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September 14th, 2019

From the ice of 1ac to the searing sun of 27ac, there wasn’t an answer here I didn’t know, but there were lots of clever clues and quite a sprinkling of humour. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

I particularly enjoyed the parliamentarians at 2dn and 4ac contributing to the crossword community, but I think my favourite clue was the gentle humour of 21ac.

Clues are blue, with definitions underlined. Answers are in BOLD CAPS, then wordplay. (ABC*) means ‘anagram of ABC’. Deletions are in [square brackets]. The blog is in Times New Roman font, as part of a gentle campaign to urge the club site to use a font in which it is easier to tell one’s stem from one’s stern.

Across
1 House that has one turn and look inside (5)
IGLOO – I (one), LO ‘inside’ GO.

4 An MP in court. Delicious prospect? (9)
CAMEMBERT – A MEMBER (Honourable, ideally, although some might argue), inside CT.

9 Declines to drink with converts (9)
DOWNTURNS – DOWN with TURNS. The definition is a noun, not a verb.

10 More than half of Liverpudlians becoming addicts? (5)
USERS – more than half of [sco]USERS. Some local UK knowledge needed here.

11 Coppers in particularly nice bit of tree (7,6)
SPECIAL BRANCH – the primary definition (accompanied by a second, whimsical definition) is a particular subgroup of the police, and I wondered briefly whether the clue should indicate that. In the end I think it’s OK without.

14 Look hungrily around for roll (4)
REEL – Turn LEER ‘around’.

15 Refraining from bunking off, saving money (10)
ABSTINENCE – TIN in ABSENCE.

18 Transported herd: all ten let loose (10)
ENTHRALLED – (HERD ALL TEN*), ‘let loose’.

19 Old painter retreats, shunning society (4)
AGED – DEGA[s], ‘retreating’. An elegant clue.

21 Trouble spending a penny? (13)
INCONVENIENCE – in Britain, you do or did “spend a penny” to go IN a CONVENIENCE. This clue had me on totally the wrong track.

24 Colonel born with foot impediment (5)
BLIMP – B (born), LIMP. Collins says Colonel Blimp was a cartoon character created by David Low (1891-1963).

25 Constant reorganisation of English lessons creates oppressive quality (9)
CLOSENESS – C is the constant, then (E LESSONS*) ‘reorganised’.

27 Stars puff on spliff around Her Majesty? There’ll be a complaint! (9)
SUNSTROKE – SUNS, then TOKE around R (Regina).

28 Feeble name for whiskey on the rocks? (5)
NEEDY – WEEDY is feeble. Change W for whiskey to N for name.


Down
1 Dirt nieces dished up, being tactless (10)
INDISCREET – ‘dish up’ (DIRT NIECES*).

2 Quiet “parliamentarian”, fifty, making way to top (3)
LOW – according to the traditional collective noun, a group of OWLs is a parliament. Move L (fifty) up to the top.

3 Get the better of idiot from Open University? (6)
OUTWIT – O (open), U (university), TWIT.

4 Instructions for washing farm machinery in field caught being lifted (4,5)
CARE LABEL – BALER (farm machinery), in LEA (field), then C (caught), all ‘lifted’. I didn’t know this term for the tags you see on everything, but it’s in the dictionary.

5 Swami’s erudition inspiring this curmudgeon (5)
MISER – hidden answer (‘inspired’).

6 The orator’s time for grief (8)
MOURNING – sounds like MORNING, indicated by ‘orator ‘.

7 Jumbo brought down by this? (8,3)
ELEPHANT GUN - I’m not sure this definition should be called cryptic. Have I missed something?

8 Drunkard turning on husband? Rubbish! (4)
TOSH – SOT ‘turning’, then H (husband).

12 Nice article about expert on Enlightenment? (11)
ELECTRICIAN – (NICE ARTICLE*) ‘about’. Lovely definition!!

13 Provokes Sally occasionally for no reason (10)
NEEDLESSLY – NEEDLE, then the odd letters of S-a-L-l-Y.

16 Doctor to free her thus (9)
THEREFORE – (TO FREE HER*), ‘doctored’.

17 The drugs that make you mad? (8)
CRACKPOT – CRACK, POT.

20 Woman announcing she’s not straight? (6)
EILEEN – sounds like ‘I lean’.

22 Auditors guzzling half of chef’s exotic grub (5)
NACHO – the N.A.O. (National Audit Office), ‘guzzling’ CH[ef].

23 In the same place lives a creature with long legs (4)
IBIS – IB (ibidem), IS (lives). I was distracted by knowing that ‘ib.’ could also be abbreviated ‘ibid.’!

26 Examine pupil’s accommodation (3)
EYE – another double definition.
IN THIS DAY AND AGE—the latter being the Anthropocene—it behooves us to take a CONSERVATIONIST stance. Realistic forecasts of imminent change give me the WILLIES. Just look at what’s happening to our OCEANS. Is that SEA TANGLE really plastic? Of course, we know whom to blame: 1 across (in another sense besides the two given there).

