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This was a relatively easy solve, and very easy to blog. A few things, like 8dn and 20dn, merited trips to references after solving but before blogging. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

Clues are in blue, with definitions underlined. Answers are in BOLD CAPS, then wordplay. (ABC*) means 'anagram of ABC'. Deletions are in [square brackets]. Here goes.

1 In delight finally see kangaroo (4)
JOEY: [se]E in JOY.

3 In dry days fungus nearly burned (10)

9 Very different when calmer (7)

11 Call to Bottom: no answer, though (7)

12 Desperate cricket team almost succeeded, bringing in unnamed reserve (2,4,7)
IN DIRE STRAITS: INDI[a], S[ucceeded], “bringing in” RESTRAI[n]T.

14 Animal’s pelt I put on (5)

15 What can go with pear one bites voraciously? (9)
ALLIGATOR: an “alligator pear” is an avocado by another name.

17 Mark you may be left with after intestinal op? (9)
SEMICOLON: if you have half your colon removed, that’s a serious operation! A punctuation mark, of course.

19 Black cats outside monuments (5)
TOMBS: B with TOMS outside.

21 Ordering run or swimming — that doesn’t quite add up (8,5)
ROUNDING ERROR: anagram (“swimming”) of (ORDERING RUN OR*).

24 Stricken boy transfixed by one beastly noise (4,3)
LAID LOW: I “transfixing” LAD, LOW.

25 Check in a most unusual nickname (7)
SATCHMO: CH[eck] in an anagram (“unusual”) of (A MOST*)

26 Make ready a moistener for spreading (10)
MONETARISE: anagram (“spreading”) of (A MOISTENER*). “Ready” meaning money.

27 I climb, expending energy, and flag (4)

1 For insurance, a judge should be this (4,2,4)
JUST IN CASE: double definition, rich in whimsy.

2 Old radio broadcast giving introductory material (7)
EXORDIA: EX, then an anagram (“broadcast”) of (RADIO*).

4 Weed needs a break, opening letters (5-4)

5 Conduct of drug dealer showing no pressure (5)

6 Trendiest gown tailored for important address (7,6)
DOWNING STREET: anagram (“tailored”) of (TRENDIEST GOWN*).

7 Can this be the vicar coming to call back? (7)

8 Shakespeare’s lady of the night? (4)
DARK: the answer is obvious. I didn’t know/remember that Shakespeare wrote sonnets about the Dark Lady.

10 Courageous duo start to translate a bit of verse (6,7)

13 Singer goes off full of love for ordinary folk (5,5)

16 In indexes turning up a number of revolutionaries (9)
LENINISTS: ENIN=NINE “turning up”, in LISTS.

18 Maid welcomes opening of The Alien (7)
MARTIAN: T[he] in [Maid] MARIAN.

20 Borderline character needing to keep in step? (7)
MARCHER: I biffed this without understanding the wordplay at all, but Chambers has a second definition for “march” as “border”, making a “marcher” an inhabitant or lord of a border district. Either a cryptic definition, or a double definition. Not sure which.

22 Energetic type secures wide funding for Remainer (5)
DOWER: W[ide] secured by DOER. Don’t be fooled by the capital “R”. A dower is a dowry or inheritance, paid to a widow or “remainder”. Thanks to the anonymous comment for setting me straight.

23 Litre in tankard to pick up and down (4)
GLUM: L[itre] in GUM=MUG “picked up”.

Quick Cryptic 1374 by Corelli

Whoops, sorry I'm late. Had it in my head that my day was next week. Luckily this is a very straightforward offering from Corelli which I managed in just under 6 minutes. Nice surfaces on the whole, hard to pick a favourite, probably 8a. Overall a good example of what the quickie should be. I would have posted quicker if there was internet in this tunnel.

1 Rugby player’s support for part of hospital (4,7)
8 Covered in snow, he really is impossible to find! (7)
NOWHERE - hidden word sNOW  HE REally
9 Little bird, just beat it! (5)
PIPIT - To just beat someone is to PIP them, + IT
10 Unorthodox letters from Aethelric (9)
HERETICAL - anagram ('letters from') of AETHELRIC
12 Off and on, Natasha gives exclamation of pleasure (3)
AAH - alternate letters or nAtAsHa
13 About to retweet sharp response (6)
RETORT - RE (about) + TO + RT (Retweet, which I gather is a term used on this new-fangled electric inter-net by the young people)
15 Punches landed also, we hear (3-3)
ONE-TWO - sounds like WON TOO
17 Peg is to pour, missing out Mark (3)
TEE - TEEM (pour) missing M for mark. Notice the capital M is superfluous. Capitalisation and punctuation are legitimately used to throw the solver.
18 Hawk and wren Margo trained (9)
WARMONGER - anagram ('trained') of  WREN MARGO
20 Swede delivered around start of January (5)
BJORN - BORN around J
22 Excited, maybe, preparing to answer quiz question? (7)
BUZZING - crypric definition
23 Former board member, Yankee, not in the book (2-9)
EX-DIRECTORY -EX (former) + DIRECTOR (board member) + Y (Yankee, NATO alphabet)

