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I found this a curate's egg of a puzzle; about half the clues seemed easy and flew in all across the grid, then it took another twenty minutes to polish it off with several not fully understood until I came to write this blog. There was nothing unacceptable in the end, just a few MERs, and a few bits of Latin which I knew, and a Russian writer I'd heard of. I think 4a gets my CoD award, if my explanation is correct!

Now to tackle last Sunday's 'replacement', which at first sight looks a toughie.

1 Revealing blouse might be tough for ladies to get into (3-3)
LOW-CUT -  a LOUT is our tough, into which we put WC for the Ladies loo.
4 All pieces for playing with at five o’clock must go in box (5,3)
CHESS SET - I think SSE here is the direction of the clock hour hand at 5 o'clock; so SSE goes into CHEST = box.
10 Celebrate noisily with band: I arranged backing (5,2,2)
WHOOP IT UP - W (with) HOOP (band) then I then PUT (arranged) reversed.
11 Long forgotten, maybe, or needing no introduction (5)
OLDEN - OR = GOLDEN, as in heraldry; drop the G = no introduction.
12 Quite a posh residence in the East End? (3)
ALL - Another H-less cockneyism I suppose, an 'ALL being a posh house, and ALL = quite as in "are you quite finished?'
13 See a Greek MP rallying workers on estate (11)
14 As end of chapter, closed book (6)
QUARTO - QUA = Latin for as, R = end of chapter, TO = closed, as in 'put the door to'.
16 Solid girl placed in sink to the left (7)
PYRAMID - MARY a random girl is put into DIP = sink, then all reversed.
19 Enough to swap tips with lover of old illustrations (7)
EXEMPLA - EX = lover of old, then the ends of AMPLE (enough) reversed.
20 English town’s fresh flood defence (6)
NEWARK - NEW = fresh, ARK = flood defence, well, flood escape mechanism.
22 In school on Thursday: a dance and whatnot (11)
THINGAMAJIG - TH (Thursday), IN, GAM (word for a school of whales), A JIG = a dance.
25 Who’s reading this letter out loud? (3)
YOU - I see this as a DD, you're reading it, and you sounds like U.
26 What one can see through stone blocks (5)
VISTA - VIA = through, insert ST.
27 Art master’s responsibility, taking class for one (9)
REMBRANDT - I put him in from checkers and definition, and eventually, at the end of the blog, saw why. REMIT = responsibility, substitute BRAND (= class?) for the I (one).
28 Soldiers needing medic, subject to stress: most faint (8)
REMOTEST - RE = soldiers, MO = medic, TEST = subject (verb) to stress,
29 What you find at bottom of the author’s bunk! (2,4)
MY FOOT - Whimsically cryptic, if you like.
1 Sheriff’s grass keeping mum (6)
LAWMAN - LAWN has MA inserted.
2 Simple creature to pursue revolutionary ancient custom (9)
WOODLOUSE - WOO = pursue, DLO = old reversed = revolutionary ancient, USE = custom. Are woodlouses or woodlice simple? They look quite complicated to me.
3 Out of bed around noon, for one’s release (5)
UNPEG - UP = out of bed, insert N for noon, EG = for one, for example.
5 Athletic event’s hard work: miss start also having entered (3,4,3,4)
HOP SKIP AND JUMP - H (hard), OP (work), SKIP (miss), AND (also) JUMP (start). If I wasn't obliged herein, I'd just have biffed it.
6 Guards collecting old clubs, lifting one each? (5,4)
SCORE DRAW - Guards = WARDERS, insert OC to get WARDEROCS then reverse it all.
7 Edge of wheel discovered to have shrivelled up (5)
SIDLE - Hidden reversed in WHE(EL DIS)COVERED. Edge as a verb.
8 Deny site could become an urban sprawl (8)
TYNESIDE - (DENY SITE)*. Well, Tyneside is a conurbation, but I doubt the local Councillors would think of it as a sprawl any more than, say, Greater Manchester.
9 Some poem confused with orator Cicero’s observation (1,7,1,5)
O TEMPORA O MORES - (SOME POEM ORATOR)*. Cicero might well have applied it to today's policital scenario, I think. Nil desperandum. As Cicero also said, salus populi suprema lex esto, Boris.
15 Right to feed English dog bread that’s disgusting (9)
REPUGNANT - RT = right, insert in order, E, PUG, NAN = bread.
17 Join by tying knot (5,4)
MARRY INTO - I can't see any more in this other than, the surface meaning, marry someone and you become integrated into their family.
18 Scrap involving Labour politicians in the past (8)
LEFTOVER - LEFT = Labour politicians, OVER = in the past.
21 Short skirts getting shorter? Too bad! (3-3)
TUT-TUT - Two TUTUS get shorter.
23 To recap, not always out to be understood? (2,3)
IN SUM - A homophone, I think, IN SOME meaning sometimes in, not always out.
24 Writer going into horrific detail about monk’s end (5)
GORKY - end of monk = K goes into GORY detail. Is gory really a synonym for horrific? I mean, gory can be horrific, but horrific isn't necessarily gory, is it? I've never read Gorky's stuff but I know they named a Moscow park after him because I've read Martin Cruz Smith's fine novel of that name.


