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Times 26968 - 25 up your ears?

Solving time:  12:35.

Pretty steady solve, I found this overall a bigger challenge than yesterday but there were no unknown answers that held me up at the end.  A few tricky wordplay elements, I suspect there will be a bit of biffing going on here, although the wordplay is clear.

It is getting kind of late here, so I hope I haven't made any mistakes, but if I have, check in the comments, I won't be able to come back and amend anything until after noon GMT.

Definitions are underlined in the clue

Away we go...


Across
1 Doesn’t allow depositing money in change? On the contrary (2,2,5)
BY NO MEANS - BANS(doesn't allow) conatining an anagram of MONEY
6 Old king about to collect one jacket (5)
TUNIC - king CNUT reversed, containing I
9 Take pleasure in show, though not first class (5)
REVEL - REVEAL(show) missing A(first class)
10 Unwilling to enter secluded spot shortly changes gear (9)
RECLOTHES -LOTH(unwilling) inside RECES(s)
11 To go to bed at late hour’s serious — sleep uneasily? (4,2,4,5)
TURN IN ONES GRAVE - TURN IN (to go to bed), ONE'S (late hour's), GRAVE(serious)
13 Pursuing girl, I must leave pleasant London house (8)
CLARENCE - CLARE(girl) then remove I from NICE
14 Wander along, heading for seriously nasty poster (6)
STROLL - S(eriously), TROLL(nasty internet poster)
16 Scotland Yard officers probing teachers exposed one (6)
NUDIST - DIS (Scotland Yard Detective Inspectors) inside NUT(National Union of Teachers)
18 Small deed visited by new penalty (8)
SANCTION - S, ACTION(deed) containing N
21 Appoint entirely slippery ambassador (15)
PLENIPOTENTIARY - anagram of APPOINT,ENTIRELY
23 Alarmed to have to shift broken stone (4,5)
ROAD METAL - anagram of ALARMED,TO
25 Groom’s carnation usher finally pinned in (5)
PRINK - PINK(carnation) containing (ushe)R
26 Exclude lower classes at pub (5)
DEBAR - D and E (lower classes), BAR
27 Pop group and accompanying female working for popular cause (9)
BANDWAGON - BAND(pop group), WAG(accompanying female), ON(working) - WAGS was the name of a recent "reality TV" show here so that was burned on my skull accidentally

Down
1 Society in Lancaster is broke (5)
BURST - S(society) in the actor BURT Lancaster
2 See vineyard destroyed, but don’t give up (5,3,3)
NEVER SAY DIE - anagram of SEE,VINEYARD
3 Uneasy feeling Orientals talked of (7)
MALAISE - sounds like MALAYS
4 Anglican tune: “Warriors on high” (3,5)
AIR FORCE - an Anglican tune could be an AIR FOR CE
5 Not to be touched, frightened turning around (6)
SACRED - as in SACRED cow - SCARED with the RE reversed
6 Idea that is however ahead of time (7)
THOUGHT -
7 Books hotel last? (3)
NTH - NT(New Testament), H(hotel) as in "the NTH degree"
8 Keep governor almost of star quality in prison (9)
CASTELLAN - STELLA(r) in CAN
12 Revolted by tar, old bird can start to gag (11)
ABOMINATING - AB(tar), O, MINA(bired), TIN(can), G(ag)
13 Plotted no end of biased reporting to divide political opponents (9)
CONSPIRED - SPI(n) (biased reporting) inside CON and RED(political opponents)
15 One who explored a long time all over the north, miles ahead (8)
MAGELLAN - AGE(a long time) then ALL reversed, N with M at the front
17 Suppress rage when gaining pounds, wanting to be this? (7)
SLIMMER - SIMMER(suppress rage) containing L
19 In boat, spotted holding power tool (4-3)
CATS-PAW - CAT(catamaran, boat), SAW(spotted) containing P
20 Bath is very popular, going by boat (3,3)
HOT TUB - HOT(very popular), by TUB(boat)
22 It’s horrible working in this territory (5)
YUKON - YUK(it;s horrible), ON(working)
24 Vestment almost entirely black (3)
ALB -AL(l), B

Quick Cryptic No 1033 by Izetti

This was my fastest time for a while at just over 5 minutes, so definitely on the easier side for an Izetti puzzle.  Entertaining nonetheless!

In my last blog I talked about HOLAs! (Harrumph - Opening Letter Abbreviations) which quickly sank into obscurity, but this puzzle seemed to contain a higher than usual number of double letter abbreviations, or maybe I was just imagining it.

In 1033 there was panic in Europe where they thought the world would end on the 1,000th anniversary of the crucifixion, but it all worked out alright in the end (obviously excepting those persons for whom the world did end during the year!).  Other than that, and being the sum of 8 to the power 1, 8 to the power 0 and two lots of 8 to the power 3, there isn’t much special about the number 1033 that I am aware of.

Here's how I saw it:

Across
Different people – not her sort, not all of them (6)
OTHERS – Anagram (sort) of [HER SO[r}T].  The ‘r’ is dropped according to the instruction ‘not all of them’, i.e. not all the letters included in the anagrist.
Calm little place, attended by a group of detectives (6)
PLACID – PL (abbreviation for place, mostly used in street signs, therefore 'little place') followed (accompanied) by A (a) CID (group of detectives, Criminal Investigation Department)
8  Proverbial drinker outside pub is European (7)
FINNISH – The FISH is the proverbial drinker, and this surrounds (is outside) INN (pub)
10  Criticise one Conservative creating alarm (5)
PANIC – To criticise is to PAN and this is followed by I (one) and C{onservative}
11  Female bird always returning full of energy (5)
REEVE – Always is EVER which is reversed (returning) and has an E for E{nergy} inserted.  The REEVE is the female of the RUFF family of birds.
12  Northern city quickly attracting any number (7)
PRESTON – PRESTO (quickly) with (attracting) N which can symbolise any number
13  Chum is dancing in front of everyone in entertainment venue (5,4)
MUSIC HALL – Anagram (dancing) of [CHUM IS] ‘in front of’ ALL (everyone).  MUSIC HALL was a kind of British entertainment similar to the American vaudeville, and unsurprisingly, it took its name from the venues where it was performed, or music halls.
17  Small crown, gold one seen in court (7)
CORONET – OR (gold, from heraldry where it is derived from the French aurum meaning gold) and ONE (one) inside CT (abbreviation for court)
19  We hear horses eat in field (5)
GRAZE – Sounds like (we hear) GREYS (or in the USA, GRAYS).  A GREY is a grey or greyish animal, especially a horse.
20  Like female not looking very well (5)
ASHEN – AS (like) and HEN (female)
21  Stopping almost all night after travel (7)
HALTING – Anagram (after travel) of [AL] (almost AL{l}) and [NIGHT]
22  Tries to present pieces for university tutor? (6)
ESSAYS – To ESSAY is to attempt as well as what may be submitted to a university tutor.  The question mark is because other types of submission are possible other than ESSAYS, such as dissertations or projects.
23  Candlestick boy carried around cold Anglican church (6)
SCONCE – the boy is SON who ‘carries’ C{old} and is followed by CE (Church of England, or Anglican church)