1 Colditz prisoner, perhaps, with little hesitation, might (5)
POWER - POW (prisoner of war) + ER
2 Get rid of deliveries on Thursday before argument (9)
OVERTHROW - OVER (6 legal cricket deliveries) + TH (thursday) + ROW
3 Run from church in warm coat (6)
FLEECE - FLEE + CE (Church of England)
4 Sort of theatre for traveller (3)
REP - Double definition. The first is short for repertory
5 Protective coating putting stop to poisoner (7)
ASPHALT - stop is HALT, poisoner is ASP
6 Wife, roughly as old as us, taking heart from the bottle? (5,7)
DUTCH COURAGE -Wife is DUTCH (no idea why) + C (roughly) + OUR AGE
7 A lubricant he’s given out, not very generous (12)
UNCHARITABLE - anagram ('given out') of  A LUBRICANT HE
11 Capital place to see the animals here! (6,3)
LONDON ZOO - cryptic definition
14 Hotel do breaks: it’s what the climber needs (7)
TOEHOLD - anagram ('breaks') of HOTEL DO
16 Sara, bickering, holds tongue (6)
ARABIC - hidden word: sARA BICkering
19 Goes round yelling at first, claiming I’m filthy ... (5)
GRIMY - first letters of Goes Round Yelling placed around IM
21 ... and not what’s expected, not quite (3)
NOR - NORM, truncated.
A rather middle-weight crossword today, I felt, with rather straightforward wordplay throughout and some clues that bordered on the chestnutty - 10ac, 16ac, 25ac, 4dn all having an air of familiarity about them, or maybe I've just been doing this gig too long. On the other side of the coin, there were a few things that did feel more surprising; I liked "arm" for GLOCK and "inheritance" for DNA, for instance. COD to 15dn for obvious surface-related reasons, and also for having another original-seeming definition (very popular, but not resulting in V IN or anything like that) and also requiring a bit of mental twisting and turning to fit the pieces together. Nice clue, thank you setter. FOI 11ac after a quick mental enumeration of various early hominids, LOI 17dn as for some reason I hadn't considered anything other than the ocular sense until it became absolutely necessary.

1 Youth shy to admit blunder (9)
STRIPLING - SLING [shy, as in fling or toss] to "admit" TRIP [blunder]

6 Copy record covers wrapped in cloth (5)
CAPED - APE [copy] that CD [record] "covers"

9 Provoke Scottish footballers coming out of their shell (5)

10 Plan to get great pies brought round (9)

11 Ancestor of mine: the fellow isn't able to get personnel work (15)
PITHECANTHROPUS - PIT HE CAN'T + HR OPUS [mine | the fellow | isn't able to + personnel | work]

13 Arm wrapped around free jam (8)
GRIDLOCK - GLOCK [arm, as in a weapon] "wrapped around" RID [free]

14 Continent's cold precipitation (6)
CHASTE - C HASTE [cold | precipitation, as in hurry]

16 Swallow picked up playfully (6)
INGEST - homophone of IN JEST [playfully]

18 Garment fastener comes with a warning (8)
PINAFORE - PIN + A FORE [fastener + a warning]

21 Its entrants are bound to stagger, cheered in old country (5-6,4)
THREE-LEGGED RACE - REEL EGGED [to stagger | cheered] in THRACE [old country]

23 Subjective report on hip turning around (9)
INVERSION - VERSION [subjective report] on IN [hip]

25 Green sort of water sent back (5)
NAIVE - reversed EVIAN

26 Unaccompanied chap's sides split by joke? (5)
LONER - L R [(left and right) sides] "split" by ONE [joke, as in "the one about...", according to my dictionary]

27 Peels bananas with fast, misjudged motion (5,4)
FALSE STEP - (PEELS + FAST*) ["bananas"]

1 Astute playwright shortened kind of speech (5)
SHARP - SHA{w} [playwright "shortened"] + R.P. [Received Pronunciation = kind of speech]

2 Blue team member (5-6)
RIGHT-WINGER - the RIGHT are blue, in the UK at least, and a WINGER is a team member, and the whole vaguely &lit?

3 Drag worn by right church organist (7)
PURCELL - PULL [drag] "worn by" R CE [right | church]

4 Not abroad bearing case (8)
INSTANCE - IN STANCE [not abroad | bearing]

5 Line up in entrance to give twirl (6)
GYRATE - reversed RY [line] in GATE [entrance]

6 Problem with cold vehicle needing to keep Jack hot (7)
CATARRH - CAR [vehicle] "needing to keep" TAR [Jack], + H [hot]

7 Member or Leader of Parliament, say (3)
PEG - P{arliament} + E.G. [say]. At first I had an optimistic OWL in here, then LEG, but a PEG is just a LEG.

8 Middle Easterner vexed about a disturbance (9)
DAMASCENE - reversed MAD [vexed] + A SCENE [a disturbance]

12 Writer finished with gold stars (11)
PASTORALIST - PAST + OR A-LIST [finished + gold | starts]

13 Mist dispersing in eatery where corn is found (9)
GRISTMILL - (MIST*) ["dispersing"] in GRILL [eatery]. Odd looking word without its hyphen, derived from thankfully easy wordplay.

