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Times 27385 - ‘Armless Fun

Welcome from sunny Milos - product of 100 volcanic eruptions, supplier of a quarter of the world’s cat litter and home to the extraordinary Eleonora’s falcon.

This was, on the whole, I would say, a pretty Mondayesque offering, which would not have been out of place on Verlaine’s watch of late. I managed it in bang on 18 minutes, showing rather less of the 13d that has characterised my recent attempts. Since I don’t have access to the magic widget on my iPad, this offering will be ‘imperial’ rather than ‘metric’, i.e. all answers and no clues. A bit like poor old Aphrodite without her appendages...

ACROSS

1 PLAYGROUND - PLAY G[ranted] ROUND
8 SPAR - DD (double definition)
9 INSOBRIETY - IN BRIE in SOT Y
10 BIRD - DD; girl=bird in many British people’s lexicons; a falcon is sometimes mistaken for a hobby
12 WATER BUFFALO - BUFF A[ctive] in WATERLO[o]
15 BILITERAL - B[ritish] I[ndustry] LITERAL; ME is a two-letter word, which is what the solution means
17 IRENE - I RENE (with acute disorder)
18 UPPER - [s] UPPER
19 PEACETIME - E in PACE (with deference to) TIM E
20 ESTRANGEMENT - STRANGE MEN in ET
24 EYED - sounds like IDE
25 TANTAMOUNT - ANT in TA MOUNT
26 SEMI - reverse hidden
27 STAFF NURSE - NUR (former rail union, run for eternity by the gloriously named Sid Weighell) in STAFFS (Staffordshire) [engin]E

DOWN

1 PRIM - P RIM
2 ALSO - A LSO (London Symphony Orchestra; geddit?)
3 GIBRALTARIAN - BIG reversed ALTAR in anagram* of RAIN
4 OLIVE - O [c]LIVE; Sir Robert Clive gained fame in India, but died, as I recall, in Quebec. His former residence in Kent is well worth a visit, along with Ightham Mote
5 NOTABILIA - BATON reversed I AIL reversed
7 PHILATELIC - LATE in PHIL IC
8 RADIOMETER - TRIED A MORE*
11 OF MICE AND MEN - COMMEND A FINE*; when Hitchcock told Truffaut that it was easier to make a film from a short story or a novella than a long novel, he could have been thinking about Lewis Milestone’s faithful adaptation of the Steinbeck story.
13 OBTUSENESS - extended definition, as some angles are obtuse, i.e. more than 90 but less than 180 degrees. (Yes, I had to look that up.)
14 SLIPSTREAM - PILS reversed MASTER*
16 REPUGNANT - PUG NAN in RET (to soak)
21 MOTIF - MOT (test for used cars in the UK) IF (the poetical ide of the cruciverse)
22 BURR - RUB reversed R (king). Apparently, some older Northumbrians produce their R in this way (along the lines of the French R in ‘restez ici’). Daniel Defoe picked this up in his travels through the land: ‘I must not quit Northumberland without taking notice, that the Natives of this Country, of the antient original Race or Families, are distinguished by a Shibboleth upon their Tongues in pronouncing the letter R, which they cannot utter without a hollow Jarring in the Throat, by which they are as plainly known, as a Foreigner is in pronouncing the Th: this they call the Northumberland R, or Wharle; and the Natives value themselves upon that Imperfection, because, forsooth, it shews the Antiquity of their Blood.’
23 STYE - T[ack]Y in SE

Times Quick Cryptic 1380 by Mara



At 6 minutes I found this one very easy and it takes my run of consecutive solves within my target 10 minutes to 8 so far. There are a few answers that may not be familiar to less practised solvers so there's no need to be disheartened if you took a lot longer or struggled to finish.


Here's my blog...Collapse )

Mephisto 3068 by Tim Moorey

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. 4A is a perfect example.

I found this puzzle a bit harder than average

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

ACROSS

4 Costs to include one million for optically inactive mixtures (9)
RACEMATES: R(ACE-M)ATES; a racemic mixture is optically inactive because of its molecular structure
10 A stake once again in winter resort (8)
AVIEMORE: A-VIE-MORE; a town in the Cairngorms National Park, in the Scottish Highlands.
11 Fresh early on, Ann leaves Indian office (4)
DEWY: DEW(ANN)Y;
12 Italian behind horse sedative (8)
BARBITAL: BARB-ITAL; BARB=horse; Barbital, marketed under the brand names Veronal for the pure acid and Medinal for the sodium salt, was the first commercially available barbiturate. It was used as a sleeping aid from 1903 until the mid-1950s.
13 Sure about areas of land in Shetland (4)
URES: (sure)*;
14 Back UK vote in front of Scotland’s leader? That’s bad in Perth (5)
ONKUS: UK-NO reversed-S(cotland);
15 Sort of bar to retain in towers (6)
MINARS: M(IN)ARS; battered Mars Bar is the unofficial national dish of Scotland
17 Stinking drunk outdoors after tons knocked back (7)
ODOROUS: (outdoors – t)*
20 Rural wrangling about one member of branch (7)
RAMULAR: (rural)* surrounds A-M;
23 Rope dance barred for an audience (7)
HAYBAND: HAY-sounds like “banned”;
27 Inferior Scottish trap, hell for leather at first (7)
SHILPIT: trap=shill then change final “l” to PIT=Hell;
28 Wrong about famous Doctor being reported — it’s a certainty (6)
SHOO-IN: SIN surrounds HOO which sounds like (Dr) WHO;
29 Sort of rice in shallow pan one’s extracted (5)
PATNA: PAT(I)NA;
31 Cook brought back duck dish from Greece (4)
GIRO: RIG reversed-O; more usually “gyro”;
32 Standard celebrated around a number of stadia in Persia (8)
PARASANG: PAR-A-SANG; a historical Iranian unit of distance
33 Good internet service provider creating stir (4)
GAOL: G-AOL; stir=prison;
34 Linden found touching in story (8)
LIME-TREE: LI(MET-RE)E;
35 Deliberate damage done in idle talk (9)
PONDERATE: PRATE surrounds (done)*;

DOWN

1 Timeless footwear in parties could be slippers (9)
BABOOSHES: BASHES surround BOO(t); a kind of slipper without quarters or heel, worn in Turkey
2 Drive a new vehicle endlessly around Germany, Schleswig-Holstein, say (7)
DVANDVA: DV-A-N-D-VA(n); drive=DV (as in street names); Germany=D; two words joined together to form a compound word;
3 Obscure Muslim ruler and king (4)
MIRK: MIR-K;
4 Plant again in February not following accepted ground (6)
REBURY: (February – f – a)*;
5 A weekday in Colombia with new footwear (7)
COTHURN: CO-THUR-N; a knee- or calf-length boot made of leather or cloth which laces closed, but is open across the toes
6 Song from honey is My Way essentially (7)
MELISMA: MEL-IS-M’-(w)A(y); M’=my as in M’ Lord; the singing of a single syllable of text while moving between several different notes
7 Hooked a dipstick that’s shortened (5)
ADUNC: A-DUNC(e);
8 After supply cut, able to work at high-speed (8)
TERAFLOP: (after)*-LOP; In computing, floating point operations per second is a measure of computer performance
9 Jugs seen in tight sweater (forgive a little tastelessness!) (5)
EWERS: (sweater – a – t)*;
16 Huge quiches coming up — that’s the plan (9)
STRATAGEM: MEGA-TARTS reversed;
18 Neat conclusion to Motley Fool, a figure of speech (8)
OXYMORON: OX-(Motle)Y-MORON;
19 Father as before folds smart church vestment (7)
MANIPLE: MA(NIP)LE;
21 Wickedness hard to work out in a mother (7)
ADHARMA: A-(hard)*-MA;
22 American cotton worker is a rebel (7)
AGINNER: A-GINNER;
24 Missing tail coat located by poet (6)
PLASTE: PLASTE(r); Spenser for placed;
25 Hostage initially inside so long getting ready for China (5)
CHIAO: C(H)IAO; more usually jiao, a tenth of a yuan;
26 Suitable packaging left for yellow plant (5)
GOOLD: GOO(L)D;
30 Take up bottom canvas sheet (4)
TARP: PRAT reversed;
I enjoyed this a lot. It seemed very fresh, and potent as well. There were several CDs, all very amusing; no (usually either dull or unfathomable) DDs; a not-untimely reference to a particular conjuncture in US-Russian relations; an invitation—to me, at least—to some historical/etymological edification (clue 18): and even a term (also US-centric) that reminded me, and in an agreeable way, of my own backwoods background, as well as of my all-time favorite singer (the song was at first, at least, more associated with Joan Baez, though she didn’t write it… either).

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

ACROSS
1 Old actress predicted modern movie formats (5,5)
BETTE DAVIS — BETTED (“predicted”) + AVI (Audio Video Interleaved), plural. Anyone got Bette Davis AVIs?
7 One opening in long black robe (3)
ALB — ”One” is A, then L[-ong] and B(lack). The L is clued this way because it’s not a conventional abbreviation for “long,” whereas B is conventional for “black.”
9 From its reading, novel completely changed (14)
TRANSMOGRIFIED — (from its reading)*
11 Sporty husband into tactile dancing (8)
ATHLETIC — (tactile)* with H(usband) inserted
12 Chief’s friend grabbing skirt (6)
PRIMAL — P(RIM)AL
14 Lack of infrared type of film (4)
NOIR — No I.R.
15 Reagan’s proposal to make love not war? (4,6)
ZERO OPTION — CD. Yes, indeed, in 1981 US President Reagan proposed the withdrawal of all Soviet and United States intermediate-range nuclear missiles from Europe, and—although at this juncture anti-nuke activists accused him of making the offer only in full expectation of its being rejected, thereby giving him an excuse to up the ante in the arms race—there’s actually a good chance he was sincere. It was as if he had never realized what nuclear weapons could do until after he became president (which is not hard to believe). A few years later, after Gorbachev came to power in the USSR, serious nuke-reduction treaties were signed. (Oh, yes, those were the days…)
18 Fellowship found in unexciting marches (10)
BORDERLAND — B(ORDER)LAND. This sense of “marches” does not derive from the fact that dividing lines between, say, England and Scotland or Wales have often been embroiled in conflict and thus have been patrolled by armed forces (my first thought!); “march” in this sense is derived from “mark,” originally meaning a boundary, or the sign of a boundary (and eventually only a sign). (Although the sense of walking purposefully and/or in step with others derives directly from an Old French term for “trample,” even that word may originate in a Frankish term meaning “mark.”) Did you know that the words “marquess,” “marchioness,” et “marquis” all derive from this sense of “march”? I didn’t!
19 Light brown part of pie crust (4)
ECRU — Hidden
21 Small village managed 50 per cent of chores (6)
RANCHO — RAN + CHO[-res]. I haven’t found support for this definition. Wiktionary says that in Spanish it means, “properly, a mess, mess room,” and gives two American definitions: a small hut or a “large grazing farm.” In Merriam-Webster, the first def. is simply “ranch.” I know there can’t be some odd UK alternative! There are towns with this word in their name, however—por ejemplo, Rancho Velos, in Cuba. Jackkt found the definition in the SOED, which I have not at hand.
23 Puzzling item opened by bank (8)
THROWING — TH(ROW)ING. Cambridge: “A bank is also a row of similar objects: A bank of computers displays the latest weather data.
25 Underwear for mum? (14)
UNMENTIONABLES — CD
26 Complex parts with radius taken in (3)
HAD — ”Complex” being “hard,” which lets go of its R(adius)
27 Rebel soldier in group is heading for trouble (10)
SEPARATIST — SE(PARA)T + IS + T[-rouble]

