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I didn't find this particularly difficult, though my time wasn't blazing-Monday-fast either; but I'd certainly rate it on the gentle side, with all the definitions being entirely straightforward and most of the wordplay involving quite basic cryptic operations, a lot of putting X into Y to find Z. There was a hint of the old-fashioned about this too with the vehicular fly, and duffers getting laced, which made me think it might have been the work of an older setter? Perfectly acceptable fare of course, cheers setter!

FOI was 10ac, LOI 19d. My Clue of the Day was probably the comparatively elaborate 2dn, but for once I have an anti-COD, the slur that is the surface of 22ac. The only way I'm going to countenance "light blues good, dark blues bad!" in these parts is if it's just an Orwellian prelude to "light blues good, dark blues BETTER!" Despite, um, the two most recent boat race results...

ACROSS
1 First stronghold to protect an indefinite number after retreat (8)
FOREMOST - FORT [stronghold] to "protect" reversed SOME [indefinite number].

5 Something surgeon provides for pain (6)
STITCH - double def

10 Artefact of Catholic priest being held? (5)
RELIC - R.C. [Catholic], ELI [priest] being "held"

11 Bound to take chaps into extraterrestrial sort of escape (9)
ELOPEMENT - LOPE [bound] to take MEN [chaps], into E.T. [extraterrestrial]

12 The fellow is entertained by Greek following rationalist philosophy? (9)
ATHEISTIC - HE IS [the fellow | is] "entertained" by ATTIC [Greek]

13 Language of love used by wise man (5)
OSAGE - O [love] used by SAGE [wise man]

14 Stand where gateman has returned (7)
ETAGERE - hidden reversed in {wh}ERE GATE{man}

16 A top man, weak initially, is getting aroused (6)
WAKING - A KING [a | top man], W [weak] initially

18 Old soldiers being gathered came to the same conclusion (6)
AGREED - AGED [old], R.E. [soldiers] being "gathered"

20 Food Rosy brought around as a possible first course? (7)
CHOWDER - CHOW [food] + reversed RED [rosy]. Soup is a good first course

22 Oxford will always be beaten (5)
LACED - double def, Oxford as in a shoe. Outrageous surface

23 Glow of one about to engage in 11? (9)
FIRELIGHT - I RE [one | about] to "engage in" FLIGHT [11 = elopement]

25 Conservative head receiving a guy who lives on an island? (9)
CARIBBEAN - C BEAN [Conservative | head] "receiving" A RIB [a | guy]; guy as in "tease"

26 Part of America with no room for trendy goddess (5)
DIANA - {in}DIANA [part of America, with "no room for" trendy = IN]

27 One going quickly turning miserable, star losing love (6)
DASHER - reversed SAD [miserable] + HER{o} [star, "losing" love = O]

28 Diner travelling in carriage prepared to talk to fellow passengers? (8)
FRIENDLY - (DINER*) ["traveling"] in FLY [carriage]

DOWN
1 Confronts having to collect ash container — they may be very hot (8)
FURNACES - FACES [confronts], having to "collect" URN [ash container]

2 Man perhaps writing half of the letters (5)
RALPH - R [perhaps writing] + ALPH{abet} ["half of" the letters]. Reading, writing and arithmetic are the "three R's"

3 A line became hard to sort out, as only fit for computer input? (7-8)
MACHINE-READABLE - (A LINE BECAME HARD*) ["to sort out"]

4 Son — little couple’s beloved one (7)
SWEETIE - S WEE TIE [son | little | couple]

6 Mad golfer keen to wed — a temptation that should have been avoided? (4,2,9)
TREE OF KNOWLEDGE - (GOLFER KEEN TO WED*) ["mad"]

7 Parent upset over boy getting cut in the head (9)
TREPANNED - (PARENT*) ["upset"] over NED [boy]

8 Instruction to give girl corporal punishment here? (6)
HITHER - or else, HIT HER! [instruction to give girl corporal punishment]

9 Great big bully pursuing maiden in the capital (6)
MOSCOW - OS COW [great big | bully] pursuing M [maiden]

15 Cigars given out with ale and port (9)
ALGECIRAS - (CIGARS + ALE*) ["given out"]

17 Dry area sinking into sea somewhere across the Channel (8)
BRITTANY - TT A [dry | area] "sinking into" BRINY [sea]

19 Minimal length after incompetent person cut cloth (6)
DUFFEL - L ["minimal" length] after DUFFE{r} [incompetent person "cut"]

20 Investigator given a ring in awkward situation (7)
CORONER - O [a ring] in CORNER [awkward situation]

21 Not half thin, like many a birthday cake cut up (6)
SLICED - SL{im} ["not half" thin] + ICED [like many a birthday cake]

24 Delighted to take in Jehan’s last for organ (5)
GLAND - GLAD [delighted] to "take in" {jeha}N. Just discovered that Jehan Alain was a French composer and organist, which does help appreciate this clue

Comments

gothick_matt
Apr. 26th, 2019 06:38 am (UTC)
Haven't been so soundly beaten by a daily puzzle for ages. After staring at about ten left in the bottom half for the last twenty minutes of my hour, and then ten minutes more, I gave up. It did not help that I'd never heard of ALGECIRAS or OSAGE, and didn't know the required meanings of "duffel", "lace" or "fly" (when you're hitting the thirteenth definition down in Chambers, you know you're into obscurities!) Other than that I just wasn't on the wavelength...

Edited at 2019-04-26 06:48 am (UTC)