April 29th, 2020

Times 27651 - time to brush up your schoolboy Latin

An odd crossword, i thought. It took me around 20 minutes to do all but a few clues, mostly gaps in the top half, where I could see an answer but wasn't clear about the definition. I'm still a bit mystified by the full explanation (if there is one) for 9a and 10a. All the down clues were straightforward, but some of the Across ones were less so.

I liked "underground money collector" at 7d.

Given last week's references to Boris's Poodles (being yes-men), and my view (shared by martinp1) that poodles are seriously un-wussie dogs undeserving of this epithet (especially the Standard variety), I've changed from my usual owl gallery to a portrait of Muffin, a.k.a.Ragamuffin, who is sadly no more but was IMO more intelligent than many a leading politician.

Across
1 Forbidden writer given external stimulus (10)
PROSCRIBED - Writer = SCRiBE, surrounded by PROD = external stimulus.
7 Female organisation backed by iron lady (4)
WIFE - WI (Women's Institute) followed by FE (Fe, iron).
9 Weaselly creature after organising talk caught cab (5-3)
BLACK-CAT - (TALK C CAB)*. I have no idea why black-cat means weaselly, I know seeing a black cat can mean bad luck, or even good luck, but perhaps there's more to it. Nothing to do with Ron Weasley, of HP fame, I think, he's spelt differently.
10 Person seen as unusual confronting monarch? (6)
FISHER - Another mysterious clue where the wordplay is clear but I don't quite see how the definition works. An ODD FISH or QUEER FISH can be a person seen as unusual, so put FISH next to ER (monarch). Answer: FISHER. any particular Fisher? Jeremy? Archbishop? Or jusr a person called Fisher?
11 Woodpecker and two mythological figures flying round (6)
YAFFLE - ELF and FAY reversed; popular name for the green Woodpecker. Fay is an alternative version of FAIRY.
13 Most ancient stars to get excited about (8)
HOARIEST - ARIES has HOT around it. I thought of this early on, but left writing it in until I had all the checkers, as thought there may be a better idea for ??ARIES?. Hoary means 'white or grey with age'.
14 Bringing pleasure? Awful nightmare about battles! (5-7)
HEART-WARMING - Insert WAR (battles) into (NIGHTMARE)*.
17 Like good sight in cricket match? (6-6)
TWENTY-TWENTY - double definition.
20 This writer getting to stay endlessly after party creates a row (8)
DOMESTIC - DO (party) ME (this writer) STIC(K) = stay endlessly.
21 Miserly type maybe hoarding pounds in trophy (6)
SALVER - SAVER has L (pounds) inserted.
22 Way to use bad language, suppressing love (6)
COURSE - Curse with O inserted.
23 Scot offering a song at funeral? (8)
ALASTAIR - Well, A LAST AIR could be a song at a funeral, I suppose, and Alastair is a name of Scottish origin.
25 Provider of notes is bank, half being advanced (4)
LYRE - RELY (bank) has its last half moved forward.
26 Running mobile home into grass (10)
SCAMPERING - CAMPER (mobile home) inside SING (grass, inform on).
Down
2 Meadows covered in grass given up (8)
RELEASED - LEAS are meadows, surrounded by REED = grass.
3 Thus stitch regularly disappears (3)
SIC - Alternate letters of S t I t C h, Latin for thus, as in 'sic transit gloria mundi'.
4 See Roman south of river making investigation (5)
RECCE - R (river) ECCE = Latin for 'see' or 'behold', as in Ecce Homo, words delivered by Pontius Pilate (in Latin or a local tongue?)
5 Fuss about Charlie who does a bad job? (7)
BOTCHER - BOTHER (fuss) has C for Charlie inserted.
6 Fed up, having worry, one good soul having negative attitude (9)
DEFEATIST - FED reversed, EAT (worry), I ST (one saint).
7 Expressing warm feelings towards underground money collector (7,4)
WISHING WELL - double definition, one amusingly cryptic.
8 Skin feels bad around top of neck (6)
FLENSE - insert N (top of neck) into (FEELS)*. Skin here as a verb.
12 Sort of murder, getting a BSc perhaps! (5-6)
FIRST-DEGREE - double definition.
15 They fight with the others, having nasty looks, no heart (9)
WRESTLERS - W (with) REST (the others), LE(E)RS = nasty looks without the middle E.
16 Three articles about province relating to capital city (8)
ATHENIAN - A, THE, AN around NI (Northern Ireland).
18 Music played staccato needing no introduction (7)
TOCCATA - Anagram of TACCATO) the S being omitted.
19 Lots of bacteria in part of the gut unknown (6)
COLONY - COLON, Y an unknown.
21 Incisive English coming from satirical novelist (5)
SHARP - Tom SHARPE the satirical novelist (Porterhouse Blue, etc.) has his E dropped.
24 Hill made of piled-up rubbish (3)
TOR - ROT reversed.