Down
1 City offering what’s collected in box for down-and-outs (6)
OXFORD – Hidden in {b}OX FOR D{own-and-outs}
Protests on the go when food is not available (6,7)
HUNGER MARCHES – Cryptic clue referring to the demonstrations that took place, particularly during the 1920’s and 1930’s in Britain and elsewhere.  The 1932 HUNGER MARCH started in Scotland and gained 100,000 marchers and ended in a riot in Hyde Park, London.
3  One book is missing from new libraries, they protest (7)
RAILERS – To RAIL is to revile or protest.  Anagram of [LIBRARIES] minus IB (one book)
5 Fall in part of race, starts to seem exhausted (5)
LAPSE – Part of a race could be a LAP, followed by first letters of (starts to) S{eem} E{xhausted}
Groups of stars interfered with colonial’s tent (13)
CONSTELLATION – Anagram (interferes with) [COLONIAL’S TENT]
7 Proper journey down mountain maybe without first sign of snow (6)
DECENT – Journey down a mountain would be an example of a descent, remove the S as first letter of S{now}
9  Hard work is followed by whisky and a game (9)
HOPSCOTCH – H{ard} followed by OP (work) and SCOTCH (whisky) to give the popular playground game (is it still popular?)
14 ‘Innocent’ Alice being false – no good inside (7)
ANGELIC – Anagram (being false) of [ALICE], with N{o} G{ood} inside.
15  Grate fragment ending in fire (6)
SCRAPE – SCRAP is a fragment followed by last letter (ending) of {fir}E
16  My, my!  It’s a horse (3-3)
GEE-GEE – My! Is an interjection expressing surprise, as is GEE!.  Repeat it for the childish name for a horse
18  Girl in New York who looks after children? (5)
NANNY – &lit or cryptic definition.  The girl is ANN inside N{ew} Y{ork}.  The question mark is because not all NANNYs look after children, and not all of those that do are girls.
Sad to see our world champion Elise crashing out of the speed skating yet again. There again, £32 million of taxpayers money in four years to chase a few medals in elite winter sports does seem a questionable use of the dosh.
Once I had my skates on I whizzed through this in quick time for a Wednesday, the smoothest run I've had for ages. Nevertheless, an enjoyable puzzle with neat wordplay and no especially silly words (like MANA from last week). Lots of insertion clues and only two and a half anagrams.

.
Across
1 Smoked sausage the Spanish served in cabbage (7)
SAVELOY - Insert EL into SAVOY cabbage.
5 Extravagantly publicise place in military band? (6)
SPLASH - Insert PL(ACE) into SASH = military band.
8 Church worker priests in centre employ as singer (9)
CHANTEUSE - CH(URCH), ANT = worker, (PRI)E(STS), USE = employ.
9 Cry about reviewer’s initial description of book (5)
BLURB - Insert R(eviewer) into BLUB.
11 Provide for Parisian who has broken old record (5)
EQUIP - Insert QUI = French for 'who', into EP = old record.
12 Eg Miss Prism’s turn for home in Scottish city (9)
GOVERNESS - INVERNESS is the Scottish city, swap IN = home for GO = turn. Miss Prism is Cecily's governess in The Importance of Being Earnest.
13 Vocally opposed to tweet maybe describing form of betting? (4-4)
ANTE-POST - ANTE Sounds like ANTI and POST for tweet.
15 Strip joint finally established by rich man (6)
DIVEST - Add T (joint finally) to DIVES, Latin for rich or a rich man.
17 Yankee priest with right to rabbit on (6)
YABBER - Y for Yankee, ABBE = priest, R = right.
19 Genuine doctor almost stops providing a cure (8)
REMEDIAL - Insert MEDI(C)
22 Injected journalist next to where whisky is made (9)
INSTILLED - Whisky being made IN STILL, add ED.
23 Cloud enveloping English female in spongy ground (5)
BEFOG - Insert E F into BOG. Cloud as a verb.
24 Lived in part of Oxford, perhaps, with daughter (5)
DWELT - Daughter = D, WELT part of shoe.
25 Notes male attorney’s written about return of capital (9)
MEMORANDA - Insert ROME reversed into MAN, DA.
26 Actors in Greek drama about Egyptian god (6)
CHORUS - C = circa, about, HORUS = Egyptian god.
27 Bear last of gifts to Austrian physicist (7)
STOMACH - (GIFT)S, TO, MACH, Ernst Waldfried Josef Wenzel Mach d. 1916, Austrian chap who studied shock waves; in his honour is named the Mach number, the ratio of actual speed to the speed of sound in the medium e.g. air.
Down
1 PS, offer to secure run for African predator? (9,4)
SECRETARY BIRD - PS I think here is abbr. for Private Secretary or Parliamentary Secretary; then insert R into BID. On my best holiday ever (and there have been a lot) I was reluctantly persuaded to 'do' the Shamwari Game Reserve in South Africa and found myself enjoying it greatly; seeing one of these large, eccentric looking birds perched on top of a dead tree was a memorable highlight.
2 By way of tube, reaching bridgelike structure (7)
VIADUCT - VIA = by way of, DUCT = tube. More incidental drivel. Pottering around Rutland last week checking out the best pubs and villages while house hunting, we stumbled across the WELLAND VIADUCT, the longest masonry viaduct across a valley in England, very impressive, 30 million bricks of Victorian engineering.
3 Break allowed on way to London, perhaps (3-2)
LET-UP - LET = allowed, UP often used as in 'go UP to London'.
4 The solver gets sent out with note, being most junior (8)
YOUNGEST - YOU = the solver, then (SENT G)* where G = a note.
5 Change direction suddenly: work with forces protecting West (6)
SWERVE - Insert W into SERVE = work with forces.
6 Row about French composer showing rakish tendencies (9)
LIBERTINE - Insert IBERT into LINE = row. Jacques François Antoine Marie Ibert (15 August 1890 – 5 February 1962) was a French classical composer.
7 Hug cat mostly unknown in Kent area? (7)
SQUEEZE - SE = South-east, Kent area; insert QUEE(N) = cat mostly and Z = unknown.
10 The phrase Glubb endlessly misused in such communication (4,9)
BUSH TELEGRAPH - (THE PHRASE GLUB), deleting a B from GLUBB. The surface works, there was such a chap as Glubb, the setter hasn't made him up; Lieutenant-General Sir John Bagot Glubb, known as Glubb Pasha, was a British soldier, scholar and author, In his picture on Wikipedia he looks rather like Jonesy from Dad's Army.
14 One foresees image-promoting men accepting ruling (9)
PREDICTOR - PR = image promoting, OR = men, insert EDICT = ruli.g.
16 Seems mad changing form of address in Lyon? (8)
MESDAMES - (SEEMS MAD)*.
18 Beg directions to cut into tree (7)
BESEECH - Insert S, E into BEECH.
20 Trendy supporter cheers European royal (7)
INFANTA - IN = trendy, FAN = supporter, TA = cheers.
21 Scottish castle is very attractive to begin with (6)
GLAMIS - GLAM = very attractive, IS. Childhood home of QE the late Queen Mother.
23 Pack animal’s underground home, with leaves (5)
BURRO - W = with leaves BURROW. Spanish / Mexican and Portuguese word for donkey.

Quick Cryptic 1032 by Felix

I enjoyed this offering from Felix - nothing obscure, but some teasers that required a bit of thinking about (9d being an example).

12a proved yet again the wisdom of the old crossword adage "if you see a clue where you really cannot work out what on earth is going on, it's probably a hidden..." - and sure enough it was. It's a tip I happily pass on to new players, as it is one of the most useful things I have learned over the last few years doing this stuff.

I should also make special mention of the quality of the surfaces in this puzzle. Most were very elegant and conjured up pleasing images whilst simultaneously cluing the answer most fairly. 1a and 21d were standouts for me in this regard, but most of the remainder between those excellent "book ends" were pretty damned good in my opinion.

So, thanks to Felix - look forward to seeing how you all got on. I may not be particularly responsive to comments today as I am on holiday and will be tramping moorlands rather than looking at my computer - but I'm sure the usual crew will address any queries.

