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On Thursday blogging days I do the puzzle in the Times edition version, because that turns up a few minutes after midnight, and the club version some hour or so later, so don’t expect to find my time of 22.19 on the leaderboard. Easy enough (in my probably controvertial opinion) with only 21d giving pause because of its unfamiliar spelling, and the wordplay for 11a not sussed until after solving, though it works just fine. The setter can be congratulated for not making 15d a dodgy cricket clue, though I rather think the England team could do with a few to test the wonderfully resurgent Windies at Lords next week.
My workings are reproduced below, with clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS


1 Total cancellation of debt (5,3)
WRITE OFF This is total as a verb, which is what you do to your vehicle by wrapping it round a tree so that it becomes a write off. Our other definition is to cancel debt.
6 Flirt? Mademoiselle’s that, in bed (6)
COQUET And this is flirt as a noun, made up of our Mlle’s word for that, which in some circumstances would be QUE, in a rather inappropriate bed, in this case a COT
9 Work repulsing American setter (4)
EMMA  This is work as in literary work, Jane Austin’s Emma, comprising AM(erican) and ME, the setter (well, not me, obviously) joined and reversed
10 Jam and salt picked up … from this trader? (10)
WHOLESALER. “picked up” means you’re looking for a soundalike, here HOLE and SAILOR sounding like the items in the brief Chopin Liszt
11 Unrelaxed, yet in shape after exercise? (8,2)
BUTTONED UP  Alternatively spaced as “but toned up” for the rest of the clue after the definition
13 Recurrent spot of bother (2-2)
TO-DO  I think this is DOT for spot backwards plus O’ for of.
14 A right noise in centre of Asian island (8)
SARDINIA A: A, right: R, noise: DIN packed into the middle bit off ASIAN
16 Arranged seat with sailors at back of ship (6)
ASTERN  An anagram (arranged) of SEAT plus the RN, Senior Service, a nice nautical flavour for the whole clue
18 Brief dog-like whine, base and cowardly (6)
YELLOW  Dogs when they whine may YELP. Lose the end (brief) and and LOW for base
20 About to go, ordered the attack with such belligerent words? (4,4)
TAKE THAT  Which as well as being a popular if indefinitely staffed beat combo, is our belligerent phrase. Take the C (about) out of THE ATTACK and rearrange
22 Good former service for women? The reverse, for men (4)
STAG  The ATS was the Auxiliary Territorial Service, the army for ladies, subsequently (in 1949) the Women's Royal Army Corps, abolished in 1992 when the Army decided mean and women were pretty similar really. In the clue, add G for good and reverse. I wonder why a hen night is not a doe do?
24 Stress concerning Southern transport (10)
OVERSTRAIN  Southern Railways are a major source of stress, as I understand it, so this clue rather works on two levels. However, the wordplay is about: OVER, southern: S and transport: TRAIN
26 Soda maker's horrendous bloomer (6,4)
DAMASK ROSE  An anagram of SODA MAKER’S, for the “fragrant pink or red variety of rose” (BRB)
28 Final parts of regular journey for old ship (4)
ARGO The vessel of choice for Jason and his surprisingly similarly named Argonauts. The final parts of regular are A and R, and journey gives GO
29 It's a pity organ accompanies spoken verse (2,4)
OH DEAR  Another partial soundalike this time of ODE (“spoken” verse) plus EAR as a bodily organ.
30 Purpose of crenellations, maybe indefinitely (3,5)
FOR KEEPS Crenellations are the zig-zaggy bits of castle walls, so KEEPS are what they’re FOR