15 Pure alcohol, very popular to imbibe it (8)
VIRGINAL - GIN [alcohol], VIRAL [very popular] to imbibe that

17 Small person perceiving one who removes coat (7)
SHEARER - S HEARER [small | person perceiving]

19 Turning up an inheritance, bet deliberately (7)
ANDANTE - reversed DNA [an inheritance, of the genetic kind] + ANTE [bet]

20 Rest of ridge covering about 500 metres in China (6)
RELIEF - REEF [ridge] "covering" LI [about 500m, in China; much beloved of Scrabble players]

22 Appraise report of the writer, not lying (3,2)
EYE UP - homophone of I [the writer] + UP [not lying, as in abed]

24 Topless Russian camper (3)
VAN - {i}VAN ["topless" Russian]

Times Quick Cryptic No 1373 by Joker

A nice puzzle as always by Joker, which I was happy to complete in a sub-target 9 minutes, helped by seeing the two long anagrams very quickly.  SERENDIPITOUS is one of those favourite words that is never quite at the tip of my tongue when I need it, so I’m going to make it my WoD and try to overuse it today to make it stick.

There is an (accidental I am sure) cockney football striker’s NINA in the sixth rank if you search for it, but I can detect no other theme in today’s puzzle.

Thanks Joker, and you lot in anticipation of your comments.

1         West Side Story heroine, fine for Romeo in criminal group (5)
MAFIA – The West Side Story heroine is MARIA (younger sister of the Sharks gang leader).  As instructed, take out the R{omeo} and replace with F{ine} to get the criminal group.  I have to admit to reversing this clue when first entering the answer, but 2d quickly showed me the error of my ways.
4  Headless corpse’s certainly set back long journey (7)
ODYSSEY – {b}ODY’S (corpse’s, headless, i.e. drop the opening letter) and YES (certainly) reversed (set back) to give ODYSSEY (Chambers defines it rather poetically as a long wandering!)
8 Relevant European language together with English (7)
GERMANE – GERMAN is the European language, followed by E{nglish}.
Dart gets cry of pain on arrival (5)
ARROW – OW (cry of pain) placed after ARR{ival}.
10 Domestic party finding a target outside to exploit conflict  (5-7)
HOUSE-WARMING – HOMING (finding a target, as in a homing beacon guiding a missile), containing USE (exploit) and WAR (conflict).
12 Restrained around queen, arranged in ranks (6)
TIERED – TIED (restrained) ‘around’ ER (Queen).
13  Street band in sequence (6)
STRING – ST (street) and RING (band).
16  Worry about printer going wrong (12)
PERTURBATION – Anagram (going wrong) of [ABOUT PRINTER].
18  Map book a veteran sailor’s returned (5)
ATLAS – A (a) and SALT (term for a veteran sailor, as in ‘old salt’) reversed (returned).
20  Advocate with professional attitude (7)
PROPOSE – PRO (professional) and POSE (attitude).
21  Picture harbour with fish (7)
PORTRAY – PORT (harbour) and RAY (fish)
22  Ceaselessly shows support for artist (5)
EASEL – Hidden in (shows) {c}EASEL{essly}.

1         What could identify criminal idiot that has used a gun (3,4)
MUG SHOT – MUG (idiot) and SHOT (used a gun).
Oracle, note, left ruler distraught (7,6)
FORTUNE TELLER – Anagram (distraught) of [NOTE, LEFT RULER].
3  A labyrinth intended, we hear, for surprise (9)
AMAZEMENT – A (a) MAZE (labyrinth) MENT (sounds like MEANT – intended we hear).
4  Working East and WEST agreement not reciprocated (3-3)
ONE-WAY – ON (working) followed by E{ast} and W{est} and AY (agreement).  Neat clue!
5 Vote for shortened annual period (3)
YEA – The annual period is a YEA{r}, shortened by dropping the last letter.
6  See disruption unfortunately discovered by accident (13)
SERENDIPITOUS – Anagram (unfortunately) of [SEE DISRUPTION].
7  New method to get over a boring person (4)
YAWN – N{ew} and WAY (method) all reversed (to get over).
11  Addictive drug encountered head-on when smashed (9)
METHADONE – MET (encountered) followed by an anagram (smashed) of [HEAD-ON].
14 Affectedly polite chap – a slippery character (7)
GENTEEL –  GENT (chap) followed by EEL (slippery character)
15  Falls down with unknown ailment (6)
DROPSY – DROPS (falls down) and Y (unknown character – often used to represent the unknown element in a formula).  For those interested, DROPSY is an old fashioned term for ailments or conditions that result in the accumulation of watery fluid in any part of the body, now usually referred to as Oedema.
17  Wall holding back water pressure is moist (4)
DAMP – A DAM is the wall holding back water, followed by P{ressure}.
19  Title rising is supported by queen (3)
SIR – IS (is) reversed (rising) and supported by R{egina} (queen).

Times 27376 - your bolter for 10

Solving time: 11:58, and a sigh of relief that the one I put in from wordplay turned out to be correct. I could have done better, I rather confidently put in BOLTER for 5 across thinking that it meant someone who ate fast an a horse that refused to jump, or ran away, or something, and that held up the whole top half of the grid for a while.