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

Across
1 Swimmer with the deep, deep voice (3,4)
SEA BASS - SEA (the deep) + BASS (deep voice)
5 Chess player’s wine? (5)
WHITE - I guess you could call this a DD, but I think (on balance) the first part is more of a cryptic steer towards the answer rather than a definition as such. Either way, it works fine and held me up until I got the H cross checker as I was trying to think of the names of chess players and only came up with two - Fischer and Kasparov!
8 Deem rallies out of order in Ireland (7,4)
EMERALD ISLE - *(DEEM RALLIES) with "out of order" signalling the anagram
10 Where you could see stallion bolt (4)
STUD - DD
11 Inspector very sour when put out (8)
SURVEYOR - *(VERY SOUR) with "when put out" indicating the anagram
12 Not all appreciate the rector’s tie (6)
TETHER - Hidden in (not all) appreciaTE THE Rector's. And very well hidden it was, too - and a lovely surface: top flight clue.
14 Railed aloud, as trespassers do? (6)
INVADE - Sounds like (aloud) INVEIGHED (railed)
16 To look impressive, make a slight reduction? (3,1,4)
CUT A DASH - If you make a slight reduction in something you might be said to be cutting it a dash
18 Point after animal is beheaded (4)
EAST - {B}EAST (animal is beheaded)
20 Azure reprint, strangely lacking a controversial award
(6,5)
TURNER PRIZE - *({A}ZURE REPRINT) -"lacking A" - with "strangely" signposting the anagram. And for anyone unsure of the 'controversial' tag, you might want to read this http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/turner-prize/8834871/The-Turner-Prizes-most-controversial-moments.html
22 Oil? Carful does, regularly (5)
CRUDE - Every other letter (regularly) of CaRfUl DoEs
23 Drinking vessels broken by German assailants (7)
MUGGERS - MUGS (drinking vessels) with GER inside (broken by German)


Down
2 Old girlfriend, perhaps, to dine and pass out (5)
EXEAT - EX (old girlfriend) + EAT (dine). As a young fellow I received an instructive introduction to the English class system when I was sent to a boarding school in a west country town which had two such schools. I was told that our school was socially superior on the basis that "when parents come to take one of our boys away for a weekend, the boy gets an EXEAT: when the same thing happens at the school down the road, the boy gets a PERMIT". These people actually believed this sort of stuff - God help us!
3 How wide is the cut beneath loaf? (7)
BREADTH - TH{E} (the cut) 'beneath' BREAD (loaf)
4 Spring appears, finally, every year (3)
SPA - S (appearS finally) + PA (per annum - every year). And I can't wait...
6 Holds note, displaying urgency (5)
HASTE - HAST (holds - somewhat archaic form) + E (note)
7 Do hotel breaks: useful base for mountaineer? (7)
TOEHOLD - *(DO HOTEL) with "breaks" pointing to the anagram
9 Rather “unfair” putting old vessel in plate (7)
DARKISH - Put ARK (old vessel) in DISH (plate) and there you have it. Playful definition with the quote marks telling us something a bit cheeky is going on.
11 Appellation of vase, outwardly identical (7)
SURNAME - URN (vase) with SAME around it (outwardly identical)
13 A torque, twisting, that has zero latitude (7)
EQUATOR - *(A TORQUE) with "twisting" indicating the anagram
15 Watching struggle by faction (7)
VIEWING - VIE (struggle) + WING (faction)
17 A call at first clear and sharp (5)
ACRID - A + C (A Call at first) + RID (clear), my LOI for no obvious reason
19 Female meeting the queen becomes complete (5)
SHEER - SHE (female) + ER (the queen)
21 Girl’s tips on gamesmanship for you (3)
PRU - Last letters (tips) of gamesmanshiP foR yoU

Times Cryptic 26966

I needed 31 minutes for this one, so another puzzle at the easier end of the spectrum methinks. And only one unknown word or meaning which presented no problem at all.

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

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Times Quick Cryptic 1031 by Flamande

A brief blog today due to travel. I found this medium difficulty which seems about right for a QC - enough to think about but all gettable. Good surfaces and a couple of &lits (clues where the definition is tied up in the wordplay) made this particularly interesting.

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Times Quick Cryptic 1030 by Mara

This one took me 6 minutes so I would rate it on the easy side. I have one or two minor quibbles which I shall mention along the way but generally this was an excellent Quickie.

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A very Mondayesque puzzle indeed, which I romped through in 21 minutes, so we may expect the speedsters to be comfortably sub-5. Sometimes a puzzle is like a London bus - you know what I mean: you wait ages for a word to come along and then it just can't stop coming. SPOILER ALERT!

That word today is the girl's name (Inés in Spanish, Inês in Portuguese, Inez in Murcan), which I had never heard of until it popped up recently, generating, as these things so often do, as much discussion about its spelling (if it's not spelling, it's pronunciation) as about its intrinsic value. And what a nice intrinsic value it possesses, being derived from the Greek word hagnē (meaning chaste), which gives us Agnes. Agnes of God, indeed.

For me, the third bus trundled along last week, when I watched a truly magnificent film, which was made in 1966 and released in 1968, called The Swimmer. Parable, fairy-tale, dream, nightmare, reflection on the male menopause, who can tell?, but this adaptation of a short story published in The New Yorker deserves its cult status, and contains quite possibly, as Roger Ebert contends, the best work Burt Lancaster ever did.

¡Manos a la obra!

ACROSS

1 Cleric — a Roman Catholic — bound to admit mistake (10)
ARCHBISHOP - BISH in A RC HOP
6 Daughter is wanting hot food (4)
DISH - D IS H
9 Wild river crossed by this writer's companion (10)
IMMODERATE - ODER in I'M MATE
10 Object of worship in Delhi or Lahore principally (4)
IDOL - initial letters of those middle words
12 Tampers with some marks on exam paper? Nonsense (12)
FIDDLESTICKS -FIDDLES TICKS
15 Writer knocked back drink after drink, going round Australia (5,4)
EMILE ZOLA - ALE and LIME around OZ, all reversed; I have to confess I've never read a word of this chap's output, but he acquitted himself well in the Dreyfuss business, writing the pamphlet 'J'Accuse'.
17 Affected Florentine painter I ignored (3,2)
GOT TO - G[i]OTTO
18 Pan for cook (5)
ROAST - Double definition (DD)
19 Sailing vessel's crew stole through empty street (9)
STEAMBOAT - TEAM BOA in S[tree]T; it's a bit counter-intuitive to describe a steamboat as a sailing vessel, but it is , in the sense that it 'moves over the sea' (or 'sails').
20 Resourceful burglar with crowbar might? (12)
ENTERPRISING - (a burglar) ENTERS PRISING (the door open)
24 Band's big hit (not the second) (4)
SASH - S[m]ASH
25 Noting a royal figure with duke visiting urban area (6,4)
TAKING DOWN - A KING D (duke) in TOWN
26 American entering Malayan kingdom (4)
YANK - hidden
27 Form of SATs bandied about in these? (10)
STAFFROOMS - anagram * of FORM OF SATS and an all-in-one

DOWN

1 Line of cabs, first one leaving (4)
AXIS - [t]AXIS
2 Holiday site with parking close to river (4)
CAMP - CAM (piffling 'river' at the other place) P
3 Base politician stifling newspaper account of late (7,5)
BEDTIME STORY - TIMES in BED (base) TORY (politician)
4 Divided among several people, except for a small amount (5)
SHRED - SH[a]RED
5 Like Nana, perhaps, he got name changed (2,3,4)
ON THE GAME - HE GOT NAME*; Nana, the eponymous heroine of one of Zola's best known books, was a lady of the night.
7 In a manner of speaking, concealing a piece of evidence (10)
INDICATION - A in IN (in) DICTION (a manner of speaking)
8 Presents lectures (5,5)
HOLDS FORTH - DD
11 Male celebrity upset by a German worker behind the scenes (5,7)
STAGE MANAGER - STAG (male) EMAN (NAME reversed - ‘upset’) A GER
13 Boldly rush around like Van Gogh? (10)
FEARLESSLY - EARLESS in FLY; as a matter of fact, Van Gogh was only partially earless.
14 Brexit extremists clashing with Parisian supporting both sides (10)
BIPARTISAN - BT (B[rexi]T) PARISIAN*
16 Attentive valet supports old bachelor (9)
OBSERVANT - SERVANT after O B
21 Pursuing last of scullers, row hard (5)
STIFF - TIFF after [sculler]S
22 Leading Motown duo on revolutionary sort of recording (4)
MONO - MO[town] ON reversed
23 Spanish woman tucks in, skipping starter (4)
INES - [d]INES

Not counting two special blogs in June 2011 when Mike Laws died, this is my 250th Mephisto blog. My first was puzzle 2489 that appeared in the paper on 11th May 2008. Bar crosswords have been my favourite type of crossword since I was introduced to Ximenes circa 1962 and Mephisto shortly after that. Throughout that time the overall standard of the puzzles has been a credit to the setters and I must thank them for the many hours of pleasure that they have given me.

