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October 10th, 2019

Not my fastest ever solve in just under 31 minutes, and early results suggest it was on the tougher side. I can’t quite put my finger on why, although some of the wordplay took some teasing out. I counted 4 double definitions (though purists might argue 10 shouldn’t be included) and two well-crafted &lits. There are also two colours of wine to cheer the soul.

How it all works is detailed below with clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS, with the occasional superfluity to irritate or entertain according to taste

1 A series about division creating unnecessary panic (8)
ALARMIST Start by equating a series with A LIST, the insert ARM as a division, as in part of a company.
5 Prince Charming maybe hugs female speaker (6)
WOOFER That sort of speaker, paired perhaps with a tweeter. Prince Charming is a WOOER, maybe, and the female he “hugs” is just the  F. Chambers helpfully defines Prince Charming as “the prince in the tale of Cinderella, symbolizing the romantic ideal of a handsome husband.” Adam Ant admonishes the character:
“Don't you ever, don't you ever
Stop being dandy, showing me you're handsome”
10 Fast appreciate an appreciative audience (4,3,8)
LIKE THE CLAPPERS As well you might.
11 Creative remedy that requires prayer to be cured (3,7)
ART THERAPY If you can untangle it, THAT requires PRAYER to be added before curing. I needed a bit of a squint to see “(to be) cured” as an anagram indicator
13 Get lost in this jazz? (4)
SCAT Double definition, one an injunction, the other a series of nonsense words sung particularly in jazz to great effect
15 Listener goes in to order in small restaurant (3,4)
TEA ROOM The listener is EAR, keep the TO and translate order as OM (order of Merit) and assemble diligently
17 Forget about mediocre start in extremely short examination (4-3)
LOOK-SEE  OK can sometimes mean good, but not that good, so mediocre. Place inside LOSE for “forget“ and stick the start of Extremely on the end.
18 Elegant, thin wine bottles (7)
REFINED The wine is RED, and thin translates to fine well enough. Bottle one in the other.
19 Winger back in training, evidently somewhat unfit? (7)
PUFFING Seasoned campaigners will look for a bird reversed inside PT or PE, thus wasting time when the winger is a PUFFIN and the back in traininG is just the G.
21 Sauce spoon (4)
NECK A double definition, playing around with the wide range of possibilities for both words
22 Player in formal attire, initially? (4,6)
DISC JOCKEY Formal attire being a Dinner Jacket or DJ, and a DJ being –um- our answer
25 Sharing soapy water? Scrub Rev's back in it, furthermore (2,3,4,6)
IN THE SAME BREATH My last in, partly because I couldn’t get from definition to answer with any ease. However, if you’re sharing soapy water, you’re IN THE SAME BATH, and if you scrub the back (letter) of REV you get the RE to put in the sequence. I’m trying too unsee the image conjured up, without much success
27 Gather African country is being spoken of? (6)
GARNER Sounds quite a bit like GHANA for non-rhotics
28 Cow that Hindu revered, originally, then anything but! (8)
THREATEN The “originally” takes the first letters of That Hindu Revered. Hindus famously regard cows as sacred and not as potential steaks, so I suppose it’s fair enough to suggest that anything but a revered cow is EATEN

1 Energy finally picks up anyway (2,5)
AT LEAST Finally is AT LAST, insert E for energy
2 Heard of line that was supposedly 300 cubits long (3)
ARK The line would be an ARC, sounding like the 500 foot long floating zoo
3 Time, more than once, champion gets jittery? (5,5)
MATCH POINT An &lit clue. Time, more than once gives you two Ts, which when added to the CHAMPION and allowed to jitter give the moment(s) defined by the whole clue
4 Remove coat, translucent by the sound of it? (5)
SHEAR A spelling test. The SHEAR we want is the wool-cutting one, the see-through sound alike version is SHEER
6 Old, old rider: I just fell off? (4)
OOPS Two Os for old plus a PS to stand in for rider (“a clause or corollary added to an already complete contract or other legal document”) providing a rather mild exclamation from a faller
7 Tongue passing over gum has brought pain, perhaps? (6,5)
FRENCH STICK My favourite clue du jour, the tongue being the FRENCH language, gum being STICK and pain being bread across the channel
8 Favour wine? One who wouldn’t, averse, ultimately (7)
ROSETTE This time the wine’s a ROSÉ, one who wouldn’t favour it a TT, and aversE ultimately supplying the E
9 Footwear: lose it and collapse (4-4)
FLIP-FLOP A flimsy sandal in this case (other definitions are available). Lose it: FLIP and collapse: FLOP
12 Light on old motor of aircraft, oft on the blink (11)
TRAFFICATOR Cars of a certain vintage have pointers that flip out to indicate change of direction. Here they’re indicated by a melange (on the blink) of AIRCRAFT OFT. Younger readers might just have to play around with the letters until they look plausible
14 Sandwich possibly good, certainly filled with little dash of love (4,6)
GOLF COURSE Good is just G, certainly OF COURSE, and our little dash of Love gives the L to be included
16 Old tune a girl messed up: frantic to get over it (8)
MADRIGAL MAD for frantic goes atop A GIRL messed up
18 Exercise in operation (7)
RUNNING another double definition
20 Article overlooked on ferocious, almost entirely bogus, mythical beast (7)
GRYPHON  Ferocious might be ANGRY, so following instructions remove the article AN and add all but the Y of PHONY, bogus
23 European king can be taken by the ears! (5)
CZECH If a chess King can be taken, he is in check: run that past your ears
24 Area of water, pure (4)
MERE Yet another double definition
26 Some vocal tone (3)
ALT Buried in vocAL Tone is “a high tone, in voice or instrument”, another &lit

