
RENEWAL: REAL=concrete “fencing” NEW=the first letters of Not Everyone Wanted.

9 Liberator’s shame is recollected (7)
MESSIAH: “re-collection” of (SHAME IS*).

11 Sound introduction to science encyclopedia? (7)
VOLUMES: VOLUME=sound, as in “turn the volume/sound up”. S is the introduction of S[cience].

12 Boy who’s lost both parents, or lacking sight of one of them? (7)
PHANTOM: the boy who lost his parents might be ORPHAN TOM, and “lacking OR”, that makes him PHAN TOM! A sighting of either of his dead parents would of course also be a PHANTOM.

13 It’s dangerous to consume canned beef (5)
TOXIN: OX in TIN, aka “canned beef”.

14 Liquid hotter — not running (2,3,4)
ON THE TROT: “liquify” (HOTTER NOT*).

16 One’s hardest defeat: on the floor! (5,4)
LEVEL BEST: BEST=defeat, “on” LEVEL=floor.

19 Articles dipped in warm salt water that nanny did? (5)
MAAED: the MED is the warm salt water. Insert the article A twice.

21 Let out room Oscar has got in a state (7)
VERMONT: RM is an abbreviation for room, Oscar the phonetic name for the letter O. Put them in VENT=let out.

23 An element of revulsion after personnel turned away (7)
RHODIUM: take HR=personnel and “turn it away”. Then add ODIUM.

24 Like a hand recalling web designers? (7)
SPIDERY: a cryptic definition, relating to shaky handwriting.

25 Somewhat overwhelmed by Balmoral, maybe, finding the place haunted (7)
HABITAT: I’ve seen a Balmoral HAT as part of Scots dress, but didn’t know the name. Insert A BIT=somewhat.

26 Visit, at home, one indebted to doctor for energy and strength (7,5)
STAYING POWER: STAY=visit. IN=at home. GP=doctor. OWER=one indebted, i.e. owing. Assemble.

Down
1 King who sang by accident’s heard in three countries (7)
BENELUX: I didn’t know BEN E. King, but of course did know some of his hit songs as lead singer of The Drifters. LUX sounds like “Luck’s”.

2 Reporter’s cardinal sin, dropping in plugs (7)
NEWSMAN: NEWMAN is the Cardinal. “Plug” with SIN, after dropping the IN.

3 Contract that’s far-sighted (9)
TELESCOPE: double definition. The first definition jarred with me initially, but “telescoping” can, I guess, describe either opening (extending) or closing (contracting) the optical device. Chambers says specifically ‘closing’, so ignore me.

4 Deservedly get to cover number one in music chart again (5)
REMAP: REAP=deservedly get, M=number one (first letter) in Music.

5 Be unused, perhaps, to rage (2,5)
GO SPARE: another double definition.

6 Do bird? Third time, not second, for conman (7)
TWITTER: TWISTER=conman has two T’s. Replace S for “second” by a third T for “time”.

On edit: there is interesting discussion in the comments below on why the definition should be “do bird” rather than “conman “. I thought that “time, not second” must mean change S to T, not vice versa, so that pointed me to the answer. Even more subtly, if you were to read the wordplay as saying change the third T to an S, the result should be TWITSER!!

Still, like the commentators below, I admit I don't enjoy clues where you come away thinking, "I'm still not really sure which end of the clue is the definition"!

On further edit: I think this clue is unambiguous, although with the tricky definition ("do bird" meaning "imitate birdsong") and the cunning editing instructions, it's undoubtedly a challenging clue!


7 Coward’s acts, as it happens, concealed by soldiers (7,5)
PRIVATE LIVES: I thought of Nöel Coward at first glance, but it took a long time to think of the play.

10 Obligation to accommodate politician after seat, his disastrously lost (6-6)
HUMPTY-DUMPTY: HUMPTY=a type of seat. DUTY=obligation, “accommodating” MP=politician.

15 Odd trip south coach can take (9)
TUTORSHIP: “odd” arrangement of (TRIP SOUTH*).

17 Short change perfect pest (7)
VARMINT: VAR[y] = change, MINT = perfect.

18 Places to go and see? Not exactly (7)
LOOSELY: LOOS=places to go (nudge, nudge). ELY=see.

19 Night light to display behind dish briefly (4-3)
MOON-BOW: MOON=display behind. BOW[l]=dish.

20 Fellow celebrity (7)
ALISTER: the celebrity might be an A-LISTER, so the definition is this random fellow.

22 Wear for the first time fashion clothing line (3-2)
TRY-ON: TON=fashion, “clothing” RY=railway line. I’m not sure the definition is consistent with the hyphen in the answer. I would think a try-on is a scam or such like, to try on is to wear for the first time.

 

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.

Across
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)
FRICTION - FICTION outside R
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

Down
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)
CLIMB - C + LIMB
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?

ACROSS
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]

DOWN
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?

Across
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).

Down
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...

Across
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

Down
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.


Across
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)
ISOLATED - (IDEA LOST)*
11 Marrow jam (6)
SQUASH - Double definition.
13 S American rang up AA a year after crashing (10)
PARAGUAYAN - (RANG UP AA A Y)*.
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.

Down
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

Introduction

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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