Back in 1962 it used to take me 3 or 4 elapsed days to complete a puzzle. Over the years, my times gradually improved to today’s 40 to 80 minutes – so keep practicing if your new to this and struggling a little. 

This puzzle is middle of the road. I love 34A. In the blog, the definition in the clue is underlined and followed by the answer; the parsing; any comments

ACROSS

4 US artiste’s exceptional vocal range (9)

TESSITURA: (us artistes)*; 

12 Ghost of relation coming to Hamlet initially (5)

HAUNT: H(amlet)-AUNT; 

13 Mucky substances — fellow sure getting messy (7)

MANURES: MAN-(sure)*;

14 The picture is “too much” — if this? (4)

EPIC: hidden (th)E-PIC(ture); 

15 The Yorkshire boy backslides — one with foster parents (4)

DALT: T’-LAD reversed; 

16 Dirty old fool with something greasy (6)

ASSOIL: ASS-OIL; 

17 Old home with idle talk about “brothel” (6)

BAGNIO: O-IN-GAB all reversed;

18 A novice disturbed us, making us blush? (9)

VINACEOUS: (a novice)*-US; Rosé d’Anjou presumably; 

19 Mark day for a match, check outside (9)

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Not too tricky by Dean's exacting standards, and with some lovely stuff. Several generously clued cryptics (9a, 11a, 20a and 12d) enabled me to fill in quite a few squares on a first quick skim through, getting me off to a flying start. Things got a bit trickier after that, but I managed to cross the finishing line without feeling that I needed a good lie down (my usual state after a Dean Mayer puzzle).

The usual wit and elegant cluing are on display throughout the puzzle. In particular, I thought the farm animals device at 3d was very nice, 7d was extremely neat, and 5d was an absolute gem.

I remain somewhat uncertain about the last detail of the parsing at 2d, and look forward to being put straight on that. Anyway, here's how I think it works...

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

Across
1 A power described by simple physicist (6)
AMPERE - A then P inside MERE (power described by simple) giving us Andre-Marie of that ilk
5 Partnership for one out of loyalty (8)
ALLIANCE - EG (for one) comes out of ALL{EG}IANCE (loyalty)
9 All showers are relaxing here (6,4)
NUDIST CAMP - Gentle cryptic - where those who bare all go to, um, hang out...
10 Drop anchor in low river (4)
MOOR - MOO (low) + R (river)
11 Those involved in a domestic row (8,6)
TERRACED HOUSES - Cryptic definition turning on the two meanings of "row"
13 School maiden has to discharge gas (8)
SCHMOOZE - SCH (school) + M (maiden - cricket abbrev.) + OOZE (discharge)
14 Country chap’s anecdotes (6)
GUYANA - GUY (chap) + ANA (anecdotes). Ana (as a standalone word rather than a suffix) was new to me, but with the GUY being clearly clued (and the crosscheckers) it couldn't be anything else
16 A short tug, and snake gets rodent (6)
JERBOA - JER{K} (short tug) + BOA (snake)
18 Playing fragile old French organ (2,6)
LE FIGARO - *(FRAGILE) - with O (old) also in the mix - and "playing" signalling the anagram, giving us one of the two French papers of record
20 Is it overly sweet? (6-4,4)
UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE - Jokey cryptic based around "overly"
22 Almost completely stop (4)
QUIT - QUIT{E} (almost completely)
23 Sit back after cast angrily voice complaint (10)
LARYNGITIS - SIT reversed (back) 'after' *(ANGRILY) with "cast" pointing to the anagram
24 A plea for help to tackle leading cause of cancer (8)
ASBESTOS - A SOS (A plea for help) goes around ('tackles') BEST (leading)
25 Pass light over empty stage (6)
ELAPSE - PALE reversed (light over) + S{tag}E (empty stage)


Down
2 Hair growth over parting is bound to be longer (9)
MOUSTACHE - O (over - cricket abbrev.) inside (parting) MUST (is bound to be) + ACHE (longer). At least, that's what I originally thought - which gave me a bit of a problem as I cannot equate ACHE with LONGER (as opposed to LONGING or LONG). Maybe it works by having MUST just from "is bound", with "to be longer" giving us ACHE (I suppose one who is a 'longer' has an 'ache'). Or maybe I've completely missed the point (far and away the most likely explanation...)
3 Funny English farm animals (7)
EPIGRAM - E (English) + PIG & RAM (farm animals), with FUNNY here being a noun rather than an adjective. Very nice.
4 Highly courteous when one goes for a project (11)
EXTRAPOLATE - EXTRA POLITE (highly courteous) but with the I replaced by an A (when one goes for A)
5 Bookshop may sell this in all the best branches?
(1,8,2,4)
A FAREWELL TO ARMS - "All the best" gives us A FAREWELL, and "branches" gives ARMS. Gorgeous clue, I thought.
6 See power cut off (3)
LOP - LO (see) + P (power)
7 It supplies our occupying forces (7)
ARMOURY - OUR is inside (occupying) ARMY - & Lit, I believe
8 Split open part of head (5)
CLOVE - DD, the second referring to (e.g.) a clove of garlic
12 In which large sums of money are wasted? (4,7)
HIGH FINANCE - Cryptic turning on "wasted" being a term for "high" (as in stoned)
15 Places for young railway workers on train (9)
NURSERIES - NUR (railway workers - the old union that was dissolved in 1990) 'on' SERIES (train)
17 See red hair (7)
BRISTLE - DD
19 Old lady wants it — a cold dish (7)
GRANITA - GRAN (old lady) + IT A (wants it - a), giving the Italian sorbet-like treat
21 Is mother initially proud of us? (5)
POURS - P (first letter of - 'initially' - P{roud}) + OURS (of us). Do people still say "I'll be mother" when pouring tea? Not a phrase I've heard in years, in which case this might be a bit of a mystery to younger solvers. Or maybe I just tend to sit down with people pouring wine rather than tea.
23 In elevator with missing female (3)
LIT - LI{F}T (elevator with missing F{emale}). As for the definition, whilst solving I had a vague feeling that both IN and LIT are terms for "drunk", but post-solve research failed to validate the IN bit of that theory. However, if you read far enough down the Chambers entry for IN (now there's dedication for you) you come across "alight".

Times Cryptic Jumbo No 1307 - 3 Feb 18

Following my previous New Year's Day Jumbo to blog, which was an absolute cracker, I find I once again have a great crossword to decipher and comment on. It took me about an hour, which is well over average, but that was just about a perfectly satisfying level of challenge. Fortunately there were a few (but not too many) easier clues to get us going, but some nice chewy ones too. Some lovely deceptive definitions and noun phrases meant you had to take each word on its merits and challenge any word combinations. Some enjoyable surfaces and some belters of clues. 6d is my favourite, if only because it took me a while to recognise the significance of the number.. which was not a cross-reference to another clue. All in all, a great example of the art of compiling and a lot of fun to solve. So many thanks to our setter. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did. Give me another one soon! How did you get on with it?

