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January 26th, 2019

Times Cryptic Jumbo No 1362 - 12th January

I ground to a halt about 2 thirds of the way through this with the LHS proving somewhat recalcitrant. In the end, though, I finished in under an hour, so on the whole it's not too hard (there are plenty of clues visiting from Quick Cryptic land). I started to worry that I was going to stay stuck and struggle to complete the puzzle... and the blog, but a couple of penny-drops saw me home. One or two clues still have me a little puzzled, though. [Edit: I Finally saw the one that I didn't understand at all - 30D only in my last edit before publishing]. Comments to help unbefuddle me welcome! There are several lovely clues and smooth surfaces to enjoy. In addition to that troublesome 30D, I liked  25A, 38A, 12D and 15D , but, best of all, the concise and witty 23D. Thanks for the entertainment, setter! How did you all get on?
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This blog appears on an Australian public holiday to mark the arrival of British settlers in Sydney Cove. A good or a bad thing depending which side of history you were on. Arguably not the ideal day to celebrate national unity, but summer festivities will undoubtedly proceed.

This was an enjoyable puzzle. Interesting obscurities at 17ac, 3dn and 5dn. All doable if you know or can guess the spelling at 5dn. I lucked out with that – no skill involved!

My word of the day was 3dn which sent me on a dictionary trawl to confirm the special status of four-letter words. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

Clues are in blue, with definitions underlined. Answers are in BOLD CAPS, then wordplay. (ABC*) means 'anagram of ABC'. Deletions are in [square brackets].

Across
1 Force member to rip off firm (9)
CONSTABLE: CON / STABLE.

6 Sommelier eschewing one non-alcoholic drink (5)
WATER: WA[i]TER.

9 Foolish master quits in a manner of speaking (7)
IDIOTIC: IDIO[ma]TIC.

10 Old lady and tiny kids perhaps mentioned underwear (1-6)
Y-FRONTS: sounds like (“mentioned”) WIFE RUNTS.

11 Big cat’s back so fluffy, but not the tail (5)
FOSSA: AS SOFT backwards, minus the last letter (“not the tail”). I didn’t know this Madagascan mammal.

12 Decorate without being clumsy (9)
GRACELESS: GRACE (decorate, as in "she graced the room with her presence" perhaps) / LESS (without).

13 I slipped over having run on track (5)
SPOOR: OOPS “over” / R (run).

14 Solid artefacts round cathedral mostly broken (9)
OCTAHEDRA: O (round) / anagram (“broken”) of (CATHEDRA*). Last letter of anagram fodder omitted (only “mostly”).

17 Girl with old male expert dispensing tips for global dating status? (4,5)
ANNO MUNDI: ANN (girl) / O (old) / M (male) / [p]UNDI]t (expert, “dispensing” tips). I didn’t know this expression, but the wordplay was clear enough to get it with the helpers.

18 John, wanting a single, is available (2,3)
TO LET: drop the “I” from TOILET.

19 Young, shallow, vacuous Arabian country reporter (9)
NEWSWOMAN: NEW (young) / S[hallo]W (shallow, “vacuous”) / OMAN.

22 Athlete, once in US, New Orleans sent back (5)
OWENS: reverse hidden answer (“in”, “sent back”).

24 Chris, compared to Saviour, is thus eternal (7)
ENDLESS: CHRIS compared with CHRIS[t].

25 About to come in on air, playing instrument (7)
OCARINA: CA (about) in an anagram (“playing”) of (ON AIR*).

26 Prepare for something unpleasantheavy metal? (5)
STEEL: double definition. Is steel a heavy metal? I suspect not, but a steel band might well play heavy metal music!

27 Joint talk pompously put on my page (9)
CORPORATE: COR (my) / P (page) / ORATE (talk pompously).


Down
1 Head cook touring India (5)
CHIEF: I (India, in the phonetic alphabet) in CHEF.

2 Clearly defines island, now for development (5,4)
NAILS DOWN: a “development” of (ISLAND NOW*).

3 Berate beastly male following an offensive four-letter word (9)
TETRAGRAM: I didn’t know “rag” as meaning “berate”, but it’s in Chambers. So it’s TET (a Vietnam War offensive by the Viet Công) / RAG / RAM (beastly male). Strangely it appears that although TETRAGRAM can be a four letter word, that’s not so for pentagram or higher numbers!

4 Help air surrounding earth in atmospheric enhancement (10,5)
BACKGROUND MUSIC: BACK (help) / GROUND (earth) / MUSIC (air).

5 Labour baron sacked after powerless "Iran Empathy" broadcast (11,4)
ERYMANTHIAN BOAR: two anagrams: “powerless” (IRAN EM[p]ATHY*) “broadcast”, then (BARON*) “sacked”. Once I saw the second word was BOAR and twigged it might be one of the Labours of Hercules, I only had to guess where the consonants went! A nod to the setter for the word order of the clue, automatically giving "Labour" a capital L.

6 Inferior small bore going around (5)
WORSE: WORE (bore, in the sense of “carried”) around S (small).

7 Weight of news in digital form? (5)
TONNE: N (new) twice, inside TOE (a digit on one’s foot, of course). Took a while to see.

8 Rebel worker buried under refuse (9)
RESISTANT: RESIST (to refuse) / ANT (worker).

13 Squeaky-clean, thanks, committing no crimes when on the outside (9)
STAINLESS: SINLESS (committing no crimes) outside TA.

15 Stew over author regularly in a difficult situation (3,6)
HOT POTATO: HOTPOT (stew) /ATO (AuThOr, “regularly”).

16 Fool about with musical in hedonistic existence (5,4)
DOLCE VITA: CLOD “around” / EVITA.

20 Scandinavian, not the first to hold golf club (5)
WEDGE: [s]WEDE, “holding” G for golf (phonetic alphabet).

21 Turn and streak for an audience (5)
WHEEL: sounds like WEAL.

23 Time to enter gorge, say (5)
STATE: T in SATE.