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Solving time: 11:03, which is pretty close to my average time, though I think I was on to a few lesser used techniques that popped up in here. I was a little nervous about 13 across that went in on wordplay alone.

There's a lot to like in this crossword with some intricate consrtuctions, in particular some long reversals. I love a pun, so I have to hand it to the setter for getting 28 across in.

The first definition in each clue is underlined.

Away we go....

1 Only this much into books, excluding royalty (8)
SOLITARY - SO(this much), then LITERARY(into books) missing ER(royalty)
5 Cloud is back in under a minute (6)
NIMBUS - reversal of SUB(under a) MIN(minute)
10 Saw notice become out of date (5)
ADAGE - AD(notice), AGE(become out of date)
11 In small bed, thorn tree (5,4)
SCOTS PINE - S(small), COT(bed) SPINE(thorn)
12 Give away pounds, having left nothing for artist (9)
DONATELLO - DONATE(give away), L(pounds), L(left) O(nothing) for an artist who is sometimes a turtle
13 Join English match (5)
FUSEE - FUSE(join), E(English). This was my last in, didn't know it was an outdoor match
14 Basket-maker getting thanks for a fine biscuit (7)
RATAFIA - RAFFIA(palm fibres for making a basket), with TA(thanks) replacing one of the F's
16 A little agitation as Republican code of honour almost rejected (6)
TREMOR - R(Republican), and OMERTA(Mafia code of honour) missing the last letter, all reversed
18 Chap sounds fit, for a Spaniard (6)
MANUEL - Sounds like MAN WELL. Que?
20 French film-maker’s company facing acute distress (7)
Jean COCTEAU - CO(company) then an anagram of ACUTE
22 Parts of church show small errors, length being out (5)
APSES - LAPSES(small errors) missing L(length)
23 Make a demand, and others raise it, beginning to swagger about (9)
STIPULATE - ET AL(and others), UP(raise), IT, S(wagger) all reversed
25 High-pitched sounds each video modulated (4,5)
HEAD VOICE - anagram of EACH,VIDEO, along with HEAD REGISTER it can mean falsetto
26 Wrong end of sponge cake (5)
TORTE - TORT(wrong) and the last letter of SPONGE
27 You need to remove middle and last line of story (3,3)
THE END - THEE(you) and N(ee)D
28 Bumper corn harvest may produce this quantity of work (3-5)
MAN-YEARS - a bumper corn harvest woud have MANY EARS

1 One way and another keeping a model (8)
STANDARD - ST(street, one way), AND, RD(road) containing A
2 Digest litre — gross! (5)
LEARN - L(litre), EARN(gross as in wages)
3 Eighty divisible by two? All the time (6-4-5)
TWENTY-FOUR-SEVEN - Eighty is TWENTY FOURS and something divisible by two is EVEN
4 Parrot took off over large city (7)
ROSELLA - ROSE(took off), L(large), LA(city)
6 Say what you like, Britain is so different from N Korea (3,1,4,7)
ITS A FREE COUNTRY - double definition
7 Butterfly is absolutely filled with colour (9)
BRIMSTONE - BRIMS(is absolutely filled), TONE(colour)
8 Pin more asymmetrical? (6)
SKEWER - double definition, with SKEW-ER
9 Sign off, endlessly depressed by painful condition (3,3)
LOG OUT - LO(w) (depressed), GOUT(painful condition)
15 Up-and-coming skill, covering new roofing material in render (9)
TRANSLATE - reverse ART(skill), over N(new), SLATE(roofing material)
17 Use scent liberally for appeal (8)
19 Group of composers, minus nine (3,3)
LES SIX - LESS(minus), IX(nine)
20 Your setter is within reach somehow for old monster (7)
CHIMERA - I'M(your setter is) in an anagram of REACH
21 Prestige long maintained by court (6)
CACHET - ACHE(long) inside CT(court)
24 One leads from heart ace, or leads from trump ace (5)
AORTA - A(ace) OR, first letters in T(rump) A(ce)