Definitions underlined in italics, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, {} deletions and [] other indicators.
See the answers here...Collapse )
For me this puzzle was hard to start, but once I had a foothold it flowed fairly smoothly. Once I saw 1dn, the NW corner gave up its secrets easily. Hardest was probably the long word at 4dn, where I needed all the helpers to see the answer. Solving online makes anagrams and the like much harder, I find! Overall, about 45 minutes.

Several of the clues had nicely disguised definitions, including 8ac, 17ac, and 3dn. My clue of the day was 11ac, for the musical sound of the answer! Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

Clues are in blue, with definitions underlined. Anagram indicators are in bold italics. Answers are in BOLD CAPS, followed by the wordplay. (ABC*) means 'anagram of ABC', deletions are in {curly brackets}.

Across
1 Island commander sports angry wound (10)
MADAGASCAR: MAD (angry) SCAR (wound) around AGA (commander).
6 God shows an interest? Not at first! (4)
ARES: take C off CARES to get the Greek god of war.
8 One taking in study connected with old Babylonian region (8)
CONSUMER: CON (study) SUMER (old Babylonian region). Definition relates to taking in food, for example, rather than shopping.
9 Attack same point twice that's on chin (6)
GOATEE: GO AT (attack), then E (east) twice. The chin in question is certainly not mine.
10 Kitchen heater tested in couple's absence (4)
OVEN: take the leading couple of letters off PROVEN. On edit: several commenters point out that the couple of letters removed are PR, short for “pair”=“couple”.
11 Nothing stops rioting in US coastal city (10)
TUSCALOOSA: (US COASTAL*) with another O (nothing) inside. Tuscaloosa is in Alabama, and of course isn’t coastal.
12 Port road morning mist envelops (9)
AMSTERDAM: AM (morning) STEAM (mist) around RD (road).
14 Scotsman involved with extremely datable woman (5)
DIANE: IAN (our canonical Scotsman) inside D{atabl}E.
17 Remaining quietly hidden takes trouble and effort (5)
DOGGO: DOG (to trouble) GO (effort).
19 Shoot at stoat going round at rear of building (9)
GERMINATE: G (rear of “building”), then ERMINE (stoat) going round AT.
22 Stay with drinker for meal before suffering (4,6)
LAST SUPPER: LAST (stay) SUPPER (drinker).
23 Notice me preparing small silver tray for starters (4)
PSST: first letters (starters) of each word. I’ve seen this recently, and both times found it hard to imagine a vowelless answer!
24 Old Cretan at home tucking into grouse (6)
MINOAN: MOAN (grouse) around IN (at home). Minos was the first king of Crete.
25 Badge one gains in manoeuvres (8)
INSIGNIA: I (one) (GAINS IN*). A pedant might observe that “insignia” is plural!
26 Monk secures poor grade in spelling competition (4)
BEDE: D (poor grade) inside BEE (spelling competition).
27 Introducing hard line, write rubbish about athletic contest (10)
PENTATHLON: PEN (write) TAT (rubbish) H (hard) L (line) ON (about).

Down
1 Old farmer's waterproof put on sick lad (9)
MACDONALD: MAC (waterproof) DON (put on) (LAD*).
2 Sheridan version features sinister housekeeper (7)
DANVERS: hidden answer. From the Daphne du Maurier novel Rebecca.
3 Artist comes up with sensible framework (8)
ARMATURE: RA (RA=artist, written upwards) MATURE (sensible). If you’d given me ten shots at giving a one-word definition for “armature”, “framework” wouldn’t have been close to making the list!
4 Church and priest hail new sect member (15)
CHRISTADELPHIAN: CH (church) (AND PRIEST HAIL*).
5 Kid left an overcoat (6)
RAGLAN: RAG (kid) L (left) AN.
6 Stagger endlessly on in surrounding area of rainforest (9)
AMAZONIAN: AMAZ{e} (stagger), ON, IN surrounding A (area).
7 Writer's the writer powerless character inspires (7)
EMERSON: ME (the writer) inside {p}ERSON, dropping P for power.
13 Guy following drunk's perilous route (9)
TIGHTROPE: TIGHT (drunk), ROPE (guy).
15 Irritation right inside retina needing treatment (9)
EYESTRAIN: YES (right) inside (RETINA*).
16 More than reasonable fare to Jupiter or Mars? (8)
AMBROSIA: cryptic definition, referring to the food/drink of the Greek gods.
18 Whitish individual tours China and India (7)
OPALINE: ONE (individual) around PAL (China plate=mate) and I (India, in the phonetic alphabet).
20 Stadium beside lake accommodates second team (7)
ARSENAL: ARENA (stadium) L (lake) around S (second).
21 Convert smallest amount for vegetable (6)
TURNIP: TURN (convert) 1P (smallest unit of currency).

Times 26,963: Instant Classic(s)

With hindsight this crossword looks tailor-made for quiz-going Oxbridge classicists and other such insufferably smart-alecky types, and so it more or less proved in the event, taking me 7 and a half minutes on paper.

FOI 1ac (the first word that springs to mind when I look in the mirror every morning), LOI I think 27ac as big band was unknown circa the first century and thus harder for my memory banks to access. Lots of clues here I very much admired but I'll give special mention to the &lit at 12dn, the TLS-tastic "Lawrences", and also to 21dn, where I loved the use of "co-ordinates" and the classical surface adding extra grace to this most classical puzzle in ages.

So to cut a long story short, friends, Romans and countrymen, I thought this was a splendid crossword, but what about the rest of you? Too classical for some, perhaps?

ACROSS
1 Foppish type’s invitation to bird to call? (8)
POPINJAY - or "Pop in, jay!", an invitation to a bird to call (round).

9 Military preparation of Frenchman the last word in craft (8)
ARMAMENT - M AMEN [Frenchman | the last word] in ART [craft]

10 Cancel changes in South Vietnamese festival (4)
STET - S TET [South | Vietnamese festival], stet being Latin for "let it stand", the printer's instruction to leave things as they were.

11 Humiliate MP with a spiced-up union song (12)
EPITHALAMIUM - (HUMILIATE MP + A*) ["spiced-up"]. Another unfair advantage to classicists, perhaps: an epithalamium is a wedding song about what awaits the new bride in the bedchamber, of which Catullus wrote a very famous example. Hymen o Hymenaee!

13 Anecdotes assuming Scottish smoker an old-school sort (6)
ALUMNA - ANA [anecdotes] "assuming" LUM [Scottish chimney = "smoker"]

14 An officer before journey finds close friend (5,3)
ALTER EGO - A LT ERE GO [an officer | before | journey]. That's four or five Latin answers in a row; well, *I* approve...

15 An outhouse on street is hidden (7)
STASHED - A SHED [an outhouse] on ST [street]

16 Secretary brought in recognised writer's block (7)
NOTEPAD - PA [secretary] brought in NOTED [recognised]. The *good* sort of writer's block.

20 Tragic scene of crime sitting in European tradition (8)
ELSINORE - SIN [crime] sitting in E LORE [European | tradition]. Elsinore is of course the setting for Shakespeare's most famous and longwinded play, Hamlet.

22 Indian city accommodates parking for historic location (6)
DELPHI - DELHI [Indian city] accommodates P [parking]. We're back to the classics as Delphi is very famous in that arena, for oracles and such.

23 Navy in Naples restored State (12)
PENNSYLVANIA - (NAVY IN NAPLES*) ["restored"]. The fifth most populous of the United States, capital Harrisburg.

