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April 3rd, 2019

Times Quick Cryptic No 1322 by Tracy

A coincidence at 10 Across? In any case, Tracy has my number. Or perhaps a nod to Ximenes and his immaculate "I have most of the time to sew, then I iron (9)"?

Taking 9 minutes and 15 seconds, this puzzle gave me no trouble whatsover, and I wouldn't be surprised to see some of the faster solvers come in around the three-minute mark. I'm just glad I didn't have to blog Monday's quickie, which beat me within an inch of my puzzling life.

Here's my order of solving. Across: 9, 10, 13, 19, 20, 22; Down: 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17; Across: 1, 6, 8, 12, 16, 23; Down: 2, 5, 18, 21. Always happy to answer any questions about solving; just leave a note in the comments.

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I found this tough. One of those puzzles where it takes an age to get going properly, then turns into a slow but steady plod, unravelling some of the more obscure wordplay afterwards. Had I not been on duty, I might have abandonded it unfinished, as it wasn't bringing me the necessary quota of smiles and smug satisfaction. However, I was tired, sitting half asleep in the sun in hat and shades, and not at my sparkling best. In the end I think I have it deconstructed, as they say on MasterChef. (Wasn't it really good this year?)
Maybe the SNITCH will tell us it was not hard at all. I don't have a time for it as I wasn't continuously awake.


Across
1 Loose underclothes? How foolish to pirouette! (8)
SLIPSHOD - SLIPS = underclothes, DOH! = how foolish, Homer Simpson style, reverse it = pirouette.
6 Heartless priest dealing with Biblical knowledge (6)
CARNAL - CARDINAL loses its heart. 'Knowing' someone in the Bible meant having carnal knowledge, as in 'Adam knew Eve, his wife, and she conceived.' It's not what you know, it's who you know, perhaps.
9 He spreads dirt around in foreign land — no germs (13)
SCANDALMONGER - (LAND NO GERMS)*, then insert CA = around, approx.
10 Move carefully, spinning top in game (6)
TIPTOE - (TOP)* inside TIE - game, as in cup tie.
11 Girl cut hair: she wears the trousers? (8)
MISTRESS - MIS(S), TRESS. Tempting to ramble on about what various kinds of mistresses might wear, but I'd probably get hate mail and have to become an ex-blogger, so I'll keep my thoughts to myself.
13 Vomit from gut — agree it needs treatment (10)
EGURGITATE - (GUT AGREE IT)*. Of course, I initially began to write in REGURGI... then ran out of space so re-examined the fodder.
15 Invalid not fully well, unfortunately regressing (4)
NULL - Hidden reversed in WE(LL UN)FORTUNATELY.
16 Very fond of a joke taken the wrong way (4)
GAGA - A GAG reversed. It seems GAGA has two separate meanings, one being 'very enthusiastic' (about), and one closer to losing the plot, as I am doing occasionally these days.
18 Elaborate clothing right for Brit abroad? (10)
EXPATRIATE - To EXPATIATE is to go on about, to elaborate; insert R to get an EXPAT like me.
21 Moles, deprived of energy, running in ditch (8)
JETTISON - JETTIES can be called MOLES, piers, drop an E and add ON = running.
22 Flock's leader goes off, a sheep's tail twirling (6)
PASTOR - Reverse all of: ROTS = goes off, A, P = last letter of sheep.
23 Total area covered by a Parisian train line (13)
UNCONDITIONAL - Took me a while to see how this works. I think it is CONDITION = train, as in go to the gym; insert into UN (a Parisian) and A (area), add L for line. As in unconditional surrender. I was working on some sort of Continental train line for too long.
25 Mineral, the very thing found in wood pile (6)
PYRITE - IT = the very thing, insert IT into PYRE a wood pile. I remember as a chemistry-gaga kid of around 8, finding lumps of this 'fool's gold' on the surface of the chalk lands on the Jurassic coast, where we had a caravan, and finding out it was FeS2, not the real McCoy.
26 Say nothing, dropping by for second drink (8)
ESPRESSO - EXPRESS O would be 'say nothing', drop the X (by) and replace with S.

Down
2 Grace maybe topless is a source of drama (7)
LESSING - Well, I get BLESSING (Grace maybe) topless, but am a bit vague about the drama thing. Lessing is a common German surname and there were probably dramatists of note with that name. I only know of DORIS the writer, who as far as I know doesn't do plays. This clue seems a bit TLS-worthy to me although the cryptic is clear enough.
3 Gone to drink clarets, possibly a sign of a break (7,4)
PLASTER CAST - Gone = PAST, insert (CLARETS)*.
4 Horse to go over boundary fence (5)
HEDGE - H for horse, EDGE. My FOI.
5 Cover up girl's doubtful state (7)
DILEMMA - DIL = LID (cover) 'up', EMMA a girl.
6 Chaucer's opening lines: bits of verse in lines (5,4)
CROWS FEET - My heart sank when I read this clue, as Chaucer is a non-subject for me. Fortunately, all you need to know is that Chaucer begins with C, then you have ROWS for lines, then FEET being bits of verse; the lines are to be found on your face, at a certain age.
7 There's nothing odd in trying outfit (3)
RIG - The even letters of t R y I n G.
8 Heading north, look angry with a fog? (7)
AEROSOL - Another 'reverse it all' clue; LO = look, SORE = angry, A, turn that all around. You can have 'fog in a can' aerosols, which I remember being used on the sets of TV commercials to create the hazy effect.
12 Survey overlooking Conservative revival (11)
RENAISSANCE - You need to imagine RECONNAISSANCE meaning survey, then drop the CON.
14 Basically, where some Germans live with religious body (2,7)
IN ESSENCE -  Indeed some Germans do live IN ESSEN, some 600,000, in the largest urbanisation in Germany apparently, the Ruhr. Then CE = Church of England.
17 Where ancient stones are put in ground under thoroughfare (7)
AVEBURY - AVE = thoroughfare, BURY = put in ground. Avebury is a Neolithic site not very far from my native bit of Dorset, in Wiltshire. Even if you'd never heard of it the word play is easy enough.
19 What writers need, the writer's musing (7)
PENSIVE - Writers need PENS; I'VE = the writer's.
20 Bard's hero has much faith about artwork (7)
TROILUS - Insert OIL (artwork) into TRUS(T). T and C is a Shakespeare play of which I have managed to remain ignorant for all these years, and having just read a chunk on Wiki about it, I don't think I've missed a lot.
22 Groom's proper place at the front (5)
PRIMP - PRIM = proper, P = front of Place.
24 One character abroad, two would be stylish (3)
CHI - 22nd Greek letter χῖ; CHI-CHI I thought meant over-elaborate, pretentious.