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May 6th, 2019

Times 27343 - Sounds good!

Time: 49 minutes
Music: Richard Thompson, Live in Austin

However, since I'm trying to lose weight, I'm not sure the Wensleydale and the yard of ale are advisable.   Well, maybe if it's Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale, then I might be tempted....

Oh, the puzzle.  I got the cheese immediately, but my first thought was that we were likely to get some novel cluing and answers, and I was not wrong.   While I whipped through the top half in ten minutes or so, the bottom proved troublesome, as there were just a few clues that would not yield up their secret.  As is my wont, I was too slow to let go of wrong ideas, and I paid the price.   In the end, there was only one clue I could make nothing of, although my answer is clearly correct.   I'm sure the usual suspects will come through in record time - if they're awake during the US evening.

Across
1 Preacher round north finally sated with beer and cheese (11)
WENSLEYDALE - WES(N)LEY + [sate]D + ALE.
7 Devil an individual among many at Westminster? (3)
IMP - I + M.P.   Which one he is may depend on your political views; most likely, he's a backbencher.
9 Fellow's admitted to bull in work (9)
THESAURUS - T(HE'S)AURUS, yes, that kind of bull.
10 An extra page a day for teachers (5)
INSET - The evident answer, but the cryptic completely eludes me - perhaps some UK-specific knowledge I haven't got is required?
11 One enters wild land to produce chivalric code (7)
BUSHIDO - BUSH (I) DO, where 'do', I think, is indicated by 'produce'.
12 Left religious painting unfinished that's covered entrance (7)
PORTICO - PORT + ICO[n]
13 Tree-dweller in shade endlessly (5)
ORANG - ORANG[e], the Malay word for 'man', so 'utan' is not really optional if you mean the ape.
15 Main investor brings port — it's often chilled! (9)
ARCHANGEL - ARCH + ANGEL, a clue we have seen before.
17 None sitting in dining-room: little point in celebration (9)
HALLOWEEN - HALL (O) WEE N.   In medieval dwellings, the company ate in the hall, and the lord and hs lady slept in the bower, and that exhausted the type of rooms available.   Nowadays a 'hall' is a rather different type of room.
19 Seconds for good child (5)
SPROG - S + PRO + G, a purely UK usage.
20 Runs one later scrambled in test, after failure in first (7)
RETRIAL - Anagram of R +  I + LATER.
22 Essence discovered in letter backing Lackland's one (7)
EPITHET -  E(PITH)ET, where the enclosing letter's are TEE backwards.   The explicit DBE refers to King John's sobriquet, which is the root meaning of 'epithet', a word which has had a rather chequered career over the centuries.
24 Character from Titanic chasing duck (5)
OMEGA - O + MEGA
25 Wrong about daughter in game, but having no issue (9)
CHILDLESS - CH(IL(D)L)ESS, a Russian doll cryptic that most solvers will biff.
27 Small amount shortened performance returned (3)
DOT - Probably TOD[o] backwards, although that isn't the first word meaning 'performance' that comes to mind.
28 Assistants leave after a day in Rome (5,2,4)
AIDES DE CAMP - A + IDES + DECAMP.
Down
1 Moderately Conservative name expelled by Left (3)
WET - WE[n]T - an opprobious epithet in British politics.
2 Can't do without Tyneside newsmen? (5)
NEEDS - N.E. EDS, of course.
3 Ecstasy stashed in load in van (7)
LEADING - L(E)ADING, with a word now mostly seen in 'bill of lading'.
4 Faroe lady brewed booze — in no short measure! (4,2,3)
YARD OF ALE - Anagram of FAROE LADY - quite a popular one, I would imagine.
5 Answer, having put question raised for writer (5)
AESOP - A + POST upside-down.
6 Technology about to appear in time for nation (7)
ERITREA -ER(I.T. + RE)A, anothe answer most solvers will biff.
7 Poles to stop one footballer moving ball (9)
INSWINGER - I (N,S) WINGER, probably from some other sport.
8 Chubby figure on stairs is routed (3,2,6)
PUT TO FLIGHT - PUTTO + FLIGHT
11 British poet remaining inside association (11)
BROTHERHOOD - BR (OTHER) HOOD.   Thomas Hood is little known today, except to TLS solvers.
14 An officer captures great many soldiers: share in growing concern? (9)
ALLOTMENT - A L(LOT MEN)T.  I wasted a lot of time on a word beginning with AGRI-, but I couldn't actually get anything to fit.
16 Shouts that queen must visit food packing plants (9)
CANNERIES -  C(ANNE)RIES.   If you think the 'queen' is ER, you will never get anywhere with this one.
18 All family members at home in Scots island? (7)
OKINAWA - O KIN AWA, an entire phrase in Scots dialect  meaning 'all family members at home'.  A brilliant and elusive clue.
19 Do as pigs needing to cross dale regularly (7)
SWINDLE - SWIN(D[a]L[e])E.   Another one where the literal is a seemingly insigficant word.
21 Shining helmet worn by copper travelling north (5)
LUCID - L(CU upside-down)ID.  Our setter seems fond of using the root meanings or words that have long gone on to other tasks.
23 Spotted scavenger bringing money into Hawaii (5)
HYENA - H(YEN)A,  Yes, HA is the official postal abbreviation for Hawaii Well, evidently not.   Since I do not have any correspondents in Hawaii, what do I know?    This abbreviation might have passed on pre-1964 addresses, but don't try it today.
26 Note parking concession (3)
SOP - SO + P, one from the Quickie.