I enjoyed this one a lot, there's some fun wordplay in these clues, my particular favorite being the Spoonerism at 14 which made me smile.

Away we go...

1 Game European astride horse making unplanned escape (8)
LOOPHOLE -  the game is LOO, then POLE(European) surrounding H(horse)
5 One refuses to eat more quickly (6)
FASTER - double definition
8 Rabbit trap put back (3)
GAB - BAG(trap) reversed
9 Like yew, of course, in wild (10)
10 Owing to Shakespeare, Romeo makes an exit (2,3,3)
TO THE BAD - TO, then Shakespeare is THE BARD, remove R(Romeo)
11 Women's leading pair leaving game playing area (6)
WICKET - W(Women) then take the first two letters away from CRICKET(game)
12 Stop bowler straddling line (4)
HALT - bowler HAT surrounding L(line)
14 Sweets from Spooner's corporation, an inheritance from parents (5,5)
JELLY BEANS - spoonerism of BELLY(corporation), GENES(inheritance from parents)
17 Assertive father to French politician, right-winger (10)
PEREMPTORY - PERE(father in French), MP(politician), TORY(right-winger)
20 G-garbage (4)
GROT - G and ROT. Don't see this style of clue in the Times often, but it was a staple for Araucaria in the Guardian
23 Attempts to solve succeeded (6)
CRACKS -  CRACK(solve), S(succeeded)
24 Fire old men and be damned! (8)
EMBOLDEN -  anagram of OLD,MEN and BE
25 Harry Potter's eye cast (10)
STEREOTYPE - anagram of POTTER'S,EYE (apologies - I had underlined the wrong part of the clue originally)
26 Those completing all one grid had the edge (3)
LED - last letters in alL, onE, griD
27 Tree some outlaw guards (6)
BANYAN - ANY(some) inside BAN(outlaw)
28 Instrument that has diamond cut in half? (8)
TRIANGLE -  bisect a diamond and you can get a TRIANGLE

1 Pilot's guide sets fire to joint (9)
LIGHTSHIP - LIGHTS(sets fire to), HIP(joint)
2 Speaking about section of M25, say (7)
ORBITAL - ORAL(speaking) surrounding BIT - the M25 is a ring road surrounding London
3 One imposing cuts potentially a threat to security (6)
HACKER - double definition
4 Scots factor at England's ground? (4,5)
5 Scrap fences in small rising road in US (7)
FREEWAY - FRAY(scrap, fight) surrounding WEE(small) reversed
6 Butterless sweet, say, grand teatime fare? (6,3)
SCOTCH EGG -  remove BUTTER from BUTTERSCOTCH(sweet), then EG(say), G(grand)
7 Note appended to records by popular artist (7)
EPSTEIN - TE(note) after EPS(records) then IN(popular) for the sculptor Jacob EPSTEIN
13 Two-timing Republican aboard coach meeting Yankee (9)
TREACHERY -  R(republican) inside TEACHER(coach), then Y(Yankee, NATO alphabet)
15 City dignitary's doctor runs over to stop sovereign mounting (4,5)
LORD MAYOR - MD(doctor), R(runs) and O(over) inside ROYAL(sovereign), all reversed
16 Air amid reeds stirred (3,2,4)
SET ON EDGE - TONE(air) inside SEDGE(reeds)
18 Court barred to actuaries working in large part of world (7)
EURASIA - remove CT(court) from ACTUARIES, then make an anagram
19 Pressure behind part of Arab's leg (7)
PASTERN - P(pressure), ASTERN(behind) - this was my entry from wordplay alone
21 Instruction to halt touching case of deaf prisoner (3,4)
RED FLAG - RE(touching), then the outside letters in DeaF, LAG(prisoner)
22 Chap has taken up period winestore (6)
BODEGA - BOD(chap) then AGE(period) reversed

When I'd finished this, a really fun puzzle I thought, it felt like I'd been given one of those exercises where you have to write a short story using as many of the answer words as you can; there was a sort of theme, but I can't put my finger on exactly what it is. Something about a 11a in Australia sending me as the 28a to a 22a?

Anyway, maybe I'll win the 10a or become a 1a now I've had my 18d replaced and am ready to do the discos in 8d again. Which reminds me, my fav clue was 8d once I saw why! And I've learned the plural as in 15a has an E, or can have.

More like this please, Mr Setter!

