Times Quick Cryptic 1530 by Izetti

Solving time: 7 minutes. Quite a gentle offering from Izetti today, I thought, although I was helped by the long answer at 1ac which was a write-in for me and got things off to a flying start. Others not familiar with the word may have struggled a bit. How did you fare, I wonder?

As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions and substitutions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]. I usually omit all reference to positional indicators unless there is a specific point that requires clarification.

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Ulaca de Milo

Times 27565 - Christopher Newport Meets Bo Peep

A bit of a skeletal blog, I'm afraid, as I have to attend a hastily arranged meeting with Louisa, the scary head of our newly established Projects and Administration Department. This was a workaday Monday puzzle, I felt, no aspersions intended, which I completed in a sub-Nitchian (but possibly not sub-Witchian) 21:33. My last in was 10a, which I would usually expect with a hyphen.


1 Healthy? Congratulations! (4,3,3)
GOOD FOR YOU - Double definition
6 Very last sale (4)
9 Easy victim called out for help (7)
SUCCOUR - sounds like 'sucker'
10 Promise to train sportsman, maybe (7)
SEMIPRO - anagram* of PROMISE
12 Quickly produce ladder, going where? (3,2)
RUN UP - RUN UP; it's a long time since I wore nylons, but my understanding is that they can run (i.e. tear) up as well as down in defiance of gravity
13 Clothing I adjusted for restaurant (9)
BRASSERIE - BRASSIERE with the I moved
14 Hunter conspires to rouse game (4,2,3,6)
PUSS IN THE CORNER - HUNTER CONSPIRES*; strangely, I heard this for the first time in an old Bette Davis movie the other day
17 Two ways to make a grab using perhaps dubious means (2,4,2,2,5)
BY HOOK OR BY CROOK - if you were a pirate, you would grab with a hook, but if you were a shepherd you would perform the operation with a crook
20 Daughter leaves serious drinker, a sign of things to come (9)
21 Tree roughly embraced by writer (5)
23 Figure initially crawling past into lair (7)
DECAGON -C[rawling] AGO in DEN
24 A large drink, so to speak, for girl (7)
25 Proverbially smooth advocate? (4)
SILK - a sort of cryptic definition, I would suggest, milud
26 Sailor used weapon twisted round (4-6)


1 A grub stop, for cooking? (9)
2 Nothing to read in old language (5)
OSCAN - O SCAN; Oscan is a dead sister language to Latin
3 Following good opinions, terrible getting this from 1 down? (4,9)
4 Snack as two Italian rivers rise (no falls) (7)
RAREBIT - reversal of TIBER and AR[no]
5 Performing with two legs (2,5)
ON STAGE - ON (leg side in cricket) STAGE (leg of a race)
7 Extraordinary sense finally awoken in one inspiring language (9)
ESPERANTO -ESP [awoke]N in ERATO (the best known muse)
8 Idle chap is leading medic? (5)
DRONE - DR ONE (the no. 1 doc)
11 Not manage to become pregnant, say? Bad idea (13)
MISCONCEPTION - I'd have thought 'misconceive' would be a bit more accurate, but what do I know about pregnancies?
15 All round sides of ship, unthinkable to chuck alien out (9)
16 Staying helpful, elder badly provoked again (9)
REKINDLED - KIND (helpful) in ELDER*
18 Part of body area includes unknown thin material (7)
19 Loudly disapprove of incomplete accommodation (7)
20 Such a destination includes Pluto (5)
HADES - hidden &lit
22 Bird an inch short? It’ll blow away (5)
Jim and Mo

Mephisto 3098 - Tim Moorey and a Triple Ton for Jimbo

My first Mephisto Blog was puzzle 2489 which appeared in May 2008. It was, coincidentally, set by Tim Moorey. Today’s blog is my 300th Mephisto offering (ignoring specials such as the commemorative puzzles for Mike Laws).

I’d like to congratulate the setters on maintaining a very even standard through that period and to thank them for the hours of fun that they provide. Hopefully the efforts of George and myself have helped some new solvers whilst occasionally putting the more experienced out of their misery!

Unless you’re very experienced you are unlikely to solve a Mephisto without using Chambers. The idea is that you use the precise wordplay to derive an answer that you then verify in the dictionary.  4D is a perfect example.

An interesting puzzle with some elements of difficulty and slightly obscure GK. I have a slight problem a 30A which appears not to contain a definition.

In the clues, definitions are underlined. Wordplay explanation is followed by very helpful comments.


