May 19th, 2021

Times 27981 - scrumptious clueing this week.

I enjoyed this one, nothing too obscure or contentious but plenty of clever clues, some of which like 6a and 20a had neat surfaces which read well and are relevant to the answer. I thought 23a was the best anagram for a while too. Well done, Mr Setter.

1 Such a mammal’s position on a trail regularly overlooked (9)
PLACENTAL - PLACE (position) then alternate letters of oN a TrAiL.
6 In turn, doctor very brave just opening heart (5)
BOSOM - Reversed (in turn): MO (doctor) SO (very) B (opening of brave).
9 James’s version of the Mona Lisa? (8,2,1,4)
PORTRAIT OF A LADY - cryptic referring to the novel The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James.
10 Family must follow as well understood (4,2)
TOOK IN - TOO (as well) KIN (family).
11 Love alluring woman no end: time for action? (4,4)
ZERO HOUR - ZERO (love in tennis is zero) HOURI alluring woman loses its end.
13 Time away from poor old American native (10)
INDIGENOUS - INDIGENT means poor, delete the T for time, add O for old and US.
14 Ruthless chap avoiding pained expression (4)
FELL - this was my LOI and took a while to get. FELLOW loses its OW! Fell as an adjective can mean cruel or ruthless.
16 Group of countries taking part in a tournament (4)
NATO - hidden as above.
17 Piece of data, a single line added to one paper (10)
STATIONERY - STAT (piece of data) I (a single), ONE, add RY (line as in railway).
19 Rodent leading with its tail, and not very big (8)
ENORMOUS - MOUSE is the rodent in question, move its E to the beginning and add NOR ( = and not).
20 Grab fruit, two packs a penny (6)
SCRUMP - a rugby clue; two packs of forwards can make a scrum, add P for penny. This made me smile.
23 Problematic gift of cocaine polished off (8,7)
POISONED CHALICE - (COCAINE POLISHED)*. An excellent anagram, I thought.
24 Alarm not starting properly (5)
RIGHT - (F)RIGHT doesn't start.
25 You lovely beaches! So many? (9)
THOUSANDS - THOU (you) SANDS (lovely beaches). I suppose the 'lovely' could be intended to refer to the 'you' in the familiar sense, or the niceness of sandy beaches, thou may tell me.
1 Apparently good place for orchestra and singer (5)
PIPIT - PI (apparently good) PIT as in orchestra pit, a pipit is a bird like a drab-looking wagtail.
2 State going into broadcasting? I’m cool with that (3-12)
AIR-CONDITIONING - AIRING = broadcasting, insert CONDITION = state.
3 Nostalgic feelings when head lost income (8)
4 Double whiskey — canned? (4)
TWIN - W for whiskey in TIN for can.
5 Admired appearance due for revamp: read on! (6,2,2)
LOOKED UP TO - LOOK (apprearance), (DUE)*, PTO = please turn over = read on.
6 Philosopher tours east, warning of danger (6)
BEACON - E for east goes inside BACON, your choice of Francis or Roger.
7 One gives a convict life, as an interim measure (4,2,9)
STAY OF EXECUTION - double definition.
8 Office a Tory left, sacked after a month (9)
MAYORALTY - MAY (a month), (A TORY L)*.
12 Tool order Charlie has left for workers (10)
INSTRUMENT - order = INSTRUCT, swap the C for MEN (workers).
13 In secret, observe landlord (9)
INNKEEPER - INNER = secret, insert KEEP = observe, as in e.g. observe Lent.
15 Disguises trick with performing animals for audience (8)
CONCEALS - CON = trick, CEALS sounds like SEALS which are known to be used as performing animals.
18 One million after tax (6)
IMPOST - I (one) M (million) POST (after).
21 Papers, one of them missing formerly (5)
PRESS - (Daily) EXPRESS loses its EX = formerly.
22 Copy of Henry Green taken round (4)
ECHO - H for Henry goes into ECO for green.

Times Quick Cryptic 1877 by Oink

Crack(l)ing puzzle, as we've come to expect from this - my favourite - setter. Only the SW corner proved a little reluctant, as well as the long 4dn (cryptic definitions are *still* my Achilles' heel). Luckily the only thing I needed to know about the opera, is that it is an opera.

With representations from both sides of the aisle in the US, an oddly named parliament, and maybe even a nod to the UK government (3dn), perhaps Oink has his mind set on world domination?

Definition underlined.

8 Lamb too frisky for lottery at fete (7)
TOMBOLA - anagram of (frisky) LAMB TOO.
9 Letter finds most of them joining Territorial Army (5)
THETA - most of the letters from (most of) THEm, then TA (Territorial Army).
10 Heard cries in the country (5)
WALES - sounds like (heard) "wails" (cries).
11 Protesting Republican not doing too well (7)
RAILING - R (Republican) and AILING (not doing too well).
12 Fall of scoundrel involved in case (7)
CASCADE - CAD (scoundrel) contained by (involved in) CASE.
14 Opening gin lethal to an extent (5)
INLET - hidden in (to an extent) gIN LEThal.
15 Reportedly a sum lent independently (5)
ALONE - sounds like (reportedly) "a loan" (a sum lent).
17 Grapes I chewed, making a mess (4,3)
PIGS EAR - anagram of (chewed) GRAPES I. He's bound to run out soon...
19 Dish gin out — it’s a party! (7)
SHINDIG - anagram of (out) DISH GIN.
20 Romantic occasion meeting duke in old hat (5)
DATED - DATE (romantic occasion) next to (meeting) D (duke).
22 How to sum up foreign nobleman (5)
COUNT - double definition.
23 Perform Cosi Fan Tutte, perhaps at half-term (7)
OPERATE - OPERA (Cosi Fan Tutte, perhaps) next to (at) the first half of TErm (half-term).

1 Having turned up, adds water to casserole (4)
STEW - reversal of (having turned up) WETS (adds water to).
2 Son has a long way to go, but looks happy (6)
SMILES - S (son) and MILES (a long way to go).
3 Rings after husband leaves? Oh dear! (4)
OOPS - 'h' (husband) removed from (leaves) hOOPS (rings).
4 Messenger taking the aerial route? (7,6)
CARRIER PIGEON - cryptic definition.
5 Downing tools? That’s impressive (8)
STRIKING - double definition.
6 Rejection of deal about Northern Ireland (6)
DENIAL - DEAL containing (about) NI (Northern Ireland).
7 Giggling butcher chopping head off (8)
LAUGHTER - sLAUGHTER (butcher) minus the first letter (chopping head off).
12 Prestigious races that you might study? (8)
CLASSICS - double definition.
13 Story a Ted once made up (8)
ANECDOTE - anagram of (made up) A TED ONCE.
16 Horrible old Democrat promises to pay (6)
ODIOUS - O (old), D (Democrat), and IOUS (a promisory note, "I owe you", promises to pay).
18 Capture talent Raphael possesses (6)
ENTRAP - hidden in (...possesses) talENT RAPhael.
20 It’s an achievement whichever way you look at it (4)
DEED - palindromic (whichever way you look at it) DEED (an achievement).
21 What one is allowed to eat in foreign parliament? (4)
DIET - double definition. Japan, for example, is administered by a parliamentary Diet.