September 9th, 2021

Linus van Pelt
  • z8b8d8k

28078 Thursday, 9 September 2021 Stuck in reverse

The first word in this crossword grid gives a hint of what is to come, a veritable cornucopia of reverses, backing, turning, upward motion and the like almost persuading me it would be advantageous to do the thing upside down and back to front. I don’t think I’m mistaken in seeing rather more of the technique than we usually see.
Otherwise, not a terribly tricky offering with some kind if rather verbose cluing, especially in the across clues. I’m hard pushed to spot the word or words that anyone will complain about, though Morcombe is known better in the UK than elsewhere. But hey, you’ve seen it before in this parish.
I ticked over in 18.20, and especially appreciated the marital drama at 24.
My results are presented below, with clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS

1 Character's upset about what's in magazine, taking it the wrong way (8,5)
INVERTED COMMA Upset is INVERTED, the about gives just the C this time (Circa) and AMMO is what’s in a magazine (not the paper sort). AMMO is reversed (the rather verbose “taking it the wrong way”).
8 Epicure avoids stuffing, surrounded by paper plates (4)
FEET The definition is CRS, plates of meat. Epicure has all its stuffing removed, leaving just the two Es, and the paper Is the F(inancial) T(imes).
9 Dealer's opening boat business — we're told it could occupy a lot of space (4,6)
DARK MATTER Thought to account for most of the mass of the universe, but no-one to know what it is. Difficult to observe directly (it’s dark) it hasn’t been yet, but it must be there to account for the way the rest of the universe works. I’m willing to bet it’ll turn out to be a boojum. Here it’s Dealer’s opening D, plus ARK for boat, plus business giving MATTER. Chambers gives business: a matter requiring attention.
10 Loaded from forklift initially, pipe secured by worker (8)
AFFLUENT So the worker is an ANT, enclosing the front of Forklift (initially) and FLUE for pipe.
11 Concerned with ousting bad smell from fish tank component (6)
TURRET Start with TURBOT for fish, replace the BO (bad smell) with RE for concerned with.
13 One sudden movement leads to accidental cloudiness in decidedly pungent chemical (6,4)
ACETIC ACID One gives ACE and sudden movement TIC. Then add the leads (first letters) of Accidental Cloudiness In Decidedly. You know it as vinegar.
16 Cockney tramp overheard, one found among the reeds? (4)
OBOE Sounds like (overheard) the Cockney version of HOBO, for tramp. Would a Cockney ever use the term hobo, with or without the H?
17 Street which has inspired poet before an audience? (4)
MEWS My last in, a soundalike (before an audience) for MUSE, a poet’s inspiration.
18 US workers visiting old railway workshop (10)
LABORATORY With the US perfectly sensible habit of spelling -our words without the U, LABOR for workers, who are visiting, therefor AT and O(ld) R(ailwa)Y
20 Close jam factory in the end (6)
STUFFY You need to read close as in a cul-de-sac. Then STUFF for jam and the last letter (in the end) of factory gives your answer.
22 One gets depressed when entering capital (5,3)
SHIFT KEY Even as I write! An acceptable cryptic definition.
24 Consequence of Denise and Eric's break-up? (6,4)
DECREE NISI I like this, as it’s pretty much an &lit. An anagram (break-up) of DENISE and ERIC, a critical point in divorce proceedings
26 First-class journalist backed assistant (4)
AIDE A1 for first class plus a backwards ED for journalist.
27 Cash allowance to be decided by beginning of week, ok to go back outside (8,5)
SPENDING MONEY Is there another kind? To be decided is PENDING, the beginning of week -um – W, the two bits enclosed in a reversed YES  for ok.