1 Card game introduced by senior? Old hat (8)
6 Bad-tempered ladies perhaps pulling face (4)
ARSY: (K)ARSY; karsy=slang for toilet=ladies
10 Twin succeeded in Uganda (4)
ESAU: E(S)AU; twin of Jacob;
12 Villain losing his head on opening stretch (8)
13 Plenty of roll in a ball (9)
16 A dish from Malaysia / posed as before (4)
SATE: two meanings;
17 Day in South American country for Harold’s partner (6)
CHILDE: CHIL(D)E; Childe Harold's Pilgrimage is a lengthy narrative poem in four parts written by Lord Byron that I’m unlikely to ever read.
18 Number one tube network in old city (6)
URETER: U(RETE)R; “number one” is child-speak for urinate;
19 Mollusc in centre’s something dire (10, two words)
21 Your setter has spirit for the Irish gig (10)
TIM-WHISKY: TIM-WHISKY; gig=a carriage;
25 Not one getting about in street tracked vehicle (6)
26 Room for bit of laughter in TV and school magazine? (6)
TERMLY: TV=Telly then change L (a bit of laughter) to RM=room;
27 Nigerian writer in distress on returning (4)
OKRI: IRK-O reversed; Ben Okri OBE FRSL is a Nigerian poet and novelist;
30 One following Marlborough’s first in series of court battles (9)
RAMILLIES: RA(M-I)LLIES; battle in the War of Spanish Succession fought by Marlborough and others in 1706. There appears to be no definition in the clue.
31 Motion appearing right away to get poetic inspiration (8)
AGANIPPE:(appearing – r)*;
32 Violent striking / back-hander (4)
DASH: two meanings;
33 Earthenware flown from the east (4)
DELF: FLED reversed;
34 Mini casing starts to drop off, making marks (8)
INSIGNIA: (ini + asing)*;


1 Judge keeping African party in session (6)
2 Mum starts to use low-cal batter (4)
MAUL: MA-U(se)-L(ow);
3 Catholic excused from belief to try again (4)
4 Cheer on importing Italian bitumen (9)
5 Experts hedging about discontinued UK currency (6)
ONCERS: ON(C)ERS; old £1 notes;
7 With several branches, Standard to ring in the morning (6)
8 Magnificent white in Majestic style (9)
9 Outmoded present coming from unknown lady (4)
11 Relative and wife reverse things done in the past (6)
14 Quiet anger about coloured liquid reduction (9)
15 Tops in the Open, Tiger previously lacking energy (9)
20 Argentina featuring in bound newspaper (6)
22 Son interrupting lesson is of a piece (6)
23 Hospital accepted two upright characters crossing Washington state (6)
HAWAII: H-A-(WA)-I-I; accepted=A;
24 Mohammed’s wife votes with Middle Eastern ruler, ignoring second husband (6)
27 Nothing wrong with a short book (4)
28 Clay under damp soil that’s large showing up (4)
GLEI: IE-LG reversed;
29 Girl in bed very put out (4)

Sunday Times Cryptic 4885, 12 I 2020, by David McLean — Needling Boris

Hey, I had a McLean puzzle last go-round! Well, Biddlecombe has explained what happened there… This was great fun, despite the absence of any really unusual vocabulary, nothing previously unknown to work out strictly via wordplay (except, slightly, 17). I have a quibble about 18, but I’m not getting too worked up about it.

Seeing 14 next to SING SING (and ICE), I couldn’t help but think of Carlos Ghosn’s brilliant EXIT STRATEGY, for which he should get some kind of AWARD. Was it in a TROMBONE case that he made his escape? (We have TRUMPETS this week too, and some other people “with brass.”)

I indicate (rangasam)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.

 1 We reckon most satire isn’t right (10)
ESTIMATORS — (most satire)*
 7 Socialist cutting line for hotel lift (4)
HEFT — ”Left,” for “socialist,” replaces its L with an H. One of the last I saw.
 9 Conservative no longer worried by Times reports? (8)
COVERAGE — C(onservative) + OVER, “no longer worried by” + AGE, “Times”
10 Fruit left in the sun, growing without end (6)
11 Foreign and domestic articles editor listed (6)
13 Declare one’s guilt repeatedly to get here? (4,4)
SING SING — CD and &lit?, next to which I wrote “Ha!” But the very next one was even funnier.
14 Amazingly sexy tiger tat? Bojo claims he has one (4,8)
EXIT STRATEGY — (sexy tiger tat)* My COD, obviously.
17 Proper idiots playing chicken (4-8)
POOR-SPIRITED — Is this another Brexit reference? (Proper idiots)* The precise expression was new to me.
20 Consumed a British dessert cut by duke (8)
ABSORBED — A + B(ritish) + SORBE[-t] +D(uke)
21 The foot is part of the human body (6)
BOTTOM — Do tell! DD
22 Something one might read in The Post? (6)
COLUMN — &lit, with the wordplay being a CD
23 Music producers bow out of Loose Women (8)
TRUMPETS — [-s]TRUMPETS There is a disputed theory about the origin of the letter S connecting it to a compound bow, as I found when returning to this and not immediately remembering the solution I arrived at last week. But “bow” must simply refer to the “front” of the word, as in the front of a ship. Maybe I should make more notes while solving.
25 Old lady tucked in by a hospital nurse (4)
AMAH — A(MA)H Standard crossword fare, which means the most exotic word here isn’t at all, for most of us.
26 Furniture panel seen in banks (10)
SIDEBOARDS — SIDE(BOARD)S Meh. Could have clued for the muttonchop def.