DOWN
2 Stay inside weaving rather more material (9)
EARTHLIER — LIE inside (rather)*
3 Fiddle one considers not hard (6)
TINKER — T[-h]INKER
4 Miss one’s opening of French wine (10)
DEMOISELLE — DE (of, Fr.) + MO(I)SELLE
5 Very mature rising star (4)
VEGA — V + AGE<=
6 Bones touch and move the wrong way (8)
STIRRUPS — STIR (“touch”—as in being, uh, moved emotionally) and “move,” SPUR<=
7 Saw a cross on an island (5)
AXIOM — A + X + IOM (Isle of Man)
8 That imparted by a figure of speech? (4,8)
BODY LANGUAGE — CD. A “figure” can be a “body,” which can express itself more or less eloquently
10 Artist realises old river branch is crossing (12)
GAINSBOROUGH — GAINS, “realises” (in the financial sense) + B(O)(R)OUGH
13 Old criminal, still running? (10)
MOONSHINER — CD. I learned when on vacation with my teetotaling parents many years ago that I had two great-uncles in Pennsylvania who used to run stills. Bob Dylan (who purveys some fine whiskey himself these days) is singing “Copper Kettle” in my head as I type. “We ain’t paid no whiskey tax / Since 1792.” The only time I’ve ever drunk moonshine was in the early 1970s at a bluegrass festival on a hill near my hometown—I was just so bored by the twanging banjos after a half-hour… I don’t remember much else about that night.
16 Wound in chest is something irritating (9)
ITCHINESS — (in chest)*
17 My opinion is old-fashioned (8)
METHINKS — CD. Now-quaint way of saying IMO
20 Ring, perhaps one created by Tolkien (6)
HOBBIT — On top of an oven you will find a HOB, with a "ring" being a BIT of it.  [Previous entry: HOB is “ring” (a heating coil on top of an oven; I didn’t find a dictionary that defined it as a ring, but a picture is worth a thousand words), and BIT is “perhaps one” (the other OPTION being ZERO) Well,, that was fun while it lasted.]
22 Called me in and exploded (5)
NAMED — (me in and)*
24 I’m initially placed under wide doormat (4)
WIMP — W(ide) + IM + P[-laced]
Not much to say about this.  It was perfectly acceptable, occasionally witty, fare (albeit with a couple of rather odd CDs), taking around 35 minutes.

First in was MISINFORM at 1a, last was STALL.

Clues are in blue with the definition undelined.  Anagram indicators are in bold italics.


Notation:

DD: Double definition

CD: Cryptic definition

DDCDH: DD/CD hybrid where a straight definition is combined with a cryptic hint.

&Lit:  "all in one" where the entire clue is both definition and wordplay.

(fodder)* denotes an anagram of the letters in the brackets.

Rounded brackets are also used to add further clarity

Squiggly brackets {} indicate parts of a word not used

Deletions are struck out

Square brackets [] expand an abbreviation or shortening like N[orth]


Across

1

Head of Sixth leaving teacher in class to teach wrongly? (9)


MISINFORM - MISS IN FORM with S{ixth} removed

6

Fat cat running courses (7)


CROESUS - (courses)*.  Some rich king from somewhere ancient.

10

Passage in tabloid is rejected (5)


SINUS - IN SUN reversed

13

Information not available about what constitutes place of punishment (7)


GEHENNA - GEN, N/A around EH?  Precicely what form of punishment you'd get here depends on which religion you follow.  Wikipedia helpfully advises us not to confuse it with Gahanna, Ohio, where they probably object to Kings of Judah sacrificing their children by fire at the golf academy.

14

Block digital protection (5)


STALL - DD.  A finger stall wasn't at the forefront of my mind so this was last to fall.

15

A criminal catching disease being loaded (9)


AFFLUENCE - A FENCE around FLU

16

TV ad that'll cause some to switch over to the other side (5,9,9)


PARTY POLITICAL BROADCAST - CD

17

Bird having ring ouzel's head and eagle's tail (6)


HOOPOE - HOOP, O{uzel}, {eagl}E

18

Device giving go-ahead for soldiers to penetrate area that's been shelled (3,5)


EGG TIMER - CD

19

Paint a pack of hounds with vermin cut off (7)


ACRYLIC - A, CRY, LICe.  I didn't know that a CRY was a pack of hounds but knowledge of the paint was enough to assume that it must be.

22

Scruffy pair? Mend it and press (5,5)


PRINT MEDIA - (pair mend it)*

23

No right to get Chemistry, say, without one's submission (12)


ACQUIESCENCE - ACQUIrE SCiENCE

27

Waste from metal symbolically rendered (5)


OFFAL - OFF, AL[uminium]

29

Mobile or mikes for bugging (7)


IRKSOME - (or mikes)*

30

Not initially fleeced, smaller lamb will be (8)


HORNLESS - sHORN, LESS. Some might he unhappy that there's no "what a" "..." or "this" to complete the definition but I was fine with it

32

Idle fellow entertaining religious scholar with his belief system (8)


BUDDHISM - BUM around D[octor of] D[ivinity], HIS

34

A racehorse with energy in first place, one hears (7)


EARDRUM - A RED RUM with the E[nergy]moved to the front

36

Cleo cut short halfway through snake's embrace (5)


CLASP - CLeo, ASP.  I liked the combo of Cleo and the ASP

39

Not a landowner — one with under a dozen workers? (6,6)


TENANT FARMER - He's only got ten ants.  Geddit?

41

Artist’s endless row with journalist ultimately in newspapers (10)


SCULPTRESS - SCULl, {journalis}T in PRESS

44

Potter receiving stick for Black going down? (3,4)


CUE BALL - Whilst the surface works in terms of Harry Potter and Sirius Black the question mark is doing an anful lot of work to get the "literal" to work.  At a stretch a cue ball "receives" the stick (cue) then hits and pots the black but the "potter" is surely the player rather than the ball?  Very odd.  I spent a while trying to make B = black in some clever wordplay but don't think I'm missing anything.

46

Sap parasites returning to infest wood, edges chewed off (8)


IMBECILE - More LICE (have we got an infestation?), this time reversed in tIMBEr

48

No longer healthy to produce emissions (6)


EXHALE - EX, HALE

50

Web firm resolved perverse incentive to rid content of art (8,7,8)


INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDER - (perverse incentive to rid)*, {a}R{t}

53

Pony tour down to exclude beginners? That'll be without me! (2,4,3)


ON YOUR OWN - pONY tOUR dOWN.  Neat.

54

Useless writer held back by sex (5)


INEPT - PEN reversed in IT

55

Append final note — one of these? (7)


ADDENDA - ADD, END, A, semi &Lit

56

Quaint end of old cloth (5)


TWEED - TWEE {ol}D

57

Unconscious after drink, having to leave society? (4,3)


DROP OUT - OUT after DROP

58

Soldier to change sides twice (6,3)


DESERT RAT - DESERT, RAT

Down

1

Study of foolish character on horse (3,2)


MUG UP - MUG, UP

2

Swingball in one’s backyard? (6,2,9)


SPHERE OF INFLUENCE - Hmm.  Another CD where the question mark is doing a lot.  Swing is influence, a ball is a sphere, ones sphere of influence might extend to ones backyard...

3

Over-protective, vigorously criticise butter (5,4)


NANNY GOAT - NANNY (as in state), GO AT

4

Speaker setting out opposing sides of argument between two alternatives (6)


ORATOR - A{rgumen}T in OR, OR

5

Very old relative's problem with web page? (7,4)


MISSING LINK - DDCDH, and a good one at that.

6

Things once drawn from events worse than Boston tea party? (8)


CHARIOTS - CHA RIOTS.  Boom-boom

7

Give bribe, perhaps, for source of cosmetic ingredient (3,4)


OIL PALM - DDCDH

8

Nasty smell between cliff and unpleasant seaside resort (11)


SCARBOROUGH - B[ody] O[dour] in SCAR, ROUGH

9

Stifle vocal county rowing team (9)


SUFFOCATE - homophone of Suffolk Eight

10

Vibration from milk production centre, quiet at first (7)


SHUDDER - UDDER after SH

11

Killer policeman in Jamaica is hiding (5)


NINJA - hidden

12

Departs after show with rings round the eyes? (10)


SPECTACLED - D[eparts] after SPECTACLE

17

Fruit on Italian flower, one that's large and fleshy (5)


HIPPO - HIP on PO

20

Outside design contractor secures head, up-and-coming Frenchman with pull (9,8)


LANDSCAPE GARDENER - LANDS, CAPE then RENE DRAG reversed.  I asked a landscape gardener to come and give me a quote for some work but he said he couldn't help me as my garden is portrait.

21

House of stone in India (6)


GEMINI - GEM, IN, I[ndia]

24

Fruit for woman to shout about (6)


CHERRY - HER in CRY

25

Mostly hit it off, embracing love in gut reaction (5)


COLIC - CLIC{k} around O

26

Leave me out of summons, to be consistent (6)


COHERE - COme HERE

28

Young man being featured regularly in Loaded (5)


LADEN - LAD, {b}E{i}N{g}

31

Run, walk, walk (6)


RAMBLE - R[un], AMBLE

33

Mounted strike, getting unexpected rise — enthusiastic about gains via union (7,4)


MARRIES INTO - RAM reversed, (rise)*, INTO

35

Remembered to gather in grass (11)


RECOLLECTED - COLLECT in REED

37

Group of friends sit around smoking in van (5)


POSSE - POSE around S{moking}

38

Don't give up project to introduce computers (5,2,3)


STICK IT OUT - STICK OUT around I.T.

40

Deception of one pretending to be criminal? (9)


FALSEHOOD - DDCDH.  A pretend criminal might be a false hood.

42

Socialist, the first character to get cross at elevating one cheating exchequer (3,6)


TAX EVADER - reversal of RED, A, VEX, AT

43

Wrong blood group supplied to crash in West End? (8)


OCCIDENT - ACCIDENT with O replacing A

45

A good circuit — but you won't be able to move after running it! (7)


AGROUND - A G[ood] ROUND

47

Our Brit cooking that's eaten in Mexico (7)


BURRITO - (our Brit)*

49

Wetland thoroughfares (6)


BROADS - B ROADS.  Never been to the Norfolk Brods, really need to put that right.

