A pleasingly catholic mix of science and arts, history and politics where you can feel chuffed if you have the relevant breadth of knowledge, but apart from 4ac, perhaps, it doesn’t matter if the background information is outside your ken.
I swanned through this in somewhat piecemeal manner, taking a total of 18 minutes, and timing my submit to get the nice round number. As I like to do on a blogging day, I parsed everything as I went along, though I’m still not completely comfortable with 13dn.
You’ll all be pleased to know that today I have come out of mandatory isolation, ten days of making the contents of my fridge/freezer stretch to the limit, so none of you is in any danger of the pandemic virus as you read my ramblings. Members of my family who contracted Covid are thankfully recovering, though it’s too early to know if there will be any longer-term effects.
I present my findings below, with clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS
1 Yank coming across hard and tough (4)
THUG Yank here is just TUG, “coming across” means it surrounds, in this case, H(ard)
4 Near iconic manoeuvring of ancient politician (10)
CICERONIAN Cicero “was a Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher and Academic Skeptic” of immense significance in the development of the Republic around the time of Julius Caesar, famous for his oratory which set standards for political and philosophical debate, which is the bit we need to know to develop the adjective from his name. The clue is &littish, an anagram (manoeuvring) of NEAR ICONIC
9 Like a councillor to be tree-crazy (10)
ALDERMANIC The tree is ALDER, crazy gives MANIC
10 Chaps in rags (4)
GUYS I thought there might be many alternatives here, given the crossing letters, but fortunately our answer is doubly defined, guys in the second instance being rags in the sense of ridicules or makes fun of.
11 Stage carpenter may be in a jam (6)
QUINCE So not whatever the theatre equivalent is of chippie, but the joiner from A Midsummer Nights Dream. And a fruit we once harvested in our garden which Mrs Z successfully made into a palatable jelly.
12 Marconi for example on Isle of Wight holiday, forgetting a name (8)
INVENTOR The IoW holiday destination is IN VENTNOR, where I once attended a Boys Brigade camp. Forget one of the Ns. Marconi was (as any skuleboy kno) celebrated as the inventor of radio.
14 With stick, finally force waste away (4)
PINE Stick is PIN, add the last of forcE.
15 Laying out corpse, used correct legal form (3,7)
DUE PROCESS I worried this might be Latin, known or not, but it turns out that the anagram (laying out) of CORPSE USED is plain English. Phew.
17 Current collector’s chart on seasonal entertainment (10)
PANTOGRAPH Cunning definition. Electric railway engines picking current up from overhead cable use a flexible parallelogram framework (as I’m sure you’ve seen). That’s what this is, made up here of PANTO as seasonal entertainment and GRAPH as chart.
20 Military vehicle hummed, emitting sulphur (4)
TANK Hummed here in the sense of smelled bad, STANK, emitting (losing) S(ulphur)
21 For each piece of leather husband, avoided strong chemical (8)
PEROXIDE Most familiar perhaps as blondifying liquid, one of the simplest chemicals H2O2. PER means for each, OXHIDE is the leather, remove the H(usband) (avoided) probably a good idea when the process is going on. The husband’s only role is to say how lovely it looks afterwards.
23 Plant maize occasionally at the side of a pasture (6)
AZALEA Take alternate (occasionally) letters of mAiZe and attach them to the side of A LEA, pasture.
24 Buzzer wasn’t loud? (4)
WASP Like this, simple as it may be. Wasn’t loud, so WAS P (musical soft)
25 Greek and another European secure trouble-free route to top job? (6,4)
GREASY POLE We are indebted to Disraeli for this description of the route to the Premiership of the UK. GR(eek) and POLE (the other European) “secure” EASY for trouble free, which obviously it was not.
26 Excelled with way to crack homework: cheating! (10)
DISHONESTY My last in. Excelled gives SHONE, the way is ST(reet) both enclosed in DIY for homework, Do It Yourself home repairs and such.
27 Parties at hotel making money (4)
DOSH Parties are DO’S, and the H comes this time from H(otel)
2 Be deluded, giving order to heal lunatic (11)
HALLUCINATE An anagram (giving order to) of HEAL LUNATIC
3 Young, run vigorously in protected area (5,4)
GREEN BELT In the UK, an area of rural delights you’re not supposed to build on. Young is GREEN, and those of you that understood race giving SHOOT a couple of days ago will find run vigorously giving BELT a bit easier.
4 Approve remark with one final change (7)
COMMEND One of those clues which is content with asking for a change of one letter (here the end one) to another completely random one, in this case T at the end of COMMENT (remark) to D.
5 Generosity in debates about reformed senate (15)
CONSIDERATENESS CONSIDERS for debates incloses an anagram (reformed) of SENATE.
6 Get better to lay bet off again (7)
RECOVER Laying off a bet covers the bookie against losses, so he or A N Other does it more than once is RE-COVER
7 One night in Montreal: I’ve come a long way south? (5)
INUIT I’m informed that Montreal is indeed a distance south of Inuit territory. Since Montreal is Francophone(ish), night there is NUIT. Put one (I) on the beginning.
8 Hangman perhaps dispatching old Punch (5)
NOSER A hangman might fancifully be called a NOOSER. Take out one of the O(ld)s
13 Director wants George to introduce boy and two neighbours at play (5,6)
ORSON WELLES Actor/director of Citizen Kane and that notorious radio version of War of the Worlds. Now, I’ve got George as ORWELL to introduce SON for boy, and the best I can do for the remaining E and S is that they are two neighbours on a compass. Not sure where “at play” comes in. Suggestions?
16 Was briefly unconscious of animal tipped to win (9)
CATNAPPED The random animal is a CAT, and NAPPED does indeed mean tipped to win in horse racing terminology.
18 Bad behaviour initially stamped out, but not stopped (5,2)
GOING ON Bad behaviour is GOINGS ON, but instead of eliminating the first letter as looks prescribed, you eliminate the initial letter of Stamped.
19 No evidence of bits of grain in grass (7)
HEARSAY Bits of grain are EARS, place inside HAY for grass. Inadmissible evidence in court
21 Pressure was frightening, felt by dog? (5)
PAWED P(ressure) plus AWED for was frightening
22 Gets bigger flags, dropping one (5)
RISES Flags (the flowers) are IRISES. Remove one of the I’s