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January 14th, 2019

QC 1265 by Teazel

Thank you for all the good wishes for my mother who is still recovering in hospital after her New Year fall. Once again I am writing this in a hurry before going to keep up my end of the family visiting effort, so it will necessarily be brief.

I was breezing along nicely until I hit CARLISLE, which stumped me for a couple of minutes. Strange, because I normally do hit Carlisle in reality annnually while travelling up to Scotland (although I have not been to the Gathering mentioned in the commentary at 18D for many a year). You might think therefore that it would spring naturally to my mind as one of the most obvious clues, but unfortunatley not today. I can only put it down to distraction from knowing that I have to finish this as quickly as possible before racing down to St George's Tooting to perform my filial duties. Unfortunately the helipad facilities are not available to me although the comings and goings of the air ambulance provide an interesting occasional distraction through the window by my mother's bed.

My FOI was the straightforward anagram at 1A and my LOI was 8A as alluded to above. I thought that although the clues were for the most part straightforward (nearly all definitions or anagrams of one sort or another) there were several neat and natural surfaces. I liked the CAMOUFLAGE/GUACAMOLE link, and I liked 'Sporty Spice' who made an anonymous appearance at 3D, but in the end I have chosen 22A as my COD. Many thanks to Teazel for an entertaining Monday morning cup of tea.

Briefly switching on my NATRAF (Nina And Theme Radar And Filter) yielded no results.

Definitions are underlined and everything elese is explained just as I see it as simply as I can manage.

Across
1 Great crime, yet minor, in some way (8)
ENORMITY - a straight anagram to kick off with: YET MINOR 'in some way' = ENORMITY.
5 Time to secure such a hotel room? (4)
TWIN - T (time) + WIN (secure).
8 Stocking material on vehicle for city (8)
CARLISLE - CAR (vehicle) + LISLE (stocking material).
9 They look east, certainly (4)
EYES - E (east) + YES (certainly)
11 Relative is a pawnbroker (5)
UNCLE - indeed he is. In the heyday of pawnbroking (whenever that was), if your straitened circumstances unfortunately led you into the arms of the guy with three golden balls (shades of George Lazenby in O.H.M.S.S.), then your euphemistic explanation might be that you were going to visit your 'uncle' to touch him for a loan.
12 Eloquent person with year in chapel (7)
ORATORY - ORATOR (eloquent person) + Y (year). Chapel as for example the Brompton Oratory just down the road from me near the museums.
13 Station us in school (6)
EUSTON - US 'in' ETON, Crossword Land's favourite school.
15 Look, try force twice to end session (3,3)
LOG OFF - LO (look, in the biblical sense) + GO (try, as in "'ave a go 'Arry") + F + F (force twice).
18 Is adolescent able to eat here? (7)
CANTEEN - &lit: CAN TEEN ('is adolescent able') to eat here (in the CANTEEN).
19 Ruffle little stream after opening of fishing (5)
FRILL - RILL (little stream) after F (opening of Fishing). Reminds me of my father who, although not a religious man, requested on his death bed: 1. that his body should be buried and 2. that we should sing 'By Cool Siloam's Shady Rill' at his funeral, both of which wishes we duly respected.
21 Exuberance in Brazil’s first city (4)
BRIO - B (Brazil's first) + RIO (city).
22 Profanity of son becoming tedious (8)
SWEARING - S (son) + WEARING (becoming tedious).
23 To be very angry is the fashion (4)
RAGE - double definition. Fashion as in 'all the rage'.
24 Congenial diner fly worried (8)
FRIENDLY - straight anagram: DINER FLY 'worried' = FRIENDLY.
Down
1 Sweat, drinking small quantity in bar (7)
EXCLUDE - EXUDE (sweat) 'drinking' CL (centilitre, a small quantity).
2 Who’s rich, hiding someone at Elsinore? (5)
OSRIC - hidden word: whO'S RICh. Osric is a minor character in Shakespear'e Hamlet which takes place at Elsinore Castle in Denmark.
3 Girl finished tidy bit of bowling (6,4)
MAIDEN OVER - MAIDEN (girl) + OVER (finished). In cricket, a 'maiden over' is a spell of six balls from a single bowler in which the batsman fails to score any runs. In the score book this will appear as six dots like the 'six' face of a die. Often in cricket parlance a bowler is said to be 'tidy' if the batsmen find it difficult to score runs off his bowling. Hence a maiden over is indeed a 'tidy bit of bowling'. Pronounal and nounal apologies to any female cricketers out there. Please take no offence. None was intended.
4 High (ouch!) in fat (6)
TALLOW - TALL (high) + OW (ouch!).
6 Route one should follow? Excellent (3,2,2)
WAY TO GO - double definition to my mind, although the question mark may suggest that the first definition is meant to be cryptic. In my eyes the question mark is just a device to make the surface a bit smoother, although alternative opinions will no doubt be available.
7 A street in New York is unpleasant (5)
NASTY - A + ST (a street) 'in' NY (New York).
10 One way to hide fluorine, in mashed guacamole (10)
CAMOUFLAGE - anagram of GUACAMOLE ('mashed') with F (chemical symbol for fluorine, the ninth element in the Periodic Table) mixed in there as well.
14 After moral offence, monarch is collapsing (7)
SINKING - SIN (moral offence) + KING (monarch).
16 Everyone intervenes between female and male — who takes the blame? (4,3)
FALL GUY - F (female) + GUY (male) with ALL (everyone) in the middle ('intervening').
17 Write this in! (6)
ANSWER - Hmm. OK, that's what I've done...
18 Brace specially, to toss this? (5)
CABER - anagram of BRACE gives CABER, a big, heavy tree trunk that is 'tossed' in a celebrated competition in Highland Games meetings in Scotland, the most famous example of which is probably the annual Braemar Gathering.
20 Old walls may be so, I contended (5)
IVIED - I + VIED (I contended).