( 57 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jan. 10th, 2019 01:22 am (UTC)
A lot of time taken dragging BRIMSTONE from memory (parsed after the successful drag) and then trying to see why NIMBUS (didn't until after submitting). FUSEE was another that took time to remember. And then I had THE SIX, which of course made it difficult to come up with MANUEL & STIPULATE. Biffed 3d from the enumeration, never bothered to parse it. Liked MAN-YEARS (I wasted time trying to think of EAR-something), but COD to STIPULATE.
Jan. 10th, 2019 03:11 am (UTC)
23m 45s
I knew ratafia would come in handy one day!. I heard it mentioned in a Kingston Trio song decades ago! My favourite today was TWENTY-FOUR-SEVEN, although that sort of phrase is not one of my favourites!
Jan. 10th, 2019 03:12 am (UTC)
Ah, RAFFIA of course. Though I had the right answer, I was fixated on RATTAN which did not work for the wordplay.
Jan. 10th, 2019 03:36 am (UTC)
Kudos to Martin for his spanking time. Is he the new Cassandra, we wonder?

Like Aphis I fell at the RAFFIA fence (knowing neither biscuit nor drink), but since I also refused at the BRIMSTONE obstacle, this meant two days in a row where the setter was the winner by a distance. Pleased at least to remember LES SIX from a previous puzzle, which gave me a sort of Burton Albion kind of consolation.

Edited at 2019-01-10 03:37 am (UTC)
Jan. 10th, 2019 07:49 am (UTC)
Thank you, ulaca. It surprised me, too, especially when I saw that my time was better than Kevin Gregg's. No idea where it came from. I had been thinking I was going the other way and losing the crossword plot!
Jan. 10th, 2019 04:46 am (UTC)
I found this very difficult....
....and gave up after an hour with several unsolved. I read several chapters of Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs while listening to a Sonny Stitt CD (yes, I do have a CD player), and then came back. I biffed 'ratafia', thinking it was the fiber rather than the biscuit, and then saw 'rosella'.

I then looked at the butterfly, and suddenly remembered the 'brimstone', which left only 11. But I had 'peg out', which didn't really seem very right, so I erased it and tried again. Bingo! 'Log out', and then 'Scot's Pine' followed, although here in the US we say 'Scotch Pine'.

So I did solve it in the end, but my time was pretty bad. I never did understand 'twenty-four seven', either.
Jan. 10th, 2019 04:58 am (UTC)
34 minutes but missed some parsing re TWENTY-FOUR SEVEN and TREMOR where I would never have thought of 'Omerta'. DK FUSEE nor HEAD VOICE. For the record, LES SIX were: Georges Auric, Louis Durey, Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc and Germaine Tailleferre.
Jan. 10th, 2019 05:01 am (UTC)
I just wish I'd remembered to go back and try to figure out how to parse the clue for TWENTY-FOUR SEVEN before coming here, as it seems obvious now! Not obvious was the bird, of which I'd never heard, but the wordplay spelled it out, as it did FUSEE, which was at least vaguely familiar, though (or because) it looked French. Thought this was a great puzzle, starring the luminaries DONATELLO (my sculptor friend calls him the greatest of them all) and COCTEAU. Coincidence, if not synchronicity: One of the two I worked today for future issues of The Nation included as an answer STIPULATED.
Jan. 10th, 2019 07:43 am (UTC)
Lovely stuff, in the words of Shakin' Stevens. A few things which were right on the edge of my vocabulary - FUSEE, ROSELLA, HEAD VOICE - but the word play was impeccable.

Fans of the Molesworth books will have immediately thought of Grabber, Head of Skool captane of everything and winner of the Mrs Joyfull Prize for Raffia work.
Jan. 10th, 2019 12:09 pm (UTC)
Yes I remembered the Molesworth connection Tim. I think Fotherington-Tomas always won that prize. In skule crafts class we did raffia-work along with crewel-work to decorate the backs of fire-guards and embroidering tray-cloths. Carpentry wasn't offered.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Jan. 10th, 2019 05:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: 06:58 - ulaca - Jan. 11th, 2019 01:44 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 10th, 2019 07:48 am (UTC)
Didn't know the biscuit, the match, the composers, the high-pitched sounds or the butterfly but all were gettable and I finished in 39 minutes. Missed the parsing of TWENTY-FOUR-SEVEN.