1 In time, gastarbeiter’s a household name! (8)
5 Didn’t manage everything, finishing early delivery (6)
RANSOM - RAN SOM(E), delivery as in rescue, paying the ransom, I assume.
10 Raving intolerantly to a sponsor of good causes (8,7)
11 Nothing sailor can do ultimately stops preparation for it (4,6)
LOVE POTION - LOVE = nothing, PO = Petty Officer, can = TIN has O (last letter of DO) inserted. 'it' as in sex.
13 Girl who’s got people gunning for me? (4)
MYRA - MY RA (Royal Artillery).
15 Tries, in the front row, for Australian pack (7)
DINGOES - GOES = tries after DIN = row. I'd have spelt dingos without an E, but either way is OK apparently.
17 Surgeon grabs tip of nice long pointed object (7)
LEISTER - LISTER has E the end of nicE inserted. Joseph Lister was a British surgeon and a pioneer of antiseptic surgery. A leister is a type of spear for fishing.
18 This used to set Raleigh off on travels (4,3)
HAIR GEL - (RALEIGH)*. A preparation of no use to me.
19 Buy bigger piano as addition to jazz and country club? (5,2)
TRADE UP - TRAD = jazz, EU = "country club" (!), P = piano.
21 Wife who survived a year with bishop (4)
PARR - P.A. = a year, per year; RR = Right Reverend. As in Catherine Parr, last of the six.
22 Pressure put on US mobile psychiatric unit facility (6,4)
PADDED CELL - P(ressure), ADDED = put on, CELL what Americans call a mobile phone, goodness knows why they don't call it a mobile, as it's mobile.
25 Perversely, went for another ending to latest film (2,3,10)
27 Partner once having had a vacation cut short is free (6)
EXEMPT - EX = partner once, EMPT(Y) = a vacation cut short.
28 Most idiotic time to take short bow, on reflection (8)
CRAZIEST - All reversed: T, SEIZ(E) = take, short, ARC = bow.

1 Monsieur did fish, and so did butcher (7)
MANGLED - M = Monsieur, ANGLED = did fish.
2 Acquired grand place for Ruth and Samuel (3)
GOT - G(rand), OT where these people appear.
3 After interference, fail in move to stop slide? (10)
SNOWPLOUGH - SNOW the white flecks on your TV screen when no signal; PLOUGH can mean to fail.
4 Expect answers when buttonholing head of intelligence (5)
AWAIT - Not quite sure exactly how this works. The head of intelligence = I, goes into A and AT = when. But the W? Or A, A has I inserted, but whence the W T? I'll think on. I'll probably need a 22a when someone tells us below. EDIT the ever early and reliable jackkt has an explanation in the first comment below. I don't much like WIT for intelligence, but I think we've seen that before and it works.
6 Maybe old Bill’s John’s successor (4)
ACTS - Book after John in the NT. When a Bill before Parliament is passed, it becomes an ACT, so an old Bill.
7 Be as one initially scared by series of echoes — then you kick yourself? (3,3,2,3)
SEE EYE TO EYE - S(cared), EE = echoes as in NATO alphabet, YE TOE YE = you kick yourself.
8 Go immediately after this long-range spring forecast (7)
MAYFAIR - Well a forecast for May 2020 would be long range for Spring, and if you've played Monopoly as many times as I have you'll know that GO comes after MAYFAIR. Both parts brilliant, IMO.
9 Line in cookery books, maybe, was intensely illuminating (8)
FLOODLIT - FOOD LIT(erature) could be cookery books: insert an L.
12 Vintage rite involved sharp dressing (11)
14 Musical, variable one, about Perth hospital area nurses (6,2,2)
WIZARD OF OZ - Z I = variable, one; reversed = IZ, insert into WARD OF OZ. A rather awkward surface, but amusing; I hate all musicals and thought the WOOZ was just a film, or two. But I see on WIKI nearly everything you can think of has been turned into a musical now, some not in the best possible taste.
16 Stash stuff in cellar, above a street (4,4)
SALT AWAY - SALT goes in a salt cellar, and A WAY = a street.
18 Welcome athletic achievement by one showing a bit of a leg (7)
HIPBONE - HI = welcome, PB = personal best, ONE. My new hip is just perfect, after 3 months, thanks for asking.
20 Coat with a small amount of white spirit? (7)
PALETOT - A PALE TOT is a small amount of a white spirit. I got this from checkers and wordplay, it's a bit of a Mephisto type word.
23 Departs stern and miserable (5)
DREAR - D = departs, REAR = stern.
24 Algae from half of lake unexplored up in the middle (4)
KELP - la KE, unex PL ored, reverse the PL (up).
26 I might be carried off when picked up (3)
ONE - sounds like WON. I = 1.

Times Quick Cryptic No 1372 by Orpheus


DNF, as I had the wrong kind of food (and dog) at 16 Across. But it was a medium-ish sort of solve, no great difficulties, and some guesswork at the end that may have been difficult for newer solvers.

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Times Cryptic 27374

I needed only 28 minutes for this so I'd rate it as quite easy and would expect much faster times from our regular speed-merchants.

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]

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Time’s Quick Cryptic 1371 by Teazel.

Just crept within ten minutes although LOI 2dn made it mighty close. I think I got it 'the wrong way round' but it had to be the answer. Otherwise all plain sailing. Here’s how I got on.
Thanks for your comments on the format last week. Hopefully it’ll be easier to achieve this week (now I know that the underline in iPad editor doesn’t carry through to livejournal).

Anagrams - *anagrist*, definitions underlined.

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Times Quick Cryptic 1370 by Breadman

My solving time was 11 minutes. Regulars may know that I always include parsing in my stated times and it was that that took me over my target 10 minutes today; the answer at 21dn was obvious on first reading but I had a blind spot lasting more than a moment or two before I realised how it worked. It seems so obvious now!

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Kαλως ηρθατε from sunny Naxos, where me and the missus are having a well-deserved rest away from the stresses of Hong Kong, reminding ourselves in the land where democracy was hatched just how far the land we call home has to come.