51

Your old setter, one going to pot? (5)


THYME - THY, ME

52

Tripe keeping when cooked a certain way (5)


ROAST - ROT around AS

Again a relaxing Saturday offering. Strangely, I was slow to see 1ac, easy though it was. It was actually my LOI. Still it was a great launching pad … I pencilled in the D as its last letter, and proceeded to use that to finish the top right, then clockwise round the grid. I thought the clue of the day was 23ac, for its lovely surface.

Although the wordplay was accessible, the vocabulary was rather stretching. As your selfless blogger, I’ve checked in the dictionary as needed. Perhaps this setter is submitting his credentials for the Mephisto? Thanks to him/her 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].

Across

1 Embarrassed about lines being revoked (8)
REVERSED: RED “about” VERSE. I said it was easy!

9 Isn't without sensitivity, initially, one partner being this? (8)
INTIMATE: I[s]NT (without sensitivity, initially), I (one), MATE (partner). Literal definition.

10 Boundary stone, yellow lump of rock (6)
METEOR: METE, OR (yellow, in heraldry and crosswords). The first dictionary call. Yes, “mete” can mean “boundary”. I can see it is a sensible extension of the “measure” meaning of “mete”.

11 Ring maybe to confirm this appointment (10)
ENGAGEMENT: cryptic definition.

12 Stuff written on back of book, mostly obscure (4)
BLUR: BLUR[b].

13 Something toxic in bottle given to spy (5,5)
NERVE AGENT: courage, spy.

16 Mention train (5,2)
BRING UP: double definition. Another dictionary call confirms “to rear or educate” as a definition of “bring up” that fits “train” well enough.

17 List former police force sent around seen in Guardian (7)
CURATOR: ROTA, R.U.C., all “sent round”.

20 Officers looking after sections of prison? Idiots! (10)
BLOCKHEADS: ho ho … heading prison blocks, geddit.

22 Heartless German philosopher viewed as despicable person (4)
HEEL: HE[g]EL. Do I detect irony here?

23 The police needing to travel by air ultimately? Here's the answer (10)
HELICOPTER: anagram (“travelling”) of (THE POLICE*), then [ai]R. Another literal definition.

25 Spoil the atmosphere, backing one up to no good (6)
IMPAIR: AIR “backing” IMP.

26 Mute individual welcomed finally into community (4,4)
TONE DOWN: ONE [welcome]D “into” TOWN. “Mute” seems stronger than “TONE DOWN” to me.

27 Odds and ends in newspaper by hard-line Tories (8)
SUNDRIES: Sun, Dries.


Down
2 Former English politician having endless fun as model (8)
EXEMPLAR: EX, E, MP, LAR[k].

3 Note cleric getting troubled using a computer? (10)
ELECTRONIC: anagram (“getting troubled”) of (NOTE CLERIC*).

4 Having sufficient confidence, as you'd expect (4,6)
SURE ENOUGH: double definition.

5 Those down under enjoy American composer, not half! (7)
DIGGERS: DIG, GERS[hwin].

6 Caveman's hidden in forest, I guess (4)
STIG: hidden answer. I’d never heard of this chap – obviously after my time.

7 Cluster in athletics event with yours truly coming last (6)
RACEME: RACE, ME. Dictionary please? Not sure I’m much the wiser! It says:

raceme /ra-, rə- or rā-sēmˈ, or rasˈēm/ (botany)
noun
An inflorescence in which stalked flowers are borne in acropetal succession on a main stalk or lateral branches
A similar group of spore-cases
ORIGIN: L racēmus a bunch of grapes

8 One with will to try a climbing challenge on Dartmoor? (8)
TESTATOR: TEST, A, TOR.

14 Plea to have leader brought down, man on horseback (10)
EQUESTRIAN: REQUEST with the R moved to the end, then that good fellow IAN.

15 Axes may be put down on this (5,5)
GRAPH PAPER: cryptic definition. Not, the axes aren't in the woodpile out the back! They are the X axis and Y axis of the graph.

16 Quail, seeing chess player opening with quick move (8)
BOBWHITE:  BOB (quick move), WHITE (chess player). The dictionary confirms it’s an American quail. Didn’t know it.

18 Get excessively weary, showing obvious anger (8)
OVERTIRE: OVERT, IRE.

19 Birds wanting spoils, eating loaf of bread (7)
MARTINS: TIN in MARS. I understand “tin” or “bread” is slang for “money”, but don’t know what the loaf is doing here, but perhaps a “tin loaf” is a way of cooking bread?

21 Where to sign to be connected to network (6)
ONLINE: double definition. Sign on the dotted line, traditionally. Or, get online. On edit: as jackkt points out, perhaps "where to sign" is a hint rather than a definition. For one thing, its enumeration would be (2,4), not (6).

24 Gong drowning old wind instrument (4)
OBOE: O in OBE.

Times Quick Cryptic No 1379 by Hurley

A well-constructed and entertaining end of the QC week today. I breezed through this finishing in a sub-average time of less than 6 minutes, but maybe I was just on our setter's wavelength. A nice mix of straightforward clues and a smattering of those requiring a bit more thought, to my mind - a couple of cryptic definitions and a potentially misleading one may cause some head-scratching. Or did they? COD to 18D with the current un-flaming June weather, although it's too warm for the white stuff. Thanks Hurley for, I think, a Goldilocks-zone QC. Or did some of you find it too hard or soft? Hmm maybe I should have some porridge for breakfast later. How did you all get on?

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Is it Monday already? I jest, the days of the Friday puzzle usually being the toughest of the week are long behind us. This was a gentle crossword that will please those looking for good jumping-on points for graduating from the QC to the 15x15. My LOI, and COD, was 1dn; I thought this was nicely misleading, with the mention of Poles making me sure I was looking for NS inside something else, resulting in INSURERS or similar; well played, setter. Such familiar faces as NORMA and RHINO must become part of every hardened solver's arsenal, and likewise many of the abbreviations herein will serve the would-be regular 15x15 solver well. And that, I think, is all I have to say. Have a good weekend everyone!

ACROSS
1 Unable to get on topic, men bail out (12)
INCOMPATIBLE - (TOPIC MEN BAIL*) ["out"]

9 Assemble before empty court (5)
ERECT - ERE C{our}T

10 Unaware, left island blocking patent (9)
OBLIVIOUS - L I "blocking" OBVIOUS

11 Antenna limits radio telephony along major roads (8)
ARTERIAL - AERIAL "limits" RT

12 Miss transporting large old bishop everywhere (6)
GLOBAL - GAL "transporting" L O B

13 Game frequently interrupts society dance (8)
SOFTBALL - OFT "interrupts" S BALL

15 Save visibly embarrassed Europeans getting married (6)
REDEEM - RED [visibly embarrassed] + E E [(two) Europeans] getting M

17 Teacher ignoring note put weight on (6)
STRESS - MISTRESS "ignoring" MI

18 Johnny-come-latelies stumped in high-class roles (8)
UPSTARTS - ST in U PARTS

20 Some hide mate married on the rebound (6)
DEWLAP - reversed PAL WED

21 One wearing medals running funny business (6-2)
GOINGS-ON - I "wearing" GONGS + ON [running]

24 Find the lady maybe, daughter hiding in trailer with haystack (4,5)
CARD TRICK - D hiding in CART with RICK

25 It may charge money (5)
RHINO - double def

26 Divert RAF importing what keeps firm afloat (6,6)
PROFIT MARGIN - (RAF IMPORTING*) ["divert..."]

DOWN
1 They cover Poles in charge of room facing north (7)
ICECAPS - I/C [in charge of] + reversed SPACE

2 Dearth of screws spoiled clothing unit (5,2,7)
CHEST OF DRAWERS - (DEARTH OF SCREWS*) ["spoiled"]

3 Drive second to right (5)
MOTOR - MO TO R

4 Sort of farmer employing cook for fetching (8)
ADORABLE - ARABLE [sort of farmer] "employing" DO [cook]

5 Capri for one is nearly all rented out (4)
ISLE - IS LE{t}

6 Maximum efforts make flat worst! (5,4)
LEVEL BEST - LEVEL [flat] + BEST [worst, as in beat; a notorious pair of words that can be synonyms OR antonyms]

7 Pelican alongside zebra? That's cheating (6-8)
DOUBLE-CROSSING - two types of British road crossings

8 Shelter a poor area bringing in yen (6)
ASYLUM - A SLUM "bringing in" Y

14 Make mess of most of top pitch (9)
BESPATTER - BES{t} + PATTER

16 Small pot preserving queen's tooth (8)
SPROCKET - S POCKET "preserving" R

17 Win over French nobleman in match (6)
SEDUCE - DUC in SEE

19 Setting time's free in most quarters (7)
SUNDOWN - UNDO [free] in S, W, N [(three of the four) quarters]

22 Finish off standard musical work (5)
NORMA - NORMA{l}. Bellini opera well known in both crossword and classical music circles.

23 Hum very loudly after returning home (4)
NIFF - FF after reversed IN

Times Quick Cryptic No 1378 by Tracy

Good quality puzzle from Tracy, somewhere around the average difficulty mark. I finished a few seconds under my target with a few unparsed. Not too much in the way of obscurity, but there are a couple of obscure etymologies, and there was a good bit of interesting vocab to add to the nice surfaces. Very good fun - many thanks to Tracy!


Across
1 A thrash in large town is a disaster (8)
CALAMITY - A LAM (a thrash) in CITY (large town). Etymology obscure, with many tempted to link it to Latin for straw (calamus), but see here.
5 Enjoyable day in pool (4)
FUND - FUN (enjoyable) D(ay)
9 Beginning to anticipate win, once more (5)
AGAIN - A (beginning to Anticipate) GAIN (win)
10 One that's stoned, endlessly outspoken after a party (7)
AVOCADO - VOCA ("endlessly" VOCAL/outspoken) after A DO (a party)
11 Can, given time, and elected (3)
TIN - T(ime) and IN (elected)
12 Terribly pleased about a new walkway (9)
ESPLANADE - anagram (terribly) of PLEASED about/around A N(ew)
13 Celebrity appearing in satire, now nervous (6)
RENOWN - "appearing" in the letters of satiRE NOW Nervous
15 Braved winds bravely, say (6)
ADVERB - anagram (winds) of BRAVED. This is a DBE, hinted at by the word "say", as explained in the excellent new glossary. My LOI, it wasn't biffed (or BIFD) so much as BIFC (bunged in from checkers). At least, I didn't go back and re-read the clue with little else that would fit _D_E_B. Nothing else, according to Crossword Solver, but they've somehow forgotten about "adweeb" (same idea as asleep or aback, if one is taken adweeb one is taken to a state of dweebdom).
17 Genuine article secured by relative, not quite 100 (9)
AUTHENTIC - THE (article) secured by AUNTI ("not quite" AUNTIE/relative) C (100).
19 Catch sight of tailless sow (3)
SEE - "tail-less" SEED (sow). As in to sow/seed the land.
20 Leaves company after return of Italian explorer (7)
TOBACCO - CO. (company) after TOBAC (Cabot/Italian explorer, "returns"/reverses). I gave up racking my brain for Italian explorers after Polo and Columbus and moved on. I remember a restaurant task on the (UK) Apprentice a few years ago where the team came up with a menu/decor theme celebrating famous Britons. Pride of place was given to Columbus, and there was utter disbelief all round come the grand opening. "But his name's Christopher! That's English!" Easy to mock, though; I've a feeling I thought Cabot was Portuguese before solving this, which I (possibly) wouldn't have done had I known his non-anglicised name, Giovanni Caboto.
21 Tolerate fat? Not initially (5)
ALLOW - TALLOW (fat), "not initially".
22 Boss getting rid of one restaurant worker (4)
CHEF - CHIEF (boss) getting rid of I (one)
23 Something that may be added or removed? (8)
APPENDIX - nice cryptic (double) definition: added to book, removed from body.

