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

TImes 26,663: Early One Morning [painted steel and aluminium]

After one of the easier weeks in living crossword memory, finally a puzzle requiring a bit more mental elbow grease to polish off - this one took me over the 10 minute mark, and if Jason or Magoo posts another sub-4 I will absolutely weep.

I thought this was an absolutely exemplary piece of work, requiring the solver to have a good grounding in the classics (11ac, 12ac, 20dn), the arts (1ac, 17ac), the golden age of cinema (5dn, 11ac), and the sciences (broadly, anyway, at 1dn and 13dn) to keep moving quickly, as well as to be sufficiently unBrexity to be able to untangle a French département from its constituent letters. If a crossword leaves me feeling more erudite as I come out than when I went in then it's 100% done its job as far as I'm concerned.

And of course construction-wise it was also great, with lots of really clever "lift and separate" type clue, including among their number my personal COD 19ac - who doesn't like a bit of poo-flinging to leaven all the aforementioned high culture? Honourable mention to 13dn to, as I thought "potentially way up" was a brilliant and brilliantly concealed definition of STEPS, not that I realised this until after submission, as the full answer was sadly highly biffable. FOI was 12ac, LOI the very cleverly defined 22dn. The SW corner did prove the trickiest for me overall, mainly because I had OVAL in for 23dn at first, which caused me to make unjustifiably heavy weather of both 24ac and 26ac.

Excellent crossword then, full marks from this judge, round of applause to the setter. How did all you 'orrible lot find it?


1 Sculptor’s company accepting artist back (4)
CARO - CO [company] accepting RA [artist] reversed
3 Fraudulently replicate a religious artwork (10)
ALTARPIECE - (REPLICATE A*) ["fraudulently"]
9 Having spent capital, faults spread across fine property (7)
EFFECTS - {d}EFECTS [faults, with their capital D "spent"] spread across F [fine]
11 Hot springs run in the West? (7)
THERMAE - R [run] in THE MAE [the | West]
12 Heard those succeeding with charming sisters display superior manners (4,3,6)
AIRS AND GRACES - homophone of HEIRS ["heard", those succeeding] + AND GRACES [with | charming sisters]
14 Alarm that has a frequency drawing attention (5)
AFEAR - A F [a | frequency] drawing EAR [attention]
15 Dry westerly heading for UK, fast and swirling (9)
TURBULENT - BRUT reversed [dry, "westerly"] + U{k} + LENT [fast]
17 Edition in rough: that man’s evoking famed writer (3,6)
TED HUGHES - ED [edition] in THUG [rough] + HE'S [that man's]
19 Roughly flipped sheep muck about (3,2)
ACT UP - CA reversed [roughly, "flipped"] + TUP [sheep]
21 I am Minister for Development taking on East European department (5-8)
SEINE-MARITIME - (I AM MINISTER*) ["for development"], taking on E [East], + E [European]
24 Course in which learner is replaced by born student (7)
TRAINEE - TRAIL [course], in which L [learner] is replaced by NEE [born]
25 A doctor backed probing boozer’s guts (7)
INNARDS - A + DR reversed [a | doctor backed] probing INN'S [boozer's]
26 For instance, at exhibition centre, salesperson returned profit (10)
PERCENTAGE - E.G. AT N.E.C. REP [for instance | at | exhibition centre | salesperson], reversed
27 What health insurance covers is insufficient (4)
THIN - covered by {heal}TH IN{surance}


1 Caught nothing on the canal unfortunately — certainly not this! (10)
COELACANTH - C 0 [caught | nothing] on (THE CANAL*) ["unfortunately"], semi-&lit
2 Official retainer hugs Queen after she becomes upset (7)
REFEREE - FEE [retainer] hugs E.R. [Queen], after E.R. reversed
4 Survive desert, a place of desperation (4,5)
LAST DITCH - LAST [survive] + DITCH [desert]
5 In motion pictures, ultimately absorbed by Ms Hayworth’s comeback (5)
ASTIR - {picture}S, absorbed by RITA reversed
6 A faraway state before conquest? (13)
7 Seamen’s breaks together (2,5)
EN MASSE - (SEAMEN'S*) ["breaks"]
8 Having cockney’s mince pies — his stash, by the sound of it? (4)
EYED - mince pies are eyes in Cockney Rhyming Slang, so if you have them you're EYED, which sounds like 'IDE, which is a suitably Cockneyfied synonym for [stash]
10 It’s weird hearing crowd after extremely critical song (13)
CLAIRAUDIENCE - AUDIENCE [crowd] after C{ritica}L + AIR [song]
13 Rocket builder is potentially way up on outside layer (10)
STEPHENSON - STEPS [potentially, way up] + ON, outside HEN [layer]
16 With support cut, film studio is closing again (9)
RESEALING - RES{t} [support, "cut"] + EALING [film studio]
18 Give up, man, and get married! (7)
DESPAIR - DES [man] + PAIR [get married]
20 Unstable chariot turning over into river reveals Mark Antony, perhaps (7)
TRIARCH - (CHARIOT*) ["unstable"], turning O [over] into R [river]
22 Current cut off from Rhode Island, city awaiting power (5)
ELECT - ELECT{ri}{city} [current], cutting off R.I. [Rhode Island] and CITY
23 Station closure (4)
STOP - double def
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