This was a pleasant little number whose Quickie-esque credentials were challenged only by a tricky wordplay/definition combo at 13a. Having stumbled there (and not helping myself by failing to see 7d), I came home in a little over 20 minutes.

Having already put paid to four of the longest books on the ‘world’s longest book list’ (Dance to the Music of Time, Infinite Jest (minus the footnotes), Clarissa and War and Peace), I have decided to bite the bullet and tackle In Search of Lost Time on this trip. I have warmed up by jumping the gun and starting it a bit early, greatly enjoying the first volume (Swann’s Way – surprisingly laugh out loud funny in places) but finding the second volume (Swann in Love) rather too, well – you guessed it – long for my taste. Without further to-do…


1 Where you might find Emma, destined never to meet her beau? (2,3,5)
ON THE SHELF – an extended cryptic definition, requiring knowledge of the Austenian oeuvre

6 Protégé of Fenland warrior, no longer here (4)
WARD – [Here]WARD, the most famous (only famous?) Wake and one of the leaders of the resistance to those pesky Normans

10 One critical about Papa’s barber? (7)

11 Here one may end with bitterness and cries of pain (7)
GALLOWS – GALL OWS; I think we are in semi-&lit country

12 Tight-lipped Home Counties arty type has no answer (9)
SECRETIVE – SE (home counties) CRE[a]TIVE

13 Recharge, repositioning bits in the brain (2,3)
UP TOP – if you muck about with (reposition) TOP UP, you get the answer, no gimme in itself

14 Hardline Tories Sun ignored in unimportant articles (5)
DRIES – [sun]DRIES; back when I was a lad, you had two parallel descriptors of the major parties, one formal, the other informal: Conservatives/Tories and Labour/Socialists. While Tories has gone from strength to strength, Socialists appears to be on the endangered list.

15 Troubled son used Soho lodging place (9)

17 Jingoistic individual having stupid row with German (9)
WARMONGER – ROW GERMAN*; I think the setter can just about get away with this clue so long as s/he doesn’t mention the war.

20 Duck from the east about to snuff it (5)
EIDER – reversal of RE DIE

21 Called back, finding large lump (5)

23 Heroin found on press in train once (4,5)
IRON HORSE – HORSE (slang word for heroin) after IRON

25 Sound of a sneeze heard? That’s in dispute (2,5)

26 Disastrous main event? (7)
TSUNAMI – cryptic definition

27 Bet knocked back? I’m sometimes fuming! (4)
ETNA – ANTE reversed

28 Aggressive Finn rudely snarling (10)
UNFRIENDLY – FINN RUDELY* (snarling is the envelope-pushing anagram indicator)


1 Island supporting penniless old folk’s refuge (5)
OASIS – OA[p]S IS (abbreviation of island)

2 Birdwatcher throttling me, getting increasingly jumpy (9)

3 Struck dumb, maybe, but showing no emotion (14)
EXPRESSIONLESS – extended cryptic definition verging on double-definition territory

4 Put under pressure, rushed to get ‘A’ for university (7)
HARRIED – HURRIED with A for [u]

5 Mermaid is so very merry! (7)
LEGLESS - extended cryptic definition verging on double-definition territory

7 A part of the body that’s stirring (5)
AFOOT – A FOOT; yes, that easy, but I was trying many weird things such a ‘alung’ and even ‘elbow’

8 Insult a nobleman on air and suddenly depart (9)
DISAPPEAR – sounds like DISS A PEER, which one might do if one met Jeffrey Archer

9 Second chamber full of titters? It’s a shambles (14)
SLAUGHTERHOUSE – S LAUGHTER HOUSE; a shambles is an unusual word for an abattoir

14 Denigrate DA wronged in mix-up (9)

16 A foreign worker sheltering communist on way north? That’s devious (9)
UNDERHAND – RED reversed in UN (French for one) HAND

18 Chap from Conakry sanguine answering guards (7)
GUINEAN – hidden in [san]GUINE AN[swering] is the capital of Guinea

19 List including duck and fowl (7)

22 ET, an enthralling tale (5)

24 Woman serving up unknown fruit (5)
EMILY – Y LIME reversed

Mephisto 3066 by Paul McKenna

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.

I found this a relatively easy puzzle

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


1 Flipping partner who watches a wide-eyed spectator (6)
GAWPER: WAG reversed – PER; partner who watches=WAG; a=PER;
6 Artistically florid like Rankin, eg (5)
ASIAN: AS-IAN; reference author Ian Rankin of Rebus fame;
10 Can Trump ultimately hold back? (8)
11 Loch vessel’s making slow movements (6)
12 Whence Aeneas fled is hip (at least in part) (5)
ILIUM: two meanings; ILIUM=Troy;
13 In the course of returning Crusader captured this port (4)
ACRE: hidden reversed (derutp)AC-RE(dasurc); and literally true;
15 Grand praise by Aero Club central for a feature of writing (11, two words)
16 Terrific stink! A drummer returned weed (11, two words)
18 Such as rapidly discharges / a dart of pain to Rob Roy, say (4)
STEN: two meanings 1=automatic gun 2=pain in Perth;
21 Goods vehicle belonging to a Trotter turned over (4)
SLED: DEL’S reversed; reference Del-boy Trotter in Only Fools and Horses;
22 Wandering around Sinai like a creature wiped out (11)
DINOSAURIAN: (around Sinai)*;
24 Neat way to eat oranges is, say, in the mind (11)
27 Ballerina’s posture worked at steadily, endlessly (4)
28 Rounded headland in the morning? Tow unused (5)
MORRO: (to)MORRO(w);
29 Joker, say, adding line to advantage (6)
CLAUSE: C(L)AUSE; a Joker Clause is a wrecking amendment;
30 Myth of German giant? It’s a treat for dons (8, two words)
AUDIT,ALE: AUDI-TALE; special booze for the bosses;
31 Die previously made from small strip (5)
32 Charge is about old penny for what intrepid canoeist enjoys (6)