25 Wader again seen on island (4)
IBIS - BIS [again] seen on I [island], a crossword staple bird and clue.

26 Supervised one at sea securing lines (8)
OVERSEEN - (ONE*) ["at sea"] securing VERSE [lines].

27 Old bandleader having Lawrences put away horse (3,5)
TED HEATH - TE DH [both famous literary Lawrences; clever!] + EAT H [put away | horse]. I guess Ted Heath PM was leader of a band in a way, but this is probably Ted Heath the trombonist who was a household name in the 50s, winning the NME poll for Best Band/Orchestra each year between 1952 and 1961: roll over, "Godlike Genius" Liam Gallagher.

DOWN
2 Note group taking month over rental agreement (8)
OCTUPLET - OCT UP LET [month | over | rental agreement]

3 Break during school time is heaven (12)
INTERMISSION - IN TERM IS SION [during | school time | is | heaven]. Sion/Zion is the Promised Land and Heaven on Earth to Jews and Rastafarians alike, I haven't been to Jerusalem personally but I'm sure it's very nice.

4 Old German crossing Bali, free to express great happiness (8)
JUBILATE - JUTE [old German] crossing (BALI*) ["free"]. While the clue is by no means definitionally wrong, I hope no Danes are offended by their Jutlandic ancestors being assigned as German!

5 Cover for face when headmaster breaks jaw (7)
YASHMAK - AS HM [when | headmaster] breaks YAK [jaw]

6 Engaged in protecting cross, one combats evil (6)
AMULET - AT [engaged in] protecting MULE [cross]

7 Patriarch against wearing Hawaiian garland (4)
LEVI - V [against] wearing LEI [Hawaiian garland]. The third son of Jacob and Leah, as keriothe will tell you at the least opportunity, and the progenitor of the tribe of Levites.

8 Rugs taken up for daughter in midlands town (8)
STAMFORD - MATS reversed [rugs "taken up"] FOR D [daughter]. Stamford, Lincs, built by the amazing Romans and then quite big in the middle ages. Insultingly to its good name, I initially pencilled in STAFFORD, oops.

12 Air, extremely assertive, M Lisle’s composed (12)
MARSEILLAISE - (AIR + A{ssertiv}E + M LISLE'S*) ["composed"], &lit, as the aggressive anthem La Marseillaise was indeed penned by M Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle.

15 Followers pursue triallist perhaps (8)
SHEEPDOG - SHEEP DOG [followers | pursue]. Triallist as in sheepdog trials of course.

17 Future minister in rising party hurried to suppress row (8)
ORDINAND - in reversed DO ["rising" party], RAN [hurried] "to suppress" DIN [row]

18 Pithy speaker tense going round pub (8)
APHORIST - AORIST [tense, notably in Greek, another easy one to recall if you're a classicist] going round PH [pub]

19 Man being prepared runs vehicle inside (7)
SERVANT - SET [prepared], R VAN [runs vehicle] "inside"

21 Plato finally co-ordinates knowledge — it's inspired (6)
OXYGEN - {Plat}O + X Y [co-ordinates, on a graph] + GEN [knowledge]. Inspired as in "breathed in".

24 Xmas season to bode ill, ultimately? (4)
NOEL - {seaso}N {t}O {bod}E {il}L

Times Quick Crossword No 1029 by Hawthorn

I think this is my first opportunity to do the blog for a Hawthorn crossword. And it is a very nicely crafted puzzle too. It took me just about an average time, so, by my book, is just about right in terms of difficulty. Of course others may have differing views - please feel free to share! As a quick crossword I thought it was spot on as training for the 15x15, 10a and 12a being prime examples. What is more, we have an abundance of lovely smooth surfaces. I'm hard pressed to pick a clue of the day. 14d was close, as was 15d but I'm going to say 21d for the most amusing surface. Thanks to our setter for a great quickie - I look forward to the next! [Edit: It would appear not everyone found this as straightforward as I did - I must have been on top form when solving it! Nevertheless, I think most agree it was a great crossword, even if some found it a bit too tough].

Definitions underlined in italics, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, {} deletions and [] other indicators.
Click this link for the answers...Collapse )

Times Quick Cryptic No 1028 by Joker

Very nice puzzle from Joker. I came in a notch under my target ten but it felt harder than that when solving and a few were bunged in unparsed. Lots of good clues - I particularly liked the update to the curate's egg at 5d, the bad bridge designer at 11d, and the double definition at 11ac. The two long clues at the top and bottom also both worked very well, and these, along with that trickier 11ac/d crosser, rather directed the flow of things. Much enjoyed - many thanks to Joker!

Across
1 Getting on with building somewhere to stay (8,5)
BOARDING HOUSE - BOARDING (getting on [a plane, etc.]) with HOUSE (building)
8 Polluting car stops working with just half of fuel (6)
DIESEL - DIES (stops working) with EL (half of fuEL). I suppose this definition would have raised eyebrows a couple of decades ago.
9 Scoop small and humble dwelling (6)
SHOVEL - S(mall) HOVEL (humble dwelling)
10 Short tum-tum for percussion instrument (4)
BELL - BELLY= tummy = tum-tum, "short" the final letter.
11 General prevalence of money (8)
CURRENCY - double definition, and a very nice one.
12 Easy to understand cold king in Shakespeare play (5)
CLEAR - C(old) LEAR (king in Shakespeare play)
13 Political organisation to some extent loses the left (5)
PARTY - PARTLY (to some extent) loses the L(eft)
15 Ran quickly — grabbing donkey under constant strain (8)
HARASSED - HARED (ran quickly) grabbing ass (donkey)
17 Some comedian backed protest (4)
DEMO - "some" of the letters in cOMEDian "backed"
19 Part of the eye that’s concerning can start to atrophy (6)
RETINA - RE (concerning) TIN (can), start to A(trophy). Tin for Can is a type of misnomer, which cropped up in a discussion in the 15x puzzle last week. Wiki's entry is worth a look: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misnomer
20 Intelligent British like wet weather (6)
BRAINY - B(ritish) RAINY( wet weather)
21 Act of putting over excellent situation (13)
SUPERPOSITION - SUPER (excellent) POSITION (situation). The curiouser and curiouser world of nature, eh? In quantum physics, superposition describes how a particle exists in many places and in different states at the same time until it is observed, when it immediately becomes sharply defined - Schrödinger thought this idea ridiculous, hence his absurdist idea of a cat being both dead and alive in a box until you open it up and look. What is known is that superposition happens, it's completely crazy, and we don't know really have a clue what that's telling us about the nature of reality.
Down
2 Exist to chase round girl? (5)
OLIVE -  LIVE (exist) to chase/come after O (round)
3 Decide to tackle a crossword a second time? (7)
RESOLVE - or re-solving a crossword.
4 Unlucky Jill has lost Jack (3)
ILL - Jill loses J(ack)
5 Snail, perhaps, having good parts when cooked (9)
GASTROPOD - anagram (cooked) of GOOD PARTS.
6 A person going after Australian sea air (5)
OZONE - ONE (a person) going after OZ (Australian). Using ozone (O3) to describe fresh air (where oxygen is O2) is another misnomer. As the OED says, ozone was "formerly supposed to have a tonic effect and was erroneously believed to be present in fresh air".
7 Reorganisation of SkyTech Limited (7)
SKETCHY - anagram (reorganisation) of SKYTECH
11 Pack instrument for one with bad designs for bridge? (9)
CARDSHARP - CARDS (pack) HARP (instrument). "Bridge" is the card game in the definition, and the thing you cross in the surface reading..
12 Stately home abroad serving up two teas and ultimate in tiramisu (7)
CHATEAU - The two teas are CHA and, er, TEA, and then the ultimate letter in tiramisU.
14 Incandescent tirade about squandered aid (7)
RADIANT - RANT (tirade) going about an anagram (squandered) of AID.
16 Quick-moving US soldier gets in beer (5)
AGILE - GI (US soldier) goes in ALE (beer)
18 Run after chap for fruit (5)
MANGO - GO (run) after MAN (chap)
20 Transport is mostly broken (3)
BUS - BUSt (broken, mostly)
There’s a fair bit of religion is this one, which made it easier for me if annoyinger to others. Perhaps the most likely bone of contention is the Bible story at 14d, beloved of both schoolboys who (used to?) know where all the naughty bits are to be found and of artists who know a good excuse for soft core porn when they see it.
In the course of 20 minutes, I managed to create one pink square through a careless not-properly-parsed entry, but otherwise found few hold ups, the most hold uppy being in the South East corner. A pleasant enough solve, then, with the pretty 24a earning my nomination for CoD, with a side order of 22d just for mentioning the mighty Spurs and the team from whom they nicked their manager.
Oh, yes, I almost forgot:. Clues, definitions, SOLUTIONS



