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Times Quick Cryptic No 1983 by Noel

Noel has set at least twice this year (he usually submits only one puzzle per year), but I blogged him under his other alias (Alfie) back in June (puzzle 1893, whilst this is 1983).  He also usually includes a theme.  I spent 13 minutes solving this puzzle, and then far more time than that searching for a hidden theme – without success!  I played with St Andrew’s and Saltire, which are obviously connected, traverses bridge or channel, and I even thought Victoria Bowes-Lyon (Bows-Latin?) rang a bell for a time.  However, I have come up blank – if there is anything there, it is too subtle for me.  However, after three days in the SCC, I am just happy to be back within target.

I found that the puzzle was fairly bland with nothing of particular interest to commend it, although SPLODGE is an interesting word and I make that my WOD, with 1a FOI and 22d LOI, and nothing else standing out as COD.  If you can spot a hidden theme where I failed, please enlighten me.

Across

Monarch raving to vicar about one (8)
VICTORIA – Anagram (raving) of [TO VICAR} and I (one).
Surrenders primitive weapons (4)
BOWS – Double definition.
9 Old language the French preserve (5)
LATIN – LA (the in French) and TIN (preserve, as in canning)
10  After church, queen left for station (7)
CHANNEL – CH{urch} followed by ANNE (queen) and L{eft}.  CHANNEL as in TV or radio station.
11 Comes across revolutionary art and poetry (9)
TRAVERSES – ART (reversed, revolutionary) to give TRA and VERSES (poetry).
12  Flushed, but hardly flush, in this (3)
RED – Cryptic clue.  If you are ‘in the RED’, you aren’t flush – you owe money.
13  Brings up Religious Education in English county (6)
BREEDS – RE (religious education) inside BEDS (English county – Bedfordshire).
15  Game of golf embraced by newlywed (6)
BRIDGE – BRIDE (newlywed) containing / embracing G{olf} (NATO alphabet).
18  Unions returning on a smaller scale? (3)
CUT – TUC (Trades Union Congress – Unions) reversed (returning).
20  New wardens on the way for golf club (2,7)
ST ANDREWS – Anagram (new) of [WARDENS] after ST{reet} (the way).  We seem to have seen a lot of St Andrews recently.
23  Reflecting some merit, lasses feature on Scottish flag! (7)
SALTIRE – Reverse hidden answer in {m}ERIT, LAS{ses}.
24 One judge getting angry (5)
IRATE – I (one) and RATE (judge).
25  Promise without really delivering, at first (4)
WORD – WO (without) and R{eally} D{elivering} (at first – first letters).
26  Rush to NE, moving from different direction (8)
SOUTHERN – Anagram (moving) of [RUSH TO NE].


Down

1  Nearly all getting into animal doctor’s clean car (5)
VALET – VET (animal doctor) containing AL{l} (nearly all).
Country dwelling with animal enclosure outside over the top (7)
COTTAGE – CAGE (animal enclosure) outside OTT (Over The Top).
Very little weight carried by announcement (5)
OUNCE – Hidden in (carried by) {ann}OUNCE{ment}.
4  Where luggage goes as a precaution (2,4)
IN CASE – Where one would expect to find ones luggage – in a case!
6 Someone who has depression, missing daughter (5)
OWNER – {d}OWNER (downer, depression, missing D{aughter}).
7 Large stain ruined old pegs (7)
SPLODGE – Anagram (ruined) of [OLD PEGS].
Emperor’s carriage crossing sea to the north (6)
CAESAR – CAR (carriage) with SEA reversed inside it (crossing SEA ‘to the north’).
13  Deer spotted woodcutter (7)
BUCKSAW – BUCK (dear) and SAW (spotted).  A BUCKSAW is a large saw with a blade set in an H-frame.  The blade is tensioned by a chord across the opposite end of the H-frame to the blade.
14  Boy doing some spring-cleaning briefly (6)
DUSTIN – DUSTIN{g} – spring-cleaning (briefly – drop the last letter).  Not sure why this is ‘boy’, most DUSTINS grow up to be men!
16  When to expect moisture, it’s said, on fruit (3,4)
DUE DATE – part homophone (it’s said) – DUE (sounds like DEW – moisture) on DATE (fruit).
17  Stare, with old boy turning up in summerhouse (6)
GAZEBO – GAZE (stare) and OB (old boy) reversed (turning up).
19  Row about Liberal alternative to Thatcher? (5)
TILER – TIER (row) containing (about) L{iberal}.  A TILER is an alternative to a thatcher, for those of us not fortunate enough to live in a thatched cottage.
21  Meaning to join doctor, if time (5)
DRIFT – DR (doctor) IF (if) and T{ime}.  Get my DRIFT?
22  Starts on some Kafka: a German yarn (5)
SKEIN – First letters (starts on) S[ome} K{afka} and EIN (a in German).  A SKEIN is a standard length of yarn.
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