 2 Small, quality guitar tool (early model) (5,3)
STONE AXE — S(mall) + TONE, “quality” + AXE, “guitar”
 3 Reserve of diamonds (3)
 4 Grant for arts, originally one supported by Guardian (5)
AWARD — A, “arts, originally” + WARD, “one supported by [g]uardian”
 5 Deliveries heading for English area abroad (7)
OVERSEA — OVERS, “deliveries” (cricket) + E(nglish) + A(rea) Over here, we’re more likely to say “overseas.”
 6 Tiger seen roaming around vast tract of land (9)
SERENGETI — (Tiger seen)*
 7 One of the people dealing with cuts or treating shock? (11)
HAIRSTYLIST — CD, rather amusing
 8 Republican admitted to bad spirit in China (6)
12 In bed feel full of phlegm ultimately, but ok (3,2,2,4)
NOT UP TO MUCH — NOT UP, “in bed” + TO([-phleg]M)UCH Just OK.
15 Those with the brass to rob men’s pants (9)
TROMBONES — The nerve! (to rob men’s)*
16 After swimming, red otter came back quickly (8)
RETORTED — (red otter)*
18 She regularly went out and used drugs (7)
SEDATED — S[-h]E + DATED Hmm. If you sedated a patient or a wild animal, you would be using drugs on that person or tiger or whatever. If you drugged yourself, could you say you “sedated,” sans a pronominal object? Not legally, as it’s not an intransitive verb.
19 A Pole that criminal finally breaks out (6)
ABLOOM — A B([-crimina]L)OOM That’s “boom” as in the pole that holds a microphone.
21 Promotional material for obscure book (5)
BLURB — BLUR, “obscure” + B(ook)
24 Plant fruit tree after pruning its base (3)
PEA — PEA[-r]

Jumbo 1418

Happy New Year, if a little belated.

This one was a fair test for New Year's Day, although as much effort went into parsing some of the clues as actually determining the solutions. 49A and 35D in particular caused some head scratching.

If I had to pick a favourite clue it would probably be 28A for the cluing of the second part. 43A was well clued and also 42D in my opinion.

1 INTIMATE - IN TIME = eventually, around (l)AT(e)
5 USEFUL - U = uniform, SEUL = only (in French = for Nancy), around F = feminine
9 CELEBES - CELEBS = famous people, around E = eastern
14 PREPARATORY - PREP = pupils' work, A, (o)RATORY = chapel
15 RIGHT AS RAIN - RIGHT = entitlement, A, S = small, RAIN = shower
16 STAID - ST = street = way, AID = help
17 ANTHILL - A, NTH = ultimate (as in "to the nth degree"), ILL = misfortune
28 THE STICKS - sounds like THE STYX = underground river
19 OPENING - O = old, PEN(n)ING = writing
20 ROOM TEMPERATURE - ROOM = space, TEMPERATURE = symptom of illness
22 OBSTETRICS - cryptic definition using different definitions of "expecting"
23 BELT UP - double definition
25 DOTH - hidden in understanD OTHers
28 POP THE QUESTION - POP = Dad, THE QUESTION = "to be or not to be"
30 PROCURER - PRO = for, CURER = doctor, we hope
32 SOFT-SOAP - SOFT = non-rigid, SOAP = bar
37 MAGI - MAG = glossy, I = one
38 EIDOLA - OLDIE*, A = article. I needed to look this one up to confirm the result of the anagram
39 REVELATION - REV = priest, ELATION = feeling of euphoria
43 NO MAN IS AN ISLAND - double definition, the first cryptic and relying on the fact that Douglas is the capital of the Isle of Man
45 TOUPEES - OUP = publishing house, in TEES = river
47 PENTECOST - PEST = nuisance, around NT = books and ECO = green
49 SWANSEA - SANS = without, around W = whiskey, then the alternate letters in wAtEr, reversed. I think this is how it works
51 TWINE - TWIN = double, E(xercise)
54 SKY BLUE - SKY = send up, BLUE = down
55 KILTER - double definition
56 STURGEON - SURGEON = bones, around (throa)T

