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April 9th, 2018

Times 27007

Time: 35 minutes
Music: Brahms, Violin Concerto, Kogan/Kondrashin

Despite my reasonable time, I suspect this was a difficult puzzle.   There were many obscurities you need to know, especially in the clues where both the literals and the cryptics are a bit tricky.   Fortunately, I have seen 'alameda', 'esse', and 'Actaeon' several times before in previous puzzles.  However, I suspect 'pourboire', 'secondo', and 'calends' may be new, and will prove difficult for those who don't know them.

I can't think of anything else to say, and for once don't even have an allusive title for the blog.   You'll have to get by on the bare bones for once, although most solvers will find the puzzle itself meaty enough.

1 Fur seen in country with cool interior … (10)
CHINCHILLA - CHIN(CHILL)A, a chestnut, but well-disguised.
6 … being included in one’s selection (4)
ESSE - hidden in [on]E'S SE[ction], a stock word in US puzzles, but not often seen in cryptics
9 Consular agent advances date once familiar to Romans (7)
CALENDS - C.A. + LENDS, often spelt Kalends, the only Latin word with a 'K'.
10 Member of duo taking boy round City function (7)
SECONDO - S(E.C.)ON + DO.   This apparently applies to Italian meals, but you don't need to know that.
12 Fellow given time to receive oxygen at a height (5)
ALOFT - AL(O)F + T.   I biffed this one, and figured it out much later.
13 Head accommodating over wine for mogul (9)
POTENTATE - P(O TENT)ATE, where 'tent' is a wine that is only served in crossword puzzles.
14 Completely finished deliveries and swindled comic at hotel (4,3,4,4)
OVER AND DONE WITH - OVER (in the cricket sense) + AND + DONE WIT + H.
17 One thus will hurry to be insistent (3,4,4,4)
PUT ONES FOOT DOWN - double definition, one referring to a lead-footed driver.
20 Tip from tedious person about one going with flow (9)
POURBOIRE - POUR + BO(I)RE, a French word that has apparently made its way into use among English speakers
21 Person with rod initially lashing out in fury (5)
ANGER - ANG[l]ER.   I just biffed this, and it took a long time to figure out how the cryptic worked.
23 Walk down alley, to begin with, after a game (7)
ALAMEDA - A + LAME + D[own] A[lley], an obscure word with a tough cryptic.
24 A horse ultimately kept in London district — a hunter (7)
25 Unpretentious-sounding carriage (4)
MIEN - Sounds like MEAN, in its root meaning.
26 Like some missiles — type crossing top of high mountains ? (5-5)

1 Exultant sound made by spaniel upset bear (4-1-4)
COCK-A-HOOP - sounds like COCKER, + POOH upside-down.  My Aunt Betty was very keen on Cocker Spaniels, but I never cared for them.
2 Dome-shaped dwelling I see during journey (5)
IGLOO - I + G(LO)O, an obvious literal for once!
3 Curbable prisoners responsive to instruction (13)
4 Popular drink one duke finds tasteless (7)
5 State of roast regularly served up in rented house (7)
LESOTHO - LE([r]O[a]S[t] upside-down)T + HO.
7 Romanians could get in a state in Italy (3,6)
SAN MARINO - anagram of ROMANIANS, known to boy stamp collectors everywhere.
8 Grind away before sealing arrangement with bank (5)
ERODE - ER(O[ver] D[raft])E
11 Leader of midland county primarily involved with arts centre (13)
CONCERTMASTER - anagram of O[f] M[idland] C[ounty] + ARTS CENTRE.
15 Finally leave on excursion with mature followers (9)
ENTOURAGE - [leav]E [o]N + TOUR + AGE.
16 Old peasant managed church bar (9)
18 Dashes up with a companion to get healthy food (7)
SPINACH - NIPS upside-down + A CH, i.e. a Companion of Honour.
19 Old couple embracing in French outdoors (4,3)
20 Secretary has pounds invested in American song (5)
PSALM - P.S. + A(L)M, where it is Personal Secretary, not Personal Assistant.
22 Envious member of political party (5)
GREEN - simple double definition, my FOI.

QC 1065 by Teazel

Last time I was sitting in this seat I referred to the little game that the crossword gods seem to play with us when the mood takes them where they taunt us with answers that are literally under our noses. Such as the FELT TIP PEN I once found myself inking in with that very implement.

Then the very next day, as I recall, along came a very enjoyable main puzzle in which the last down clue was VERLAINE. And in fact that very gentleman came forward to say that that had been his LOI for the day. Which seemed to kind of reinforce my thesis, until I realised that from what I know of that gentleman's abilities, he tends to just write them in in clue order anyway. So of course that would have been his LOI.

Then came the sublime 26,999, in which the same gentleman was namechecked in one of the clues, but in which many other pleasant surprises lurked for those of us who got to the end.

