While this continued my run this week of being in the 15/16/17 range at 17.22 it felt a lot meatier with a lot of the wordplay needing a lot of untangling. I took time to make sure I had the wordplay sussed before submitting. I don’t think I would be able to name the musteline creature if I saw one, and I don’t think I’ve come across this particular form of the one man show before, but they’re barely obscurities. There’s nothing here that comes in the category “words I don’t know”, though that might not be everyone’s experience. I appreciated the smooth surfaces.
To aid digestion, I have placed clues in italics, the definitions therein underlined, and solutions in bold CAPITALS
1 Citizen’s “thing” about new copper by entrance to nick (9)
MANCUNIAN A fairly specific citizen, then. “Thing” is MANIA, which is placed about N(ew) CU (copper, chemistry) and by N(ick). The surface is a nice little vignette.
6 Victorious boxer, say, taking tea with elected member (5)
CHAMP Tea is CHA, elected member MP
9 Cool off by upper room reportedly in buff? (7)
FANATIC Buff has a variety of meanings, here it’s “enthusiast”, which Chambers traces to “a keen attender at fires, so called from the buff uniform of the former New York volunteer firemen”. And why not? For our construction purposes, FAN is cool off, and the ATIC bit comes from the reported sound of an upper room or attic.
10 Plaintive cry from male cat going about with queen (7)
WHIMPER The cat here is a WHIP, going about M(ale) and with the Queen, ER tacked on.
11 Incompetent people initially taken in at home and abroad (5)
INEPT People initially P, at home IN, “and” abroad (in France, anyway ET. Assemble.
12 Dodge bloke carrying extremely angular wooden slat (9)
DUCKBOARD Usually laid down over muddy terrain to provide a pathway, and I would have said a number of slats joined together rather than justone slat. Dodge provides the DUCK bloke is BOD, and the extremes of AngulaR are inserted.
13 Justification for reversing, avoiding a head wind (5)
NOSER That’ll be REASON (justification) reversed with its A avoided. A noser can also be a punch on the nose, an inquisitive person or a more general rebuff.
14 Ill-famed old port toured by other people? (9)
NOTORIOUS The old port gives you O RIO, and NOT US is what you might call other people
17 Lack of spirit in second author’s first stage piece (9)
MONODRAMA, I assume a play for one. Lack of spirit is NO DRAM placed in second: MO, and author’s first: A
18 Some retired fella backing a conspiratorial group (5)
CABAL Today’s reverse (retired) hidden in felLA BACking
19 Played for each class — Elgar and Delius to begin with (9)
PERFORMED Each class is PER FORM, and then you need the first letters of Elgar and Delius, helpfully capitalised for you.
22 Semi-divine spirit heard near a pond ultimately (5)
NAIAD Near, or in this case nigh, heard gives you the NAI bit and a gives you A, and the ultimate in pond the D
24 Resort where I live surrounded by workers (7)
ANTIBES Much loved by Graham Greene. I live gives you ungrammatically I BE, which you surround with the workers, who in crosswordland are usually ANTS
25 Demonstration disc found in a church gallery (7)
ACETATE Back in the days of proper records made of black stuff, acetates were the discs that the original sound was cut into, either for demonstration purposes or to create the master for pressing copies. Not really made of acetate, but of nitrocellulose lacquer, but the misnomer stuck. Here, a straight charade of A C(hurch of) E(ngland) TATE gallery.
26 Social distinction of Liberal entertained by English queen, perhaps (5)
ÉCLAT Those who did yesterday’s will remember that the queen is sometimes, as here, a CAT. The E comes from English, and the enclosed L from Liberal. A French word with several translations, one of which fits.
27 Furniture-maker finding love in a crowded complex (9)
CEDARWOOD You have to stop thinking about carpenters and cabinet makers and concentrate on the stuff that makes up furniture. Surprisingly only the first anagram (complex) of O (0, love) in A CROWDED
1 Muslim legal expert in plain clothes (5)
MUFTI Two meanings, the second being military slang for non-uniform, possibly derived from the first.
2 No-hoper’s note about first of songs in Evita (3-6)
NON-PERSON Note: N, about: ON first of songs: S, and Evita’s married surname was PERON. More often someone whose status has been erased for political reasons.
3 Ignorant over revolutionary crushed by a French king (9)
UNTUTORED So it’s O(ver) RED (revolutionary) crushed by (here, just underneath) UN for A in French, and the king is TUT, the colloquial version of Tutankhamun.
4 Possible theatre pieces culminate in disc for distribution (10,5)
INCIDENTAL MUSIC A (re)distribution of CULMINATE IN DISC
5 Modern Glaswegian woman with a way round northern police HQ (3,8,4)
NEW SCOTLAND YARD HQ of the Metropolitan Police. Modern gives NEW, then Glaswegian woman is just a SCOT LADY, which together with a way, or A RD, finds itself round N(orthern)
6 Make progress as Conservative member (5)
CLIMB Just a C(onservative) LIMB for member.
7 Highest grade of hotel in mountain area (5)
ALPHA H(otel) in ALP (mountain) A(rea)
8 Capital fellow digesting notice, full of bliss (9)
PARADISAL The capital is PARIS, the digested notice is AD, and the random fellow is AL
13 Bloke in gym upset over recent form of identification (9)
NAMEPLATE Bloke in gym is PE MAN, all reversed (upset). Revent provides LATE
15 Storyteller’s regret about supporting crook in desert (9)
RACONTEUR Regret is RUE, which must be reversed (about). It supports, in this down clue, crook: CON buried in desert (RAT)
16 Big tool a builder originally contrived for important bit of work (9)
OBBLIGATO A “contrived” version of BIG TOOL A plus the first letter of Builder. Musical term for what it says.
20 Charge pounds to see musteline mammal (5)
RATEL One of the badger/weasel family here indicated. Charge is RATE especially when a local tax, L (or £) for pounds
21 Circuit minister finally overcome by memorial notice (5)
ORBIT The last letter of ministeR surrounded by OBIT short for obituary.
23 Fearfully anticipate being late securing runs (5)
DREAD Possibly the current feeling in the England batting line up. Being late is DEAD (as in the late Dent Arthur Dent), R(uns) being inserted)