2 Our meal composed of French creamy sauce (9)
REMOULADE  OUR MEAL is composed in a different order with the FRech for of, DE, tacked on.
3 Browned off for a start, tried going outside (7)
TOASTED Tried gives you TASTED, and inset the start of OFF.
4 Welsh girl taking fresh look around (5)
OLWEN  Trust the cryptic if you haven’t heard of Olwen Kelly, star of new release The Autopsy of Jane Doe and “a dead cert for an Oscar” (the Independent.ie). It’s NEW (fresh) and LO (look) joined and reversed. Olwen Kelly is Irish, mind.
5 Hairstyle cut at front and back (3)
FRO  I think this is AFRO hairstyle with its front missing and FRO as in to and fro, there and back.
6 Shoddy hat worn by man given lift (9)
CHEAPJACK   HE, the man, is wearing a CAP and standing on a JACK though here a verb meaning lift
7 Group extremely exuberant after a couple of pints (7)
QUARTET If you remember your Imperial measures, there are indeed a couple of pints in a QUART, and the extremes of exuberant are the E and T.
8 Half of them object to change (5)
EMEND  Half of THEM is either TH or EM, and object is END. You choose.
12 Divisional leader wants support of course, guarding RAF conscript (7)
DRAFTEE  D from Divisional leader, TEE from support of (golf) course, and RAF for, um, RAF. Assemble.
15 Publication of pay finally accepted by Tyneside labourer (3,6)
NEW YORKER  Now available, complete with distinctive Art Deco headline font online. Pay finally is Y, Tyneside traditionally the NE, labourer WORKER. Assemble as instructed.
17 Acquiring information at university, after fearing missing first (7,2)
READING UP  Fearing would be DREADING, but here loses its initial letter. At university is UP.
19 Alpine transport loaded with funny cases (7)
LUGGAGE  A LUGE is one of those suicidal sleddy things for sliding down icy slopes at terminal velocity. It here embraces a GAG, or funny, here being a noun.
21Travellers initially go astray again, dodging western rocky area (7)
TERRANE  Today’s dodgy (but sanctioned) spelling. Travellers initially gives T, go astray ERR, and again ANEW, from which you scrub the W(estern)
23 Train apprentices principally in college (5)
TEACH  Colleges used to be TECHs and need an A inserted to provide their function
25 Asparagus portion, small, served with avocado? (5)
SPEAR  Asparagus comes in spears (think shape, sort of): S(mall) plus PEAR as a familiar companion to avocado.
27 No opening for idle dunce (3)
OAF Idle therefore would be LOAF. No opening.


( 40 comments — Leave a comment )
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Aug. 31st, 2017 02:13 am (UTC)
Terrain (the shape of the land generally) and terrane (rocky land specifically) are two distinct words

And I took avocado (shaped) to mean the same as pear (shaped). Maybe people do like to eat pear and avocado together—I wouldn't know cos I don't eat em
Aug. 31st, 2017 03:16 am (UTC)
Re: shapes
I stand by avocado and pear belonging together, as for example in this helpful Tesco guide to real food
Re: shapes - z8b8d8k - Aug. 31st, 2017 03:20 am (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 31st, 2017 02:18 am (UTC)
@ 11ac was not parsed and after 40 mins. this was a DNF as 21dn TERRANE was not entered! What a shocking bit of 'IKEAN' cluing on such a dodgy word!!

FOI 25ac SPEAR LOI TAKE THAT who I thought were a boy band!



Aug. 31st, 2017 02:26 am (UTC)
Time: 45 minutes
I struggled a bit, but got home eventually. My main problem was biffing 'baggage' instead of 'luggage'.

A few other pedantic notes, 'terrane' having already been taken:

1. Olwen: "In Welsh mythology, Olwen is the daughter of the giant Ysbaddaden and cousin of Goreu. She is the heroine of the story Culhwch and Olwen in the Mabinogion.
Her father is fated to die if she ever marries, so when Culhwch (sometimes spelled as Kilhwch) comes to court her, he is given a series of immensely difficult tasks which he must complete before he can win her hand. With the help of his cousin King Arthur, Culhwch succeeds and the giant dies, allowing Olwen to marry her suitor."

2. Another name for the avocado is the 'alligator pear', so that is probably what is meant here.
Aug. 31st, 2017 03:17 am (UTC)
Re: Time: 45 minutes
I am aware of ancient Olwens: I did my best to find a modern one, and succeeded.
Re: Time: 45 minutes - falooker - Aug. 31st, 2017 03:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Time: 45 minutes - curarist - Aug. 31st, 2017 08:40 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Time: 45 minutes - horryd - Aug. 31st, 2017 10:04 am (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 31st, 2017 02:49 am (UTC)
Help please: hole = jam?
This was a DNF due to terrane and Olwen. Cheapjack is just at the edge of my vocabulary. Acronyms for women's military (and also women's nursing) organizations live in the same inaccessible place for me that plant names, Welsh proper names, and unusual African elk and lemurs do, so I took 10a and 22a on faith and bif. Nice blog; some nice clues - buttoned up in particular.
Aug. 31st, 2017 03:24 am (UTC)
Both hole and jam are colloquial synonyms for a difficult situation: both defined as such in BRB
(no subject) - paul_in_london - Aug. 31st, 2017 09:19 am (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 31st, 2017 05:39 am (UTC)
I got all the way to ARGO before writing in my first answer so after such a slow start I was a bit surpsed to finish in 33 minutes, only 3 past my target time.

In my experience the flirt at 6ac is more usually spelt "coquette" so I had think twice about that one. Some sources give the spelling required today as male, and the other as female, but other sources are gender neutral and list them as alternatives.

On 25dn, as noted in the Waitrose link in z's blog, an alternative name for 'avocado' is 'avacado pear' so we don't need to look further than that for an explanation.

