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This was my first blog from the new Crossword Club site. I was able to solve on paper more or less as usual. The only real hiccup came when I tried to cut and paste the clues into this blog, but we may have to live with that. I am also posting from foreign parts in a different time zone, so let’s hope that works.

I thought overall this puzzle was middle of the road for a Saturday, although the leaderboard on the club site suggests it was harder than average. Is this a sign of summer holidays? For me, it was easy to get into, with a generous scattering of starter clues around the grid. Then there were some real challengers in the NE corner particularly. My choice for the clue of the day was 15ac, with a mention for 11ac. Thanks to the setter.

On to the blog. Clues are reproduced in blue, with the definition underlined. Anagram indicators are bolded and italicised. Then there's the answer IN BOLD CAPS, followed by the parsing of the wordplay. (ABC)* means 'anagram of ABC', {deletions are in curly brackets}.

1 Quietly utter joke (5)
PRANK: P=quiet, RANK=utter.
4 One replacing a DIY essential for occupant of flats (9)
SANDPIPER: SANDPAPER … change the second A to an I. A nice construct. Nice misdirection in the definition too: birds on sand flats rather than DIYers in apartments.
9 In favour of cutting Liszt’s 3rd and 4th with old musician’s direction (9)
SFORZANDO: FOR inside SZ = 3rd and 4th letters of Liszt, then AND plus O=old. The answer is obscure to me, but the clue is generous.
10 Free and easy (5)
LOOSE: is this a triple definition or a double definition &lit.? LOOSE = free, LOOSE = easy, LOOSE = free and easy? I hesitated to put it in until I had the checkers, because it all seemed too obvious.
11 Simple code that cannot encrypt bid, for example (6,7)
MIRROR WRITING: because “bid” seen in the mirror is still “bid”. A very nice concept.
14 Horse and trap’s return is imminent (4)
NIGH: H=horse plus GIN=trap, all reversed.
15 Hyper? Arrange sedative and R&R (10)
ADVERTISER: (SEDATIVE RR*). Loved the definition!
18 Wind instrument contributing to atmospheric records? (10)
ANEMOMETER: cryptic definition. I thought the clue a bit unhelpful if you’re unsure of the spelling.
19 Feature of landscape gardens comprising two hectares (2-2)
HA-HA: no explanation needed?
21 Wretchedly moan often: this is a fellow who certainly did (5,2,6)
TIMON OF ATHENS: (MOAN OFTEN THIS*). Never read it, but apparently it’s the sad story of a philanthropist whose generosity is unrequited.
24 Cheers and jeers largely disapproved of (5)
TABOO: TA=cheers, BOO{s}=jeers.
25 Pancake falls to earth once tossed (4,5)
DROP SCONE: DROPS=falls to earth, then an anagram of ONCE.
27 Before Christ impressed Mark, providing an example for followers (9)
PRECEDENT: I’m not too confident of the parsing here, but I think CE=Common Era, known in my youth as AD. So before Christ is PRE-CE. Then the “impressed Mark” is a DENT.
28 Scottish League One team’s first in division (5)
SPLIT: SPL=Scottish (Premier) League, I=one, T= the first letter of “team”.

1 TV character represented on stamp — apt! (7,3)
POSTMAN PAT: (ON STAMP APT*). I got sidetracked by assuming the second word would be MAN.
2 Trouble? A spot, not tons (3)
ADO: A DO{t}.
3 A quiz finally entering knockout round with small noisy buzzers (6)
KAZOOS: A plus Z=”quiz” finally, both inside KO, then O=round plus S=small.
4 Club seals and we’d get hides (4,5)
SAND WEDGE: I am often slow to see the hidden answers, and so it was again here. But beautifully hidden, indeed!
5 Woman I grumble about (5)
NAOMI: reversal of I MOAN. A chestnut.
6 Relieve picket, holding the rear up (8)
PALLIATE: PALE=picket, as in paling fence I guess, holding LIAT=TAIL reversed. (“Up” indicates reversal, since it’s a down clue). I only recall “palliative”, but the verb form is clear enough.
7 Distribute supporting navigation guide for groundbreaking device (11)
PLOUGHSHARE: SHARE=“distribute”, of course. The navigation device is the Plough, the seven brightest stars of the constellation Ursa Major, which apparently form an “asterism” within the constellation. When will we see that as an answer?
8 Aid for landing fish after a little resistance (4)
REEL: R=resistance, EEL=fish. A semi-&lit clue I think: the whole clue covers the definition, only the latter part is wordplay.
12 Unhappy teetotaller opening beer and lager for refreshment (11)
REGRETTABLE: (TT BEER LAGER*), where TT=teetotaller.
13 Some pages flutter around street, discarded mostly (10)
BROADSHEET: BET=flutter, containing (“around”) ROAD + SHE{d}.
16 Look forward to present after studies (4,5)
EYES FRONT: EYES=studies, FRONT=present (as in “he presented for inspection”).
17 Line up digger capturing hydrogen in small tunnel (8)
WORMHOLE: WOR=ROW backwards, MOLE=digger, containing H for hydrogen.
20 Briefly remain with relative in stable condition (6)
STASIS: STA{y} plus SIS{ter}.
22 Cue imparting spin on for example brown (5)
NUDGE: EG=for example, DUN=brown, all backwards (“spun”).
23 Leading couples in Strictly episodes must be in this (4)
STEP: ST{rictly} EP{isodes}. This one is a full &lit clue, I think.
26 Even pieces from gorilla can constitute a work of art (3)
OIL: g O r I l L a.


Aug. 12th, 2017 10:28 am (UTC)
Thanks BW, I hadn't realised. I see that my concise OED only has Common Era under CE, not Christian Era, though the latter has its own entry later on, so presumably must still legitimately be in use. So the one has been substituted for the other for fear of offending because of its reference to Christ, but the "Common" era still has as its key reference point the life of um err....If I have understood correctly I can see why you might have filled that one in with a curmudgeonly growl.