1 Fifteen new changes involving old chemical company that's wasteful (11)
INEFFICIENT Those of us of a certain age will always think ICI for chemical company, and today it’s enclosed (involving) in an anagram (changes) of FIFTEEN N(ew)
2 Securing it, John turned key (5)
VITAL Yet another reversal (turned) this time of LAV, one of the many words for bog or loo of which John is an example. Secure IT (in plain sight) within.
3 Communist writer is correct (3-6)
RED PENCIL Not in my Chambers as such (others have it), but easily remembered from Skule Dayz, the usually illegible teacher’s marks on your lovingly prepared script pointing out your deficiencies. RED for Communist and PENCIL for writer.
4 Uneven grass in Morecambe (7)
ERRATIC ERIC Morecambe, beloved British comedy partner of Ernie Wise, arrives here presumably fresh from his divorce in 24. Grass is not reedy stuff but betraying RAT. Insert.
5 County constabulary tailed streaker (5)
COMET The MET are the Metropolitan Police, following a standard CO abbreviation for County.
6 Books, or book dropped into surrounding water — from this? (9)
MOTORBOAT You’re meant to envisage a library dumping scenario. Books are/is O(ld) T(estament), OR in plain sight, another B(ook) all inserted into MOAT for surrounding water.
7 Car part, left out for scrap (3)
AXE Scrap in its verbal form. The car part is an AXLE with L(eft) left out.
12 Green cornfield after ploughing you turned up to take in (3-8)
ECO-FRIENDLY I left this for final sorting until now, since everything was more or less there. It’s an anagram (after ploughing) of CORNFIELD contained in a reversed(!) turned up YE for you.
14 Military group occupying battlement ask for ceasefire (4,5)
TASK FORCE Likewise this one, only to realise it’s a simple hidden (occupying) in battlemenT ASK FOR CEasefire.
15 Daughter is in warm pants — that's the theory (9)
DARWINISM Pants is the anagram indicator, D(aughter) IS IN WARM the fodder. Rather more observable that dark matter, methinks.
19 Good French wine is kept in stronghold (7)
BASTION Lift and separate carefully, or you end up trying to fit VIN rather than ASTI in for wine. It’s set in French for good, BON.
21 Regularly leaving by five, glad to make return (5)
YIELD Regular letters in bY fIvE gLaD leave.
23 Creativity in Belfast, potentially on the rise in school (5)
TRAIN N(othern) I(reland) ART might well be produced in Belfast. Here its on the rise , yes, really, reversed.
25 Birds initially ignored nuts (3)
ENS Nuts in printing are blocks of type creating space called ENS. The birds are HENS from which the initial is ignored.

Times Quick Cryptic No 1958 by Pedro

A bit on the tricky side today from Pedro, with a generous dose of originality that made it great fun. It would be easy to get bogged down with the harder clues, so a good lesson in hopping around the grid, giving all the clues a chance, and building up a few entry points into the puzzle. I only managed five clues with a first pass of the acrosses (8,12,13,21,22), but the easier clues opened up the grid and I ended up only missing my 10 minute target by a few seconds. A lovely puzzle - many thanks to Pedro!

1 Italian dish found a little way into the dictionary? (5)
PASTA - A little way into the dictionary would be "past A".
4 Shellfish at sea? British tucking in with hesitation (7)
LOBSTER - LOST (at sea = confused, etc.), B(ritish) tucking into it, along with ER (hesitation)
8 Exasperation when serving tea with a smile (7)
CHAGRIN -  when serving CHA (tea) with a GRIN (smile)
9 Fourth in order took first place, backed by cheers (5)
DELTA - LED (took first place) backed = reversed, by TA (cheers)
10 Favourable slant by nearly all newspaper piece — and backbone (6,6)
SPINAL COLUMN - SPIN (favourable slant) by AL ("nearly" all), COLUMN (newspaper piece)
12 Get old school guy with money to entertain area (6)
OBTAIN - OB (Old Boy = old school guy) with TIN (money) to entertain A
13 Relatives? Legally sons (2-4)
IN-LAWS - IN LAW (legally) S(ons)
16 What might you tell children about to go out? (7,5)
BEDTIME STORY - cryptic definition, with a pun on "to go out" (as in "to sleep" in the cryptic; and "to go out to play" in the surface reading). I briefly wondered if NIGHTIE NIGHT could possibly be spelt that way.
18 Heading for this lake to catch raw fish (5)
TRAWL - "Heading" for This Lake to catch RAW
20 Core material in support of golfer recalled in well-chosen words (7)
EPITHET - PITH (core material) in TEE (support of golfer) recalled = reversed
21 Inhale and swim round about (7)
BREATHE - BATHE round RE (about)
22 Panic, losing head? That’s a mistake (5)
ERROR - tERROR (panic "losing head")