Times Quick Cryptic No 1458 by Hurley

An enjoyable, average-difficulty puzzle from Hurley. I usually like to try the across clues first, which seemed like a slight handicap today, what with that nice big 7d on the far left - without it I managed only two along that side (17ac and 20ac). It never seems to make that much difference though: I find that if I work out from an easy opener I tend to get fixated on some clue with a checker or two that I feel I should get and forget to move on, so it sort of averages out. My slight hold up today, for no good reason, was the chestnutty girl at 22ac after which 16d fell quite quickly, and I came in just shy of 9 minutes. Good fun - many thanks to Hurley!

1 Organised fight in temporary accommodation, that’s clear (11)
TRANSPARENT - RAN (organised) SPAR (fight) in TENT (temporary accommodation)
8 Powerful body’s miserable cop-outs (7)
OCTOPUS - is an anagram (miserable) of COP OUTS. In the figurative sense of far-reaching influence.
9 Partly glad I thought about such a wave (5)
TIDAL - "Partly" in the letters of gLAD I Thought; about = reversed
10 Satchel, it’s adapted for sport (9)
ATHLETICS - anagram (is adapted) of SATCHEL IT
12 Humdrum existence of Rugby Union team originally (3)
RUT - RU (Rugby Union) T (Team "originally")
13 Fellow needing sleep first in Italian port (6)
NAPLES - LES (fellow) needing NAP (sleep) first
15 Not refined, bringing rowing gear into Church (6)
COARSE - OARS (rowing gear) into CE (Church of England)
17 Oddly silky and insidious (3)
SLY - "oddly" S i L k Y
18 Cricketer, sympathetic about trouble (4-5)
TAIL-ENDER - TENDER (sympathetic) about AIL (trouble). I was thinking of fielders, and got as far as "deep cover", which would have worked perfectly, if deep meant sympathetic, and over meant trouble, and it was hyphenated.
20 Ignoring outsiders, Suzy, with gesture, say, for this Asian (5)
UZBEK - "Ignoring outsiders" sUZy with BEK (sounds like ("say") BECK). Beck is an old contraction of the very old "beckon".
22 Girl’s card game, lost at the end (7)
BRIDGET - BRIDGE (card game) T (losT "at the end")
23 Some regret nag re-enters village courting couples frequented (6,5)
GRETNA GREEN - "some" of the letters of reGRET NAG REENters. If you thought that hiding Gretna Green in a sentence would be difficult, then this clue rather confirms it. Didn't stop me from missing it on the first read through though.

1 Problem getting new start for small person (5)
TITCH - HITCH (problem) gets a new starting letter. A clue will occasionally ask you to swap a letter (or perhaps two middle letters) with an unspecified one; embrace it into your 21d and rejoice that there are fewer random letters than there are random girls and boys.
2 A first part of timely gift now (2,7)
AT PRESENT - A T (first part of Timely) PRESENT (gift)
3 Excitedly kiss popular flier (6)
SISKIN - anagram (excitedly) of KISS; IN (popular)
4 Do something in law (3)
ACT - double definition.
5 At outskirts of Essen, German painter, one who’s lasted (7)
ENDURER - EN ("outskirts" of EsseN) DURER (German painter)
6 Be honest — order girl to include article on time (4,3,5)
TELL THE TRUTH - TELL (order) RUTH (girl) to include THE (article) on T(ime)
7 Rob hung jeans out in African city (12)
11 Twenty queue for final result (9)
SCORELINE - SCORE (twenty) LINE (queue)
14 Sound of dog, rising, talented, due now? (7)
PAYABLE - PAY (YAP = sound of dog, "rising") ABLE (talented)
16 Safety feature could be bargain? Almost (3,3)
AIR BAG - anagram (could be) of BARGAIn (almost = drop the last letter)
19 Eat eagerly, like at home (3,2)
DIG IN - DIG (like, as in "I dig it") IN (at home)
21 Man’s range of knowledge (3)
KEN - Double definition