Certainly not as tough as yesterday’s, and I stopped the clock at 17 minutes dead. You do need a tiny bit of history awareness for the battleground and there are a couple of archaisms that are not flagged as such, but overall the wordplay is reasonably generous and there’s little to cause panic.
I might suggest that the juxtaposition of two I words at 14 across is a little bit insensitive on the day of the Euro elections and the high flying Brexit tendency, for (I’d better say many of) whom the two words are a bête noir to get indignant about. But hey ho!
You’ll find definitions in BOLD CAPITALS, clues in italics, and definitions further underlined.
1 Farm animal to lumber behind (10)
SADDLEBACK If it’s a farm animal as indicated, it’s a breed of pig, but can be one of several other creatures: the great black-backed gull, the hooded crow, the male harp seal, a breed of goose, a rare New Zealand wattlebird, or any saddle-shaped animal (provide your own examples). The wordplay is a straight charade of lumber: saddle and behind: back.
6 Some football and a little drink (4)
HALF Two definitions, the latter usually half a pint
10 American impressed, having obtained meat (5)
GIGOT Leg of lamb. An impressed (enlisted) American is a GI, add GOT for obtained
11 It leaves from the city, not Darwin, going west (4,5)
DOWN TRAIN An anagram (going west) of NOT DARWIN. From the days when up trains went to London, down ones went away
12 No matter what, remove roof only if rotten (3,4,2,5)
FOR LOVE OR MONEY An anagram (“if rotten”) of REMOVE ROOF ONLY. Usually (exclusively?) found as part of a negative: I wouldn’t blog this crossword for love (n)or money. But it does mean “under any circumstances”, so “no matter what” is fine.
14 Such an immigrant I will say a high-flier (7)
ILLEGAL I take it this is I’LL (minus the apostrophe) for I will, then say eagle for high flier and write EGAL. If such immigrants are high fliers, that dam’ wall’ll make no dam’ difference!
15 Small frog in basket (7)
SHOPPER We used to have one of these on wheels, though no much use when you’re also pushing a pram. S(mall) frog HOPPER
17 Bounty, a big ship (7)
LARGESS A minor hesitation as I’d spell it with an extra E at the end. But a big ship is a LARGE SS
19 Demanding couple in a hurry should stop short (7)
ARDUOUS The couple is DUO, and a hurry cut short is A RUS(H)
20 Moving fast, only lock part of church? (6,8)
FLYING BUTTRESS Moving fast: FLYING, only BUT, lock (of hair) TRESS.
23 Gravity is an attractive quality (9)
ACUTENESS An attractive quality gives you A CUTENESS. I wonder if you realise the seriousness/acuteness/gravity of the situation. That works ok.
24 Cockney’s claim to be tough turned into emotional scene (5)
DRAMA More often than not, the word Cockney in a clue triggers the loss of aitches, or sometimes the rhyming slang. Here the cheerful Cockney chappie makes the claim (I) AM ‘ARD. Which you then reverse
25 It follows tentative demand to leave? (4)
26 Planted in tub, one ace bloom (10)
POINSETTIA Planted in this sense is INSET, the tub you’re looking tom put it in is POT, followed by one 1 and A(ce)
1 Vision reduced, sound miserable (4)
SIGH cut the end off SIGHT for vision.
2 Make arrest, concealing good evidence of professional standing (3,6)
DOG COLLAR To make arrest is DO COLLAR, hide G(ood) therein, though leave it showing, of course. A dog collar is the white all-round neckwear of a priest, sometimes (believe me) cut from a washing up liquid bottle
3 Aliens making cross signs? (6,5,3)
LITTLE GREEN MEN, the cross signs being the ones you see on pedestrian crossing lights.
4 Base wickedness is torment (7)
BEDEVIL Again straight enough: base gives BED, and wickedness EVIL
5 Irresponsible workers intimidate youngsters (7)
COWBOYS Not the Stetson wearing gentlemen of the but artisans of the corrupt and/or incompetent variety. Intimidate: COW and youngsters: BOYS
7 To seize area, have entered with violence (5)
AMAIN Have entered translates to (I) AM IN, which then “seizes” the additional A(rea)
8 Like the idea of women’s clothing? For men, this could be (5,5)
FANCY DRESS The first part of the clue is a straight charade. The second is a suggestion that for men, a fancy dress could be fancy dress, though I think I should add that it may be a personal choice that elicits no adverse comment.
9 March hard, not softly, over two crosses in battleground (8,6)
STAMFORD BRIDGE The Yorkshire battleground where King Harold beat Norwegian invaders three weeks before his ‘arrowing encounter with the Normans at Hastings. Alternatively, for Spurs fans, Chelsea’s infamous ground usually littered with foul play and dirty rotten cheating. March hard is STAMP*, but remove the P indicated by “softly”. The two crosses are then FORD and BRIDGE
*corrected, thanks Jack
*corrected, thanks Jack
13 Carried round sick, not interested in choice of food (4,2,4)
BILL OF FARE Carried is BARE, marked in Chambers as archaic. From the Ceremony of Carols by Benjamin Britten:
There is no rose of such vertu
As is the rose that bare Jesu.
Anyhow, place it round ILL for sick and OFF for not interested
16 What actor carries: handle for part of engine (9)
PROPSHAFT Anything an actor carries is a PROP, and handle gives you the shaft
18 Freezing membership fee with love (7)
SUBZERO the membership fee is a SUB(scription) and love (as in tennis) is ZERO
19 Train as flexible worker (7)
ARTISAN Anagram (flexible) of TRAIN AS
21 Newly-developed browser over years taken up (5)
YOUNG A browser, or browsing animal might be a GNU (spelt G-N-U), add O(ver) and Y(ears) and reverse the whole
22 People of the New World are allowed to answer (4)
MAYA are allowed: MAY, plus A(nswer)