Pip Kirby (pipkirby) wrote in times_xwd_times,
Pip Kirby
pipkirby
times_xwd_times

Times 27345 - that's more like it.

This was the kind of puzzle we might use as a perfect example of The Times genre, having an antelope, a plant, a mineral, a couple of literary references, and some wit. Hats off to the setter for this one. It took me about twenty minutes; I'm not 100% sure I have the correct interpretation for "plan shortly" in 11a, but the rest of it makes sense. I think 5d gets my CoD vote for its witty surface, even if it was one of the easier clues.



Across
1 Nothing gripped in newspaper article (4)
OBIT - O = nothing, BIT = gripped.
4 Bring in expert to cement new value (10)
IMPORTANCE -IMPORT = bring in, ACE = expert, insert N for new.
9 Villain’s billions have no protection (10)
BLACKGUARD - B(illions) LACK GUARD = have no protection.
10 Unusual to go back around a stretch of wall (4)
DADO - ODD reversed around A.
11 Plan shortly to restrain noise in holy city (6)
MEDINA - MEA(NS) = PLAN shortly, around DIN = noise. EDIT it's pointed out below that the convention for 'shortly' doesn't allow 2 letters to be dropped, so it is MEA(N) and PLAN is a verb not a noun.
12 Confirm answer in very remarkable detail (8)
VALIDATE - V = very, A inserted into (DETAIL)*.
14 Circumnavigator failing at the end after bad weather (4)
FOGG - FOG, (FAILIN)G. Phileas Fogg as in Around the World in Eighty Days.
15 Correction: no dementia suffered (10)
EMENDATION - (NO DEMENTIA)*.
17 Not agreeing to run fast with saw (10)
GAINSAYING - GAIN = run fast (as in a clock perhaps), SAYING = saw, proverb.
20 Stone that killed an assassin (4)
RUBY - Double definition; a jewel, and Jack RUBY who killed the chap who killed JFK.
21 Attractive office work typist finally secured (8)
TEMPTING - TEMPING secures a T from the end of typist.
23 After an honour, you had toed the line (6)
OBEYED - OBE an honour, YE'D = you had.
24 Little girl, not the first that’s into cannelloni (4)
NELL - I think this is indicating ANN or ANNE are the first girl's names to be found in CANNELLONI, and NELL is after them; Little Nell being the heroine of The Old Curiosity Shop.
25 A country swallowing fake news: that is the effect of Brecht (10)
ALIENATION - A NATION swallows a LIE = fake news. Apparently Brecht created the 'verfremdungseffekt' concept in his plays, translated as 'Alienation' or 'Distancing'. I won't pretend to understand it.
26 As driver, manoeuvre creating rage? (6,4)
CHANGE GEAR - Change (anagram) GEAR into RAGE.
27 One of the veggies getting boat to turn back (4)
LEEK - KEEL reversed. KEEL is a poetic name for a boat, which we've seen before.

Down
2 Notable male distraught, being wild about Giselle? (11)
BALLETOMANE - (NOTABLE MALE)*. Giselle being a popular ballet by Adolphe Adam, so a fan of Giselle is a balletomane, or one smitten with balletomania.
3 Enjoying a snack, perhaps, and settling for the night (7,2)
TUCKING IN - nice double definition.
4 Does one not appreciate a fire here? (7)
INGRATE - Double definition, one requiring separation of IN and GRATE.
5 Now enjoy mountain panorama, or join most people round the box? (4,7,4)
PEAK VIEWING TIME - Another witty cryptic double definition.
6 Annoyed about doctor having spoken obscurely (7)
RIDDLED - RILED about DD = Doctor of Divinity. "Why is a raven like a writing desk?' asked the Hatter. Alice didn't know. Neither did the Hatter. Carroll himself came up with an answer in the later 1897 edition of his work. (Sorry, any excuse to rabbit on about Lewis Carroll and I'm off).
7 Ruminant’s area linking places on opposite coasts (5)
NYALA - Today's antelope. NY and LA in America are linked by A(rea).
8 Bring out woman to receive sanction (5)
EVOKE - EVE has OK inserted.
13 Hiding banknotes in book is irritating (11)
TROUBLESOME - TOME = book, insert ROUBLES.
16 Agony and misfortune almost perennial (9)
TORMENTIL - TORMENT = agony, IL(L) = misfortune, almost. Today's obscure plant, it's a herb.
18 Keep moving marble, holding it (7)
AGITATE - AGATE has IT inserted. IMO agate is not the same as marble, although you can make a set of marbles (the playing game sort) from agate. https://wikidiff.com/agate/marble
19 One reacting to pun perhaps with anger, or otherwise (7)
GROANER - (ANGER OR)*.
21 Jacket king of England picked up to tour island (5)
TUNIC - CNUT, a variant spelling of Canute, is reversed and has I for island inserted.
22 Barley sprouted on a small island (5)
MALTA - MALT = barley sprouted, add A. Malta isn't really a small island, compared, say, to Gozo, but the clue wouldn't work if it just read "... on an island".
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