( 42 comments — Leave a comment )
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Sep. 4th, 2019 05:29 am (UTC)
No problems for me. I think GORY is all of "going into horrific detail". That seems close enough I didn't question it. I had no idea about the 5-o-clock thing, but it couldn't be anything else.
Sep. 4th, 2019 05:38 am (UTC)
I read 24 the way Paul, just above, does.
My COD must be the Latin phrase, with the seamless melding of wordplay and surface in "orator Cicero." But REMBRANDT seemed pretty daring…
It's nice to get one of these finished in time to comment; just did Monday and Tuesday too a bit earlier.

Edited at 2019-09-04 05:55 am (UTC)
Sep. 4th, 2019 06:50 am (UTC)
I pushed this to an hour and three and am just happy to have got there in the end. Plenty of cunning on display here, and it was slow going from start to finish.

FOI 1a LOW CUT, LOsI the combination of 2d WOODLOUSE and 12a ALL, where I had a blind spot on the latter until an alphabet run on the former finally put paid to my conviction that it probably started WHO...

That was after I finally sorted out the SE, where it took me a while to see 29a MY FOOT. For a while I had a rather different answer in there, but from the moment I put it in I was thinking, "no, a setter who'd clue 9d surely wouldn't put that in a Times crossword..."


Edited at 2019-09-04 06:51 am (UTC)
Sep. 4th, 2019 07:08 am (UTC)
30 minutes for this off-beat example, with that 5 o'clock wheeze being innovatory, I think.
I struggled with the SW (7.30?) sector, with the REPUGNANT clue both suggesting a mispring (dog breEd, surely?) and inviting UGH in the middle somehow for the disgusting bit.

A teeny point, Pip, in an excellent and erudite (great Latin!) blog: in 19a, only the tips of AMPLE are reversed.

This week, the trend seems to be towards increasing knottiness: might need to set more time aside tomorrow.
Sep. 4th, 2019 07:19 am (UTC)
Indeed, ta, Z8, I have spelt it out more clearly now.
Sep. 4th, 2019 07:16 am (UTC)
Be Sidle ache, beneath the trees, fluttering and dancing...
45 mins with yoghurt, granola, etc.
Well I think this one had a record number of MERs; ten in all. I note Pip had a few. I won't go into them all for fear of being offered a list of tenuous explanations, but come on, this was a bit flaky.
Thanks setter and Pip.
Sep. 4th, 2019 07:35 am (UTC)
All done and dusted in 30m; very enjoyable. For a moment, I was thinking that 29ac could be 'my a*s*' which would certainly answer the clue but after all this is The Times...
Sorry Gothic, just spotted your comment...