1 Painter’s picture: a ship on top of ocean (7)
PICASSO - PIC(ture) A SS (SteamShip) on O ("top" of Ocean)
2 Insult with impact one has to countenance? (4,2,3,4)
SLAP IN THE FACE - a straight definition, and then a cryptic definition with puns on impact and countenance: the surface reading is "FORCE one has to TOLERATE" and the cryptic reading is "SLAP one has to FACE".
3 It is a real crackpot that would be a trapeze artist (9)
AERIALIST - anagram (crackpot) of IT IS A REAL
4 A Parisian engaged in flimsy, crazy thinking (6)
LUNACY - UN (a, Parisian) engaged in LACY (flimsy)
5 Dreadful book promotion? (3)
BAD - B(ook) AD (promotion)
6 Demand for 16 possibly producing incredulous expression (4,2,7)
TELL ME ANOTHER - double-ish definition, the first referring to the child in 16ac not wanting to sleep.
7 Staff seen around a street (4)
ROAD -ROD (staff) seen around A
11 Secure team bagging 50 in big victory (9)
LANDSLIDE - LAND (secure) SIDE (team) bagging 50 (L in Roman numerals)
14 Dodgy lawyer retiring — rest regrouping (7)
SHYSTER - SHY (retiring) and an anagram (regrouping) of REST. Etymology obscure.
15 Here’s politician before supporting a current measure (6)
AMPERE - MP (politician) ERE (before) supporting A. The "here's" at the start is best thought of as an oddly-placed linkword, there for misdirection.
17 Upset crazy attempt (4)
STAB - BATS (crazy) upset = reversed
19 Item at auction offering good deal? (3)
LOT - double definition

Times 28,079: He Who Controls The Spice

No complaints about insufficient Fridayness today - lots of chewy stuff to think one's way through here. "Mela" seemed a bit hard but then again "Kumbh Mela" does ring a bell, now I think about it. COD to 21ac - a plea I'd like to receive more often. I'm on holiday in Spokane (of all places) as of today, so I'm not going to go too in-depth but suffice it to say, thanks to the setter for a great puzzle!

Definitions underlined, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, {} deletions and [] other indicators.

1 Send up Times campaign? (5)
LOBBY - LOB [send up] + BY [times]
4 Spot if the criminal makes call after crime (4,5)
9 Champions were upset, sloping off to the rear (9)
BACKSWEPT - BACKS [champions] + WEPT [were upset]
10 Very short saying: time to go for length (5)
MOLTO - MOTTO, with T [time] replaced by L [length]
11 To be exhausted after race not acceptable (3,3)
RUN OUT - after RUN [race], OUT [not acceptable]
12 Wellington Arch is in front of small fox (8)
SLYBOOTS - BOOT [wellington] that SLY [arch] is in front of, + S
14 Unruly players’ union blocks invitation from minister (3,2,4)
LET US PRAY - (PLAYERS*) "blocked" by T.U.
16 Girl welcoming yours truly in at four o’clock? (5)
ESMEE - ESE [east south east = somewhere around 4 o'clock] "welcoming" ME
17 Classic venue where doctor’s exercising back (5)
EPSOM - MO'S P.E. reversed
19 Vital during day teachers should get a little food (6,3)
MONKEY NUT - KEY [vital] "during" MON N.U.T.
21 Plea to sleep in? So easily achieved! (2,1,5)
22 The Dutch avoid the UK? (6)
25 Close to harbour, sailor in coat bows (5)
ROSIN - {harbou}R O.S. IN. To rosin is "to coat (violin) bows"
26 Take risks to manage punishment (3,2,4)
CUT IT FINE - CUT IT [to manage] + FINE [punishment]
27 Coming across short story about party-goers (9)
28 The writer Thomas Hardy languishes, greatly diminished (5)
DYLAN - hidden in{har}DY LAN{guishes}
1 Politician, unusually calm deliberator (7,8)
2 Flyers to rip off? Someone’s might be saved (5)
BACON - B.A. [as in British Airways] + CON [to rip off]
3 Buy sets for modelling: they come with reservations? (3-4)
4 State of regularly neglected wreaths revolting (4)
STEW - reversed W{r}E{a}T{h}S - in a STEW = in a state
5 Jolly entertaining drama, overwhelming in arena? (10)
OUTPLAYING - OUTING [jolly] "entertaining" PLAY
6 Like Katherine’s mother to have food served all round (7)
TAMABLE - MA with TABLE all around. Katherine from Taming of the Shrew
7 Lion following, being after one’s territory (4,2,3)
8 New storefronts met with mockery at first throughout (4,4,2,5)
13 Food items for battering in the kitchen? (10)
DRUMSTICKS - double def, culinary/musical meanings
15 Distant waves and cheers when minister’s house opens (6,3)
TASMAN SEA - TA [cheers] "opened" by AS MANSE [when | minister's house]
18 Confusion, with religious festival returning as new (7)
MELANGE - MELA [religious festival] + reversed E.G. N
20 Was previously top, top journalist (7)
EXISTED - EX 1ST ED [previously | top | top journalist]
23 What launches spacemen do in craft (5)
SKILL - S{pacement} + KILL [do in]. LOI
24 Left after expected time with others (2,2)
ET AL - L after E.T.A.