Down
1 Escort a damaged vessel (7)
COASTER - anagram (damaged) of ESCORT A.
2 Pounds get paid to master (5)
LEARN - L (pounds) EARN (get paid)
3 Reckon why men adjusted spanner (6,6)
MONKEY WRENCH - anagram (adjusted) of RECKON WHY MEN. There are lots of theories about the etymology of this, including non-key wrench (as opposed to the earlier key wrench), and being invented by the otherwise unknown Mr Monckey. Both implausible, as explained by World Wide Words, with the likeliest answer being the simplest: it looks a bit like the face of a monkey (or at least it does in the drawing they have).
4 Vagrant, male lying in bunker (5)
TRAMP - M(ale) lying in TRAP (bunker)
6 Ignorant, a female in Paris about a conflict (7)
UNAWARE - UNE ("a", feminine in French/Paris) about A WAR (a conflict)
7 Radio-controlled aircraft finished across river (5)
DRONE - DONE (finished) across R(iver)
8 Kowtow, as a violin pupil might? (3,3,6)
BOW AND SCRAPE - cryptic hint. A very low bow facilitated by drawing one's foot back out along the ground, hence the "scraping". Kowtow is a similar idea in reverse, literally meaning to knock one's head on the ground.
14 Striking number heading chart (7)
NOTABLE - NO. (number) heading/coming above TABLE (chart)
16 Polish see British uprising get bigger (7)
BEESWAX - BEES (SEE B(ritish), uprising/reversing) WAX (get bigger)
17 A dry, mostly freezing cold, upper room (5)
ATTIC - A, TT (tee-total/dry), ICY (freezing cold) "mostly"
18 Run into very quiet group of soldiers (5)
TROOP - R(un) into TOO (very) P (piano/quiet)
19 Small boy devouring a cold dish (5)
SALAD - S(mall) LAD (boy) devouring/taking in A
I found this on the tough side, taking a pleasingly alliterative (anumertive?) 32.32 to complete, though Love Island was burbling in the background courtesy of Mrs Z and may hae been a disturbance to the path of smooth solving. There’s more than a touch of the transatlantic in this one, depending on how you count the American stuff, but that’s offset by some Yoruba,  Scots, French, Spanish and Mandarin. Latin, too, if you count today’s mountain-dwelling quadruped.
I'd like to think we have a nod in the direction of the 50th anniversay of Apollo 11's landing, with 16ac, and indeed "eleven" in 14ac, but if that's not intentional, permit me to nod anyway.
Credit to the setter for some rather pleasing surfaces throughout and a decent challenge.
My reasoning lies below, with clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS.



Across
1 Expecting furious nurses to be irritated about hospital (4,5)
WITH CHILD A matryoshka clue to begin with. “Nurses” and “about” are your containment indicators, so H(ospital) goes inside ITCH (to be irritated) goes inside WILD (furious)
6 Tailless mountain goat found in dry region (5)
TIBET Your IBEX loses its tail and hides in TT, short for teetotal or dry. Satisfyingly, a species of ibex is found in Tibet.
9 Beef tender and firm at point which cut by daughter (7)
COWHERD  The firm is CO, and then “at point which” indicates WHERE, cut the final E, add D(aughter)
10 Dope men smuggled in pouch (7)
SPORRAN SP is short for Starting Price, and can mean dope or gen in the phrase “what’s the SP?”, similar to “what’s the bottom line?”.  Add our favourite men, the O(ther) R(anks) and RAN for smuggled
11 Charm displayed by top Brit, every second (3)
OBI A West African word for a fetish or charm, useful in Scrabble. Every second letter of tOp BrIt
12 Speaking well of video, cooing dreadfully (2,4,5)
IN GOOD VOICE I think the “of” is redundant, except for surface. “Dreadfully” tells you it’s an anagram of VIDEO COOING
14 Neighbours to come about eleven? (6)
BESIDE I took ages (actually, truth be told, until now) to realise that the to has to attach to neighbours to make the definition work. Come about BE, eleven: SIDE, as in footie or cricket.
15 After arrest, fail to find weapon (4,4)
NAIL BOMB As improvised by Agnes Nutter (witch) in Good Omens if you were able to catch the excellent recent adaptation for TV. Arrest is NAIL, and fail is BOMB, I think more US than British English
17 Unify with European left? Somehow, that’s not typical of the Dutch! (8)
UNWIFELY There ain’t a lady livin’ in this world as I’d swap for me dear old Dutch. An anagram (somehow) of UNIFY+W(ith)+E(uropean)+L(eft)
19 Cockney’s to listen to the hits broadcast: what’s to stop him? (6)
EARWAX Gor blimey Miry Poppins, ‘ere’s me droppin me Haitches again like a proper gent what’s born wivin the sahnd of Bow bells an’ no mistike. So that’s ‘EAR for listen, then. Add WAX, which you might think was the spelling of whacks, hits, if heard on the wireless.
22 Card game’s to promote alternative to setter? (4,7)
JACK RUSSELL The card’s the JACK, the games R(ugby) U(nion), promote is SELL. It’s a dog, as is the setter, though if I was offered a JR in exchange for my gundog, I think I’d not see it as an alternative, unless I was tired of waiting for my setter to massacre rats.
23 Passes some task on after retiring (3)
OKS, which apparently is okay for okays, though I think it looks wrong. Reverse hidden in taSK On
25 A note to send off that may get one’s blessing? (7)
ATISHOO A is –um– A, the note is TI (cue Sound of Music) and send of is SHOO. ‘S’neezy clue
27 I want a rook to fly like a dove (7)
ANTIWAR Fly is the anagram indicator, the material being I WANT A R(ook)
28 Like flattery for example to interleave with work (5)
SOAPY I think we’ll have to call this a riffle clue. Take the SAY (“for example”) cards out of your Lexicon set, then the OP (short for opus, work) pair, and shuffle them with a riffle action. Yay!
29 Following a breather, performing grand exercise regime (5,4)
FALUN GONG This is a real “follow the wordplay” clue, unless you’re familiar with variations of qigong. So: F(ollowing) A breather: LUNG performing: ON and G(rand). Chuck it in and thank your lucky stars it’s not an anagram.



Down
1 Out to lunch, ace ladies put out cold sandwiches (5)
WACKO I think you have to assume “ladies” is WC. A(ce) is sandwiched by said WC and KO for “put out cold”. Took me a long time to justify the obvious answer.
2 Those out of the country have to visit relations (7)
TOWNIES I.e. those not in the country(side) Have gives you OWN, which “visits” TIES for relations.
3 Game in boarding school subject to delay (6,2,3)
CHEMIN DE FER  Worked backwards from the solution to fathom the wordplay. IN is “boarding” school subject CHEM(istry) and DEFER for delay.
4 Trendy? Don’t fancy anything this colour! (6)
INDIGO So it’s IN for trendy, then DIG 0 (nothing) for don’t fancy anything.
5 Scrapping ad spoils broadcast (8)
DISPOSAL A simple enough anagram (broadcast) of AD SPOILS
6 Heads of two hundred orchids, all the same (3)
THO Another Americanism (or, Chambers says, poetic) composed of the first letters of two hundred orchids.
7 Irish and Polish turning to Mexican food (7)
BURRITO IR(ish) and RUB for polish reversed and given TO to complete
8 Volatile person can put up radical fight (9)
TINDERBOX Can is the TIN bit, DER is from red, radical “put up”, and BOX is fight.
13 Old language, very alluring at dances (6,5)
VULGAR LATIN  Latin after it stopped being Classical and not just, for example, “et sanguinem infernum”. The collection of letters, V(ery) ALLURING AT “dances”.
14 Bags of waste English girl’s put outside (4,5)
BLUE JEANS Although jeans and bags are both trousers, I’m not wholly convinced that jeans are bags, but heigh ho. BLUE (separate etymology from the colour) can be a verb, to squander, hence waste. E(nglish) has today’s only random female, JAN put outside, with her ‘S for company
16 Bishop presumably remaining longest on board launch (8)
BLASTOFF Possibly more US again without a space or hyphen, but in most of the sources. Our B(ishop) is LAST OFF so staying longest on board.
18 What we can hear: cheers welcoming one in Kansas City! (7)
WICHITA I played around with KC as part of the wordplay until disabused by circumstance. I know Wichita from the permanently on-line lineman, but not that it’s the largest city in Kansas. WICH is an impression of which (what) as heard. Cheers is TA, and I (one) is welcomed by both.
20 Directory of people with houses around Cornwall? (4,3)
WHO’S WHO The venerable directory of the great and good. W(ith) and two HO(uses) surround SW, which is where Cornwell is.Could almost be seen as an &lit
21 In September in Washington it must ... happen (6)
BEFALL. The ellipsis is significant, a blank to be filled in. September in Washington must BE FALL, yet another bit of US-speak
24 Woolly gesture of indifference (5)
SHRUG A (sort of) double definition, though as a shrug has more in common with a wrap or scarf, I’m not sure woolly (a cardigan or jumper in my wardrobe) quite works.
26 Conclusion to match, indeed, that’s cut and dried (3)
HAY The last letter of matcH plus AY for indeed.
Another fine crossword of medium difficulty, with a couple of somewhat obscure answers at 7d and 3d which were gettable from wordplay if you weren't a topologist or a bullfight enthusiast. The rest was good fun and fair; I'm not quite convinced 17d works and I liked 11a for its 'element of Labour' idea. About 25 minutes all told, delayed for a while by my initial perfect but wrong answer at 27a q.v. below.