1 IMPASTO - I'M PAST = me, too old, O = love
2 THE GAME IS UP - double definition, the first mildly cryptic referencing the game of quidditch from the Harry Potter series of books and films which is played while flying on broomsticks
3 ME AND MINE - MEAN = excellent, D = daughter, MINE = source of wealth
4 TRAFALGAR SQUARE - TRAFALGAR = area of sea (in the Shipping Forecasts), SQUARE = level
6 SKY PILOT - double definition, the first referencing Sky as a TV channel
7 FOR ALL THE WORLD - FOR ALL = unrestricted, THE WORLD = our planet
8 LEGITIMATE - LEG = on (cricket), IT = appeal, I'M = I am, ATE = worried
9 CATS EYE - cryptic definition
10 LISZT - double definition, the second cryptically referring to "Brahms and Liszt" as rhyming slang for drunk
11 BEAN COUNTER - BEAN = some coffee, COUNTER = table
12 SINISTER - SISTER = relative, around IN = at home
13 POST - double definition
20 ROCKER - double definition
21 ADDUCED - A = answer, D(e)DUCED = worked out
22 OPPOSE - OP = work, (a)ESOP = ancient author, reversed
24 PERMANENT MAGNET - PERM = make arrangements, ANENT = concerning, MAG = publication, NET = after tax
27 CRAYON - C = carbon, RAYON = fibre
29 HESSIAN - HE'S = man's, SIN = wicked deed, around A
31 FAG END - F = fine, AGEND(a) = work list
35 ABIDE WITH ME - A, BID = try, E, WITH M.E. = suffering debilitating condition. I think this is how it works
36 I DONT THINK - double definition
40 ADULTERER - ADULTER = more grown up?, E(age)R
41 IN SPADES - IN = popular, SPA = health centre, alternate letters in DiEtS
42 BAD APPLE - BIG APPLE = New York, with IG (=reversed GI = soldier) removed and replaced with A and D = day
44 SLOVENE - (E(nglish), NOVELS)*
46 SLEEP IN - SPIN = take a turn, around LEE = shelter
48 EXTOL - EX = without, TOL = LOT = fortune, reversed
50 SARK - SARK(y) = cutting

Times Cryptic No 27558 - Saturday January 11th, 2020. Another pleasant midsummer Saturday.

Times Cryptic No 27558 - Saturday January 11th, 2020. Another pleasant midsummer Saturday.

The setters continue to be gentle in the holiday season. I rolled through this one at a steady pace. Strangely my LOI was 11dn, which seems so obvious in retrospect. FOI was 6ac. My clue of the day was 5dn, which had me thinking tragicomic thoughts of Sir Humphrey back in the USSR! Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

Clues are blue, with definitions underlined. (ABC*) means ‘anagram of ABC’. Deletions are in [square brackets].

1 Store work editor rejected, one involved in plot (10)
DEPOSITORY – DEPO is OP (work) + ED ‘rejected’, then I in STORY.
6 Fringes of severed nets caught a fish (4)
SCAD – SD (fringes of ‘severed’) ‘nets’ C (caught), and A.
9 Pay to enter island held by mutinous characters from Bounty (3,4)
BUY INTO – I for island in ‘mutinous characters of’ (BOUNTY*).
10 Mother declines possible award when the action's over? (7)
DAMAGES – DAM, AGES. The action would be the legal type.
12 Mammal repeatedly hit heads for its refuge (5)
TAPIR – TAP (hit), then ‘heads for’ I[ts] R[efuge]. I raised an eyebrow at ‘repeatedly’, although tap-dancing certainly features repetition.
13 Haughty pair, one given wrong mark in top event (5,4)
GRAND PRIX – GRAND (haughty), PR (pair), I (one), X (wrong mark).
14 Through gritted teeth, accepting one’s been fired? (6,3,6)
BITING THE BULLET – just a cryptic definition, I think. If so, a rather unattractive example of the genre IMO.
17 Having drunk limitless wine, ailing emperor's given herbal remedy (7,8)
EVENING PRIMROSE – (-IN- EMPERORS GIVEN*), ‘drunk’. The -IN- is ‘limitless’ WINE.
20 Kitty, heading for Altamira, scours series of caves (9)
21 Goes up to deliver a couple of points (5)
RIDES – RID (deliver), E[ast], S[outh]. “Up” is riding a horse, I suppose.
23 More troubled about location of ashes? One might be (7)
MOURNER – (MORE*) ‘troubled’, around URN.
24 Key worker at home right out of time (7)
INDEXER – IN (at home), DEX[t]ER (right, out of time). Someone who creates keys for books, libraries, or whatever.
25 European family repelled deity (4)
NIKE – E[uropean], KIN, all ‘repelled’. The sporting goods company is much better known than the namesake Greek goddess, I suspect.
26 Artful teacher claims English exercises set back someone not attending fully? (10)
SLEEPYHEAD – SLY (artful), HEAD (teacher), ‘claiming’ E[nglish], and PE ‘set back’.

