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September 23rd, 2019

Times 27463 - If the clue fits....

Time: 27 minutes
Music: Shostakovich, Symphony 15, Ormandy/Philadephia

I didn't think I would do very well, as I was quite worn out after playing 18 holes of golf for the first time in ten years - it was quite a good fourball match.   And I was indeed very slow to start, and didn't get the feeling I was making much progress for quite a while.   I kept thinking that I have no idea what's going on in this clue, and then suddenly seeing it, or just biffing the answer.

When I put in 'emulation', I couldn't see how the cryptic worked, so I said to myself I'll just see what the blogger says.....oops, I am the blogger tonight, I'll have to think about it.  Later on, I realized I couldn't parse the clue beccause my answer was wrong.   I also made a number of blunders writing in correct answers with wrong spellings, so I was quite pleased to suddenly see 'dining car' and realize I had finished.   I was looking for the UK equivalent of slot car racing, too, so that was quite unexpected.

Across
1 But one may not be at sea in one’s varying choices (8,5)
FLOATING VOTER - Cryptic definition, one I thought was an anagram of 'But one may not be'....until I got the 'V'.
8 Sparkling wine son dipped into shortly after midday (4)
ASTI - AT (S) I, a new clue for a populat answer.
9 Club taking responsibility for a ravager of crops? (4,6)
WOOD PIGEON -  WOOD (like my 12-degree senior-flex Ping driver) + PIGEON (as in "that's not my pigeon").
10 Beauty in fiction a victim of defamation (8)
LIBELLEE - LI(BELLE)E.
11 Gain enjoyment at first in outing (6)
DERIVE - D(E[njoyment])RIVE, as in derive pleasure from.
13 Remove right from subscribers? It’s not intended (10)
UNDESIGNED - UNDE[r]SIGNED.
16 Noise from Tamworth pub largely repressed by fine? (4)
OINK -  O(IN[n])K
17 Isaacson’s appeal accepted in Brussels? (4)
ESAU - E(S.A.)U, made easy by stock cryptic elements.  There are various people named Isaacson, but that's not what we're looking for here.
18 Finally completing duet, he’s in surprisingly good health (10)
GESUNDHEIT - Anagram of [completin]G DUET HE'S IN.   'Gesundheit' does literally mean 'good health'.
20 Slag off a close relative, an exporter of bananas and pineapples (6)
PANAMA - PAN A MA, and hats too.
22 Contact staff about centre for heart bypass (4,4)
RING ROAD - RING RO([he]A[rt])D.
24 Hopeful fellow is taken in by viewer (10)
OPTIMISTIC - OP(TIM IS)TIC.
26 Rested in country road, when picked up (4)
LAIN - Sounds like LANE.
27 Like certain relations cooking an organic meal? (5-8)
ANGLO-AMERICAN - Anagram of AN ORGANIC MEAL.
Down
1 A dress-conscious trendy has it on as if at random (11)
FASHIONISTA - Anagram of HAS IT ON AS IF.
2 Only initially long to express a view (5)
OPINE - O[nly] + PINE.
3 Got up to lag water source in absorbent material (9)
TOWELLING -  TO(WELL IN)G, where the enclosing letters are GOT up.
4 Granny going round initially in honour of weepy daughter (7)
NIOBEAN - N(I[n] + OBE)AN, a rather tricky one that may stump some solvers.
5 Quick to change right to view leader’s flat? (5)
VAPID - +V[-r]APID, a letter-substitution clue.
6 Insect resorted to this mostly, swallowing bug (5,4)
TIGER MOTH - anagram of  TO THI[s] around GERM, where 'resorted' = 're-sorted'.
7 Aussie native requiring a lot of space (3)
ROO - ROO[m], one from the Quickie, and my FOI.
12 Defence of very popular article, in a manner of speaking (11)
VINDICATION - V + IN + DIC(A)TION.
14 Copying letter in Greek and Latin, for one outside (9)
EMULATING - E(MU + LATIN)G, i.e. exemplia gratia.
15 In which we may be on track for taking certain courses (6,3)
DINING CAR - Cryptic definition, but not what I thought it was - vide supra.
19 Little boy’s upset stomach leading to bed (7)
STRATUM - ART'S upside-down + TUM.
21 Friend has a turn crossing busy road (5)
AMIGO - A(M1)GO.
23 Souvenir from Long Island found in park (5)
RELIC - RE(L.I.)C
25 Pulse rate finally disturbing old man (3)
PEA - P([rat]E)A, another Quickie escapee.

Well what a week that was for eyebrows, and it is carrying over into the first puzzle of this week. Perhaps TfTT could apply for a royal warrant on the supply of acronyms for expressions of disapproval, as it was revealed last week that our very own MER, coined in the TfTT blog a couple of years ago, was suggested by David Cameron to Crossworld's favourite royal, ER 'erself, as a method of signalling disapproval for a vote for independence in the Scottish referendum a few years ago. He was obviously struggling to express himself when he suggested that it might help the vote go the 'right' way if ER were to "raise an eyebrow a quarter of an inch", but if everything had happened a few years later he would have had a ready-made acronym for the concept: "Ma'am, you know when you were doing the crossword the other day and you had an MER about that dodgy clue? Well, might I suggest that the same thing could be put to good use in the current referendum difficulty?"