Across
1 Seaman entering boozer to see what's afoot? (5)
SABOT - AB = seaman, inside SOT = boozer.
4 Craftsman penning unlimited poems in rocker (9)
SHOEMAKER - SHAKER = rocker, has (P) OEM (S) inserted.
9 Small case for diamonds? (5,4)
MINOR SUIT - Small = MINOR, case = SUIT as in lawsuit. Diamonds and clubs are the minor suits in Bridge, as opposed to spades and hearts being the majors, ranking and scoring more highly.
10 Lustre perceived when heroin's injected (5)
SHEEN - SEEN has H inserted.
11 Police officer probing one element of Labour opposition (13)
CONTRADICTION - DI the Detective Inspector is inserted into CONTRACTION, "one element of labour".
14 Party threatening to ditch leader (4)
RAVE - GRAVE loses its G.
15 Natural fibre, too much found in racket left on court (6,4)
COTTON WOOL - OTT = too much, goes inside CON = racket, then WOO = court, L for left.
18 Visual aids having setter long for correction? (10)
LORGNETTES - (SETTER LONG)*. Kind of specs with a handle instead of side pieces; derived from the French word lorgner which means to look sideways or squint at.
19 Pack animals to watch bears (4)
STOW - Hidden word in ANIMAL(S TO W)ATCH.
21 Dad recalled agent introducing one couple, fifty or so (13)
APPROXIMATELY - PA = Dad, recalled = AP: PROXY = agent; insert I (one), MATE (couple), L (fifty).
24 Senior retired Liberal in fashion again (5)
OLDER - Reverse REDO with L inserted.
25 Almost complete backing for exhibit in church showing conversions? (9)
CHANGEFUL - FUL(L) goes on the end of C (HANG) E where CE = church and HANG = exhibit.
27 During many deliveries, Dr West stripped off outer garb (9)
OVERDRESS - I went wrong here and it took me a while to correct when I saw 17d didn't end in T: I had OVERTREWS being (WEST)* 'doctored' inside OVERS. Perfectly parsed. But then I corrected myself after 17d fell in, as it's DR and (W) ES (T) inside OVERS; WEST is stripped of its outside letters.
28 Limit old women's fund (5)
ENDOW - END = limit, O(ld), W(omen).

Down
1 House group D? (10)
SEMICIRCLE - house = SEMI, CIRCLE = group.
2 Exile's collar turned up (3)
BAN - collar = NAB, reverse it.
3 Spanish fighter quickly ran mounted troops (6)
TORERO - TORE = quickly ran, OR reversed.
4 Canvasses on display, reputable Society taking the lead (6,3)
SOUNDS OUT - SOUND = reputable, S(ociety), OUT = on display.
5 Matter bringing down temperature of the eye (5)
OPTIC - TOPIC (matter) has its T dropped down.
6 Campaigns fail, stopped by endless din from below (8)
MISSIONS - MISS = fail, has NOIS(E) reversed inserted.
7 Unorthodox vessel's link to betel nuts (5,6)
KLEIN BOTTLE - (LINK TO BETEL)*. I did remember this thing from maths days although I couldn't have defined it exactly; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klein_bottle will explain it. Once you sort out BOTTLE from the anagrist you can probably guess the KLEIN from the remaining letters.
8 Regular payment slashed (4)
RENT -Double definition.
12 Don't stop English composer hiding for instance in Tyneside (5,3,3)
NEVER SAY DIE - SAY (for instance) inside E, VER DI inside N E = Tyneside.
13 Comprehensive strike has support of illegitimate offspring (4-2-4)
BLOW-BY-BLOW - strike is the first BLOW and a BY-BLOW is an old term for a bastard.
16 Her vital statistics initially disrupted play (3,6)
THE RIVALS - (HER VITAL S)*, S from statistics; play by Sheridan.
17 Dazzling feature of church in India (8)
INSPIRED - Well, a church can be SPIRED and IN can mean India but for me that's not leading exactly to IN SPIRED, but either the clue doesn't quite work or I'm missing something (as usual).
20 Departs, with inclination to wave (6)
DANGLE - D(eparts), ANGLE = inclination.
22 Auditor's dealing with file at the appropriate time (2,3)
ON CUE - ON CUE sounds like ON QUEUE i.e. dealing with file.
23 Island shot guards Down Under (4)
GOZO - GO = shot, has OZ inserted. A neat little clue IMO.
26 Rage following promotion (3)
FAD - F = following, AD = promotion. RAGE = FAD as in 'all the RAGE'.

Times Quick Cryptic 1377 by Oink

All the vocabulary known to me today, and the clues were easy enough to unpick, which led to a pretty quick time. I had to return to the two longish anagrams at the top and left of the grid. I think the latter because the letters to jumble were split up, and the former because I had always thought the phrase was spelled with a 'gh', but it's narrow rather than neat. One to add to the list that already includes 'shoo-in' (not 'shoe-in') and 'whet' (not wet) the appetite.

Anyway, definitions are underlined.

Across
1 Prudish doctor startled CIA (6-5)
STRAIT-LACED - anagram of (doctor) STARTLED CIA.
9 Half of church service makes you heave (5)
CHURN - half of the letters of CHUrch, then RN (Royal Navy, service).
10 Pretend Rilke’s got this curly hair? (7)
TENDRIL - hidden in (...'s got this) preTEND RILke.
11 Peacekeepers felt in perfect condition (9)
UNTOUCHED - UN (United Nations, peacekeepers), then TOUCHED (felt).
13 Drug put in army’s drink (3)
TEA - E (Ecstasy, drug) inside (put in) TA (Territorial Army, army). Hopefully you were all paying attention to Vinyl's comments this week!
14 Crowded, as lunch may be? (6)
PACKED - cryptic second definition.
16 Summary that’s almost exact (6)
PRECIS - all but the last letter of (almost) PRECISe (exact).
17 Diaries occasionally displaying anger (3)
IRE - every other letter from (occasionally) dIaRiEs.
18 Histrionics alarmed Mo terribly (9)
MELODRAMA - anagram of (terribly) ALARMED MO.
21 Outfit for the tango follower? (7)
UNIFORM - the letter after T (tango), in the phonetic alphabet.
23 Vicar taken aback by extremely strange poem (5)
VERSE - REV (reverend, vicar) reversed (taken back), next to the outermost letters of (extremely) StrangE.
24 Second right-wing bank clerk is a liar (11)
STORYTELLER - S (second), TORY (right-wing), anf TELLER (bank clerk).

Down
2 In which money may be kept tied up, you say? (5)
TRUST - sounds like (you say?) "trussed" (tied up).
3 Made sauna boiling time after time (2,7)
AD NAUSEAM - anagram of (boiling) MADE SAUNA.
4 Songbird perching on top of church, a little one (5)
TITCH - TIT (songbird) above (perching on top of) CH (church).
5 Article about northern woman (3)
ANN - AN (article, as in the part of speech) surrounding (about) N (northern).
6 Unpredictable boy catching rodent (7)
ERRATIC - ERIC (boy) surrounding (catching) RAT (rodent).
7 Scout cooking with Primus? Yummy! (11)
SCRUMPTIOUS - anagram of (cooking) SCOUT with PRIMUS.
8 Beardless son in spotless shelter (5-6)
CLEAN-SHAVEN - S (son) inside CLEAN (spotless) and HAVEN (shelter).
12 Stupidly derailed Victor, a reckless type (9)
DAREDEVIL - anagram of (stupidly) DERAILED and V (victor, phonetic alphabet again).
15 Scientific man Nietzsche mistrusted to an extent (7)
CHEMIST - hidden in (to an extent) nietzsCHE MISTrusted.
19 Yours truly’s following lake north of Italian border (5)
LIMIT - I'M (yours truly is) after (following) L (lake), all above (north of) IT (italian).
20 Concede Her Majesty must retire in time (5)
AGREE - ER (Her Majesty) reversed (must retire), inside AGE (time).
22 Row after pig has head chopped off (3)
OAR - bOAR (pig) without its first letter (has head chopped off).

Times Cryptic 27380

I spent 38 minutes on this but failed to finish without reference to aids. The level of difficulty varied from clues that would not be out of place in the QC to a couple that would have been better suited to the Mephisto, so it was a bit of a mixed bag. I'm not averse to spending a lot longer on a puzzle than my target half-hour in order to get it absolutley right but when all but a two or three answers have gone in quite easily and I'm left to come up with words I'm pretty sure I don't know and would only be guessing at, I reckon it's time to give up and reach for the dictionary.

Here's my blog...Collapse )

Times Quick Cryptic 1376 by Izetti

All bar one went in uncharacteristically fast for an Izetti - in about 8 minutes. That one was 21ac which, with all the checkers had me stumped. I could see a name which fitted but was at a loss as to why it was the answer. With the clock ticking towards 10 minutes I’d come up with nothing else so bunged it in and all was well. I then spent some time doing a crash course in etymology and the Restoration period. That much wiser, here’s how I got on.
Definitions are underlined.

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Times 27379 - Citrus deluxe!

Time: 28 minutes
Music: Dvorak, Symphony 7, Davis/LSO

This is a fairly easy Monday puzzle, well-suited to biffing.   As I begin to write the blog, I have parsed fewer than half the clues, but I can probably figure them out as I go along.   There were one or two tricky answers where you might have to rely on previous solving experience to get home, but other than that it is pretty clear sailing.   Skilled solvers should post fast times.

Here at Times for the Times, we are moving forward.   Regular readers will have noted our new Jumbo blogger, Kitty_404, who is taking over for Mohn2.    While he is one of our top solvers and best bloggers, Mohn2 has a very demanding job and is no longer able to devote as much time to crosswords and TftT as he might wish.   Besides his activity as a blogger, Mohn2 was also instrumental in developing and improving the script nearly all the bloggers use to generate blog skeletons, which saves the bloggers a lot of time and many mistakes.   I would like to offer my thanks to Mohn2 for all the time and support he has given to the TftT.

On another front, former blogger JerryWh has kindly offered to help with some needed improvements to the blog.    Jerry and I have already finished and posted the new Times for the Times Glossary, and he has volunteered to work on fixing the sorely out-of-date information in 'About this Blog', which has not been changed in about 10 years and is thoroughly obsolete.   This will take a little more time, but we hope to have something ready soon.

Now, for the puzzle....