The disaster immediately before us is 11. Two weeks ago, there was a clue whose definition fell short of a perfect fit, and here another setter confronts me with the same sort of error, which I am duty-bound to highlight. (EDIT: See editor Biddlecombe’s elucidation below.)

Difficulty-wise, this just seemed about par for the course, though I did resort to Chambers Word Wizard for my LOI, 23, a phrase heretofore unknowne.

I do (argamnas)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.


ACROSS
 1 For example, the “A” of “A1” (7)
CAPITAL — DD? But the two overlap, thanks to the word “the”—wouldn’t have to, but they do. Does that make this an &lit? I say no, because you can ignore the “the” and read the first part as a straight definition in itself, without needing the wordplay (which apparent reference to paper size alludes, as I’m sure you’ve all figured out, to the word’s sense in a phrase like “Capital idea!”).
 5 Crack pan and empty pot (7)
DECRYPT — DECRY (“pan”) + P[-o]T
 9 Dying a death is an upset now (2,4,3,3,3)
IN THIS DAY AND AGE — (Dying a death is an)* Turns out there there is nothing intrinsically morbid about the answer, though I’ve done my best, above, to load it with a baleful subtext.
10 In B&B, need the whole bar (9)
BLACKBALL — B(LACK)B + ALL
11 Close to complete, so complete (5)
EVERY — [-complet]E + VERY, “so”… The closest I’ve come to making a sentence where EVERY could replace “complete” is with the phrase “take every care”; but “take every care” and “take complete care” use slightly different senses of the word “care,” countable and uncountable. (Edit: Peter Biddlecombe, below, defends this with the phrase “have every confidence in,” so OK. I wonder if this is really the only such example… and it still grates on my ear.)
12 Heading for Clacton on Sea, wasted huge amounts (6)
OCEANS — C[-lacton] + (on Sea)*
13 Mostly free ice and fizzy drink over brandy (8)
CALVADOS — CALV[-e] + SODA<= Here “free” is a verb, and when an iceberg or glacier releases a huge chunk of frozen water it is said to (like a cow giving birth) “calve.” Thanks, Dean, for another subtle reference to climate change.
16 Blushing now, playing around as you’d expect (2,6)
NO WONDER — ”Blushing,” RED + NOW, ON, “playing” <=
18 Bones in back area (6)
STERNA — STERN + A
21 A lot of this eliminates backtracking (5)
MILES — Hidden reversed
22 In opening drink, starts to taste sausage (9)
CHIPOLATA — C(HIP)OLA + TA[-aste]… "In" being "hip," dig
23 Hand (in hand?) (6-2,7)
JOINED-UP WRITING — A “hand” as in a writing style, i.e., cursive, with a reference to the expression “hand in hand.” A phrase new to me. (I parsed this more thoroughly in the comment to Bletchleyreject below. Now it looks like an &lit.)
24 Award increased titles, oddly (7)
ROSETTE — ROSE, “increased” + TTE, odd letters in “TiTlEs”
25 Money put into West End’s opening show (7)
MATINEE — MA(TIN)E + E[-nd]… not the “opening show,” though a matinee might very well be

DOWN
 1 I’m extremely bad, admits idiot making U-turn (5-4)
CLIMB-DOWN — Trump returning the US to the Paris Agreement? CL(IM)(B[-a]D)OWN, with “admits idiot” reversing the more common order of subject and verb. 
 2 Despised thing which plugs leak (3,4)
PET HATE — PE(THAT)E
 3 Consider “sharpish” when using pins? (5,2,4,4)
THINK ON ONES FEET — CD
 4 Like Croesus in lady’s pants (6)
LYDIAN — (in lady’s)* As in the common expression, “As Lydian as Croesus”
 5 Playing CD, nearly free of dirt (3,5)
DRY CLEAN — (CD nearly)*
 6 Green keeper? (15)
CONSERVATIONIST — DD… though just barely!
 7 Vote for break in time for audit? (4-3)
YEAR-END — YEA (“vote for”) + REND
 8 Casual shirt with New York Minute (5)
TEENY — TEE + NY (and I got this one in a New York second)
14 Marine growth behind fish (3,6)
SEA TANGLE — SEAT + ANGLE
15 Gathering around church, go through gentle song (8)
BERCEUSE — BE(RC)E + USE (“go through)… the Roman Catholic establishment, not the C of E
17 Fear leaves guards I ultimately leave (7)
WILLIES — WILL(I)([-leav]E)S
19 Adjust rule covering call centre (7)
REALIGN — RE([-c]AL[-l])IGN
20 Mum, with soldier’s wife, put up tent (6)
WIGWAM — MA + W(ith) + GI + W(ife) <=
21 Trouble over gold key (5)
MAJOR — JAM<= + OR