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August 26th, 2019

Time: About 30 minutes
Music: Bizet, Carmen Suites, Markevitch/Lamoureux

My time is uncertain because my solve was interrupted by a phone call from my niece.   As usually happens, when I returned to the puzzle, some of the clues I could make nothing of became immediately obvious.  I made pretty good progress until the end, when the unpromising crossers for 17 down proved rather daunting.    There are some good clues with a lot of original ideas, and I nearly made a blunder by biffing 'Iris'.    Fortunately, when I was was working, I was worked on an MIS system called ISIS, so we naturally looked it up - it's the Egyptian goddess of nature.

Overall, I don't think this puzzle was terribly difficult, and if you happen to get the long anagrams quickly you might post a good time.  I was not so fortunate, and had to fill in a lot of the medium-length answers to get started.

1 Copyist with pen slogs, working to produce holy books (8,7)
9 Administrative assistant with style causing harm for one sort of factory (5,4)
PAPER MILL - P.A + PERM + ILL, a mixed lot if there ever was one.
10 Fighting unit of soldiers retreating into cover? (5)
TROOP - T(OR backwards)OP.
11 Plan made by the French youngster, hours having been spent (6)
12 She may provide a service, work on one's back? (8)
MASSEUSE - MASS + [on]E + USE.   An half &lit:  'use' for 'work' is a little inexact, but at least it's not a cryptic definition as some might suppose.
13 Answers in short red book (6)
15 One should know what's in store — as usual first (8)
STOCKIST - STOCK + IST.  A bit ambiguous, since 'what's in store' points to 'stock', although it is actually cryptically defined in 'as usual', e.g. a stock answer.
18 Spiced up with vitality, looking hot after gym? (8)
19 Gasp with a cold, having rolled over in sleep briefly (6)
CATNAP - PANT + A C, backwards.
21 School subject the girl coming in top loved (8)
RELISHED - R.E. + LI(SHE)D, our old friend Religious Education, rather than one of the three R's as you might think at first.
23 Catholic in retreat — Paradise he denied, being fearful (6)
CRAVEN - R.C backwards + [he]AVEN.
26 Musical composition charming to listen to (5)
SUITE - Sounds like SWEET.
27 Maiden possibly meeting horrible thing during dark period (9)
OVERNIGHT - OVER + anagram of THING.
28 Reeling sensation heightened as LSD diffuses (15)
1 Provider, one out to be more flexible (7)
2 Piece of material that is smart, concealing the head (5)
3 Rake in hell, heartless type in a spin (9)
PIROUETTE - PI(ROUE)T + T[yp]E, a beautifully formed clue.  Many solvers will think 'spin' is an anagram indicator, rather than the literal.
4 India with little girl seen as a goddess (4)
ISIS - I + SIS.   If you biffed Iris, you forgot to check your answer against the cryptic - I can't think of any girl's name that matches RIS_.
5 Dashing youngsters, workers overcome by bitterness (8)
GALLANTS - GALL + ANTS.   I think 'youngsters' is a bit misleading for fellows in their 20s, although they're much younger than most of us!
6 Clue-writers not getting English right? They may be “badgered” (5)
SETTS - SETT[er]S, my FOI.  Setts, of course, are badger dens.
7 Old Conservative involved in clean-up act demonstrates skill in speech (9)
ELOCUTION - O.C. inside ELUTION, an obvious biff once you have the crossers.
8 Wise fool that is not heartless (7)
SAPIENT - SAP + I.E. + N[o]T.
14 A sharp sound conveying power, completely shocking (9)
16 Embarrassed smile when meeting native finally in African country (9)
CHAGRINED - CHA(GRIN + [nativ]E)D.   Embarrassed is often used to indicated 'red', and this one ends in -ed, so it is easy to get on the wrong track here.
17 Girl of five escaping from cover after papa appears (8)
PENELOPE - P + EN[v]ELOPE, where many solvers probably tried CO[v]ER first.
18 Part of article, note, that’s put up in The Sun? (7)
20 Gods had to be captured by writers (7)
PENATES - PEN(ATE)S.   If you don't know the Lares and the Penates, you might get stuck here.
22 During a day our lot toil for little reward (5)
SWEAT - S(WE)AT, i.e. Saturday.
24 Very fit, also absent-minded (5)
25 We had reported a garden intruder? (4)
WEED - Sounds like WE'D.

QC 1425 by Oink

Can't remember if I've blogged an Oink before. I think I might have done one, but I certainly haven't done many. I found this very entertaining, if a little on the easy side with several obvious anagrams, double definitions and cryptic definitions, but I loved the sense of humour. And having been a 'BEGGER' (or BEGGAR?) as referred to in 14A in a previous life I am awarding that my COD for the pleasing cryptic definition. So thank you, Oink, hope to meet you again soon.

FOI was the obvious anagram at 1A. LOI I can't rightly remember but I think it may have been 4D, which was one of those clues where the answer always felt as though it was but a synapse connection away from resolution but unfortunately the vital link wasn't made until the end.