Across
1 Calm, provided defended by fleet (6)
PACIFY - PAC(IF)Y, where I wasted a lot of time trying to make a noun.
4 Process of character identification, magic? (8)
SPELLING -  Double definition, where spelling a word involves identifying the characters in it.
10 Crumbling and remote gothic landmark (5,4)
NOTRE DAME - Anagram of AND REMOTE.
11 Half-hearted stuff for parent (5)
MATER - MAT[t]ER, either Latin or public school slang.
12 Warmer knickers under trousers (3)
SUN - Hidden in [knicker]S UN[der].
13 Calculus papers ending on van, in principle (6,5)
KIDNEY STONE - K(ID, [va]N)EYSTONE.   Fortunately, we had 'calculi' as an answer about two weeks ago - hope you did that one!
14 Youthful nurse? (6)
TENDER - Double definition, as in 'tender years'.
16 Tramp seen half cut alongside first of innumerable gin bottles (7)
TRAIPSE - TRA(I[nnumerable])P + SE[en], which caused me to reconsider 'limestone' going down.
19 Plan to get captain finally onto pitch (7)
PATTERN - PATTER + [captai]N
20 Figure proceeded to rip apart teddy, removing stuffing (6)
TWENTY - T(WENT)Y
22 European nationals claiming officer beat retired author (4,7)
IRIS MURDOCH - IRIS(CO, DRUM backwards)H, one nearly every solver will biff.
25 Blade cutting head from pig (3)
OAR - [b]OAR
26 Reportedly big jar (5)
GRATE - sounds like GREAT.
27 Anger dissipating about narrow, narrow escape (4,5)
NEAR THING - NEAR(THIN)G, where the enclosing letters are an anagram of ANGER.
28 Measure of radiation, not energy almost entirely kinetic? (8)
ROENTGEN - anagram of NOT ENERG[y], a write-in from the definition.
29 Knowing fury, daughter (6)
SHREWD - SHREW + D.
Down
1 Fine maybe after twisting in breaking elbow (6)
PUNISH - PU(NI)SH, with 'twisting' as a reversal indicator for IN.
2 Function clear, belt secured (9)
COTANGENT - CO(TAN)GENT, one that I boldly biffed with only a single checker.
3 Rare for me, walks taken at regular intervals (5)
FREAK - F[o]R ]m]E, [w]A[l]K[s].
5 Showing plan, rates, I note, subject to change (14)
PRESENTATIONAL - anagram of PLAN, RATES I NOTE
6 Story about fiery spirit, flaky stuff (9)
LIMESCALE - LI(MESCAL)E.   I did wonder for a bit if 'limestone' was the answer, but could not recall a 'meston'.
7 Opening in new trousers rather obvious, initially (5)
INTRO -  I[n] N[ew] T[rousers] R[ather] O[bvious] - yes, it's obvious!
8 Heard old Hollywood actress, one working on plot? (8)
GARDENER - sounds like GARDINER.   There are apparently dozens of actresses with this surname, but Ava Gardiner is probably the intended target.
9 Official sort of order for fruit (8,6)
MANDARIN ORANGE -  MANDARIN + ORANGE, i.e. the Orange Order.
15 Most fanciful case of supplement supporting paper in decline (9)
DREAMIEST - D(REAM)IE + S[upplemen]T.
17 Frequent points are bandied about (9)
PATRONISE - Anagram of POINTS ARE.
18 Dog salivating, Pavlov starts with bell (8)
SPRINGER - S[alivating] P[avlov] + RINGER, as in a Springer Spaniel.
21 Cold day: like to get up? (6)
FRIGID - FRI + DIG upside-down.
23 Picture every second of film era (5)
IMAGE - [f]I[l]M + AGE
24 Come up with opening (5)
HATCH - double definition, as in hatch a plot.

QC 1375 by Teazel

Average difficulty for me. Would have probably been about the 8-minute mark had I not got held up slightly by 14A (see below) which was my LOI.

FOI was 9A and COD goes to 5D. Not the most elegant of surfaces perhaps, but a pleasing clue overall particularly for me with the flashback to my Law of Conservation of Matter-defying motorcyclist (see below again). Many thanks to Teazel for an enjoyable 10-minute tussle.

Definitions are underlined and everything else is explained just as I see it as simply as I can.

Across
1 Allocates such dreadful tee-shirts and jeans (6,7)
CASUAL CLOTHES - straight anagram ('dreadful') of ALLOCATES SUCH.
8 Countryman sees game-bird losing height (7)
PEASANT - PhEASANT (game bird) 'losing' H (height).
9 Skin lotion not rejected by monarch (5)
TONER - TON (NOT reversed, i.e. 'rejected') + ER (monarch).
10 It’s easy to be a little angel? (1,5,2,4)
A PIECE OF CAKE - if the sort of cake you have is an ANGEL cake, then 'a little angel' could be a a cryptic definition for a piece of it.
12 A bad mark for this sort of clue (6)
ACROSS - A + CROSS (bad mark).
14 Strode round rural area (6)
DORSET - straight anagram ('round') of STRODE. I am not entirley convinced by 'round' as a sufficient anagrind I have to say although I think I have probably seen it before. Certainly OK as an indicator for reversal or inclusion, but that is not what we have here. Then again if you look at STRODE in isolation it pretty much jumps out at you as an anagram of DORSET, so maybe the seasoned solver won't mind too much. Besides, I suppose if I just swallow my objection and quietly add it to my vocabulary of anagrinds, then the next time it comes up it'll just be a 10A.
17 Wild flower grew up beside pet (3,4)
DOG ROSE - ROSE (grew up) beside DOG (pet).
19 Animal runs into pipe (5)
HORSE - R (runs) 'into' HOSE (pipe).
20 Jump over tomb (5)
VAULT - double definition.
21 Perfect French dessert (7)
PARFAIT - PARFAIT is French for perfect.
22 Fat person’s pudding (4-4)
ROLY-POLY - double definition. One of my favourite puddings at school (served with warm syrup!).
23 Instrument once used in daily recital (4)
LYRE - hidden word: daiLY REcital.
Down
1 Headgear on back of the head (4)
CAPE - CAP (headgear) 'on' (in this down clue) E (back of thE). HEAD in the sense of a headland, as in 'Cape of Good Hope'.
2 A fish that’s biting (7)
SNAPPER - fairly obvious?
3 “A day, long time” — proverb (5)
ADAGE - A + D (day) + AGE (long time).
4 Ship’s tailor? (6)
CUTTER - a tailor does quite a lot of cutting.
5 Suddenly and unexpectedly lacking a couple of presents (3,2,7)
OUT OF NOWHERE - OUT OF (lacking) + NOW + HERE (a couple of presents - as in Fatboy Slim's "Right Here, Right Now!"). Reminds me of those humorous extracts the insurance industry releases from time to time from statements made to them following accidents. I heard one once where a driver showed a touching faith in the possibility of spontaneous incarnation by claiming "The motorcyclist came out of nowehere...".
6 Dye Anne Hathaway originally used up (5)
HENNA - ANNE + H (Hathaway 'originally' used) reversed (i.e. 'up' in this down clue).
7 Dramatic work by pavement artists? (6,7)
STREET THEATRE - cryptic definition.
11 Worker completed transfer (4,4)
HAND OVER - HAND (worker) + OVER (completed).
13 Grow rapidly, and drive ram away (5,2)
SHOOT UP - SHOO (drive away) + TUP (ram).
15 Such bacon uneven in quality? (7)
STREAKY - double definition.
16 A friend? Only on paper (3,3)
PEN PAL - cryptic definition.
18 Good rule to mix up thin porridge (5)
GRUEL - straight anagram ('to mix up') of G (good) + RULE.

Mephisto 3067 - Don Manley

A fine Mephisto for wordplay, which is to be expected from Don Manley, where my usual approach is wordplay first, and then check the definition. It also helped in this one that two of the more unusual words are very familiar to me.

Definitions, which are underlined can all be confirmed in Chambers, so I will focus on the worplay in the blog.

Away we go...

Across
1 Destroy Scottish island (no small island) (4)
SLAY - the island is ISLAY, remove the I(island)
4 Harmony around home associated with a fireplace (8)
CHIMINEA - CHIME(harmony) surrounding IN(home), then A
9 Bacon that I get cooked for flatmate? (10)
COHABITANT - anagram of BACON,THAT,I
10 Vehicle reversing by French river stopping short — something scraping (7)
RACLOIR - CAR reversed, then the river LOIRE missing the last letter
13 Little old dam like this bursting? Caution! (6)
ANICUT - don't often see a clue where the definition is hidden in the middle of the clue - "little old" means O, now take the O out of CAUTION and form the anagram to get the dam
14 My lord always backing soldiers (6)
MENEER - EER(always) after MEN(soldiers)
16 Papal licence in the name of God ultimately (6)
INDULT - IN, then D(Deus, God), ULT(ultimately)
17 Quiet repose making one ready, as before (5)
PREST - P(quiet), REST(repose)
18 No longer chase after prize money, having got weak (6)
PURSEW - PURSE(prize money), W(weak)
19 Difficult summer month to bear at one time (6)
AUGEAN - AUG(August, summer month), EAN(bear)
22 Old-fashioned counsel taken on board by daredevil (5)
AREDE - hidden in dAREDEvil
25 Vassal set to provide cattle food (6)
MANGEL - MAN(vassal), GEL(set)
28 Come face to face with old bishop and one new to the faith (6)
OBVERT - O(old), B(bishop), VERT(short for CONVERT, one new to the faith)
29 Learned man to mistreat half a dozen (6)
MAULVI - MAUL(mistreat), VI(six, half a dozen)
30 Afterwards girl comes to meaningful agreement (7)
SYNESIS - SYNE(afterwards), SIS(sister, girl)
31 Dearies apt to get excited get breathless (10)
DEASPIRATE - anagram of DEARIES,APT
32 Homeless creature? Everyone needs to have food, Young Conservative admitted (8)
ALLEYCAT - ALL(everyone), EAT(have food) containing YC(Young Conservative)
33 Letters from fourth man circulating (4)
ETHS - the fourth man in the Bible is SETH - cycle it to start at the E

Down
1 Tortures pastors conjured up, having caught highway thief (10)
STRAPPADOS - anagram of PASTORS containing PAD(short for FOOTPAD, highway thief). Had to laugh at this one, since I am currently playing Falstaff in a production of Henry IV (part the first) and one of the lines in the tavern scenes is "Zounds, an I were at the strappado or all the racks in the world..."
2 Solitary person outside a public library, say? (6)
LOANER - LONER(solitry person) surrounding A
3 Summon old expert to squash common fellow (6)
ACCITE - ACE(expert) surrounding CIT(common fellow)
4 Blackmail coming from China not acceptable (5)
CHOUT - CH(China), OUT(not acceptable)
5 Islander, one wearing headgear — a Scotsman? (7)
HAITIAN - I(one) inside HAT(headgear) then IAN(Scotsman)
6 Opinion being heard, proceeded secretly (5)
MINED - sounds like MIND(opinion)
7 Centres in which one sees any number slave, cruelly exploited (6)
NAVELS - N(any number), then an anagram of SLAVE
8 Friendly agreement? Not with one of two knights opinionated (6)
ENTETE - the agreement is an ENTENTE, remove one of the N's(knight)
11 Bishop is coming in ruined, upset, in knots (6)
KNURRS - RR(bishop) inside SUNK(ruined) reversed
12 Embroiderers in Cheshire town registers (10)
CREWELISTS - the town of CREWE, then LISTS(registers)
15 Internet facility providing e-tunes possibly? (6)
USENET - anagram of E-TUNES. An internet service of bulletin boards. Anyone still around from the days of rec.puzzles.crosswords?
18 Tree in China at foot of which is girl (7)
PALMYRA - PAL(China, mate), and MYRA(girl)
20 Cart heading off to deliver piece of armour (6)
UMBREL - the cart is a TUMBREL, remove the first letter
21 Crocodile gets through biting into girl (6)
GAVIAL - VIA(through) inside GAL(girl)
23 Net for fish gets some quite sleepy going upstream (6)
EELSET - hidden reversed in quiTE SLEEpy
24 I’m stupid, restricting power and seeking peace (6)
DOVISH - Homer Simpson's favorite expression D'OH(I'm stupid) containing VIS(power)
26 Like wine that’s dull from US but with hidden power (5)
GRAPY - GRAY(dull) containing P(power)
27 Prohibition slapped on revolutionary army in part of Hungary (5)
BANAT - BAN(prohibition) then a reversal of TA(army)
10:30. Another excellent puzzle from Bob, which I didn’t find particularly hard but nonetheless managed to stuff up, paying insufficient attention to the wordplay at 13ac and bunging in the wrong vehicle. Drat.

