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March 14th, 2019

I found this quite sticky and, even allowing for time taken to lovingly extract the full measure of each clue (except the troublesome 27 across), my 32.48 is unlikely to set the world on fire. But I think it’s a goodie, with some inspired definitions scattered throughout: I particularly liked the country home, and the &lit at 12 down. At the other end of the scale, perhaps, I found 8 down problematic, with the definition being more of an allusion, though I’m open to persuasion. Most of my slower stuff came in the top left corner, never a good place to find trouble. Perhaps it was Mrs Z watching Masterchef on catch-up that dulled my senses.
While it’s not really crawling with ants, there are two of them in the grid, a mildly unusual feature.
My attempt to unravel the tangled skein of thought is  embellished below with clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS. Click on Ah, there it is to reveal all

[Ah, there it is]




Across
1 Orchestral movement not working, give in (4-3)
DOWN-BOW To draw the bow across the violin starting with the nut or bottom end. Not working (the computer’s ) DOWN, give in BOW (to the inevitable, May be)
5 Farewell speech originally without conclusion? (7)
SENDOFF Hyphenated in Chambers. Speech’s first letter (originally) plus END OFF suggested by without conclusion.
9 Overpriced establishment, bit common (4,5)
CLIP JOINT Not that I’ve ever thought of it that way, but a place where you get clipped, ripped off. I think CLIP as in a bit of film, and (more convinced) JOINT as in held in common
10 Fine total (5)
SHEER One of those swinish double definitions where both words have multiple possibilities.  Fine gives you SHEER if you think of 10 denier and therefore practically see through stockings (a gentleman would think thus only fleetingly, of course), total as in SHEER madness.
11 I speed up and give impromptu, impressing conductor finally, Italian maestro (8,5)
GIUSEPPE VERDI Responsible for the music for the latest Audi advert, the one that goes whump boom whump boom whump boom whump boom dee da dee...  “Impromptu” is your anagram indicator, sort out I SPEED UP GIVE as your fodder, slip in the R from the end of conductor.
13 In sport, time is going fast (8)
HURTLING Once you remember that HURLING is actually a sport (iománaíocht in its native Irish, believe it or not) sticking a T(ime) in  is a simple exercise
15 Doctor on call : exactly the same? (6)
CLONAL “Doctor” (verb) the letters ON CALL
17 Country, note, surrounded by water (6)
POLAND The note is LA, the water is POND. I would do my usual thing of citing the Do, a deer thing, but Hammerstein ran out of imagination at that point and just called it “a note to follow So”
19 Fix trouble — check parts fit (8)
DOVETAIL Clever wording (if I’ve sussed it right). Fix gives DO, trouble is a crossword staple AIL Check is VET, which parts the other two bits. Extra points for dawdling long enough to work that out
22 Inexperienced competitor on river, is one's concern great? (13)
INDUSTRIALIST An inexperienced competitor is a TRIALIST (sometimes with LL, but not here) which leaves the INDUS for the river.
25 Old king and tiresome infants initially play together (5)
TUTTI Musical Italian. TUT is the old king, more formally known as Tutankhamen (other spellings are available). T and I from the initials of the Tiresome Infants
26 Snatch and rip off fastener (9)
CHINSTRAP You need to spot that “off” presages anagram and that SNATCH and (again that intrusive coupler) RIP are your bits. I suppose it fastens the helmet/busby to the head, but it’s a bit loose (as a definition, that is)
27 Plant life no better, all ending the wrong way for animal (3,4)
ROE DEER Ah, right, got it. The plant is REED, then just all the endings of lifE nO betteR, all reversed. Not sussed while solving.
28 Through the ear, visitor took a shot (7)
GUESSED Probably from the Golden Treasury of Homophones Through the Ear 1948 edition. Guest.