QC 1345 by Hurley

Many thanks to Hurley for this puzzle which was promising to be a personal best for me (allowing for the fact that I was doing it from a bed in a hotel near Terminal 5 while away on a conference a few minutes after waking up with my wife pestering me to make a cup of tea), but which ended up with my pressing 'submit' and receiving the message "Unlucky, it's not quite right yet".

I have been through my solution several times now and scratched my head so hard that I am surprised I haven't caused a brain haemorrhage. I cannot for the life of me see what is wrong with it. I checked and double-checked for my usual butterfingered typos arising from my unfamiliarity with the way letters get entered in the online grid and for once there were none. Eventually in desperation I reset the grid and entered the whole thing over again but to no avail. I can only assume that I have fundamentally misunderstood one of the clues and got it horribly wrong.

Unfortunately though I do not have much time to investigate further as I have to write this quickly in order to go and join the rest of the conference attenders (not attendees: please see previous discussion on this blog). So I am just going to have to leave my answer out there in its imperfect state and hope that when I return verlaine or some other Olympian (or even some anonymous occasional solver) will have stooped to correct my error.

As I say, before pressing 'submit' everything was going swimmingly. FOI was 7A just as it should be. LOI was 5D, which is my most likely candidate for my error. My misgivings come from the fact that 'life' for 'source of vitality' is perhaps too tautological (although I think well within the usual parameters for an acceptable clue) but it is the only way that I can see that it works. The alternative might be to have 'V' cryptically as the 'source of vitality', but then I would need a 3-letter word meaning 'quite' to make things work. And one that fits with the 'I' and 'E' checkers into the bargain to make sense of everything in the end. And then, of course, the definition seems right, with a 'TRUE-LIFE' drama being one that is 'quite realistic'.

In my current state of incomplete knowledge and limited time I am loth to choose a COD but I will go for the double definition at 22D just because of the picture it paints in my mind.

Definitions are underlined and everything else is explained just as I see it in the simplest language I can manage.

Across
7 Organised go at base wrecking? (8)
SABOTAGE - straight anagram ('organised') of GO AT BASE.
8 Australian jumper, male, finds space (4)
ROOM - ROO (kangaroo, Australian 'jumper') + M (male).
9 House fruit (6)
ORANGE - double definition (house as in William of Orange).
10 Long-serving soldier’s wife in chair (5)
SWEAT - W (wife) 'in' SEAT (chair). SWEAT is a slang term for a soldier with a long service record.
11 Vote in favour, I heard (3)
AYE - sounds like 'I' (heard). AYE as in 'the AYEs have it'.
12 Wise person in a vehicle entering street (6)
SAVANT - A VAN (a vehicle) 'entering' ST (street).
14 In middle of morning, I’d emptied sachet (6)
AMIDST - AM (morning) + ID + ST (SacheT 'emptied').
16 By sound of it, vendor’s storage area for wines (6)
CELLAR - sounds like 'seller' (vendor).
18 First and third of colours always bright (6)
CLEVER - CL (first and third letters of CoLours) + EVER (always).
19 Bustling activity in meadow (3)
ADO - hidden word: meADOw.
20 Happen again in playground, initially unexpected result (5)
RECUR - REC (recreation ground) + UR (Unexpected Result 'initially').
21 King, Eastern, accommodated in requirement for outdated gun (6)
MUSKET - K (king) + E (eastern) 'accommodated in' MUST (requirement).
23 Ruin diet regularly getting measure of alcohol (4)
UNIT - rUiN dIeT 'regularly' gives UNIT, the language in which the nanny state attempts to get us to regulate our alcohol intake. (Incidentally, my son, who doesn't like alcohol but who likes a beer, buys an alcohol-free drink appropriately branded "Nanny State" which is made by Brewdog (alternative alcohol-free beers are available) which he says is quite palatable.)
24 Coins are switched? That might happen (8)
SCENARIO - straight anagram ('switched') of COINS ARE.
Down
1 Market willing to identify legitimate target (4,4)
FAIR GAME - FAIR (market) + GAME (willing).
2 Old Boy turns up, referring to something useful (4)
BOON - OB (old boy, turns 'up' in this down clue) + ON (referring to).
3 Warning feline’s gobbling veal left out (6)
CAVEAT - CAT (feline) 'gobbling' VEA (VEAL minus L (i.e. 'left' out)).
4 When swimming, reads about English stretch of water (3,3)
RED SEA - anagram ('swimming') of READS 'about' E (English).
5 Time on French street source of vitality? Quite realistic (4-4)
TRUE-LIFE - T (time) 'on' (in this down clue) RUE (French street) + LIFE (source of vitality). Please see comments above however.
6 Move fast to get security feature (4)
BOLT - double definition.
13 Distribute tea, local, in new arrangement (8)
ALLOCATE - straight anagram ('in new arrangement') of TEA LOCAL.
15 Mischievous elves hid wicked lady? (3-5)
SHE-DEVIL - straight anagram ('mischievous') of ELVES HID.
17 Most unusual artist on break (6)
RAREST - RA (Royal Academician, i.e. a member of the Royal Academy of Arts, therefore 'artist') 'on' (in this down clue) REST (break).
18 Oblige Pimlico MP, electioneering, just a bit (6)
COMPEL - hidden word: PimliCO MP ELectioneering.
20 Call boxing arena (4)
RING - double definition.
22 Gaiter disagreement (4)
SPAT - double definition.