A few days later I then found myself in court, with my brief running a bit late. So what would I be doing to while away the waiting time but solving number 27,003. And there I found several clear but oblique examples of those capricious deities gently mocking my situation. There was the need to define a SUIT as an ACTION (on the way to the final answer of ACTON). There were the AREOPAGITES, who were cryptically members of a 'high' court, and although I was in the County Court I was seeking leave to enforce my action in the High Court as a belt and braces to my main intent. And finally, of course, there was the answer BRIEFEST, which, although it had nothing to do with lawyers in either the definition or the cryptic, still had a 'BRIEF' winking out at me from her hiding place in the grid whereas in real life she was nowhere to be seen!

It was all looking a bit spooky to me. But then my brief turned up, I got everything on my Court Order shopping list, the mockery seemd to fade away, and I was left with nothing more than a vague sense of having been involved in a Carl Jung synchronicity anecdote.

Then came my gig today and... nothing in the least referential to my current situation turned up.

So all I can say is:

1. Don't know what my real time was as I was doing it at the same time as packing a bag to get out of the house and go away.
2. Thought it was medium difficulty and so probably would have taken me about 9-10 minutes.
3. FOI 8A.
4. LOI 1A (nice anagram and although obvious I couldn't immediately see it and had to come back to it).
5. COD 8D just because the straightforward cryptic and surface appealed to me, along with the Shakespearean allusion that it tripped in my mind.

So, 15D, this was a very enjoyable puzzle with quite a few clues that I had to look at more than once although everything was definitely very fair game for a quickie. Nice cluing from Teazel and many thanks.

Definitions are underlined, and everything else is explained just as I see it.

1 Adjust shattering moves (10)
STRAIGHTEN - anagram of SHATTERING ('moves').
8 Set of dishes for religious ceremony (7)
SERVICE - double definition (dishes as in dinner SERVICE)
9 Sign left by one supporter (5)
LIBRA - a Crossword Land supporter is usually a PROP, a FAN, a TEE (for golfers) or, as here, a BRA.  L (left) + I + BRA gives a sign. Sign of the zodiac, that is, and I add that as an afterthought as I wonder is it just me, or are there far fewer astrologers around these days? Recalling my youth, it seems to me that all the tabloid newspapers used to be stuffed with astrological supplements whereas nowadays they don't really get a mention. Have we all as a society become much more rational? Or have they all gone online or something? Or maybe all the 'celebrity' astrologers have just died (not being able to have foreseen and predicted their own demise, which I guess if they had done might have brought them some degree of posthumous additional celebrity)?
10 Miranda’s internal state (4)
IRAN - hidden in MIRANda.
11 Adolescent that is way the smallest (8)
TEENIEST - TEEN (adolescent) + IE (that is) + ST (way).
13 Countryman’s sport with short bat (6)
RUSTIC - RU (sport, Rugby Union) + STICk (a 'short' bat).
14 Edward backed our diversion (6)
DETOUR - DET (Edward (TED) 'backed') + OUR.
17 In compartment, I attempt to secure a foot treatment (8)
PODIATRY - POD (compartment) + I + TRY (attempt) 'securing' A.
19 Used to be a sort of wolf? (4)
WERE - double definition, one slightly cryptic. You used to be a WEREwolf once, WEREn't you? OK, it doesn't quite come out grammatically but it makes the point I think.
21 Dark lake one goes round (5)
UNLIT - UNIT 'going round' L (lake).
22 Here you may find aircraft hovers around a river (7)
HANGARS - HANGS (hovers) around A + R (a river).
23 Spot on a car cutely sorted (10)
ACCURATELY - anagram of A CAR CUTELY ('sorted').
2 Hard inside, handles menaces (7)
THREATS - TREATS (handles) with H (hard) inside.
3 A song coming up, one from an opera (4)
ARIA - A + RIA (song 'coming up' in this Down clue).
4 Bloke in hot spring talking (6)
GEEZER - homophone of GEYSER (hot spring).
5 Having gifts, ten dealt out (8)
TALENTED - anagram of TEN DEALT ('out').
6 Peer shows no belief, oddly (5)
NOBLE - NO + the 'odd' bits of BeLiEf.
7 Teachers hold vital tools for comprehensive entry (6,4)
MASTER KEYS - MASTERS (teachers) 'holding' KEY (vital).
8 Rider’s parting shot? (7,3)
STIRRUP CUP - cryptic definition, STIRRUP CUP being the drink (shot) served to members of a hunt once they are mounted and ready to ride to the 'fell and cruel hounds'. (Viz. "When mine eyes did see Olivia first, methought she purged the air of pestilence. That instant was I turned into a hart, and my desires, like fell and cruel hounds, e'er since pursue me." Or words to that effect. Sorry, one of my favourite lines in all of Shakespeare and if I had half an excuse to get it in... well, I was going to. So there.
12 Enormous American soldier acting badly (8)
GIGANTIC - GI (American soldier) + anagram of ACTING ('badly').
15 Finished everything? Take this garment off? (7)
OVERALL - OVER (finished) + ALL (everything), giving a garment that you might wear while doing some work, and which you might then take off when it is ALL OVER. A rare example of a clue where the definition is not (or does not include) either the first or the last word of the clue.
16 King showing some heart — hurrah! (6)
ARTHUR - hidden in heART - HURrah.
18 Greek character in mouth of river (5)
DELTA - double definition.
20 Make garment perhaps new in outfit (4)
KNIT - N (new) in KIT (outfit).