Down
1 Avoid nothing (4)
DUCK Can’t believe this was almost my last in. Today’s (faintly)  cricket reference for the second definition
2 One complaining when footballer’s grabbed hard (7)
WHINGER A splendidly contemporary clue, echoing three such incidents in British football in the last week. But the footballer’s a WINGER, and H(ard) the grabbed letter.
3 Desirable to roll up sail, out to drop anchor? (5)
BIJOU Easy (-ish) to see that the “rolled up” sail is a JIB, the you have to assume the OU comes from out with the T designated as the word’s dropped anchor. Hmm
4 Insect finding crumb on each set of books (5,3)
WHITE ANT The termite, I believe. WHIT for crumb, EA for each, and NT for our regular scriptural set of books visitor to these parts.
5 Some training relative needs to pen sheep (3-3)
SIT UPS A relative SIS(ter) pens the TUP, a useful (to  setters) form of sheep.
6 Architect left residing in loathsome country home? (9)
NASHVILLE We’ll take John NASH, responsible for just about every decent bit of Regency Architecture, add VILE for loathsome with an L(eft) residing therein
7 Stretch too far above ladder (7)
OVERRUN Above: OVER, ladder: RUN as in those 10 denier stockings.
8 Expect trouble — from a catfight? (3,4,3)
FUR WILL FLY There may be trouble ahead. There are variations on the phrase in most dictionaries. The feline allusion is obvious enough
12 One moving quickly to secrete objects, petty larcenist primarily? (10)
SHOPLIFTER A brilliant &lit. SHIFTER interprets one moving quickly, hiding the objects which are the first letters of Petty Larceny  Gothick Matt points out you also need the O from objects to make the wordplay work. Cheers!
14 Overwhelming success gets recounted ultimately in fiction (9)
LANDSLIDE The innocent “gets” is there to provide LANDS, the fiction is a LIE, and the remaining D comes from the ultimate letter of recounteD
16 Coming across fish, old mog fed (8)
LOCATING O(ld) CAT (or mog) is fed to the fish LING in a reversal of normal practice
18 Case of demoiselle being into drink, is this? (7)
LADETTE I don’t think an instance of a demoiselle quaffing a drink of LATTE is particularly ladettish behaviour, but hey, this is a crossword clue, and the case of DemoisellE is just DE
20 Star soldier, God of war (7)
ANTARES Soldier is our second ANT du jour, and ARES the (Greek) god of war. And this is the fabulous Uhura singing “Beyond Antares” just for the trekkies among us.
21 Trader more vulgar, might you say? (6)
GROCER More vulgar? GROSSER, sounds like.
23 Problem children (5)
ISSUE A neat little double definition, probably another vintage clue
24 Small and sweet, one's eyed (4)
SPUD S(mall) and PUD for sweet.  Eyes are the growing points on potatoes (but you knew that)

Times Quick Cryptic No 1308 by Rongo

Gentle enough from Rongo today. I did Tuesday's not-too-tricky QC just beforehand, took about 14 minutes, and did this in a bit under half that. Missed three of the acrosses on the first read through: 12ac, partly because I don't credit the word "breathe" with the status of a 7-letter word (it's surely 6, right?), partly because it's an uncommon name for a drink I don't mind forgetting; 16ac was also missed, thanks to a Pavlovian shudder at the first bit of the clue, so I moved quickly on; and 20ac was missed legitimately, because of trickier wordplay and a certainty that there have to be loads of 13-letter words for "dispassionate" (none of which was immediately forthcoming). I also liked the spasmodic subdivision at 9ac and the neatness of 1d. I don't remember that particular grid layout either. Anyway, many thanks to Rongo!

Across
1 Twice cook dead bird (4)
DODO - To do a meal = to cook a meal, repeat. And I suppose if you're a dodgy accountant, doing the books and cooking the books are the same thing as well.
3 Move rider's head on horseback — put his foot here (7)
STIRRUP - STIR (move) R (Rider's "head") UP (on horseback)
8 Parisian's one in favour to receive furniture, to be remembered always (13)
UNFORGETTABLE - UN (Parisian's one) FOR (in favour) to GET (receive) TABLE (furniture)
9 Latter half of erotic spasm (3)
TIC - latter half of eroTIC
10 Those people in front of English subject (5)
THEME - THEM (those people) afront E(nglish)
12 Breathe, stirring hot soothing drink? (4,3)
HERB TEA - anagram (stirring) of BREATHE. An earlier term for herbal tea.
14 Old saint put in mature, clever reply (7)
RIPOSTE - O (old) St. (saint) put in RIPE (mature)
16 After referendum, it's unknown who wants a cracker? (5)
POLLY - POLL (referendum) Y (unknown). You can read why parrots are called pollys, and why they want crackers, here.
17 Fate of man whose wife turned to salt (3)
LOT - double definition
20 Unemotional lives go by, one likely to interrupt romantic meeting (13)
DISPASSIONATE - IS (lives: to be = to live = to exist) PASS (go by) I (one) ON (likely) to interrupt DATE (romantic meeting).
21 Overshadow cuts within Europe's borders (7)
ECLIPSE - CLIPS (cuts) within EE ("borders" of EuropE)
22 Stick contents of bulges out (4)
GLUE - anagram (out) of ULGE ("contents" of bULGEs)

