I made rather heavy weather of this, slowed by an entry I put in but was very dubious about and an entry I injudiciously biffed. When you have a dubious entry, it tends to make you distrust the crossing letters which is nearly as bad as not having any, or at least that’s how it works for me. I also couldn’t see what was going on in 1ac, and there’s a maliciously placed comma that messes up the wordplay. I think I may have followed the setter’s artful map of garden paths too enthusiastically: others may see through such deceptions rather more easily and do relatively better than my 27.34.
I don’t think the vocab and GK needed is particularly obscure anywhere, but then I rarely do. I’m mildly impressed by the setter sneaking in two meanings of the same word in the wordplay.
Today’s smile came from the nail clue. I like daft definitions.
Clues are in italics, their definitions underlined, and their solutions in THIS STYLE.
1 What shows one’s composed and performed for, new documentation following? (9)
Ah yes, the Englishman with his usual bloody cold
. Not helped by thinking it was two words. The wordplay goes performed: SANG, for, new: FRO (it’s an anagram) and documentation: ID
6 Brief moment absorbing work matter (5)
TOPIC Brief moment TIC(k), work OP, the latter “absorbed” by the former.
9 Cheap booze from pub enthralling first of alcoholics (7)
BARGAIN Too long trying to think of cheap booze. Instead, booze from pub is BAR GIN, insert (first of) A(lcoholics)
10 Wise figure showing a lot of courage in the end retreating (7)
MINERVA Nerve is courage, so a lot of it is NERV. Place it in AIM for end reversed (retreating). Minerva is the Roman goddess of wisdom and strategic warfare, justice, law, victory, and the sponsor of arts, trade, and strategy. Impressive multitasking.
11 What’s needed for walking dog in meadow: quiet (5)
LEASH Not an insertion, which the “in” suggests. Just LEA for meadow and SH for quiet.
12 Doctors, in sum, given to single marker of death (9)
TOMBSTONE Doctors in one of their many abbreviations are MBS. Place in sum: TOT and add ONE for single.
14 Bridge that’s not finished well (3)
SPA From SPAN unfinished
15 Wine quantity not uniform? Bad business (11)
AMONTILLADO SO that’s quantity: AMOUNT but with no U(niform), bad: ILL and business: ADO
17 Proceed to accept unhappy end? (5,4,2)
CRACK DOWN ON Proceed is CRACK ON and unhappy accepted thereby is DOWN
19 Element of bondage session male eschewed (3)
TIE Probably the simplest possible element of bondage. Session: TIME with the M(ale) eschewed (posh for discarded)
20 Support car marque as an original design (9)
ARCHETYPE I couldn't justify prototype, but it didn’t stop me chewing up the minutes by putting it in. But it’s simply support: ARCH by that most evocative of car marques the E TYPE
22 Chief is behind gathering wood (5)
BEECH Chambers does justify CH as an abbreviation for chief. Put it behind BEE for gathering, as in The Great British Sewing Bee, shortly to resume on the BBC
24 Back to chop tree, clearing area, for instance (7)
EXAMPLE Back instructs you to reverse AXE for chop, then the tree you want ia MAPLE minus it’s a(rea)
26 Indian city featured in obscure plan (7)
DIAGRAM The Indian city is the one with the photo opportunity in white marble, AGRA. Insert into DIM for obscure.
27 Gaudy description of nails? (5)
TACKY One of those where the question mark indicates a whimsical Uxbridge English Dictionary description. Nails could be tacky. Well, they could.
28 Clumsy: presumably good for hitches ? (3,6)
ALL THUMBS Uma Thurman
only needed one extraordinary thumb for hitching rides in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, but you get the idea.
1 Forecaster is upset over Times letters initially (5)
SIBYL Not a hitherto unrecognised talent of Mrs Fawlty: the Sibyls were legendary prophetesses of antiquity. IS is upset to produce SI, times (as in multiply) gives BY, which I spotted for once, and get the L from the initial of Letters.
2 Blessed state of vehicle caught in squally rain (7)
NIRVANA The vehicle is a VAN, and “squally” invites you to anagram RAIN to place outside it.
3 Loud thing cat may do? Here’s a reminder (9)
FLASHBACK Depends on you seeing that a cat is a form of whip, which might LASH BACK. Loud provides the initial F.
4 Subjects observed in this may be swift to grouse? (11)
ORNITHOLOGY I was uneasy about this for so long. So both swift and grouse are birds, their alternative meanings providing an amusing surface reading. For me, it jars a bit with their positions in an ornithology, which would be alphabetically reversed? Aasvogel to Zebra Finch, anyone?
5 Mother cracked up (3)
DAM Just MAD for cracked, crazy “up”
6 Regulates day in November? On the contrary (5)
TUNES So you’re looking to reverse the syntax and put N(ovember) (NATO) in a day. Pick TUESday.
7 Chopped up half of garden pole to make frame for plants (7)
PERGOLA Half of garden GAR, add POLE and then anagram (chop up) them both.
8 Tea for each individual companion (9)
CHAPERONE Tea CHA, each PER, and individual ONE.
13 Hollywood star who could move into elite domain (7,4)
MATINEE IDOL It’s an anagram slightly sneakily indicated. It could move into ELITE DOMAIN. Well, it could.
14 Ecstatic about ace stuff in ceremony (9)
SACRAMENT Held up by the P of my prototype. Ecstatic Is SENT, ace is A and stuff is CRAM. Insert parts B and C into A
16 Pine? 22 picked up in Californian city (4,5)
LONG BEACH 22 is BEECH as you may already know. Pine is LONG, and BEACH the other tree’s homophone (picked up).
18 Shrewd account about one of old (7)
ARCHAIC Another ARCH, this time clued by shrewd. Ad AC(count) with I (one) inserted.
19 Ran miles to embrace that chap? That’s the idea (7)
THEOREM Ran is TORE, M from M(iles) and an embrace HE for that chap.
21 Pointless trial attorney has abandoned before end of day (5)
EMPTY I think this is trial ATTEMPT with the ATT(ourney) abandoned, plus the end of daY
23 Organic material from our group supporting the sound of activity (5)
HUMUS What habebit nos post molestam senectutem. Our group is US, and the sound of activity HUM.
25 Time zone reduced after upset (3)
ERA I believe this is AREA for zone reversed, but without its final letter.