My Polish mother-in-law was considering the relative merits of dogs and, so the possibly apocryphal story goes, couldn’t decide between a Coolie and a Damnation. I’d like to think that the memory of that tale mitigates my otherwise pathetic first mistake, an inability to spell the dog needed in the grid, but of course it doesn’t. I have no excuse whatever for my second pink square, a simple typo that evaded my close check of my completed grid. Otherwise 17 and a half minutes, another average time, for a rather entertaining puzzle, which threatened but eschewed obscurity with such as Persian governors, old criminals and biblical vessels. Maybe the French month is new to some, but is a familiar enough word with crustacean connections.
Here I knit up the ravelled sleeve of care with clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS highlighted.
1 Seek Democrat’s favour? Back workers’ representatives in print (7)
WOODCUT You might WOO a D(emocrat) to secure his vote, with the backing of the TUC (which of course gives CUT)
5 Ship giving tough guy new start (7)
CRUISER One of those Change the First Letter to Another Unspecified Letter clues: fortunately, you start with tough guy BRUISER
9 Lively animal at dogshow’s opening? (9)
DALMATIAN Lively signals the anagram, ANIMAL AT Dogshow is the grist. As it happens, most Spotty Dogs I have known, including the one belonging to the Woodentops (6 minutes in) have been pretty lively, so the &lit works just fine
10 Noise from cellar nags intermittently (5)
CLANG Could be any old noise, but it’s derived from CeLlAr NaGs.
11 After workout, equine star one on form perhaps (13)
QUESTIONNAIRE A work out of EQUINE STAR I (one) ON
13 Torn about old information unit (8)
ROENTGEN Torn: RENT circles O(ld) and adds information GEN. Full marks if you remembered that a Roentgen is a measure of exposure to X-rays or gamma rays. Bonus points if you know it’s been superseded by the Sievert or the Rem.
15 Group needing 4 for a score (6)
SEPTET Subtract the answer to 4 (spoiler alert) from 20, then remember what the term for seven players is.
17 Irritated, bring back study about biblical vessel (6)
NARKED Biblical vessel? Could it be the ARK? DEN is a useful synonym for (a) study, which you “bring back” about the floating zoo.
19 Good! Relative permitted trial (8)
GAUNTLET Easy stuff. G(ood) AUNT LET. A trial if you run it.
22 Out of touch in collective (not English) in charge of a Party (13)
INCOMMUNICADO Collective: COMMUNE (knock off the English) I(n) C(harge) A party: DO. Just work doggedly through and assemble the bits.
25 Fourth bird making a group? (5)
CROWD I like this one. I) crow A, 2) crow B 3) crow C, so 4)?
26 Wrong colours disheartened Persian governor (9)
PROCONSUL Stop trying to remember satraps, khans and such. You only need the PersiaN for its shell. Add COLOURS and present them “wrong” for the right answer. And no, there never was an Anticonsul.
27 Not suitable for evening out? (3-4)
NON-IRON Doesn’t need decreasing.
28 Glasses I picked up at outset wanting attention (7)
EYEWEAR Sounds like (picked up) I – no arguments there, then – plus “at the outset” Wanting and EAR for attention
1 Our group circulates papers over extensive area (4)
WIDE Our group is WE (I believe especially in bridge) and ID the papers encircled.
2 Evasive, he passed on national symbol in conversation (7)
OBLIQUE OB is an acceptable abbreviation for obit, he died. LIQUE is an acceptable (if not a real word) soundalike for LEEK, the Welsh national vegetable.
3 Girl lover’s initially got in mind (5)
CLARE Lover initially is, um, L. Needs to be placed into CARE for mind
4 Cardinal, fine, welcoming Rome’s capital support of course (8)
THIRTEEN Fine is THIN, the capital of Rome is, um, R, and the support of (golf) course id a TEE
5 Clergyman’s inspiring time in Geneva area? (6)
CANTON Much amusement can be had in ecclesiastical circles with the rank of CANON (though it’s quite hard to fire one). This one ”inspires” T(ime) for the local government unit in Switzerland
6 Lack of interest in vessel used in North Carolina formerly? The reverse (9)
UNCONCERN Right, this is not vessel URN inside N(orth) C(arolina) ONCE, but the other way round.
7 Settle perhaps accepting equipment brought up typical of island (3-4)
SEA-GIRT Settle might suggest SEAT equipment RIG. Invert the latter within the former. Here’s an example of the word used in Milton’s Comus:
.....Neptune besides the sway
Of every salt Flood, and each ebbing Stream,
Took in by lot 'twixt high, and neather Jove,
Imperial rule of all the Sea-girt Iles
8 Unpredictable country doctors use OTT gear (5,5)
ROGUE STATE “Doctor(s)” USE OTT GEAR, which looks like a fairly desperate anagram.
12 Religious female published Channel Islands study (10)
FRANCISCAN F(emale) (which I thought initially was Fran) published: RAN C(hannel) I(slands) study, this time SCAN
14 Article on amphibious troops: I stick up for time in France (9)
THERMIDOR Confusingly the 11th month of the French Revolutionary Calendar (August-ish), made up of three 10 day weeks. Article: THE, amphibious troops R(oyal) M(arines), I: I. Stick “up” DOR
16 Singer from Italian port trying out new example first of all (8)
BARITONE BARI the Italian port, site of the only known poison gas attack (unintended) of WWII. Add the initial letters (first of all) of Trying Out New Example.
18 Rising vehicle business supported by American native (7)
RACCOON CAR your vehicle that “rises”, CO(mpany) and supported by: ON.
20 Having secured agreement, miss energy inspection (4-3)
LOOK-SEE Miss: lose) E(nergy) secures agreement: OK
21 Old criminal’s new direction blocked by sleuth (6)
TURPIN New direction is TURN, sleuth is PI (as in Magnum)
23 Buffalo needs housing away from others (5)
ALONE Today’s hidden, in buffALO NEeds
24 Slight noise from eating, no longer quiet (4)
SLUR Stop looking for a small noise, you want a good, healthy, noisy SLURP before removing its P for quiet.