Down
1 Family member seeing changing of the guard (8)
DAUGHTER - anagram, (changing of) THE GUARD. Very nice.
2 Silly duke at the back of the boat (4)
DAFT - D(uke) AFT (back of the boat)
3 Strong smell from small fish (6)
STENCH - S(mall) TENCH (fish)
4 Bury broadcast or put in continuity break (12)
INTERRUPTION - INTER (bury), anagram (broadcast) of OR PUT IN.
5 Thick end in actual counterargument (8)
REBUTTAL - BUTT (thick end) in REAL (actual)
6 Composition of lines displayed regularly by pro team (4)
POEM - "displayed regularly by" P r O  t E a M.
7 Overworked forger might have this problem in holding pen (7,5)
WRITERS CRAMP - vaguely cryptic definition. Possibly a pun on "holding pen", although unless the forger is making fake wool it's hard to see what business they have being in a holding pen... aah, they could be sheep rustling, and altering a farmer's identification mark.
11 Adoption of English as a second language involving power over America (8)
ESPOUSAL - ESL (English as a Second Language) involves P(ower) O(ver) USA (America)
13 Unsettled year when in no particular place (8)
ANYWHERE - anagram (unsettled) of YEAR WHEN
15 Part of rarely seen French palace (6)
ELYSEE - "part of" the letters of rarELY SEEn
18 Tool commercials on the radio (4)
ADZE - sounds like (heard on the radio) ADS (commercials)
19 Icy shower is welcome (4)
HAIL - double definition. Very true, if the ice is of the diamond variety.
I was straight off to the races on this charming, pangrammatic but not particularly Fridayish puzzle, hitting the submit button a shade after the 5 minute mark as the answer to 5ac finally swam into view. I personally found this something of a biff-fest as none of the longer clues with the possible exception of 14dn needed any parsing to be popped confidently in. The whole thing reminded me rather of a Telegraph Toughie, I'm not sure why: perhaps I associate the slightly unusual "prime locations" device at 25dn more with the setters of that venerable organ.

Clue of the day in my book was definitely 12dn, with its creative wordplay harmonising into a rather nice surface - thanks very much, dear setter!

ACROSS
1 All but last of ice creams dished up in pots (8)
CERAMICS - (IC{e} CREAMS*) ["dished up"]

5 Go off on the trail of very old Times interviews (3,3)
VOX POP - POP [go off] on the trail of V O X [very | old | times]

10 People generally bearing blame after a model addict's treatment (8,7)
AVERSION THERAPY - THEY [people generally] "bearing" RAP [blame] after A VERSION [a | model]

11 Italian in action with Hun and E European (10)
LITHUANIAN - (ITALIAN + HUN*) ["in action"]

13 Stoical leader of Japanese school finding love (4)
ZENO - ZEN [Japanese school] finding O [love]

15 Flawed Republican alarmed hosts (7)
SCARRED - R [Republican] "hosted" by SCARED [alarmed]

17 Obliged to leave husband behind — the car can hold no more (7)
TANKFUL - T{h}ANKFUL [obliged, minus H for husband]

18 Picked for team before start of season, showing guts (7)
INSIDES - IN SIDE [picked for team] before S{eason}

19 Contacts from East cut by ambassador (it's in old records) (7)
SHELLAC - reverse CALLS [contacts], "cut" by H.E. [ambassador]

21 Yank is fool (4)
JERK - double def

22 Serious music disheartened grenadier on parade ground (5,5)
GRAND OPERA - G{renadie}R + (ON PARADE*) ["ground"]

25 Press church to restrain island's senior politician (7,8)
CABINET MINISTER - CABINET [press] + MINSTER [church] to "restrain" I [island]

27 Messy drawing, possibly small fawn? (6)
SCRAWL - S CRAWL [small | fawn]

28 Square within enclosure providing shade (3-5)
PEA-GREEN - AGREE [square] within PEN [enclosure]

DOWN
1 Rachel's new name after sex change? (7)
CHARLES - (RACHEL'S*) ["new"], semi-&lit

2 Food from fish regularly taken from Rhone (3)
ROE - R{h}O{n}E

3 Deception accomplished as short reservation's accepted (10)
MASQUERADE - MADE [accomplished], AS QUER{y} ["short" reservation] having been "accepted"

4 First couple of clubs to admit entertainer (5)
CLOWN - CL{ubs} + OWN [to admit]

6 Reading out of letters hasn't paid off (4)
OWES - homophone of O's [letters]

7 What traitor did struck the wrong note (6,5)
PLAYED FALSE - double def

8 Scots borough blocking vote for salaried staff (7)
PAYROLL - AYR [Scots borough] "blocking" POLL [vote]

9 Lost land from biblical books, one in mountain range (8)
ATLANTIS - NT I [biblical books | one] in ATLAS [(N African) mountain range]

12 Copyist's basic error not resolved — zeros overlooked (11)
TRANSCRIBER - (BASIC ERR{o}R N{o}T*) ["resolved", once all the O's = zeros have been subtracted]

14 Covering traces of evidence, notorious villain running off (10)
ENVELOPING - E{vidence} N{otorious} V{illain} + ELOPING [running off]

16 Unattached police on island (8)
DISCRETE - D.I.S [police] on CRETE [island]

18 Introduces fast way to travel round cape (7)
INJECTS - IN JETS [fast way to travel] "round" C [cape]

20 Series featuring King George's vexation (7)
CHAGRIN - CHAIN [series] "featuring" G.R. [King George]

23 Time to leave local green (5)
NAIVE - NA{t}IVE [local, minus T = time]

24 Understand speaker's refusal (4)
KNOW - homophone of NO [refusal]

25 Feature of footwear occupying prime locations in store (3)
TOE - {s}TO{r}E, the "prime locations" being letters 2, 3, 5, (7, 11, 13...)