1 Dubious girl coming out with a roster (9)
DEBATABLE – DEB (girl coming out), A TABLE.
2 Informal assent by dad to meet cost (3,2)
3 City type to check an overseas currency one's invested (3,10)
SAN FRANCISCAN – AN, FRANC, I’S all ‘invested’ in SCAN.
4 But atheist finally believed (7)
THOUGHT – THOUGH, [atheis]T.
5 Record of Soviet bureaucracy? (3,4)
RED TAPE – RED (Soviet), TAPE (record).
7 Cooking oil with garlic creates a little smoke (9)
CIGARILLO – (OIL GARLIC*), ‘cooking’.
8 Case of disease seen regularly by doctor (5)
DESEX – D[iseas]E, S[e]E[n], X (by). ‘Doctor’ is used as a euphemism.
11 Twelve holding calculators when periodic payments due? (10,3)
MIDSUMMERS DAY – MIDDAY (twelve) holding SUMMERS. ‘Quarter days’ have appeared in previous crosswords, but I didn’t remember when they fell. Still, the three letter word looked likely to be DAY, and once I’d run through 12 apostles, 12 is a dozen and (topically) the 12 days of Christmas, the thought of 12 noon helped the answer jump out.
15 Timber producer has post for driver crossing right class of road (4,5)
TREE TRUNK – TEE (post for driver) crossing R, then TRUNK [road].
16 Revered priest ultimately comforted, having lost heart (9)
18 Roof would be better were the two sides reversed (7)
GAMBREL – swap the R and L of GAMBLER to get a word I didn’t know but put in on trust.
19 Unusual perception shown during service break (7)
20 Culinary plant with Latin name I recalled (5)
CUMIN – CUM (‘with’, in Latin), then IN is N[ame] and I ‘recalled’.
22 Southern US team has to buy it at the borders (5)
DIXIE – XI (side, for cricket or football) ‘bordered by’ DIE (buy it).

Times Quick Cryptic No 1529 by Wurm

I last blogged a QC by Wurm in October, and it generated lots of interesting discussion. I really enjoyed this one too. Like last time, I found it a little wiggly in places, but with some neat and entertaining clueing. A couple of clues, I thought, would not be out of place in the 15x15, so I think those who were looking for an easier one today may be disappointed. Bits I liked, in particular, were the gangster at 1A, the sneaky definition at 20A, the misleading bar paraphernalia at 2D and the filthy book collection at 12D. At just under 6 minutes I was over my average time and it was my slowest of the week, so I, at least, found it a bit trickier than usual. No real hold-ups for me but those slithery wiggles mite cast some muddy hillocks on your path and cause your solving to slow to a crawl and dragon a bit. [That's enough - Ed]. Thank-you Wurm. Top hole! [I said that's enough - Ed]. How did you all get on?

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Times 27,563: The Coast of Euterpe-a

A very musical crossword, with something for everybody's ear, be it hip-hop, rapidly trilling 1/32-notes, the excitement of high C's (possibly on the high seas) or just a 15dn (more terpsichorean than euterpean, if indeed the muses have anything to with it).

I enjoyed the puzzle a lot, with plenty of entry points but a lot of clues that needed some thought to put down with confidence. I was host by my biffer's petard on more than one occasion, entering first SEMIDEMIQUAVERS and then trying out HEMI in various configurations until ANCHORED finally swam into view. Likewise I *always* but always spell it CACCHINATE on the first try, by false analogy to Gracchus or Bacchus or something I'll be bound.

My compliments to the setter for a not at all 25dn Friday outing!

1 Cockney worker accepting dull job fast (8)

6 With this music, see the joint jumping? (3-3)
HIP-HOP - in which we see HIP [the joint] HOP

9 For all to see, what FDR did for the world (6)
URANUS - U [for all to see, at the cinema] + RAN US [what FDR did, between 1933 and 45]

10 Game ending in hullabaloo, filming abandoned (4-4)
MINI-GOLF - ({hullabalo)O + FILMING*) ["abandoned"]

11 What’s said to drive away mule? (4)
SHOE - homophone of SHOO!

12 Wrongly believed hotel is obliged to put on film (10)
MISTHOUGHT - H OUGHT [hotel | is obliged to], put on MIST [film]

