Cityish Alt-ish Fortyish (verlaine) wrote in times_xwd_times,
Cityish Alt-ish Fortyish
verlaine
times_xwd_times

Times 26,513: The Noel Gallagher of Notting Hill

Friends, Latinists, Yorkshiremen, lend me your ears. It may not have escaped your notice that I had been a little jaded, verging on sniffy, about the Friday crosswords I'd been blogging of late. But I come not to bury this offering but to praise it, for today any fault is not in our setters but ourselves.

I think I would be pushed to solve three grids of this complexity in an hour, which bodes ill for October, but nonetheless there should be few complaints if the competition puzzles are of this calibre. There was no insulting of a solver's intelligence to be found in the tough but very fairly clued demands on our general knowledge here. A bit of science, a bit of art, just a smidgin of Latin, geographical knowledge of all four corners of the globe, even some DIY knowhow... I was as happy as a quahog from 11ac. I would have speculated that our esteemed editor might have been involved due to his 5dn connections, but I'm reluctantly forced to concede that other setters may have heard of that excellent country (the home of many of my own ancestors, as it happens).

I didn't get a single one of the across clues on my first pass, but fortunately the downs were slightly less alarming... 2dn might have been my FOI, possibly? I definitely remember my LOIs as I got badly stuck with just 13dn and 23ac to go. My beery brain was very quick to realise approximately how the clue must work, but having to change a one-letter compass point for a two-letter one was a little beyond it. COD to 21dn for its fun device, but there really wasn't a shortage of excellent clues to choose from here.

What about you lot? Did you like it as much as I did? Or was a week in Wales recharging one's cryptic batteries a prerequisite for full enjoyment?

Across

1 One who shuts up having caught out failure (5)
LOSER - {c}LOSER

4 Second team getting food before minor fixture (4-5)
GRUB-SCREW - S CREW getting GRUB before

9 Finished potential holder for piece in pad (9)
UPHOLSTER - UP [finished] + HOLSTER [potential holder for piece]

10 Major disturbance caused by EU stepping out of line about a king (5)
QUAKE - QU{eu}E about A K

11 Securing non-European terminal, army invades abandoned island (7,8)
MARTHA'S VINEYARD - securing {e}ARTH, (ARMY INVADES*)

12 Puts up rafter, not all of it as above (2,5)
UT SUPRA - {p}UTS UP RA{after}

14 Strict unopened communication about the setter (7)
EXTREME - {t}EXT RE ME

16 Yorkshire village wife’s put in a very little amount when pressure's off (7)
HAWORTH - W's put in HA'{p}ORTH

19 Brief role: a small boy is showing off (7)
PARADES - PAR{t} A DES

21 Cause of misapprehension of coalition — one pulls out (7,8)
OPTICAL ILLUSION - (COALITION I PULLS*)

23 African fascist changing direction (5)
SWAZI - {n->SW}AZI

24 Girl rudely interrupted by Dutch artist and jazz musician (9)
GRAPPELLI - (GIRL*) interrupted by APPEL (Stéphane Grappelli, French jazz violinist; Karel Appel, Dutch painter and sculptor)

25 Dogs also found in Jewish villages, not the first time (9)
SHETLANDS - AND found in SH{t}ETLS

26 Pastoral feature of Russia, in short (5)
RURAL - R. URAL, short for the river Ural

Down

1 Trap undermining flashy gossip (9)
LOUDMOUTH - MOUTH undermining LOUD

2 Leader in Strictly now appearing in extremely prestigious balls (7)
SPHERES - S{trictly} + HERE appearing in P{restigiou}S

3 Man from Armagh regularly holding record (5)
RALPH - {a}R{m}A{g}H holding LP

4 Run over side, almost, clutching extremely big sail (2,2,3)
GO TO SEA - GO over TEA{m}, clutching OS

5 Announcement of instrument to rule European republic (7)
UKRAINE - homophone of UKE REIGN

6 Remove question for head of maths in term (9)
SEQUESTER - SE{m->QU}ESTER

7 Concerned with a foreign airline that’s brought up alcohol (4,3)
REAL ALE - RE A + reverse of EL AL

8 Handle an old wit, the last to be promoted (5)
WIELD - WILD{<-<-E}

13 Narrow glass container, mostly pink around interior (9)
PAROCHIAL - PHIAL, (with) reverse of CORA{l} inside

15 Basic lease isn't up for renewal (9)
ESSENTIAL - (LEASE ISN'T*)

17 Attorney stopping payment as a measure of power? (7)
WATTAGE - ATT stopping WAGE

18 I for one ring back, say, before noon (7)
HALOGEN - HALO + reverse of E.G., before N

19 Supporters wrongfully blocking standard entrance to stadium (7)
PILLARS - ILL blocking PAR + S{tadium}

20 Old engineer's design left during communist revolt (7)
DAIMLER - AIM L during RED reversed

21 No time for toast — it's water you may find here (5)
OASIS - {t}OAS{t} I{t}'S

22 Drug found in meal, but not initially (5)
UPPER - {s}UPPER
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