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January 9th, 2019

Times Quick Cryptic No 1262 by Oink

Finished this one in 11'40" while looking over paint choices for a new apartment. Several hidden words and a lot of anagrams, so not a lot of trouble here. I was held up mainly by words I'd never heard of. I stand by my opinion that obscure vocabulary is not the way I prefer seeing Quick Cryptics get more difficult!

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After last week's toughie with the SNITCH at a high of 178, I was expecting even more pain with this. Maybe I was just lucky to be on a wavelength, because only 7 of 24 had it correct on the day, perhaps time was a factor and it was able to receive less attention coming third in the booklet at the end. I found it easier than 27237. Had it been in exam conditions, there was only one clue (11a) I'd have been unsure I'd entered correctly, and it took me around half an hour. There are three straightforward anagrams, a couple of messed-around ones, and the two long down clues are eminently biffable. You have to know a literary family. The rest is standard fare, as I see it.

Across
1 Close to nothing in charity that’s opening (6)
ALMOST - ALMS has O inserted, then T = that's opening. Took a while to reverse my thinking from looking for a word meaning opening.
4 Jazzy music involving musical sense is promising (8)
SWEARING - SWING is that music, insert EAR = musical sense.
10 Trivial problem to fall between aristocrat and monarch (2-7)
NO-BRAINER - RAIN = fall, goes between NOB and ER. My FOI.
11 Crack from unknown imbecile (5)
GOOFY - Not sure I quite get this. GOOF to me means to make a mistake, or a person who makes one. Y for the unknown. I presume there is a sense in which CRACK can be a synonym for goof, as in crack under pressure, or goof can mean a joke perhaps. I was tempted by GOON-Y, goon being an imbecile, but couldn't make that crack either. EDIT see ulaca's proposal below.
12 Desirable quality in grand name of literary siblings (7)
SITWELL - IT is the desirable quality; enter IT into SWELL for grand. The Sitwells, I recalled, were a family of three siblings from up't Yorkshire who were all rather arty; Edith, Osbert and the one beginning with S who's hard to spell. Edith being the one who wrote Facade for Mr Walton to score.
13 Oppressive old tyrant leading America (7)
ONEROUS - O for old, NERO your tyrant, US.
14 Marshal calm when changing side repeatedly (5)
ARRAY - To calm would be to ALLAY; swap the LL for RR.
15 A diet not designed as a remedy (8)
ANTIDOTE - (A DIET NOT)*.
18 Line that stops tongue moving, twisted in knots? (8)
SHOELACE - Cryptic definition, easy once you're tuned in.
20 Cold dish using incomplete vessels (below and above water) (5)
SUSHI - SU(B) and SHI(P) being the incomplete vessels referred to.
23 Something ideal for jamming broadcast, in short (7)
CURRANT - Well, I know of blackcurrant jam, and possibly redcurrant jelly, but I can't imagine currant jam being very edible. Currants are chewy dried small grapes. Currant here presumably is used as a sort of generic for jam made from any type of that fruit or a mix. CURT = short, has RAN = broadcast inserted.
25 Men concerned with later life backing part of Mediterranean diet? (7)
OREGANO - OR = men, ON AGE = concerned with later life, reverse that. Oregano, which i pronounce oree-GAR-no, per Italian, is one of my favourite herbs, but I squirm when a transatlantic person says o-REGG-ano. Perhaps I shouldn't, as in the original Greek word the accent is on the I, ρίγανη.
26 Trader’s tip diluted small change (5)
TWEAK - T = trader's tip, WEAK = diluted. A nice change for small change not being currency.
27 Watched and heard the writer with no hair (9)
EYEBALLED - EYE sounds like I, BALLED sounds like BALD.
28 Theatrical set, scary in play (8)
ACTRESSY -  (SET SCARY)*. Not a pretty word, but it'll do.
29 Short cannon’s middle-of-the-road rating (6)
MORTAR - MOR = middle of the road, TAR = rating, sailor.

Down
1 Unaware of past uprising as some of America is, en masse (8)
AMNESIAC - nicely hidden reversed in AMERI(CA IS EN MA)SSE.
2 Principal substituting old boy for a family man (7)
MOBSTER - MASTER = principal; swap the A for OB. Family man as in Mafioso.
3 Rolling fat? (5,4)
SPARE TYRE - Crptic definition. Mine needs deflating after the festivities.
5 Gentle champion’s stopping stock conflicts (4,2,3,5)
WARS OF THE ROSES - I biffed this then sorted it out. WARES is or are the stock, insert SOFT HERO'S for gentle champion's.
6 Reason males are excluded from rummage around (5)
ARGUE - Remove males from rummage gives RU AGE, then (RUAGE)*.
7 Man in promise to pay on time shows resolve (4,3)
IRON OUT - IOU = promise to pay, insert RON the man and add T for time.
8 Most like The Merry Widow being terribly stagey (6)
GAYEST - (STAGEY)*.
9 Peace group requests soldiers possibly to protect brief retreat in quarrel (14)
UNPLEASANTNESS - UN = peace group, PLEAS = requests, ANTS = soldiers possibly, insert NES(T) = brief retreat. Or biff it.
16 Outlaw’s unfeeling ring captures northbound travellers (9)
DESPERADO - DEAD = unfeeling, O = ring, insert REPS reversed = northbound travellers.
17 Complaint caused by command from detective? (8)
DISORDER - Well, a DI's ORDER would be a command from the detective.
19 Crop top with short dart in front (7)
HARVEST - VEST = top (not crop top this time) preceded by HAR(E) = short dart.
21 Vegetable: wrap up portion (7)
SHALLOT - SH ! = wrap up, be quiet; ALLOT = portion as a verb.
22 I caught summer in Paris on a refresher (3,3)
ICE TEA - I, C = caught, ÉTÉ = French for summer, A.
24 Heel’s neighbour caused anger after undressing (5)
ANKLE - RANKLED = caused anger, loses its 'dressing' i.e. front and back.