I'm afraid that I got so excited at the possibility that TfTT could be drawn into one of these earth-shaking constitutional battles that seem to happen about twice a week these days that I fell to composing a clue in celebration of the incident:

Prime minister returns no account about slight expression of disapproval (7)

(I'm sure you've all got it but just in case I am supplying the answer at the end of the blog below. And of course clue composition is not my strongest suit, so I'm sure somebody can come up with a better one and if so I'd love to see it.)

And just for good measure I'm throwing in the associated bad one-liner of the week:

"I told my wife she paints her eyebrows too high. She looked surprised."

Anyway, coming to the puzzle (at last!), I thought this was a gentle offering from Tracy, apart from 5D which held me up a bit at the end and which gets my COD. I think it is one of those that I would have written straight in if it had been in the 15 x 15 just because it is the sort of word you expect to see over there, but it is perhaps slightly off the beaten track for the QC. I think my FOI was 9A as it took me a second pass to get the first two.

Although 5D was effectively my LOI in actuality it wasn't because although I knew what the answer to 22D must be the clue didn't work as far as I could see. So I left it until the end but then it only took a second to realise that my answer must be right and that I was going to have to deploy the eyebrow. And not just for an MER. No, not even for an HER (Half Eyebrow Raise). In this case nothing will do but the full Monty: an FER (Full Eyebrow Raise), because I think the setter has simply made an error, as explained below.

So apart from that apparent aberration, many thanks for an entertaining puzzle. And even with the aberration, many thanks for an excuse to deviate and expatiate upon alternative uses of the eyebrow other than the presumed evolutionary one of simply keeping bugs out of your eyes.

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

Across
7 Gift tied up at resort (8)
APTITUDE - straight anagram ('resort' - as in 're-sort') of TIED UP AT.
8 Star clue (4)
LEAD - double definition.
9 Ordered in more wool (6)
MERINO - straight anagram ('ordered') of IN MORE.
10 Victor leaking wife's secret (5)
INNER - wINNER (victor) 'leaking' W (wife).
11 Employ trick, right away (3)
USE - same idea: rUSE with R (right) 'away'.
12 Name one foolish person, then another (6)
NITWIT - N (name) + I (one) + TWIT (foolish person).
14 Tired agent outside shelter (6)
SLEEPY - SPY (agent) 'outside' LEE (shelter).
16 Tabloid reportedly studied first (3-3)
RED-TOP - homophone ('reportedly') of READ (studied) + TOP (first).
18 Released a Parisian, drawn (6)
UNTIED - UN (French indefinite article, thus = 'a Parisian') + TIED (drawn).
19 Tear in jumper I purchased (3)
RIP - hidden word: jumpeR I Purchased.
20 Army chaplain quietly read novel (5)
PADRE -  P (piano, quietly) + anagram ('novel') of READ.
21 Black parasitic insect does for garment (6)
BLOUSE - B (black) + LOUSE (parasitic insect).
23 Old garment, article obtained in recession (4)
TOGA - A (article) + GOT (obtained) 'in recession'.
24 Complex patterns in part of church (8)
TRANSEPT - straight anagram ('complex') of PATTERNS.
Down
1 The old man rises with very little desire to eat (8)
APPETITE - PA (the old man) reversed (i.e. 'rises' in this down clue) = AP + PETITE (very little).
2 Note short skirt (4)
MINI - if I remember my music theory correctly a MINIM is a two-beat note. Shorten it and you have MINI.
3 Issue dismissed (3,3)
PUT OUT - double definition.
4 Run two sons across lake (6)
SERIES - S + S (two sons) 'across' ERIE (one of the Great Lakes). A rare chance to quote the great Tom Waits:
"Sittin' by the Erie with a Bull-whipped dog
Tellin' everyone he saw they went thatta way, o boys,
Tellin' everyone he saw they went thatta way."
5 Noisy fellow supporting idea (8)
PLANGENT - GENT (fellow) 'supporting' (i.e. underneath in this down clue) PLAN (idea).
6 Adequate food, it's said (4)
FAIR - homophone ('it's said') for FARE (or FAYRE if you are going to be particularly twee in writing your pub signs) = food.
13 Take back and charge up (8)
WITHDRAW - WITH (and) + WARD (charge) reversed (i.e. 'up' in this down clue).
15 Exercises before first of several drinks (5-3)
PRESS-UPS - PRE (before) + S (first of Several) + SUPS (drinks).
17 Rather small-minded hiding last of cider (6)
PRETTY - PETTY (small-minded) 'hiding' R (last of cideR).
18 Optimistic at university before defeat (6)
UPBEAT - UP (at university) + BEAT (defeat).
20 Fifty on board vessel providing storyline (4)
PLOT - POT (vessel) with L (fifty in Roman numerals) 'on board'.
22 Force out from famous street (4)
OUST - I believe this is meant to be a hidden word, but I am raising my eyebrow (how appropriate after last week's royal raised eyebrow), and signalling not just an MER but an FER (Full Eyebrow Raise). I believe the setter MEANT famOUS STreet to give OUST but unfortunately there is an extra S in there. I hope someone can tell me I am wrong but that's what it seems like to me. The only other way to read the clue that I could see was STREET = ST leaving OU somehow to mean famous, but I cannot find any basis for that.

And the answer to the clue in the preamble: CAMERON (NO AC (no account) 'returned about' MER (slight expression of disapproval). But of course that clue only works in the TfTT world, because nobody else, not even 'ER indoors at the palace I suspect, knows what an MER is.