Across


1 Pass on music, performing key records (3,4,5)
POP ONE’S CLOGS A cheerful one to start with, one of the many euphemisms for die. The music is POP, performing is ON, the key is ESC (top left) and records LOGS.
9 Shell that is fired from an unlikely source! (5)
CONCH There is a slight, but not critical blurriness about this one. The (sea) SHELL is derived from “firing”  the IE (that is) from CONCHIE, short for conscientious objector, who would be an unlikely source of the sort of shell you’d fire from a 5.5 inch gun howitzer, which I think I could still successfully do.
10 Mason not having drink with jazz singer (3-6)
DRY WALLER Not the secretive sort, just the sort that actually builds things. Not having a drink: DRY. Jazz singer: Fats WALLER
11 Old plaque languishing years in obscurity (8)
OPAQUELY O(ld) anagram (languishing) of PLAQUE and Y(ears).
12 “Grateful” recipient, because helped initially by God (3-3)
ASH-PAN The tray under the grate (ho-ho). Because: AS, H(elped) initially, God: PAN.
13 Trifle to bolt when there’s some to be eaten (8)
FLEABITE My error, with too many Es. Only now do I see how it works, as I had assumed Some to be eaten was BITE and I can’t spell FLEA. So really it’s some: A BIT “eaten” by bolt: FLEE. Careless, sorry.
15  Religious book it’s essential to plan my holiday around (6)
HYMNAL Some of you will be glad not to root around in your list of obscure OT prophets. Instead it’s hidden (essential to) in pLAN MY Holiday backwards (around)
17 Judge way of addressing relative smart (6)
JAUNTY Just J(udge) plus one of the variations on what one calls one’s parent’s sister, AUNTY.
18 Staff officer’s underwear: button it with a twist, finally (5,3)
BRASS HAT Underwear: yup, its BRAS, followed by a setter’s temptation to scatology neatly resisted in this season of Lent by cluing it as button it: SH plus A plus (twis)T. Well done!
20 As foremost of Magi, perhaps, lives far from the others? (6)
WISEST If you remember your nativity plays (an indecently short time ago this year’s day-after-Ash-Wednesday) the Magi, or wise men, came from the East, so our far away candidate IS in the WEST.
21 Creep from floor, point, and rise (8)
KOWTOWER an anglicised version of the Chinese for bow to the floor given an agent –ER. Floor: KO (what boxers do even if not Chinese) point W(est) (making a second appearance in two clues) and rise: TOWER.
24 Are Godot’s cast waiting here? (5,4)
STAGE DOOR: I like this one: an anagram (cast) of ARE GODOT’S with a pleasingly self referential feel to it.
25 Type of work that is providing current (3-2)
SCI-FI That is: SC (short for scilicet, “namely”) plus that is: IE (again, see 9) providing: IF and (electrical) current: I.
26 Rows of plain stone, on order, can hardly wait (6,6)
GARTER STITCH, hyphenated in my Chambers, but not here. The word “stitching) after “plain” is to be understood, as that’s what our answer is, in knitting. The Order is the most noble one of the GARTER (honi soit, and all that) stone is ST, and can hardly wait gives ITCH


Down

1 Methodically shoot film: fine turned up very loud (4,3)
PICK OFF  Or “to cause to 1ac”. Film: PIC, fine: OK (reversed) and very loud: FF
2 Kept a sauce and last of brandy specially: time to bake? (7,7)
PANCAKE TUESDAY Arriving two days late, but an anagram (specially) of KEPT A SAUCE AND plus (brand)Y. In my house, it was time to fry, but I suppose you could bake if you didn't mind missing out on the tossing bit..
3 Vessel turned up carrying pardon for statesman (5)
NEHRU First Prime Minister of India. EH (pardon) in an upturned URN
4 Group from earth settled on Mercury finally (8)
SODALITY Earth: SOD (stop sniggering at the back) plus settled ALIT plus (Mercur)Y
5 Places where you can pick up loaf? (4)
LAYS Can be either noun or verb, sounds like LAZE (loaf).
6 Artificial body parts useless as legs, certainly (5,4)
GLASS EYES An anagram (useless) of AS LEGS plus certainly: YES
7 It’s hardly dressing down, having make-up near to hand? (4,2,3,5)
SLAP ON THE WRIST A low level telling off. Make-up: SLAP, “near to hand” for the rest.
8 Engineer’s brief alarm about career (6)
BRUNEL If alive today would be undoubtedly giving Elon Musk a run for his money. Brief alarm BEL(l) surrounding career: RUN.
14 Woman with university degree about to become David’s wife (9)
BATHSHEBA A favourite, it’s-alright-it’s-in-the-Bible-honest subject for artists down the ages, since David first talent-spotted her while she was bathing. I’ve only just realised I didn’t parse this one (too distracted, perhaps) but it’s BATH (university) BA (degree) surrounding SHE, the eternal woman.
16 Mail worker set our letters on postbox (8)
ARMOURER Sneaky definition. Set gives you ARM (I suppose as in arm/set a bomb), our gives - um - OUR, and the letters on a UK postbox are (since 1952?) ER.
17 Worshipping a particular way, I pray in different languages (6)
JEWISH The two languages are French and English.
19 Small lake sort of makes for dull film (7)
TARNISH I think we’re meant to think of a sort of small lake being tarn-ish.
22 Heads for Tottenham versus Southampton — easily the one to watch (2,3)
TV SET Derived from the first letters of words 3 to 7 of the clue. Who am I to disagree?
23 Hint that litre will go in jar (4)
JOLT Hint gives JOT via the tiny Hebrew letter yod (and the Greek iota) to mean something very small. Include L(itre).
Another challenging Wednesday, with some fine clueing and smart wordplay, enhanced, or spoilt (depending on your knowledge, or lack of it) by a couple of "general knowledge required" answers which were otherwise hard to guess from the wordplay. It took me 21 minutes and I had to check 18a and 25a afterwards to be sure I was right.
CoD awards to 26a and to 5d for the fine anagram and relevant surface.