Loads of neat stuff in here: the clever device at 2dn is particularly, well, clever.

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

Across
1 Takes back fruit unopened (2-7)
RE-ENGAGES - gREENGAGES. To take back in the sense of re-employing someone, I think.
6 Remains of old underwear
STAYS - DD. ‘Corsets with bones in them’ (Collins).
9 How you write this answer in wins medals
VICTORIA CROSSES - VICTORI(ACROSS)ES. Very neat!
10 Drink in small local
SHANDY - S, HANDY.
11 Inevitably do without mass and church
PERFORCE - PERFORm, CE.
13 Drag grand star back to an unoccupied carriage
LUGGAGE VAN - not a term I remember coming across before, so I bunged in LUGGAGE CAR without hesitation. If I had paid the slightest attention to the wordplay I'd have realised that CEGA is not the name of a star, whereas VEGA is. Reverse that, add it to LUG, G (grand) at the beginning and AN at the end and you get the right answer. 'Unoccupied' looks misleadingly like a wordplay instruction.
14 Police unit following a tart
ACID - A, CID.
16 I popped into friend’s for a beer
PILS - I ‘popped in’ to PALS to replace the A.
17 He attends an opening ceremony, with one who retains the gold
DOORKEEPER - DO (ceremony), OR KEEPER. Nicely disguised definition: lift and separate! OR is a heraldry term.
19 A US city concealing an Athenian element
ANTIMONY - A, N(TIMON)Y. You don’t have to be a Shakespeare expert to know about Timon of Athens.
20 Fight to block the French tariffs
LEVIES - LE(VIE)S. As Donald Trump is discovering, tariffs are a tax on your own consumers and about as effective a way of getting what you want as punching yourself in the face.
23 Totally innocent, listen as each law is broken
CLEAN AS A WHISTLE - (LISTEN AS EACH LAW)*.
24 Afterthought added to artist’s files
RASPS - RA’S, PS.
25 Detectives indict or acquit
DISCHARGE - DIS, CHARGE.

Down
1 Fumes on board endanger a vessel
RAVES - contained in ‘endanger a vessel’.
2 How to make Mo and Damon correspond
EXCHANGE LETTERS - if you exchange the letters in MO AND you get DAMON. Clever!
3 Large number turn to rum and ale unfortunately
GOOD DEAL - GO, ODD, (ALE)*.
4 Carriage crowd in conversation
GAIT - sounds like ‘gate’, the crowd at a concert, football match etc.
5 Cabinet has covert broadcast cut short
SECRETAIRE - SECRET, AIREd.
6 I’m sorry about fatuous, hollow pranks
SPOOFS - reversal (about) of OOPS (I'm sorry), FatuouS.
7 Pollock, perhaps digest rope securing a boat
ABSTRACT PAINTER - ABSTRACT (digest), PAINTER. A PAINTER is ‘a line attached to the bow of a boat for tying it up’ and a very useful word for crossword setters. See also ‘sheet’. The one word for a rope that never seems to be used by sailors is ‘rope’.
8 Hose attachment’s main sales feature in poster
SUSPENDER - S(USP)ENDER. USP stands for ‘unique selling point’.
12 Disco genre newly appreciated
RECOGNISED - (DISCO GENRE)*.
13 Record about a reindeer, one barely performs
LAP DANCER - L(A)P, DANCER.
15 Frantic swimmers lapping incessantly
FEVERISH - F(EVER)ISH. ‘Laps’ in a swimming pool are what North Americans call ‘lengths’.
18 Makes changes to what happens at noon
AMENDS - AM ends and PM begins.
21 Hide from kids influenced to be outspoken
SUEDE - sounds like ‘swayed’.
22 Cries to axe top Members of Parliament
OWLS - hOWLS. ‘Parliament’ being the collective noun for owls, of course.
Apologies for this arriving later than Kitty's excellent blog for 1385 - this was a Bank Holiday Monday puzzle of course, and so through my timings all out of whack. It was also a deeply straightforward crossword, requiring nothing much beyond an understanding of containment and anagram indicators, plus a few common crosswordland abbreviations and the most basic tier of general knowledge to make swift progress.

Despite the presence of clues like 30ac and 45dn, I'm afraid little of this made a lasting impression on me. I *did* like the sea-led monks at 15, and the &littery at 5dn, oh yes, and the appearance of the Lunar Excursion Module in 20dn. And many of the services were commendably succinct. But it was all enjoyable enough while it lasted. Thanks setter!

ACROSS
1 Engineer endlessly longing to be cloaked in obscurity (9)
MACHINIST - ACHIN{g} to be "cloaked in" MIST

6 Is drink placed in old hat wasted? (10)
DISSIPATED - IS SIP "placed in" DATED

12 Startle artilleryman, heading off before end-of-war celebrations? (7)
UNNERVE - {g}UNNER before V-E

13 Nice way of describing a hedonist? (3,6)
BON VIVANT - Nice way, as in "in the manner of a French place"

14 I brought in copies done over in shade of brown (5)
SEPIA - I "brought in" reversed APES

16 Secret plans for monasteries under maritime directions? (6,6)
SEALED ORDERS - whereas SEA-LED ORDERS would be maritime-directed monasteries!

17 Non-participant, beginning to watch everyone, beginning to feel less prominent (10)
WALLFLOWER - W{atch} + ALL + F{eel} + LOWER

19 As adept with pen as with sword? (5,2,3,4)
QUICK ON THE DRAW - a definition that can imply speed of unsheathing a weapon, or possibly of creating a picture

22 Appropriate to involve Times, sure to revise regular items (8)
FIXTURES - FIT to "involve" X, + (SURE*)

24 Suppose administrator seizing power will want end to unrest (6)
EXPECT - EXEC "seizing" P, + {unres}T

25 Dairy product down? Something said to produce a smile (4,6)
BLUE CHEESE - BLUE [down, as in sad] + CHEESE!

26 Much enthusiasm about brother finding wild horse (5)
ZEBRA - ZEA{l} "about" BR

29 Perhaps, the Opposition article backed by Frenchman (4)
THEM - THE [(definite) article] backed by M. "Us v them."

30 Puritan accepting new money, making an impression (8)
PRINTING - PRIG [puritan] "accepting" N TIN

32 Function hosting a performance offering little amusement (9)
SATURNINE - SINE "hosting" A TURN

34 The same may be represented in dialect (9)
IDENTICAL - (IN DIALECT*)

35 Atmospheric phenomenon? Study source of turbulence and fume (8)
CONTRAIL - CON [study] + T{urbulence} + RAIL [fume]

36 Tree? China has millions (4)
PALM - PAL has M

39 Sign of error in new rate for special edition of paper (5)
EXTRA - X [sign of error] in (RATE*)

40 Article in verse including record in sorry state (10)
APOLOGETIC - A [(indefinite) article] + POETIC [in verse] "including" LOG

42 Remarkable note penned by prisoner is handed over (6)
SIGNAL - N "penned by" reversed LAG IS

44 Sporting contest: plan to finish early or late in the day (8)
EVENTIDE - EVENT + IDE{a}

46 Action subsequently engaging lawyers to succeed in arbitration? (6,1,7)
STRIKE A BARGAIN - STRIKE + AGAIN "engaging" BAR

48 Very annoyed: silver reduced into small pieces retaining only 40% of value (10)
AGGRAVATED - AG [silver] + GRATED "retaining" VA{lue}

49 Erotica? Men with it possibly showing some speed in response (8,4)
REACTION TIME - (EROTICA MEN + IT*)

53 Blame hard to be accepted by group of thinkers? (5)
THANK - H to be "accepted" by TANK. Who do we have to thank for this?

54 Public official: origins linked to male in Arab state (9)
OMBUDSMAN - BUDS linked to M, in OMAN

55 I name support from near the coast (7)
INSHORE - I N SHORE

56 I agree: positive response seen in territory in the past (10)
YESTERYEAR - YES [I agree] + YEA [positive response] seen in TERR

57 Prepared with a line about study describing many office jobs? (9)
SEDENTARY - SET with A RY, about DEN

DOWN
1 Fellow, one with a passion (5)
MANIA - MAN, I with A

2 Take control of stimulus — something footballer takes (6,4)
CORNER KICK - CORNER [take control of, e.g. a market] + KICK [stimulus]

3 Reserve to move briskly, feeling the cold (3-5)
ICE-BOUND - ICE [reserve, as in frosty demeanour] + BOUND [move briskly]

4 Plant grew tall, avoiding cold lake (5)
IMBED - {c}{l}IMBED

5 Town in Kent has fashionable people cross (9)
TONBRIDGE - TON [fashionable people] + BRIDGE [cross]

6 Daughter, not fully mature, weak character (4)
DRIP - D + RIP{e}

7 Pretending to have support of a new religious figure (6)
SHAMAN - SHAM [pretending], to have support of A N

8 “Elitist leaning” may represent us (14)
INTELLIGENTSIA - (ELITIST LEANING*), semi-&lit. Unless of course "us" is just a definition for crossword enthusiasts!

9 More than one sailor loves to carry an instrument in the coldest temperature (8,4)
ABSOLUTE ZERO - ABS [more than one sailor] + O ZERO [(two) loves] to "carry" LUTE [an instrument]

10 Enable soldiers to turn up, bearing military captive (7)
EMPOWER - reversed REME [soldiers, as in Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers], "bearing" POW [prisoner of war]

11 Later question beginning to engage some number in smaller group (10)
SUBSEQUENT - QU + E{ngage} + N, in SUBSET

15 Love coming in fast — the stuff of jets and rockets (9)
AEROSPACE - EROS [love] "coming in" APACE

18 Source of disease: head about to keep note (8)
PATHOGEN - PATE about HOG [to keep], + N

20 Instrument in Apollo lander: I’m restrained about that (9)
IMPLEMENT - LEM [Apollo lander] - I'M PENT about that

21 Hold hard — young chap has fallen badly in between (4,6)
HALF NELSON - H SON [hard | young chap] has (FALLEN*) in between

23 China’s problem with crime (3,7)
TEA SERVICE - TEASER with VICE

27 National symbol? Scots own up after it’s found in refuse (9)
BRITANNIA - reversed AIN [Scots "own"] after IT is found in BRAN

28 Opener to meal with taste, left out as expression of sovereign’s thanks (5-3-6)
GRACE-AND-FAVOUR - GRACE [(spoken) opener to meal] + AND + F{l}AVOUR

31 Isle of Grain not entirely undeveloped (8)
INCHOATE - INCH [isle] + OATE{n}

33 Sailor following Channel, and French providing restriction (12)
STRAITJACKET - JACK [sailor] following STRAIT, + ET [and, French]

34 One cricket side taking article into practice area? That’s awkward (9)
INELEGANT - I + LEG AN [cricket side | article] into NET [practice area]

37 Paper upset about delay identifying shirker (10)
MALINGERER - reversed REAM about LINGER

38 End up accepting witches I found in Pacific lands (10)
MICRONESIA - reversed AIM "accepting" CRONES I. Gets everywhere in crosswords recently, does this clue.