14 Swindle flourished: moneylenders flee (8)
FLIMFLAM - FL. I.M.F. LAM [flourished | moneylenders | flee]

16 Volume’s dedication to its author? (4)
TOME - or TO ME, a dedication by an author to themself!

18 Turn down short side road (4)
SPUR - SPUR{n} [turn down, "short"]

19 As Di having left, lively party’s ending (8)
QUASHING - QUA SHIN{di}G [as | lively party, with DI "having left"]

21 A commotion’s beginning in church — natural to laugh (10)
CACHINNATE - A C{ommotion} in CH, + INNATE [natural]

22 French writer rejected fancy English (4)
GIDE - reversed DIG [fancy, as in like] + E

24 Gas that is to escape slowly after houseroom evacuated (8)
SCHMOOZE - SC. [that is] + OOZE [escape slowly] after H{ouseroo}M

26 Unconventional lad, tho’ far from fashionable (3,3)
OLD HAT - (LAD THO*) ["unconventional"]

27 Men rebuked for bloomer (6)
ORCHID - O.R. CHID [men | rebuked]

28 Light oriental dish around noon, one without starter (8)
SUNSHINE - SUSHI around N, + {o}NE

2 Player given hand, being latest in series to receive gold (5)
NORTH - NTH [latest in series] to "receive" OR [gold]. One of the four players dealt a hand in the game of bridge.

3 Old barbarian — cause of complaint — leading demo (6,5)
HUNGER MARCH - HUN GERM ARCH [old barbarian | cause of complaint | leading]

4 Sort of mirror on small badge cut off (8)
RESEMBLE - RE S EMBLE{m} [on | small | badge, "cut off"]. If you resemble someone, you sort of mirror them, sort of?

5 Tremble when passing notes around, short ones (15)
DEMISEMIQUAVERS - QUAVER [tremble], when DEMISE MIS [passing | notes] "around"

6 Big cheese sandwich on cholesterol-packed wraps (6)
HONCHO - hidden in {sandwic}H ON CHO{lesterol-packed}

7 Drop litter and stuff (3)
PIG - double def. "Pig" means both "to give birth to pigs", and "to eat greedily".

8 American monk with a halo that’s slipping (9)
OKLAHOMAN - (MONK + A HALO*) ["slipping"]

13 The responsibility of school to carry out: head of history fired (2,2,4,3)
UP TO HIGH DOH - UP TO HIGH [the responsibility of school] + DO [to carry out] + H{istory}. I'd never heard of this expression (thankfully the cryptic was straightforward!) but it does indeed mean "in a state of great excitement or agitation". Not to be confused with being "for the high jump", which could be a different kind of fired!

15 Erotic performer’s comeback reportedly overlooked by Hollywood police? (3,6)
LAP DANCER - homophone of ANSWER [comeback], preceded by L.A.P.D. [Hollywood police]

17 What old sailors must follow to go beyond headland (4,4)
CAPE HORN - EH O R.N. [what | old | sailors] must follow CAP [to go beyond]

20 Hanging underneath leg, sway (2,4)
ON HOLD - HOLD [sway], underneath ON [(cricket) leg]

23 Last of liquid? Tip it down sink (5)
DRAIN - {liqui}D + RAIN [tip it down, rather British-idiomatically]

25 One’s not moved border up (3)
MEH - reversed HEM [border]. An expression of indifference or boredom, which surely only a Victorian queen would feel the need to express as "one is not moved" instead.

Times Quick Cryptic No 1528 by Orpheus

Another tricky puzzle today from Orpheus, taking me two minutes over my target and about a minute longer than yesterday. It seemed to require more GK than average for a QC along with a number of unyielding cryptics (such as the joy of a random woman lurking in the crucial bit of an uncommon word at 10d). On a par with a few 15x15s that we've had since the New Year, so worth persevering with, and lots to enjoy along the way. Lovely puzzle - many thanks to Orpheus!