The name OLWEN first came to my attention many years ago in the title of a piece of music "Dream of Olwen" written by Charles Williams (né Isaac Cozerbreit) for the 1947 film 'While I Live'. It's a somewhat melodramatic film and the music in the style of Rachmaninov, was well suited to it. It became a concert piece in its own right. Here's one version of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0J5J1shElmk

Edited at 2017-08-31 05:58 am (UTC)
Aug. 31st, 2017 05:44 am (UTC)
Had to cheat with olwen, emma, and cheapjack to finish.

13a o for of seems odd.

COD coquet.
Aug. 31st, 2017 06:22 am (UTC)

"Top o' the morning to you..."
(no subject) - flashman - Aug. 31st, 2017 06:36 am (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 31st, 2017 06:21 am (UTC)

... but with TO-DO and CHEAPJACK unparsed, and ATS and TERRANE unknown.

Was sure 10ac was going to end with ---seller (cellar) for a while, but no.
Aug. 31st, 2017 06:34 am (UTC)
DNF here, as I only had a few minutes to go with the crossers of 30a and 21d left. As I could see most but not all of 21d, I bunged in TERRAIN, never having heard of TERRANE, then desperately stuck FOR SNIPE in 30a, mostly because it sounded vaguely like it could be a Shakespearean-era phrase for "indefinitely"... Bother.

Didn't help that I was convinced 30a would begin FORT... as that's what's crenellations are for, right?

Thanks to setter and blogger.
Aug. 31st, 2017 07:09 am (UTC)
Didn't coquet up
25 mins with overnight oats (inc. Scottish raspberries) - and enjoyed it. A much smoother solve than of late - with rocky patches: wondering why dog-like in 18ac and convincing myself Terrane must be a thing.
Mostly I liked: 'support of course' (not just support), Damask Rose anag and COD 30ac - those crenellations last for ages.
I know people who still call them Avacado Pears rather than the more trendy 'Avvo' (usually 'smashed avvo' on toast - must try that).
Thanks tricksy setter and Z.
Aug. 31st, 2017 08:23 am (UTC)
Those saucy French dishes
Found this easier today and home in enjoyable 22 minutes despite a flirtation with the tasty new French sauce 'roumelade' until our favourite, EMMA, brought the REMOULADE in. Felt rocky with TERRANE, but cryptic was clear. I'm not a skier and the first Alpine transport to spring to mind was an elephant, a letter too long to fit in the room, before LUGGAGE became clear from crossers. I also had a bit of a TO-DO over the parsing of 13a. Hasn't Gary Barlow become such an institution that he can be clued before his death, though right now I'm struggling to name a single song? COD FOR KEEPS amd BUTTONED UP jointly.Thank you Z and setter.
Aug. 31st, 2017 08:36 am (UTC)
I found this a bit of a struggle but got there in the end. My fault I think, nothing wrong with the clues. No queries or quibbles.
Aug. 31st, 2017 09:55 am (UTC)
12:49. I remember them being called avocado pears so no problems there.
REMOULADE is creamy only in the sense that a tuna fish and mayonnaise sandwich is creamy, but I guess that works texturally.
I very nearly bunged in TERRACE, never having seen TERRANE before, but fortunately I doubted it enough to check the wordplay.
Aug. 31st, 2017 10:38 am (UTC)
26.30. Engaging in one or two unexpected words and ways. It seems a pity Austen's deepest romance has become a crossword staple. - joekobi
Aug. 31st, 2017 11:37 am (UTC)
The NW was too tightly 11a for me, so I left it until the end. My FOI was EMEND, and I then turned rest of the NE into a right 13a and moved to the bottom half where I managed not to 24a myself. I was tempted by TERRACE for 21d, but happily decided to stick with the wordplay. Moving back north, most of the NE filled up apart from 10a, which was my LOI after WRITE OFF and EMMA opened up the final corner. Our Welsh girl finally switched the light on for our complete vendor. Nice puzzle. 36:55. Thanks setter and Z.
Aug. 31st, 2017 11:40 am (UTC)
29ac !!
Failed to make the link between 'again' and ANEW so bunged in TERRACE.
My wife bought me a subscription to the New Yorker last Christmas and I find it lives up to it's own publicity: "The best writing anywhere". It also helps that it hates Trump.From this week's editorial Comment:
"This is the inescapable fact: on November 9th, the United States elected a dishonest, inept, unbalanced and immoral human being as its President and Commander-in-Chief,"
That has just added three more disparaging adjectives to the dozen or so I already have lined up to qualify the descriptive noun of 'snake-oil salesman'.
32m 27s
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