September 30th, 2020

Times 27783 - Children in Need time again.

At last, this Wednesday's child is not full of woe; I enjoyed this somewhat more challenging puzzle, with scope for biffing but some tricky parsing afterwards. 11a is timely, as the BBC and Countryfile get going with their annual pleas for money, although this year we'll be a-rambling in social distance mode, if at all. I had to do some Googling to explain all of 16d, featuring avian obscurities, but otherwise it was fair play I thought. My CoD is 24a for the unusual construction.

Just a guide, for anyone new: definitions are underlined, anagram indicators in italics, anagram fodder (in brackets with)*.


Across
1 Just clever, having no need of book (5)
RIGHT - BRIGHT = clever, loses B.
4 Problem backing the French — quite without oomph — in raunchy US show (9)
BURLESQUE - RUB (problem, as in there's the rub) backing = BUR, LES (the French) QU(IT)E loses IT.
9 It fixes where you find crossword, say, with some speed (9)
PAPERCLIP - find this in the PAPER (or E-paper), CLIP = speed, as in 'at a fair clip'.
10 Refugee with no time at all for material (5)
EXILE - TEXTILE (material) loses both Ts.
11 One gets ready for taking these steps to provide relief? (9,4)
SPONSORED WALK - Cryptic definition, where 'ready' = money.
14 Dispute ignoring opening of firm (4)
TIFF - STIFF = firm, loses S.
15 Zero energy around start of play — becoming too energetic? (10)
OVERACTIVE - O VERVE = zero energy, insert ACT I being the start of a play.
18 Hymn producing historic shock? (4,2,4)
ROCK OF AGES - cryptic definition.
19 Finished disguise, except the front (4)
OVER - COVER = disguise, loses its front.
21 Mother’s absurd dressed in beachwear (7,6)
BERMUDA SHORTS - (MOTHERS ABSURD)*.
24 Embellish even choices from garden? (5)
ADORN - from the word gArDeN you can choose any of A, D OR N as even letters.
25 Principled purchases in market rated adversely (4,5)
FAIR TRADE - FAIR (market) (RATED)*.
27 What writer might need in opening of knightly valour (3-6)
INK-BOTTLE - IN, K(nightly), BOTTLE = valour. It's a long time since I opened an ink bottle, although there is still one in my drawer awaiting my yet-to-win Montblanc fountain pen prize from Murdoch Towers. So far only Cross ballpoints, which are more use anyway.
28 Story gripping one in the very first episode (5)
PILOT - PLOT, insert I.
Down
1 Tale of a debt collector, maybe, involving island warehouse (10)
REPOSITORY - REPO STORY could be a tale of a debt collector, insert I for island. REPO being short for a repossession man.
2 Opening section of book cut up (3)
GAP - PAGE is cut then reversed (up).
3 Bird hurried after half of this (6)
THRUSH - TH(is), RUSH as an adjective, e.g. a rush job.
4 City area sadly variable with little good in it (9)
BELGRAVIA - (VARIABLE)* then insert G. Posh bit of London, Embassy-land.
5 Resistance, with support, absorbing pressure without delay (5)
RAPID - R(esistance), AID (support), insert P for pressure.
6 Support an entry for Chaucer in “Early English Style” (8)
ELEGANCE - E E for Early English; insert LEG (support) AN, C(haucer).
7 Lives dangerously after living once on river of molten metal (11).
QUICKSILVER - QUICK (living, as in the quick and the dead), (LIVES)*, R for river. Another name for mercury, which freezes at -38.9 ⁰C so is molten metal at room temperature and pressure.
8 Some pristine development held up as Paradise (4)
EDEN - hidden reversed in PRISTI(NE DE)VEOPMENT.
12 Business site, apparently no longer postponed, encountering obstruction (6,5)
OFFICE BLOCK - If it's ON ICE, it's postponed, so if it's OFF ICE, it's no longer postponed. To which add BLOCK for obstruction.
13 Looking back, covering a lot of historic city in particular (10)
RETROSPECT - TRO(Y) = a lot of historic city, insert TRO into RESPECT where in 'in respect of' = 'in particular'.
16 Have another look at bird by a quarry (2-7)
RE-EXAMINE - Apparently REE is a old name for the reigh or male reeve bird... follow that with X (by, times) and A MINE for a quarry. It's not in Chambers online (ree) but is elsewhere https://www.lexico.com/definition/ree
17 A lot of sadness about hospital department in Italian resort (8)
SORRENTO - SORRO(W) goes around ENT the ear, nose and throat department.
20 Try to get off with trophy, seizing lid (4,2)
CHAT UP - CUP has HAT (lid) inserted.
22 Soldiers retaining force would be inappropriate (5)
UNFIT - UNIT (soldiers) has F for force inserted.
23 Opening for independent political party coming up in Asian island (4)
BALI - all reversed, I (initial letter of independent) LAB (pol. party).
26 A couple of fifties provides the sum (3)
ALL - A, L, L. Hardly a cryptic clue.


verlaine

Monthly Club Special 20,240: Pooh Dreams

A quick look at the completed grid for this one should be enough to tell you if you are going to love or hate the Monthly Club Special: some people just won't want to painstakingly construct words like QESHM, WAG-N-BIETJIE and LOK SABHA out of seemingly unpromising word-grist and that's alright, it's not compulsory. But for those of us irresistibly drawn to these most insane-looking vocab lattices, there were many feats of virtuosically devious cluing to enjoy. I personally loved the pair of beloved anthropomorphic animal clues at 12ac and 7dn, but will maybe assign COD to 27ac: "an economy... in the red" is just lovely. Thank you so much setter and apologies to readers that I didn't define all of the below words. I assure you that a trip to the dictionary will be very enlightening, though, if anything still baffles...