1 Birds show pleasure endlessly, finding flowering plant (8)
LARKSPUR - LARKS (birds) PURR (show pleasure), endlessly = dock the tail. I see larkspur is also a colour, the latest hot trend of the Roaring Twenties: "Newest Season's colours including Grey, Cocoa, Larkspur, Fawn," claimed the Daily Express in 1927, describing it a couple of weeks later as "a pastel blue inclining slightly to the mauve."
5 Clothing to boast about (4)
GARB - BRAG (boast) about = reverse.
8 Soldiers apt to be trustworthy (8)
RELIABLE - RE (Royal Engineers = Soldiers) LIABLE (apt)
9 English theologian introducing a collection of old Norse poems (4)
EDDA - E(nglish) DD (Doctor of Divinity = theologian) introduces A.
11 Hospital worker fastens fur badly (5,5)
STAFF NURSE - anagram (badly) of FASTENS FUR
14 Protest about being trapped in blooming railway! (6)
OUTCRY - C. (circa = about) trapped in OUT (blooming, as in flowers) RY (railway)
15 Go back and surrender again (6)
RECEDE - if CEDE is surrender, RE-CEDE could be to surrender again. It took 6d and 7d to convince me that TURN definitely couldn't mean surrender, in the "turn in" vein, which looks a bit silly in retrospect.
17 Spanish youth rejected by an upper-class Welsh girl (10)
ANDALUSIAN - DAL (LAD/youth "rejected") by AN, U (upper-class) SIAN (Welsh girl). I think this refers to the language, with Andalusian being a variety of Spanish.
20 Flat-bottomed boat made by firm in the Devon area (4)
SCOW - CO. (firm) in SW (Devon area)
21 Dinar Don changed for would-be priest? (8)
ORDINAND - anagram (changed) of DINAR DON. A person about to be ordained.
22 Symbol of rank crack troops held at first (4)
SASH - SAS (crack troops) H (Held "at first")
23 Chum put down floor covering, interrupting exercise (8)
PLAYMATE - LAY (put down) MAT (floor covering) interrupting PE (exercise)
1 Old stringed instrument storyteller talked of (4)
LYRE - spoken the same as LIAR (teller of stories). So there isn't a Loot's Fables I hadn't heard of, then.
2 Bakery product — or part, so it’s said (4)
ROLL - is said the same as ROLE (part, as in actor's)
3 Slovenly former nurse drinking coffee extremely languidly (10)
SLATTERNLY - SRN (State Registered Nurse = former nurse) drinking LATTE (coffee), LY ("extremely" LanguidlY). Good word - from the dialect verb slatter "to spill or splash awkwardly, to slop, to waste, etc."
4 Put out about biography finally lacking spiritual elevation (6)
UPLIFT - anagram (out) of PUT about/around LIF (LIFE = biography, lacking final letter). As in uplifting, to lift the spirits.
6 Cow possibly turned up Japanese coin under tree (8)
ALDERNEY - NEY (YEN/Japanese coin, turned up = reversed) under ALDER (tree). "Possibly" as it's also an island.
7 Couple allowed to make wrist ornament (8)
BRACELET - BRACE (couple) LET (allowed)
10 Untruthfulness of woman in popular financial area (10)
INVERACITY - VERA (woman) in IN (popular) CITY (financial area). No complaints, but a clumsy looking word, and very rarely used today - presumably due to the wealth of better alternatives.
12 Bitter syrup produced by Missouri girls (8)
MOLASSES - MO. (Missouri) LASSES (girls). I shrugged a bit at the "bitter" bit. The OED gives a good verb molass: to get drunk from drinking a molasses liquor. It's Scottish, obsolete, and rare, with a single quote from 1772: "The common people have got so universally into the habit of drinking this base spirit, that when a porter or labourer is seen reeling along the streets, they say, he has got molassed." 
13 Bookish boss with evidence of debts (8)
STUDIOUS - STUD (boss, as in a metal stud) with IOUs (evidence of debts). Can't help being reminded of this!
16 A new star beginning to look like stars generally (6)
ASTRAL - A and an anagram (new) of STAR, L ("beginning" to Look)
18 Festive gathering a local leader established in Georgia (4)
GALA - A and L (Local "leader") established in GA. (Georgia)
19 Advantage admitted by landed gentry (4)
EDGE - is admitted into the letters of landED GEntry
Linus van Pelt