41 Outermost layer is primed to disintegrate after input of energy (9)
EPIDERMIS - (IS PRIMED*), with insertion of E

43 Help is turning up after former schoolmate gets stuck on Northern rock (8)
OBSIDIAN - AID IS reversed, after O.B., gets stuck on N

45 Go wild after English impress deeply (7)
ENGRAVE - RAVE after ENG

47 Weak grouse sent skyward ends in trivial chase (6)
FEEBLE - reversed BEEF [grouse, as in complaint] + {trivia}L {chas}E

50 Punished, or preserved half-heartedly (5)
CANED - CAN{n}ED

51 Club comedy, ultimately satire (5)
IRONY - IRON [(golf) club] + {comed}Y

52 IT expert losing top in German river (4)
ODER - {c}ODER

Hello!  I’m delighted to be joining the TftT blogging team, taking on Mohn2’s Jumbo blogging duties.  I have pretty limited experience of Times puzzles so far, which means I haven’t much to compare this one to.  Still, I have the distinct feeling that I’ve been given a nice gentle induction.  No complaints from me – just enjoyment.  Thanks, setter!

Definitions are underlined in the clues below.  In the explanations, quoted indicators are in italics, [deletions] in square brackets, and I’ve capitalised and emboldened letters which appear in the ANSWER.

Across
1 Break even in other school at first (9)
ELEVENSESEVEN (from the clue) in ELSE (other) + the first letter of (… at first) School
6 Old fogey’s current article into flak and slander (5-2-3-3)
STICK-IN-THE-MUDIN (current) + THE (grammatical article) go into STICK (flack) and MUD (slander)
13 Girl in Ginsberg poem a male spurned (5)
ERICA — [A][m]ERICA (Allen Ginsberg poem) with A (from the clue) and M (male) removed (spurned)
14 Follow ark in travels? It's possible, but unlikely (3,3,1,4)
FOR ALL I KNOWFOLLOW ARK IN is anagrammed (travels)
15 British working with American commission (5)
BONUSB (British) + ON (working) with US (American)
16 One may appear in September morns to have changed somewhat (7,4)
HARVEST MOONMORNS TO HAVE anagrammed (changed somewhat)
17 In my case, stand at the front for hymn (5,4,2)
ABIDE WITH MEWITH ME (in my case), with ABIDE (stand) at the front
18 Figure Greek character right to interrupt repast (7)
NUMERALNU (Greek character) followed by R (right) inside (to interrupt) MEAL (repast)
20 Retired professors from Cambridge ultimately deserve one (7)
EMERITI — the last letter of CambridgE (Cambridge ultimately) + MERIT (deserve) + I (one)
21 Court at the end presented with motive for crime (7)
TREASON — the last letter of (… at the end) courT next to (presented with) REASON (motive)
23 Two honourable guys employing singular valet (10,9)
GENTLEMAN'S GENTLEMANGENTLEMAN and GENTLEMAN are our two honourable guys; they are surrounding (employing) S (singular)
27 Primate's practical joke judge ignored (3)
APE — [j]APE (practical joke), with J (judge) left out (ignored)
28 Belief unacceptable across India (6)
NOTIONNOT ON (unacceptable) around (across) I (India, NATO alphabet)
29 Passage which includes short argument (6)
THROATTHAT (which) contains (includes) all but the last letter of (short) RO[w] (argument)
31 Female worker getting help, we hear, for a Walter Mitty type? (9)
FANTASISTF (female) + ANT (worker), then ASIST which sounds like (… we hear) ASSIST (help)
34 Old soldiers work after hours in place employing cheap labour (9)
SWEATSHOPSWEATS (old, as in long-serving, soldiers), then OP (work) after H (hours)
35 Notorious bar, mostly clean (6)
PUBLICPUB (bar) + LIC[k] (mostly clean)
I wasn’t convinced by lick = clean, which might sound a bit odd coming from a kitty (I prefer showers myself!)
36 Gluttonous type in car fed by girl (6)
GANNETGT (car, gran turismo) containing (fed by) ANNE (girl)
39 Eggs in surplus, according to report (3)
OVA — homophone of (according to report) OVER (surplus)
40 What's required to play Poohsticks, a prior issue now resolved? (5,5,3,6)
WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE — Two definitions, the first of a literal reading of the answer
42 Girl in that place sat endlessly (7)
THERESATHERE (in that place) + SA[t] (sat, endlessly)
43 Passionate, us after a second run out (7)
AMOROUSUS (from the clue) after the concatenation of A (from the clue), MO (second) and RO (run out, cricket)
45 Backache? Penny must leave plant (7)
LUMBAGO — P (penny) removed from (must leave) [p]LUMBAGO (plant)
47 Sodium, for instance, contaminated a lake at mill (6,5)
ALKALI METAL — anagram of (contaminated) A LAKE AT MILL
49 Charles Pooter's kid? One not easily deceived (7,4)
NOBODY’S FOOL — Charles Pooter is the NOBODY in Diary of a Nobody.  After him is the ‘S from the clue and FOOL (kid)
51 Wee drink ahead of a play (5)
DRAMADRAM (wee drink) before (ahead of) A (from the clue)
52 Notice character in establishment, heading off (11)
RESIGNATIONSIGN (character) in [c]REATION (establishment) minus the first letter (heading off)
53 Girl taking in Italian show (5)
EVITAEVA (girl) containing (taking in) IT (Italian)
54 Jazzman liked long tune, syncopated (4,9)
DUKE ELLINGTONLIKED LONG TUNE, anagrammed (syncopated)
Interesting, rather offbeat, anagram indicator …
55 Greek takes off with illegally obtained ammunition (9)
GRAPESHOTGR (Greek) and APES (takes off, imitates) with HOT (illegally obtained)

Down
1 Rifle one always to remember? Good French one (8,3)
ELEPHANT GUN — charade of ELEPHANT (one always to remember?), G (good), and UN (French one)
2 English farm animals causing witty comment (7)
EPIGRAME (English) + PIG and RAM (farm animals)
3 Delete article in Irish Gaelic (5)
ERASEA (grammatical article) in ERSE (Irish Gaelic)
4 Playmates stupidly hiding fine lighter of mine? (6,4)
SAFETY LAMPPLAYMATES anagrammed (stupidly) containing (hiding) F (fine, on pencils)
5 Skinflint's self-esteem evil goblins lifted (7)
SCROOGEEGO (self-esteem) + ORCS (evil goblins), all reversed (lifted, in a down answer)
6 Breakaway movement Preston girl re-formed at university (8,5)
SPLINTER GROUPPRESTON GIRL anagrammed (re-formed) + UP (at university)
7 Check, having lost top copy (9)
IMITATION — [l]IMITATION (check) without the first letter (having lost top)
8 Tackle aboard in fine revolutionary raft (3-4)
KON-TIKIKIT (tackle, gear) in (aboard) the combination of IN (from the clue) plus OK (fine), reversed (revolutionary)
9 Proof, after novel, a collection of religious books (3,9)
NEW TESTAMENTTESTAMENT (proof) following (after) NEW (novel)
10 Male bishop on Rhode Island, churchman from the Western Isles (9)
HEBRIDEANHE (male) + B (bishop, chess notation) before (on, in a down answer) RI (Rhode Island) + DEAN (churchman)
11 Insect found round north in May, perhaps (5)
MONTHMOTH (insect) found round N (north)
12 Faulty cistern — mend showing perspicacity (11)
DISCERNMENT — anagram of (faulty) CISTERN MEND
19 Order abroad to get discount (4,3)
RULE OUTRULE (order) + OUT (abroad)
22 Posted”, one working inside said (9)
STATIONEDI (one) and ON (working) inside STATED (said)
24 No wine to be taken into flat in sacred building (5,4)
NOTRE DAMENO (from the clue), followed by RED (wine) inserted in (to be taken into) TAME (flat)
25 Number on old piano penned by that woman, a definite loser (2-5)
NO-HOPERNO (number) before (on, in a down answer) O (old) and P (piano) inside (penned by) HER (that woman)
26 Socialist supporter quit first? (7)
LEFTISTLEFT (quit) + IST (first)
30 I overlook South African city chart placed on stack (5,8)
TABLE MOUNTAINTABLE (chart) before (placed on) MOUNTAIN (stack)
32 “An Indian city attracting millions” – sort of clue (7)
ANAGRAMAN (from the clue) and AGRA (Indian city) stuck to (attracting) M (millions)
33 Warmth, ideal I suspect for a butterfly (5,7)
WHITE ADMIRALWARMTH IDEAL I anagrammed (suspect)
34 Style of writing supported by editor in need of more staff (5-6)
SHORT-HANDEDSHORTHAND (style of writing) followed by (supported by, in a down answer) ED (editor)
37 Boxing belt — another lost (3,5,3)
THE NOBLE ARTBELT ANOTHER anagrammed (lost)
38 Drug two Italian girls? (10)
BELLADONNABELLA and DONNA, two Italian words for females
40 Length of most of car, and weight (tail end, then rest) (9)
WHEELBASE — charade of W (weight), HEEL (tail end), and BASE (rest)
41 What may shine in darkness covering one shimmering lake? (4,5)
NEON LIGHTNIGHT (darkness) containing (covering) an anagram of (… shimmering) ONE and L (lake)
43 Skilled worker is wearing plaid, though hatless (7)
ARTISANIS (from the clue) covered by (wearing) [t]ARTAN (plaid), though without its first letter (though hatless)
44 Maybe brother is upset over ostentatious jewellery (7)
SIBLING — we again take IS from the clue, but this time reversed (upset); this comes before (over, in a down answer) BLING (ostentatious jewellery)
46 Get rid of blood group O? I succeeded in large hospital (7)
ABOLISHAB (blood group) + O (from the clue), after which I (from the clue) + S (succeeded) go in between L (large) and H (hospital)
48 Gift in bag a private secretary overlooked (5)
KNACKKN[a][ps]ACK (bag) without (… overlooked) A (from the clue) and PS (private secretary)
50 Part of play watched in the auditorium (5)
SCENE — SEEN (watched), as heard (in the auditorium)

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