Happy 4th July to our transatlantic friends: if you happen to be anywhere near the Lincoln Memorial do try to enjoy the parade of tanks (so far I’ve spotted two), other military hardware and whatever 45 has to say. I think this crossword was (most likely) more entertaining, at least for my 20 minutes’ worth. Though there’s a few proper names scattered around, they’re kindly clued and shouldn’t present too many problems. I trundled steadily from top to bottom taking time out to make sure I had the wordplay right.
I’ve not spotted any theme, apart from the fact that there are more Austrians on display than we usually see.
My workings are presented with clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS: have fun.
1 Felicity initially lacking flexibility (9)
LITHENESS Felicity is happiness is BLITHENESS, which without its initial F provides our answer
6 Star of French New Wave's last book (5)
DENEB Oddly enough, I today tried to insert this star into a word game I play but failed to gain approval. Pity: Chambers tells me it’s the brightest star in Cygnus. Of French DE, N(ew) (wav)E’s last B(ook)
9 Uncle Sam welcomes more reliable loan sharks (7)
USURERS Possibly with a nod to Independence Day U(ncle) S(am) takes SURER, or more reliable, into its firm embrace
10 Break nail on inverted curve of skull (7)
CRANIAL The curve to be inverted is ARC, and attach the anagram (broken) of NAIL
11 I teach trim jockeys some maths (10)
ARITHMETIC Our anagram indicator here is “jockeys”, and the bits to fling around are I TEACH TRIM
12 Singer found in conversation (4)
BASS A soundslike (“in conversation”) clue: found as a verb is BASE
14 Withdraw personnel from Kurt Waldheim? (5)
UNMAN You need to know that former Nazi Waldheim was Secretary General of the United Nations, qualifying for inclusion in this puzzle by dying in 2007. He was therefore a U.N. MAN
15 Retired contractor missing bachelor friend in particular (9)
SPECIALLY The contractor you seek is the BICEPS. Remove the B(achelor) and tag on ALLY for friend
16 Songwriter with mature bearing (9)
PORTERAGE As well as being the charge for carriage, it’s the carriage itself, so bearing is OK. The songwriter is Cole PORTER (believe me, you know loads of his songs) and mature as a verb gives you the AGE.
18 Watering hole of Aussies scrubbed periodically (5)
OASIS Today’s every other letter clue in Of AuSsIeS
20 Rapturous state, moving right to the front (4)
RAVE The nearest I can get to a parallel definition of “rapturous” is extravagantly enthusiastic, so it will have to do; I think the setter has rave review in mind. State (not one of the 4th July set) is AVER, in which the R(ight) migrates to the front
21 See head of state wearing majestic old crown (10)
EPISCOPATE See is the seat of a bishop, and so is our answer. Construct from head of S(tate) enclosed in EPIC (majestic) plus O(ld) and PATE for crown (of head)
25 Pardon daughters ejected from accursed, filthy place (7)
AMNESTY Rather fun, this. An accursed, filthy place is a DAMNED STY. Knock out both occurrences of D(aughter)
26 It makes one wing of chateau timelessly smarter (7)
UNIFIER One wing of a chateau is the east wing, U. Add NIFTIER for smarter, but forget about the T(ime)
27 Disheartened drunk chasing last of the hard stuff (5)
EMERY I tried to make ebony work at first, but “drunk” is MERRY, from which you extract the heart, and tack it on to the last of thE. Emery is a variety of corundum, and well hard.
28 Girl coming out of westbound Underground pinched by poet (9)
DEBUTANTE QEII put an end to royal patronage of the “coming out” of young gels in 1958, but you can see one here by viewing TUBE (underground) backwards in DANTE, an infernally good poet.
1 Praise ace racing driver (5)
LAUDA Must be the first appearance of Niki, as he became eligible for inclusion scant weeks ago. Praise LAUD plus A(ce)
2 Business belonging to us is protected by trademark in America (7)
TOURISM Well it is a business. Belonging to us: OUR plus IS protected by ™. Did the setter know it was my turn? That would be nice. Not sure why “in America”, though. Perhaps I should be
3 Just finished going round New Haven (4-6)
EVEN-HANDED Here we have ENDED derived from finished encompassing a new version of HAVEN
4 Remove it from bathroom, then proceed (5)
ENSUE Presumably the bathroom is the increasingly common EN SUITE. Take out the IT
5 Impious act of plunder endlessly upset revolutionary say (9)
SACRILEGE Plunder is SACK, but its end is discarded. Upset is RILE and our revolutionary isn’t Che but an instruction to reverse EG, say.
6 Cases of listeria had raised pulse (4)
DHAL Cases here means the first and last letters, of ListeriA and HaD. Reverse them, for they are raised.
7 Return of bees at first unnerves leading novelist (7)
NAIPAUL Not a novelist I would confidently spell, but VS is clued by “of bees” APIAN returned plus “at first” both Unnerves and Leading
8 Sweets unsettle Sue's belly (5-4)
BULLS EYES just “unsettle” SUE’S BELLY
13 Chinese scholar alone grasps mind's interior essence (10)
SINOLOGIST Not some Confucius you’ve never heard of, thankfully, but a student of all things Chinese. Alone: SOLO grasps the interior of mINd and adds essence, as John Cleese would say, the very nub of my GIST
14 Something that stimulates action in capital (5-4)
UPPER CASE A disingenuous punctuation rather than geography clue. A stimulant is an UPPER, and a (legal) action is a CASE
15 Quick to notice dog without tail regularly yields (5-4)
SHARP-EYED Pay attention at the back. The SHAR PEI turned up on Tuesday, so you have no excuse for not knowing the vicious little brute. Rip its tail off, and attach the odd letters of YiElDs
17 Return from Europe not at all uplifted (7)
REVENUE Europe abbreviates to UE, not at all translates to NEVER. Conjoin and reverse both.
19 It's not a foreign channel (7)
STATION Sneaky anagram which doesn’t look like one but which is cued by “foreign". Mix up IT’S NOT A for a (radio) channel.
22 Dumpy individual succeeded by virtue of being British (5)
SQUAB I’m more familiar with this as a pigeonlet, but it can just mean fat. S(ucceeded) QUA (by virtue of being) B(ritish)
23 Ontario neighbour keeping Japanese currency in inaccessible place (5)
EYRIE So this will be Lake Ontario and its neighbour ERIE “keeping” Y(en). If you’re doing this on treeware, you can add the extra lines ¥: your OCD secret is safe with me.
24 Wife shuns fine game (1-3)
I-SPY “Game” and (1-3) doesn’t present many options. This will be WISPY pretending to be fine with the W(ife) missing