1 Russian can lift up silver (5)
GULAG: LUG reversed – AG;
2 Italics are out of place in states of fervour or ardour (10)
ALACRITIES: (italics are)*;
3 Monitor without right leads to reach around laptop (6)
WORRAL: WO-R-R(each)-A(round)-L(aptop); monitor lizard;
4 Love gripping old set rhetorical questions (8)
5 Where Poirot scoffed, arrant curates struggled (13, two words)
RESTAURANT,CAR: (arrant curates)*;
6 Unaltered American security service (4, two words)
7 Blocks chosen to replace anxiety in scares (7)
SELECTS: S(care)S becomes S(ELECT)S;
8 Irish dream of bit of lamp (7)
IRIDEAL: IR-IDEAL; lamp=eye;
9 Spenser’s called chaps up (past tense) (5)
NEMPT: MEN reversed – PT;
14 Hooky dealer in US not yet met (10)
UNREALISED: (dealer in us)*;
17 Plates grate in area of bone (8)
19 English are embracing bit of disaster — get ready! (7, two words)
EN,GARDE: ENG-AR(D)E; D from D(isaster);
20 French name mostly splendid point (7)
23 I snatch up what’s within fig tree (6)
ILLUPI: I-PULL reversed – (f)I(g);
24 Plants mostly provided by parents (5)
25 Proceeds from Spenser’s year of necessity wanting number (5)
26 AI program that’s repeatedly seen in Twitter — it’s a parasite (4)
Every ingredient of this tasty puzzle seemed to be in apple-pie order… hence my headline. The expression, nodding here (first) to, uh, clue (a near homophone) 18—comes from the fact that pedestrian crossings in France were as late as 1950 demarcated by two parallel rows of nails (clous) placed in the pavement; hence, to go between the nails means to follow the rules, respect the code. Of course, if you are a schoolchild at an intersection in Great Britain, there might be a LOLLIPOP MAN to keep you in line.

I (blithely assure myself I) have no more questions about any of this, except—just possibly—1. 1 across, of course…

I do (ganasarm)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.

 1 Foreign article covering a sport (8)
LACROSSE — L(ACROSS)E. I think the “a” in the clue must stand for “Across,” as in these puzzles—although I found this neither in a list of cryptic-crossword abbreviations nor in any online dictionary. I toyed with the idea that “sport,” in the sense of a mutation (sport of nature), and “cross,” in the sense of a hybrid, could be listed somewhere as somewhat tangentially synonymous, but this is not an &lit…
 6 One longing to get rid of York’s premier brass maker (6)
 9 One charged to protect conservative figure (4)
10 Change weekly alcohol units, perhaps, over time (10)
11 Too fab, essentially wonderful (2,4)
AS WELL — [-f]A[-b] SWELL
12 Burning houses labourer evacuated unhurt (3,5)
ALL RIGHT — ”Burning,” ALIGHT, walls in L[-aboure]R
14 Cosmetic surgery’s needed for lean matron (10)
ORNAMENTAL — (lean matron)*
16 Christ appearing in England, oddly (4)
EGAD — EnGlAnD. Blimey!
18 Some overclouding point of great interest (4)
CLOU — HIdden. Literally, as we have seen, “nail.”
19 John McEnroe often put his foot in it (6,4)
TENNIS SHOE — CD. (Boy, did he ever!)
21 Land our hands cultivated (8)
HONDURAS — (our lands)*
23 Boyfriend chasing former PA? (3,3)
OLD MAN —Hmm. If your “boyfriend” is your MAN and this word comes after (is “chasing”) OLD, or “former,” you then have an expression for your pa. But why the question mark? And is arbitarily capping the definition (all—both—letters) a legitimate ploy? And then some gals call their boyfriend—or even their husband—their “old man.” But if “boyfriend” were the definition, I couldn’t make sense of the wordplay.
25 Sea mist over Ramsgate front is normal (10)
MAINSTREAM — ”Sea” is MAIN, and then you have STEAM for “mist,” over (enclosing) the first letter (“front”) of Ramsgate.
27 Send back American periodical (4)
28 Feel aggrieved at being powerless here (6)
29 Building alteration? Concrete’s first to go (8)
TENEMENT — The first word after the definition is the answer to clue 10, or TEN, and then you have [-c]EMENT. My LOI. I couldn’t, actually, parse it till Tuesday.