Times 27247 - "...and you've been caught!"

Time: 27 minutes
Music: The Royal Ballet, Gala Performances, Ansermet

I don't like to be too critical, but this was a rather unsatisfactory puzzle.   Some of the clues were a bit on the forced side, and while it was not particulary hard, a solver won't have the confidence that the answer is right that would characterize a really good cryptic.  Instead, you're left pondering whether there's something wrong with the clue, or you just don't get it.  In the blog, I'm going to have to speak frankly and point out the clues that just don't work.

Tonight's music is one of the most famous audiophile recordings of all time, a masterpiece from the Decca recording team.   Clean originals sell for thousands of dollars, but I am playing the 180-gram reissue that anyone can buy.

Across
1 Singer to sing endlessly, entertaining you and me (6)
CARUSO - CAR(US)O[l].   I very nearly biffed 'thrush', which does have 'us' in it but is otherwise impossible.
4 Large number with time to get therapeutic treatment (7)
MASSAGE - MASS + AGE, I see we're keeping it clean here...
9 Animal gripped by hunger ate lots (5)
RATEL -  hidden in [hunge]R ATE L[ots], an animal whose native habitat is US crosswords.
10 Member of guild, fellow suffering a hangover? (9)
LIVERYMAN - LIVER-Y MAN, geddit?
11 A monarch heard one making accusation (9)
ARRAIGNER - sounds like A REIGNER, a rather forced word.
12 Group with holy books, including cardinal (5)
NONET - N(ONE)T, where the cardinal is a cardinal number, and probably the firsr one you think of.
13 Sort to get words on to paper? (4)
TYPE - double definition, neither particularly cryptic.
14 Contracted publicity person being engaged impressed again? (10)
REPRODUCED - RE(PRO)DUCED.  If this is the correct parsing, a problematic clue.   A 'publicity person' brings to mind a PR man, but apparently 'pro' is required.   Or is this a PR O - in which case how is O a person? Yes, a P.R.O. is a Public Relations Officer - I once knew this, but evidently I have forgotten is again.  The literal evidently alludes to the reprinting of a book, but even the first printing involves reproduction.
18 The old man, deserter, is within month wanting secession (10)
SEPARATIST - SE(PA RAT IS)T.   Well, that's the best I could do.   The month should probably be SEPT, but the 'P' is already taken.   As far as I know, SET is not a valid abbvreviation for September or any other month.
20 Female attached to Henry — one of six better ones for him? (4)
HALF - HAL + F.   The literal is highly allusive, and evidently refers to 'six of one, half a dozen of the other', but how so is not quite evident.
23 Very brief unnamed communications — MPs will have got them (5)
VOTES - V + [n] OTES.
24 One may need skill to interrupt excessive drinking session (9)
BARTENDER - B(ART)ENDER, an &lit, and a really top-quality clue.
25 Feature of many a wedding vehicle followed by people (9)
CARNATION -  CAR + NATION, a cleverly disguised chestnut.
26 Times man, one who could produce lyrical lines (5)
BYRON - BY + RON, our man of the day.
27 During breaks office assistant's provided meals (7)
REPASTS - RE(PA)STS, where, unforunately PA is the abbreviation for Personal Assistant, part of which appears in the clue.
28 Deny access to Tyneside region? (6)
NEGATE - N.E. GATE, which should let you into the Northeast, if you wish to go there.
Down
1 Foreign author’s verse can’t, if translated (9)
CERVANTES - Anagram of VERSE CAN'T.
2 Some black liquid knocked over — one's foot may get stuck in it (3-4)
RAT-TRAP - PART TAR upside down.
3 Plant needs fluid, one sinking slightly (6)
SALVIA - SALIVA with the I moved down.
4 Leader of meeting regarding someone who brings forward proposal (5)
MOVER - M[eeting] + OVER
5 Piece of music composed enthrals a daughter (8)
SERENADE - SEREN(A D)E.
6 Gangster and idiot — one's not kept a diary (7)
ALMANAC - AL + MAN[i]AC, where an idiot is a maniac and an almanac is a diary only in very loose senses.
7 Artist presenting birds, first of them diving to the bottom (5)
ERNST - TERNS, with the T falling to the end.
8 Noisy fellow supporting scheme (8)
PLANGENT - PLAN + GENT, simple enough, but a word I knew without knowing its meaning.
15 Maybe like a fresh racket sounded after others (8)
RESTRUNG - REST + RUNG.
16 Respect source of information — Democrat not right (9)
DEFERENCE - (+D -r)EFERNCE.
17 Sin of fool turning up in something hairy (8)
TRESPASS -  TRES(SAP upside-down)S.
19 Support for underground workers (7)
PITPROP - A cryptic definition, not very cryptic.
21 A new winding road bridging river in country (7)
ANDORRA - A + N + anagram of ROAD around R.
22 Weak insect caught by mischievous child jumping up (6)
FEEBLE - EL(BEE)F, all upside down.  I must say, the surface is far from smooth.
23 Minister in charge involved in endless change (5)
VICAR - V(IC)AR[y].
24 Bishop pays attention — how many commandments omitted “Paradise”? (5)
BLISS - B + LIS(ten)S, another rather far-fetched surface.