I liked the MANY EARS word play and the (almost) 'omerta' reversal, but my favourite was ROSELLA for reminding me of Eastern Rosellas, some of the most beautiful birds you could wish to see.

Thanks to setter and blogger
Jan. 10th, 2019 07:50 am (UTC)
Yes, Rosellas are beautiful but, in our experience, they get bossed around by the cocky Lorikeets who strut around as if they own the place.
Jan. 10th, 2019 08:17 am (UTC)
Is this adios?
Your setter, solitary, into books, many years, sign off endlessly depressed by painful condition, log out, out of date, being out, having left .......the end.

I hope the setter is ok as I rather enjoyed this and trusted him/her with LES SIX, HEAD VOICE and FUSEE. Usual time.
Jan. 10th, 2019 11:16 am (UTC)
RE: Is this adios?
Having recently suffered my third attack of gout, I was definitely depressed - but not quite suicidal !
Re: Is this adios? - martinp1 - Jan. 11th, 2019 12:27 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 10th, 2019 08:20 am (UTC)
If Fusee so...
25 mins with yoghurt etc.
I liked this and I seemed to have the right GK except for DNK Fusee.
A few minutes lost ruling out LOI Sti(m)ulate by stopping to parse it properly.
Thanks setter and G.
Jan. 10th, 2019 08:22 am (UTC)
58 minutes, with the last five spent on the unknown 14a RATAFIA, not least because I didn't know if raffia or rattan was going to be involved and wasn't entirely certain about the unknown 4d ROSELLA, either... Also unknown were the BRIMSTONE butterfly, FUSEE, and not just LES SIX collectively, but now Jack's enumerated them, all of them individually!

Still, there was enough obscure vocab scattered about to have more confidence in biffing the unlikely-looking ones from the fair wordplay.

COD to the many ears of 28a, which raised a groan.
Jan. 10th, 2019 08:24 am (UTC)
Our Western Rosellas are pretty special birds too.
29 mins for me. Never heard of RATAFIA,FUSEE or LES SIX - in fact I have heard of one of them, Poulenc, but the other five seem to have sunk without trace. Maybe music buffs on here will correct me.
Jan. 10th, 2019 09:47 am (UTC)
Les Six
I'm watching quite a lot of old British films at the moment on Talking Pictures TV and Georges Auric's name comes up quite a lot in the music credits. He wrote for some of the famous Ealing comedies and also some of their lesser known (but still excellent) thrillers.
RE: Les Six - pipkirby - Jan. 10th, 2019 10:27 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 10th, 2019 09:07 am (UTC)
Proving once again that 20 minutes is my default setting. LOI Tremor, which had to wait for Brimstone, which had to wait for Fusee which had to wait for Skewer. A nice French sub-theme, what with Les Six and Cocteau. Darius Milhaud lent his name to the conservatoire down the road from me, and a Cocteau painting adorns my workplace, so both were familiar. Happy to have worked through Ratafia to a successful entry, though I did not know the word. Many thanks to setter and blog.
Jan. 10th, 2019 09:56 am (UTC)
The unhappy Wanderer
32 minutes with unknowns FUSEE, ROSELLA, HEAD VOICE and LES SIX all proving correct. TWENTY-FOUR-SEVEN was clever enough to have me wondering about twenty past seven for a while before the penny dropped. MANUEL hadn't come by then as I no doubt wrongly pronounce it as Emmanuel without the front bit, but I was saved by Fawlty Towers. I liked IT'S A FREE COUNTRY although by now I imagine Big Brother is watching me from the other side of this iPad screen. COD though to MAN-YEARS, a term we used to use all the time when the world believed in corporate planning. Is it people-years nowadays for the forlorn few left trying to plot a future? Good luck to them. I think my avatar is holding his head in shame at the moment, as I am. I don't think Christian Doidge does the Times crossword but if he does, sorry pal. Thank you George and setter

Edited at 2019-01-10 10:34 am (UTC)
Jan. 10th, 2019 11:19 am (UTC)
RE: The unhappy Wanderer
I suspect Mr.Doidge would even be happier at Burton Albion.
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