27562 Thursday, 16 January 2020 Through each perplexing path of life

Whether it’s because my solving is not currently as regular as I’d like, or because this is a bit demanding will doubtless bee revealed by you, dear readers, but I took 35 minutes to reduce this to its component entries, and even then had two entries I’d not properly worked out. I found, much to my relief, the right side proving more yielding than the left, but our setter threw in plenty of false trails for me to wander down, with some stretchy definitions.
My take on the clues (and some cheerfully offered side commentary) is offered with clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS
1 Sauce label revealed, barely (4,5)
JUST ABOUT Three words respaced into two: JUS for sauce, TAB for label, and OUT for revealed
6 Christmas fling? Blonde’s left drink (5)
DECAF I always thought the whole point of coffee was the caffeine hit, in much the same way as skimmed milk is pointless white water. Be that as it may, a Christmas fling would be a DEC(ember) AFFAIR, remove the FAIR blonde (which also seems to render the thing pointless) and you have coffee with its raison d’être extracted
9 Entertainment sees love embraced by a seducer after kiss, originally (7)
KARAOKE Love is the (tennis) 0, the embracing seducer is A RAKE (the A in plain sight) and the whole follows K from the beginning of Kiss
10 Smack boundary, borrowing a little room? (7)
FLAVOUR The first of my post-solve workouts. It is, of course, FOUR as in a cricket stroke to the boundary, with the LAV, little both as in “the smallest room” and perhaps  also as indicating an abbreviation. One “borrows” the other, your inclusion indicator
11 Wash a little toddler in seawater (5)
RINSE neatly hidden in toddleR IN SEawater
12 Impossible to pick up lionesses in camouflage (9)
NOISELESS an anagram (“in camouflage”, nice one) of LIONESSES
13 Old story in something close to sepia? (8)
CHESTNUT Once again (see my last blog) I find it difficult to reconcile the shade of my sepia photos with the deep lustrous brown of a decent  Castanea fruit, but here we have the supposed colour match presaging the figurative use as an old story, joke or crossword clue. It’ll have to do.
14 Head examiner putting last of children in jail (4)
JUNG Karl jocularly defined, here putting the N at the back end of children into JUG, one of many expressions for jail.
17 Moved up a shade (4)
ROSE I think this is just a double definition, the second being rather loosely given
18 Authoritarian figure I transport to the left (8)
MARTINET The (random) figure is TEN, I is I, transport is TRAM. Read ‘en (right) to the left
21 Slow delivery in breeze picking up catch, opener for Middlesex (5,4)
SNAIL MAIL Chambers give one definition of “SAIL” as “to go through or get through effortlessly” which I suppose would be a (to) breeze. Catch provides the NAIL (as in catch a criminal)  and the M comes from the opener for Middlesex. Our setter successfully bamboozled me into thinking cricket for a very long time
22 More generous thief, perhaps, shelling out grand (5)
NICER My Primary school teacher hated the use of nice and chewed me out for it. The deep memory made this hard to solve, but Mr Ellis, nicer could mean “more generous”, so there. It comes here from NICKER (which he would have hated for “thief", too) with his grand (thousand) K removed.
24 Payment keeping train in gear, once (7)
RAIMENT From hymn writer Phillip Dodderidge:
O God of Bethel, by whose hand...
…Give us each day our daily bread,
And raiment fit provide.
Payment is RENT, which keeps AIM for train (as in a rifle)
25 Care, however, taken at first (7)
THOUGHT However: THOUGH plus the first of Taken
26 I suppose you initially might (5)
WELLY My last in. “Give it some welly” justifies might. I can make WELL and “ I suppose” brush up against each other, then all you need is the Y initially from You
27 Totally goneas may be ceiling? (9)
PLASTERED Two definitions, the first meaning drunk, so I suppose (well) “totally gone”, the second more literal
1 Comedian is fool somewhat lacking: tolerable cracks (5)
JOKER My second post-solve workout: Fool is JERK, lacking its last letter, and tolerable provides the OK which “cracks” its way in
2 Best friend in back of car, passenger getting lip busted (8,7)
SPRINGER SPANIEL This is an anagram (busted) the bits garnered from IN, back of caR, PASSENGER and LIP. For a long time, I thought the first word was STRANGER as in friend you haven’t met yet – I’m not really a doggy person.
3 Chubby little boy, a tot unfortunately scoffing second helping? (8)
AMORETTO One of those bouncy junior Cupids flying around in renaissance art. Anagram (unfortunately) of A TOT “scoffing” MORE for second helping.
4 An ace out at sea? (8)
OCEANAUT A decent &lit, an anagram (at sea) of AN ACE OUT.
5 Old snack: smell it coming up (6)
TIFFIN Last heard of (I think) in Carry On Up The Khyber, though Cadbury’s have recently resurrected their Tiffin bar from my youth. Smell: NIFF, plus IT, all reversed (coming up)
6 Main charity served up something sparkling (6)
DIADEM  Another up clue, this time MED for main (sea) and AID for charity
7 Not quite reaching Havana? (5,3,2,5)
CLOSE,  BUT NO CIGAR Surprisingly antique phrase simply charaded here
8 Anticipation supporting Oxford rowers perhaps, catching rivals in the end (9)
FORESIGHT If you support Oxford rowers, you might be FOR EIGHT. Insert the end of rivalS where it works
13 Turner, Irish guard? (9)
CORKSCREW Another that resisted my blandishments An Irish (prison) guard might be a CORK SCREW
15 Everyone included in check on outskirts of Tirana, the capital (8)
VALLETTA The capital of Malta. Everyone: ALL in check: VET plus T and A from each end of TiranA
16 Distinctive, with rather large dresses (8)
STANDOUT If I remembered that with sometimes clues AND, it would have been easier to work out what goes into STOUT for rather large. Eventually, I did
19 Cold and wet in general, accommodated like sow? (6)
SLEETY Out general is (as usually in this neighbourhood) LEE. Accommodated like a sow he’s placed in a STY
20 Hack getting to grips with right computer (6)
LAPTOP Hack is LOP, right is APT which is in its grip
23 Art as trendy, every other piece highly valued (5)
RATED Every other letter of aRt As TrEnDy