ACROSS
1 Rubenesque in the rear, in turn sharply cut at the middle (6)
ZAFTIG - AFT [the rear], in ZIG{zag} [turn sharply, halved]

4 Recalled a short school vacation, having to sunbathe in Indian house (3,5)
LOK SABHA - reverse all of: A HOL{s} with BASK in

10 Aussie bounder played on maiden’s vacillating (9)
PADYMELON - (PLAYED ON M*)

11 Following one back, His Majesty arrives at Iranian island (5)
QESHM - reverse SEQ., + H.M.

12 Friend to bear down — head to the back (3)
OWL - take LOW [down], and move the first letter to the end. Friend to Winnie the Pooh.

13 Possible source of snag developing from bite, eg in jaw (3-1-7)
WAG-N-BIETJIE - (BITE EG IN JAW*). This is a plant with thorns that "snag" passers by, and not, as I had originally surmised, some kind of wildlife that Australians make sausages out of...

14 Stage door that is closed after game (6)
SCRUTO - SC. [that is] + TO [closed] after R.U.

16 One bent on self-study returning home, crossing Bow Street (7)
NARCIST - reversed IN "crossing" ARC, plus ST

19 Catch Young Conservative, coming from the Right, cheers echoing? (7)
COPYCAT - COP [catch] + Y.C. + reversed ["coming from the right"] TA

20 Revolutionary ideas I’ve partially endorsed (6)
VISAED - hidden reversed in {i}DEAS I'V{e}

22 One promoting growth that’s short blathering about several inches (11)
GIBBERELLIN - GIBBERIN{g} "about" ELL [several inches]

25 Scots brace themselves, winter approaching: the earliest signs (3)
TWA - T{hemselves} W{inter} A{pproaching}

26 Test team moving up the order a US Rastafarian (1-3-1)
I-AND-I - INDIA is the test team; move the final A up in the order to find a Rastafarian word for "us".

27 An economy, originally in the red maybe finding future (9)
OENOMANCY - (AN ECONOMY*). Oenomancy being divination by wine, one can find the future in either the white OR the red...

28 Perform boring joke, song and dance for food in Asia (4-4)
GADO-GADO - DO [perform] "boring" GAG, + ADO [song and dance]

29 A Finnish company in retreat — no way out of Africa (6)
AIKONA - reversed A NOKIA. This is the Bantu for "no (way)!" Horizons broadened.

DOWN
1 Opening in one way not a thing to start on perhaps (6)
ZIPTOP - ZIP [not a thing] + TO + P{erhaps}

2 Soak once in pool, quietly going about, freezing point outside (6-3)
FUDDLE-CAP - {p}UDDLE [pool - P(iano)] + CA. [about], surrounded by F.P.

3 One waits initially for Frenchwoman to fill kettle, possibly (5)
IMMEW - I + W{aits}, "filled" by MME.

5 Vote in noble men, disposed to be universally kind (14)
OMNIBENEVOLENT - (VOTE IN NOBLE MEN*)

6 Sally’s taking time out, rounding up quiz’s regulars for rising Mexican artist (9)
SIQUEIROS - SOR{t}IE'S, "rounding" U{p} Q{u}I{z}, and reverse the whole of that

7 Brush perhaps with law at first turning to judge’s volunteer enforcers (5)
BASIJ - that's BASIL Brush; turn the L (for L{aw}) into J(udge)

8 Mark is running in trousers: they won’t support his legs (8)
ARMRESTS - M(ark), "trousered" by ARRESTS [is running in]

9 Drink to pay for: support measuring system (4-4-6)
SLUG-FOOT-SECOND - SLUG FOOT SECOND [drink | to pay for | support]

15 Ruining in the past a branch of the family? (9)
UNCLEWING - or UNCLE WING

17 Yours truly to follow, being old and fully stretched (2,7)
IN EXTENSO - I NEXT ENS O [yours truly | to follow | being | old]

18 Sheltering in Perth in Ashes venue, none leaving, none departing (8)
SCOGGING - in S.C.G. [Sydney Cricket Ground], O [none]; plus G{o}ING [leaving, O (=none) "departing" from that]. Scog means to shelter in Perth, Scotland.

21 Was modelling younger head of ancient goddess in wood? (6)
SATYRA - SAT [was modelling] + YR + A{ncient}

23 Not allowed to have a single name hurt, previously (5)
BANED - BAN{n}ED but with only one N for N(ame).

24 Man regularly taking to north’s provinces (5)
NOMOI - I.O.M. ON [Man | regularly taking], read from south to north