Edited at 2019-09-04 07:36 am (UTC)
Sep. 4th, 2019 07:47 am (UTC)
12:40. I was quite stuck on this from about the half-way point, but then it seemed that every answer I got gave me a letter that unlocked another clue, until I was done. So it felt like a bit of a lucky escape.
Count me in the 'surely it can't be' club at 29ac.
Sep. 4th, 2019 07:51 am (UTC)
I agree with our Breakfast correspondent that this was a bit (corn)flaky.

We had something similar to the SSE idea long ago by which we were required to imagine a line drawn between two places in England and interpret it as a direction of travel in terms of a point on the compass. 'Daft' I called it then, as is today's example in my view.

ARK = 'flood defence'? Really?

I too very nearly wrote MY A*S*E at 29ac and it might have given me satisfaction to do so by that stage of the proceedings!
Sep. 4th, 2019 07:54 am (UTC)
I really liked 'flood defence'!
(no subject) - johninterred - Sep. 4th, 2019 07:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 4th, 2019 07:53 am (UTC)
DNF in 30 minutes
Beaten by this but really enjoyed it. I'll even forgive the Latin anagram (because I knew it). Thanks setter (and Pip for filling in the gaps).
Sep. 4th, 2019 08:03 am (UTC)
We're doomed!
35 minutes with LOI SCORE DRAW, despite Bolton's Under-Elevens managing a one each draw against Bradford City last night. Until I saw OLDEN, I kept thinking it must be 'scare crow.' Well, Worzel Gummidge was always my fashion inspiration, wearing his seersucker shirts. I wasn't keen on TYNESIDE, unless it was a Geordie setting the puzzle, or indeed your potential attribution to Greater Manchester, Pip, much as I wish that institution gone. Yorkist propaganda, clearly. But there is still only one Great Wen, two hunded miles south and east. FOI was THINGAMAJIG so I have to make it COD. I liked CHESS SET too. I assume the Latin, which I did know, is a reference to the present political situation. We're doomed! Even so, an enjoyable challenge. Thank you Pip and setter.
Sep. 4th, 2019 08:08 am (UTC)
28' but with THINGAMEJIG, gam being unknown. Liked REMBRANDT, CHESS SET with its (to me) innovation. Dnk EXEMPLA, as I use examples or exemplars....

Thanks pip and setter.

Edited at 2019-09-04 08:09 am (UTC)
Sep. 4th, 2019 08:28 am (UTC)
Straightforward top to bottom solve with no queries but quite a bit of biffing. Good to see a mention for the ancient and historic town of NEWARK. Well blogged Pip.
Sep. 4th, 2019 08:59 am (UTC)
A very enjoyable puzzle. The SE has been my problem area lately and held me up again, with the random 'girl' at 16a giving me trouble as usual. Once that was in, I could get 17d then 20a as my LOI (seen on the telly not long ago). Finished in just on an hour.

Lots of things to like, including the SSE for 'five o'clock' at 4a and the tricky parsing of REMBRANDT and THINGAMYJIG. Highlight though was the excellent LOW-CUT, topping the tables as my favourite clue of the week so far.

Thanks to setter and blogger.
Sep. 4th, 2019 09:22 am (UTC)
I started off with LOW CUT, then biffed UNZIP at 3d which slowed me down until GAMEKEEPERS came along. IT UP went in long before WHOOP, giving me HOP SKIP AND JUMP. The rest of the NW came together once PEG replaced ZIP. I had TUT TUT in before I considered 29a so I wasn't ar*ed about there. I knew the Latin expression. Liked NEWARK. My LOI was SIDLE, when I eventually realised there hadn't been a hidden. I was still looking at the wrong end of the clue for the definition though. EXEMPLA from wordplay, although vaguely known. I also struggled to get away from SCARECROW at 6d but then saw the inversion instruction and all became clear. An enjoyable puzzle despite the odd MER. I had a phone call in the middle and forgot to pause, so I can knock off around 3 minutes from my 38:38. Thanks setter and Pip.

Edited at 2019-09-04 09:23 am (UTC)
Sep. 4th, 2019 09:59 am (UTC)
Really liked this puzzle.. a bit quirky but absolutely none the worse for that. Liked the SSE and loved the flood defence!
And some fine surfaces, to boot.
Top class all round
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