Another in my series of Puzzles That Took Longer Than Perhaps They Should, occupying me for almost 30 minutes, but I liked it a lot. Throughout the surfaces are clean and plausible, and the wordplay offers a good variety of methods for getting to the answer, which I hope I have made plain enough in my analysis.
I’m particularly appreciative of clues like 5d, which draws all its bits out of its common subject matter, and 20 across which is as succinct a synopsis of an interminable book as you would want to see, while behaving as an immaculate piece of wordplay.
We even have a cheeky bit of commentary on contemporary politics at 13ac, which of course the setter can innocently claim is purely wordplay.
Some may struggle with Foreign Words Clued By Anagrams (5d again), but at least today’s bird is not particularly obscure.
I do clues in italics, definitions in underlined italics, and solutions in BOLD CAPITALS. Enjoy.
1 Former railway food in the buffet? (6)
PASTRY Former: PAST, R(ailwa)Y. I lost time here assuming the attractive surface of the buffet car was disguising some sort of blow.
4 Short time “visiting” jug? That’s interminable bird! (8)
FLAMINGO The short time is MIN(ute) which finds its way into a jug masquerading as a FLAGON, which itself loses its end (interminable)
10 Like some roads teen idler vandalised (4-5)
TREE-LINED An early anagram (vandalised) of TEEN IDLER
11 Daughter with bad back and slouch (5)
DROOP D(aughter) plus POOR for bad back(wards)
12 Try getting front off organ (3)
EAR To HEAR is to try in court, lose the front
13 Sterility of inadequate policies embraced by Civil Service (11)
CLEANLINESS Inadequate policies are LEAN LINES, and the embracing Civil Service lends its initial letters. I initially looked for a more negative version of sterility
14 Instant benefit, getting hold of singular hair styler (6)
MOUSSE Instant is MO, benefit USE, and S(ingular) is inserted
16 Draw dustcart, taking back bottles (7)
ATTRACT Another rather good surface, this one concealing a reversed hidden indicated by back (again) and bottles. DusTCART TAking
19 Surprising movement in platform in Embankment? (7)
DADAISM Chambers offers “a short-lived (from 1916 to c.1920) movement in art and literature which sought to abandon all form and throw off all tradition,” So rather well defined here as a surprising movement. DAIS for platform is enclose in DAM for embankment
20 Sam and Frodo together did finally get gold here (6)
MORDOR Those familiar with the Lord of The Rings will be alright here, selecting the last letters of SaM, FrodO togetheR diD and adding OR for gold, for the place that the Hobbits got the gold ring to to destroy it
22 What labs might do for unstreamlined transport (3-2-3-3)
SIT-UP-AND-BEG bicycles feature handlebars which keep the rider in an upright position rather than bent forward, so more affected by opposing winds. LAB(radors) (and other dogs) might equally be trained to sit up and beg if you’re either lucky or Barbara Woodhouse
25 Revolutionary English, say? I’m surprised that’s heard in Ohio (3)
GEE Just E(nglish) and EG (say, for example) reversed (revolutionary) Ohio is a random state picked from the 50 to indicate it’s an American usage
26 Girl blowing a million in the States (5)
ERICA Caused me most trouble because I couldn’t get away from Eliza. If only I’d done the obvious thing and realised that the States is just AMERICA It would have been easy to knock off a M(illion) as instructed
27 Rolling account left unpaid (9)
BILLOWING If your BILL is OWING, it’s unpaid
28 One who tolerates free furs being distributed (8)
SUFFERER Our second anagram, (being distributed) of FREE FURS. This is suffer less in its meaning as painfully undergo and more in the Authorised Version “suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not”. Many parents in lockdown over the last few months might argue there’s precious little difference
29 Threaten troublemaker with ruin (6)
IMPEND Trouble maker IMP, ruin END. Simples
1 Basil perhaps gets bowled out in bit of trouble (6)
POTHER Most often encountered these days as indistinguishable from bother, but with different etymology. Basil is one of many POTHERBs from which the B(owled) (cricket, of course) is outed.
2 What may be offensive clothes get wrapped in foil, perhaps (9)
SWEARWORD Another which took way longer than it should. WEAR stands in for clothes, and SWORD as indicated by foil wraps.
3 Revered object priest installed in church (5)
RELIC The priest is the commonplace (in these circles) ELI, and church is (rather less commonly) represented by R(oman) C(atholic)
5 Verdi aria from noble Amelia mad about Carlos, perhaps (2,5,1,6)
LA DONNA E MOBILE Stuff you don’t need to know: Amelia is a courtly character tormented by love in Un Ballo In Maschera by Verdi, and Don Carlos is a separate opera by the same composer. The aria La Donna comes from Verdi’s Rigoletto. None of that matters other than that it shows a certain elegance in the setter’s –um- setting. An anagram (mad) of NOBLE AMELIA surrounds that DON. Here’s Luci singing the thing.
6 Shivering time with wind, right? (9)
MIDWINTER Rather a neat &lit, an anagram (shivering) of TIME, WIND and R(ight)
7 Beak retaining old form of capital punishment (5)
NOOSE Beak is NOSE, and O(ld) is retained therein. It would be good to say that it’s an old, obsolete form of capital punishment, but many countries still retain the practice.
8 Work needed on Post Office location over the road (8)
OPPOSITE Work OP(us) P(ost) O(ffice) and location: SITE
9 Long without drugs, initially ecstasy, not allowing a fix? (14)
INDETERMINABLE Long is represented by INTERMINABLE, and D(rugs) (initially) and E for ecstasy are inserted, without being the inclusion indicator in its sense of outside
15 Reportedly auction unmarked aircraft (9)
SAILPLANE Today’s Perfectly Good Homophone (reportedly) of auction SALE and unmarked PLAIN
17 What scalene triangle must have adjacent (9)
ALONGSIDE A scalene triangle as three unequal sides, one of which therefore is A LONG SIDE, natch.
18 Greek hero’s body is as Zeus decapitated (8)
ODYSSEUS Another in our series of execution methods, but really rather clever. bODY, iS aS zEUS are all decapitated
21 Failed to answer what some eat for breakfast before rising? (6)
BEGGED As in the question. Some might have an EGG for breakfast, and if they have it before rising, they have it in BED
23 One getting time if he messed up? (5)
THIEF Another with an &littish flavour, the “messed up” anagram being of T(ime) IF HE
24 Good to take on threatening shape in darkness (5)
GLOOM G(ood) plus LOOM for take on threatening shape.