Across
1 Officer’s plan again to retreat (6)
WARDER - to REDRAW is to plan again, reverse it.
5 Tribe has bewildered language expert (8)
HEBRAIST - (TRIBE HAS)*.
9 Looked at team getting embarrassed after trick (10)
CONSIDERED - CON = trick, SIDE = team, RED = embarrassed.
10 Island for the nobs featured in back issue of periodical (4)
GUAM - U = upper class, for the nobs, inserted into MAG reversed. US run island in the Pacific which Rocket Man has his beady eyes on.
11 Reduce something bloody, having got back in time (8)
DEROGATE - GORE something bloody, reversed inside DATE = time. At first I was trying to parse it with RED and AGO but not so. I thought derogate meant detract from, or deviate, but I can see reduce is a 'more or less' synonym.
12 Endless chatter around a fellow's clubs (6)
LATHIS - TAL(K) reversed then HIS = a fellow's; a lathi is a heavy stick used by angry policemen in Asian countries, and often found in crosswords.
13 Sheep runs that may hold water (4)
EWER - EWE, R.
15 This person is probing your old-fashioned food content (8)
THIAMINE - I AM (this person is) inside THINE (your, old-fashioned). Vitamin B1, otherwise properly named 2-[3-[(4-amino-2-methylpyrimidin-5-yl)methyl]-4-methyl-1,3-thiazol-3-ium-5-yl]ethanol.
18 Poet’s line, one on compassion (8)
LOVELACE - LOVE = compassion, L(ine), ACE = one. I looked at *O*E*A*E for a while with so many options and no poet springing to mind (you will recall I cultivate my ignorance of poetry). Apparently Richard Lovelace was a Cavalier poet and socialite who, when in jail for a year, penned that well known bit about 'stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage'. In your dreams, chum, they were quite effective else you'd have escaped.
19 Bed or mattress? It may be found in here (4)
DORM - Slightly hidden word in BE(D OR M)ATTRESS.
21 Affected by bugs, get cold after first day of month (6)
SEPTIC - SEPT 1 followed by C.
23 Melting tarmac starts to restrict some vehicles (8)
TRAMCARS - (TARMAC)* then R S = initial letters of Restrict Some.
25 Magical power of weaver in story spoken of (4)
MANA - This wins my Obscure Double Definition Homophone of the Year Award. MANA can mean a few things, one of which is supernatural power in Pacific cultures; Pronounced MAR-NA, it sounds the hero of 'SILAS MARNER: the Weaver of Raveloe', the full name of the book by Geogre Eliot. I had never heard of the magical power and I didn't know Mr Marner was a weaver; apart from that... and *A*A would tempt you to bung in SAGA on the basis of 'story spoken of'.
26 Priest and French actor performing? It's uplifting (10)
LEVITATION - LEVI the priest, Jacques TATI the French actor, ON = performing. A refreshing change from the usual priest abbreviations and ET for French 'and'.
27 Base established — cycle around it? (8)
PEDESTAL - PEDAL around EST.
28 Perversion is admitted by unfortunate male (6)
SADISM - Insert IS into SAD M(ale).

Down
2 Pole’s few lines of poetry (5)
ANODE - AN ODE even I can see would be a few lines of poetry. ANODE being one pole of a battery, the other being the cathode.
3 Sure to be upset following party conversation (9)
DISCOURSE - DISCO = party, (SURE)*.
4 Spoke favouring reform — not Conservative (6)
RADIAL - RADICAL = favouring reform, drop the C.
5 Several faiths TV represented in a religious celebration (7,8)
HARVEST FESTIVAL - (SEVERAL FAITHS TV)*. Nice one.
6 Short chum sits on meadow, squashing one plant (8)
BUDDLEIA - I knew today's plant, having one, a butterfly bush, in the garden. BUDD(Y) = short chum, LEA = meadow, insert I.
7 Strong tastes, first to last, creating uncomfortable feeling (5)
ANGST - TANGS would be strong tastes, drop the T from front to end.
8 Trader giving one artist supply (9)
STATIONER - (ONE ARTIST)*. Not the first time we've had a stationer recently.
14 With something large in the environment, lose out completely (9)
WHOLESALE - I see this as an anagram of LOSE inside WHALE = something large in the environment.
16 Resolved to restrict cold with health-giving ingredients (9)
MEDICATED - Insert C for cold into MEDIATED = resolved.
17 Inscribed within church window maybe see knight (8)
LANCELOT - If you BIFD this and didn't parse it, go down a snake. A LANCET (apart from being a top medical journal) is a slim, pointed church window or arch. Insert LO for 'see'.
20 Love appearing in underwear in funny shows (6)
PANTOS - Put O into your PANTS.
22 Traffic needs to speed up heading for Edinburgh (5)
TRADE - DART = speed, up = reversed, E(dinburgh).
24 Cheats and criminals caught out (5)
ROOKS - CROOKS have their C removed.

Quick Cryptic 1027 by Rongo

A puzzle of average difficulty (I predict). What it lacks in cunning, it makes up for in wit - several surfaces raised a smile (14ac, 4dn and 22dn get a mention, but especially 23ac). My LOI was 9dn as I couldn’t decide if it was an arm or a leg that was required!

Thanks to our setter.

Definitions underlined.

Across
1 Profit-seeker’s hat, the thing in front of a catalogue (10)
CAPITALIST - CAP (hat) then IT (the thing) in front of A and LIST (catalogue).
7 Possibly a quotation of at the most one million (5)
MAXIM - MAX (at the most), I (one) and M (million).
8 Work history, looking after patients coming to US casualty department (6)
CAREER - CARE (looking after patients) and ER (emergency room, US casualty department).
10 Venomous creature like viper, at heart (3)
ASP - AS (like) and middle letter of (at heart) viPer.
12 Top Gear where carport is typically built? (9)
OVERDRIVE - cryptic definition; a carport is a canopy structure built over ones drive.
13 Way to follow sailor overseas (6)
ABROAD - ROAD (way) follows AB (able bodied, sailor).
14 Switch between two positions, as leg got twisted (6)
TOGGLE - anagram of (twisted) LEG GOT.
17 Touch down before team secures 50 for decisive win (9)
LANDSLIDE - LAND (touch down), then SIDE (team) surrounding (secures) L (fifty).
19 Some of clever ruses go wrong (3)
ERR - hidden in (some of) clevER Ruses.
20 Despicable person embracing Conservative is bigot (6)
RACIST - RAT (despicable person) surrounding (embracing) C (conservative) and IS.
21 Flake of hard skin almost touching soft skin on head (5)
SCALP - all but the last letter of (almost) SCALe (flake of hard skin) with P (piano, soft).
23 Float around without hearing organs in brave style (10)
FEARLESSLY - FLY (float) surrounding (around) EARLESS (without hearing organs).


Down
1 Similar approach, not finishing Bible story (10)
COMPARABLE - all but the last letter of (not finishing) COMe (approach) and PARABLE (bible story).
2 Disease often connected to small cow or chicken (3)
POX - cryptic definition; small-, cow- and chicken- are all types of pox.
3 Fair lottery excited mob a lot (7)
TOMBOLA - anagram of (excited) MOB A LOT.
4 Minion’s facial bruise with the edges not visible (6)
LACKEY - bLACKEYe (facial bruise) missing the first and last letters (with edges not visible).
5 Keep quiet on Socialist scrap (5)
SHRED - SH (keep quiet) and RED (socialist).
6 UN regime reformed foundation for Pavlova (8)
MERINGUE - anagram of (reformed) US REGIME.
9 Method of wiring limb in alternative therapy (10)
TELEGRAPHY - LEG (limb) inside an anagram of (alternative) THERAPY.
11 Maybe mother’s personal assistant hiring fee (8)
PARENTAL - PA (personal assistant) and RENTAL (hiring fee).
15 Supervise selection from Shinto verse epic (7)
OVERSEE - hidden in (selection from) shintO VERSE Epic.
16 Manage to secure short period in office when it’s cold (6)
WINTER - WIN (manage to secure), then all but the last letter of (short) TERm (period in office).
18 Perhaps react with disgust, energy and animosity (5)
SPITE - SPIT (perhaps react with disgust) and E (energy).
22 The man dismissed from Ashes is a fool (3)
ASS - he (the man) removed (dismissed) from ASheS.

Times Cryptic 26960

I needed 27 minutes for this,  so for once on my blogging day I am within my target half-hour. I have perhaps a little more than usual to say about some of the clues, so I shall spare you a lengthy preamble and just cut to the chase.

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Times Quick Cryptic 1026 by Tracy

Long anagrams and literary clues notwithstanding, I managed this entertaining puzzle just within my 'quick' category. The literary clues just happened to hit on my limited knowledge and I was equally lucky with the hermit and system of weights.


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