I am finding it difficult to record realistic times at the moment as I spend a lot of time actually reading the clues. I think my reading eyesight (bad at the best of times) is undergoing one of those middle-age changes that periodically necessitate a visit to my optician. It was about 10 minutes but I'm sure it could have been a lot quicker had my eyes not kept going in and out of focus.

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

1 Play around and perversely earn DPhil (9)
PHILANDER - straight anagram ('perversely') of EARN DPHIL.
6 Could only odd characters chew this? (3)
CUD - the odd characters of CoUlD.
8 Son joins in attacks (7)
SALLIES - S (son) + ALLIES (joins in).
9 Top-class puzzle. Wow! (5)
AMAZE - A (top class) + MAZE (puzzle). To wow is a verb these days and not just an exclamation. (Another usage that I had forgotten about until now was in the phrase 'wow and flutter' in the assessment of the performance of record turntables back in the day. Nothing to do with the clue, I just remembered it as a concept I used to think about occasionally that I now haven't thought about for decades. Just thought I'd mention it as a disappearing usage and wave goodbye.)
10 With time to spare, a little like a nobleman? (5)
EARLY - whimsical definition. If you were EARL-Y, might you be said to be a bit like an EARL?
12 Medici cleverness concealing evidence of freeze (6)
ICICLE - hidden word ('concealing'): MedICI CLEverness.
14 Communication from solicitor? (7,6)
BEGGING LETTER - cryptic definition, a solicitor being one who solicits, or begs.
16 At around one, cooked pie in Asian capital (6)
TAIPEI - TA (at 'around') + I (one) + PEI (anagram of PIE ('cooked')).
17 At last expectant ambassador gets thank you letter from Greece (5)
THETA - T (expectanT 'at last') + HE (His or Her Excellency, the usual formal title of the ambassador to Crosswordland) + TA (thank you). THETA is the eighth letter of the Greek alphabet. (Actually I just corrected a felicitous misprint on reading this through which has given me a new neame for Crosswordland: Crossworld. Maybe I'll start using that and trying it on for size.)
19 Australian unit making gas (5)
OZONE - OZ (Australian) + ONE (unit). The definition is GAS. I only mention that because the underlining is a bit difficultto see, but then again maybe only to my eyesight (see above).
20 Rubbish place to clean a pig? (7)
HOGWASH - whimsical definition. You clean a car in a carwash, so why not a hog in a HOGWASH?
22 Woman knocking back some chartreuse (3)
SUE - hidden word ('some') backwards ('knocking back'): chartrEUSe.
23 Team unhappy about LA dish (4,5)
SIDE SALAD - SIDE (team) + SAD (unhappy) 'about' LA.
1 Observer employing a Serb spy (6-2)
PASSER-BY - straight anagram ('employing') A SERB SPY.
2 Jack leaves Jill out of sorts (3)
ILL - JILL minus J (Jack) leaves ILL.
3 Friendship? A girl must embrace it (5)
AMITY - AMY (a girl) 'embracing' IT.
4 Determined to be famous (13)
DISTINGUISHED - double definition.
5 Effect of ale is … er … getting drunk! (7)
REALISE - straight anagram ('getting drunk') of ALE IS ER. Perhaps a difficult definition for anybody who has ever struggled with the different uses of AFFECT and EFFECT. One use of the word EFFECT is 'to bring about' or 'realise' as in "the new head effected many changes in the school curriculum".
6 A pudding for Miss Bronte? (9)
CHARLOTTE - double definition, the Misses Bronte being Emily, Anne and CHARLOTTE.
7 It’s a noble act, whichever way you look at it (4)
DEED - read backwards or forwards, it is still a DEED.
11 Restore large Miro? That’ll be a lengthy process (9)
RIGMAROLE - straight anagram ('restore') of LARGE MIRO.
13 Came to after Papa gave sermon (8)
PREACHED - P (phonetic alphabet Papa) + REACHED (came to).
15 Grab mischievous child on ship (7)
IMPRESS - IMP (mischievous child) + RE (on) + SS (ship). If you are a bit stumped by the definition here we are talking 'grab' in the sense of 'grab one's attention'.
17 Turn gun on American banker in Portugal (5)
TAGUS - Richard Jordan Gatling was the American inventor of the Gatling gun. I am not a firearms expert but I think it is the type you see in old gangster movies where there is a circular magazine that feeds bullets into the barrel, so to my mind that seems like an early form of machine gun or 'automatic'. I'll now put my head back below the parapet while all the people who know about such things pelt me with comments on my ignorance. But back to the clue. Gatling is often abbreviated to GAT. So 'turn' that and you have TAG. Add on US (American) and you have TAGUS, a river in Portugal. The next thing you have to know is that in Crossworld (see above) rivers are often cryptically called 'BANKERS' (because they have banks), and for that matter also 'FLOWERS' (because they flow). Obviously this is second nature to people who regularly do the 15 x15 but at the level of just starting out on your cryptic crossword journey you may be wondering what's going on.
18 What cow does in periods of depression? (4)
LOWS - double definition.
21 The whole of the room, except Henry (3)
ALL - a HALL is a room, remove H (Henry, either in the sense of the abbreviation of a king's name or as the standard abbreviation of the SI unit of inductance in Physics) and you have ALL.