A step up from the week’s earlier offerings, this one pushed me hard for 27’ 44” of lockdown, nothing much else to do time. I am expecting quite a few blank looks around the place, especially with the cooler at 4 down which has nothing to do with prisons, maybe the French writer better known as a delicious, if expensive, meal at 11, the bony bit on a hornbill at 17, and (you cannot be) serous at 27. I’m sure there will be others to add to that list, but they’re the ones that stretched my vocab to its limit and required much trust to be place in the wordplay and the crossing letters. Even then, the one that caused me most trouble was the very last clue, which turns out to be quite easy but didn’t readily succumb to my word-charming incantations.
My meanderings can be found below, with clues in italics, definitions in underlined italics and SOLUTIONS in bold capitals[Click to open]
1 Shoot commercials over by entrance to major conference venue (7)
POTSDAM The 1945 conference between the “Big Three”, USSR, USA and UK represented initially by Stalin, Churchill and Truman, at the Schloss Cecilienhof in Potsdam to the SW of Berlin, designed to work out what to do with Germany. To work out what to do with the clue, turn shoot into POT, (turn) over ADS for commercials, and add the first letter of Major.
5 Disorganised old citizen retiring after tea (7)
CHAOTIC Familiarly enough, tea is CHA. The put O, and only then “retire” CITizen
9 Disclosure of major crisis mostly dire in the end (9)
EMERGENCE Knock the end off (mostly) EMERGENCY (major crisis) and take on the end of dirE
10 Delay getting seat in choir (5)
STALL Two definitions, the second confirmed by any choirboy and Chambers “fixed seats in the choir of a church, generally of carved wood”
11 Holiday accommodation ultimately rented by male French writer (13)
CHATEAUBRIAND François-René, vicomte de…, on his own cognisance, “the greatest lover, the greatest writer, and the greatest philosopher of his age”, roughly the first half of the C19. It is possible, I suppose, that your holiday accommodation might be a CHATEAU, BRIAN might be your random male, the last letter of rented is definitely D. Tack it on the end.
The steak is (probably) named after him.
13 Name of one with no trust initially in God? (8)
IDENTITY So you have I for one, then No Trust initially for the NT, only those letters to be poked into DEITY for God
15 Possible carrier’s responsibility? (6)
PIGEON You’ll have heard of a carrier pigeon, and the rest of the clue is a colloquialism “ writing up this blog is my pigeon”
17 Bony protuberance in hornbill caught like that in Paris (6)
CASQUE C(aught) like that: AS, that in Paris (ie in French) QUE. Cross your fingers and hope the hornbill recognises it.
19 Unknown in top pub, a very large rodent (8)
CAPYBARA Unknown usually X, Yor Z, this time Y. CAP from top, either verb or noun, BAR from PUB, and the A is given for free. A monstrous (but rather cute) guinea pig.
22 Social awkwardness of a youth (not women) in Montana (13)
MALADJUSTMENT If you know MT ids the standard abbreviation for Montana, it helps. Into it, squeeze A LAD (youth) and JUST MEN (no women)
25 One who has depressing experience losing daughter (5)
OWNER A sneaky definition. Leaves you with depressing experience: DOWNER from which you can lose the D(aughter)
26 Complaint of elderly relative that is opposed to entering church (9)
GRIEVANCE Another clue where the wordplay doesn’t quite do what you expect. GRAN is your elderly relative, that is opposed to gives you IE and V, which do the entering, then church is just tagged on the end, as C( of) E
27 Like serous membrane — more than one, by the sound of it (7)
PLEURAL “serous membrane: a thin membrane, moist with serum, lining a cavity and enveloping the viscera within, such as the peritoneum or pericardium”. So there you go. Pleurae are the versions that cover the lungs that you really only notice if you contract pleurisy, which can be very painful. Believe me. Our answer is the adjectival form and sounds like plural, more than one.
28 Young woman crossing river with festoon of flowers (7)
GARLAND You need to spot that the innocuous “with” is part of the wordplay, contributing AND to GAL “crossing” R(iver)
1 Leader of House gets installed in seat — what a relief! (4)
PHEW More church seating, this time a PEW. Inset leader of H(ouse)
2 Sweet substance a chameleon originally left in woody plant? (7)
TREACLE Thank goodness the woody plant is just a TREE. Insert A C(hameleon) and L(eft)
3 Follow graduate’s code of beliefs (5)
DOGMA Follow: DOG and graduate: MA. Also very high on my list of quirky films I like.
4 Sadly not Henry’s first time for the cooler (8)
MONTEITH “Large 17c or 18c bowl, usually of silver, fluted and scalloped, for cooling punch-glasses (said to be named from a fantastical Scot who wore his cloak so scalloped)”. Does anyone have one? The wordplay’s a bit tricky too, our first anagram (“sadly”) du jour, made up of NOT H(enry’s first) TIME. I needed all the checkers and some hope. Last turned op in 2009, when the clue was maybe slightly more helpful: “Silver bowl — extraordinary hit with composer (not Verdi)”
5 On telephone, stop money order (6)
CHEQUE a nice, simple homophone to make up for the previous clue
6 Folly bust dairy, unfortunately (9)
ABSURDITY “Unfortunately” and anagram of BUST DAIRY
7 Carry around not quite all of every toasted bun (7)
TEACAKE Carry translates to TAKE, and most of EACh for every gets included
8 Scot’s scam squeezing Welshman and male compatriot, say (10)
CALEDONIAN So. Scam is CON. Your random Welshman is ALED (as in Jones the Snowman) and your random (but nearly always) Scottish compatriot is IAN. Assemble
12 Simpleton finally given reduced earnings on deck (10)
NINCOMPOOP Finally giveN plus INCOME for earnings reduced by one letter, and POOP for the deck. No sniggering at the back.
14 Is leaving this beneath Queen’s old newspaper (9)
THUNDERER Nickname for The Times since about 1830. Start with THIS, remove the IS like it says. Beneath then gives UNDER, and at 94 plus 2 days the Queen is still ER
16 Fighting hard in capturing head of legion (8)
BATTLING At last, a cricket reference. On who is in is BATTING. Insert the head of Legion
18 Cut short Hamlet’s rest? (7)
SILENCE The Prince of Denmark’s last words (apart from O, O, O, O (Sic)) are “the rest is silence”.
20 Feeler put out by worker upset girl (7)
ANTENNA Your worker is an ANT (true in crosswordland), backed up by Proverbs 6.6 berating slackers and other lie-a-beds: “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!”. Then add ANNE, your random girl, "upset"
21 Amusing lass like Candida, for example? (6)
FUNGAL If you know Candida is a fungus, you’ll breeze this one. Amusing lass: FUN GAL.
23 Young swimmer always seen around lake (5)
ELVER Specifically a young eel, here EVER for always including L(ake)
24 Paid actor supplying cues (4)
FEED A double definition, though I nearly in desperation put in LEAD, which doesn’t work