 2 New cast learn of predecessors (9)
ANCESTRAL — (cast learn)*
 3 Compass displaying north in storm (5)
 4 You could say one’s a non-chain rental service (5,6)
 5 Pull out old treatise (7)
EXTRACT — EX = “old” and TRACT = “treatise”
 6 Sport that doesn’t hold wife’s attention (3)
EAR — [-w]EAR
 7 Isn’t a rest fantastic for irritability (9)
RATTINESS — (Isn’t a rest)*
 8 English policeman upset, getting hard time (5)
EPOCH — E(nglish) + COP<= + H(ard)
13 Chap who makes kids properly cross before school? (8,3)
LOLLIPOP MAN — CD. A new term to this Yank.
15 Great deal for a roll plus salsa? (9)
ABUNDANCE — A BUN (“roll”) + DANCE (“salsa,” DBE)
17 Love is not a road I travelled (9)
ADORATION — (is not a road I)*
20 Starting out on climb, nervous initially (7)
NASCENT — N[-ervous] + ASCENT
22 Talk over singer, that’s rude ultimately (5)
ORATE — O(ver) + RAT (“singer”) + [-rud]E. “That’s” meaning “that has” (which I find annoying, y’know, but so be it).
24 Fancy shot taken round central Leeds (5)
DREAM — DR(E)AM (E being the middle, or “central,” letter in “Leeds”)
26 Rubbish piece of needlework? (3)
TAT — DD, the second referring to ink under the skin

Jumbo 1383

A fairly standard Jumbo, with nothing too much of concern.

1 TIMES NEW ROMAN - TIMES = by, NEW = anagram of ROMAN = norma
8 SUGARPLUM - SUP = dine, around GAR = fish, LUM(p) = put up with
13 REALO - hidden in montREAL Opposition
14 DISENTRANCE - DANCE = disco, around I = one, SENT = affected by ecstasy, and R = right
15 DEMON - DEN = study, around M.O. = way of doing things
16 HIGH-LEVEL - HIGH = drunk, LEVEL = even
17 IGOR - (v)IGOR = American vitality
18 INSOLENT - the Isle of Wight ferry operates IN SOLENT waters
20 OCCUPY - alternate letters in tOuChY around CUP = reward for winners
26 RISINGS - RIGS = doctors, around SIN = evil
27 VERDI - VERDI(ct) = judicial decision
31 POTENTILLA - POT = grass, (A LENTIL)*
33 NINE-TO-FIVE - double definition
35 CARRY-FORWARD - CAR = carriage, RY = track, FOR, WARD = former guard
36 RARER - RAER = REAR = rump, reversed around (skewe)R
39 TRACHEA - TRA(p) = mouth, around ACHE = pain
40 ACCIDENTS - ACC = account, I.D. = papers, SENT*
42 TURN OVER A NEW LEAF - TURNOVER = pie, ALE around NEW = fresh, A, F(ish)
44 MOUSER - M.O. = way of acting, USER = long established right
47 OBSTRUCT - OBS = old boys, TRUC(k) = lorry, T = tons
49 BILL - B(r)ILL = wonderful
50 CAESARIAN - CAN = Canadian, around A, E= European, and SARI = dress
52 ILEUM - MUE(s)LI = breakfast food, reversed
53 OBSCENITIES - OB = obsolete, CITIES = big towns, around EN = little space
54 BREAM - BEAM = ray, around R = river
55 MILWAUKEE - MI = note, L = lake, WEE = tiny, around AUK = seabird
56 STEPTOE AND SON - (TEASED NON STOP)*. Definitely one for the more mature solvers and I'm not sure whether this ever made it overseas. I hope not!
1 TORCHWOOD - (DOCTOR WHO)*. I had heard that the Torchwood TV series was so named because it is an anagram of Doctor Who
2 MYALGIC - M = maiden, YAL = LAY = put, reversed, GI = soldier, C = cold
3 SPOILSPORTS - S(oa)P, OILS = lubricates, PORTS = openings
4 ENDIVE - initial letters of Even and Needs, DIVE = a plunge into water
5 RESILIENT - RESIT = take again, around LIEN = legal right to possession
6 MANTIS SHRIMP - M = millions, ANTI = against, S = second, SHRI = title for respected Indian, MP = parliamentarian
7 NARROWNESS - NAR = RAN = managed, reversed, ROW = disagreement, NESS = head
8 SAND - SAD = blue, around N = a number
9 GREENHOUSE EFFECT - GREEN = fresh, HOUSE = home, EFFECT = produce
10 RADIO - RIO = port, around A aand D = day
11 LAMBERT - LAMBER = one delivering sheep, T = time
12 MONITOR LIZARD - MONITOR = screen, L = left, IZARD = chamois
19 CLANGOUR - C = caught, LANGUR = monkey, around O = ring
22 PIVOT - TO V.I.P. = to somebody, all reversed
23 GRANDFATHER CLOCK - cryptic definition
25 STERNER - STERN = back, E.R. = Queen
28 RELEARN - REL = relative, EARN = merit
30 GIVEAWAY - GIVE WAY = let others go, around A
34 TORSO - OS = bone, ROT = decay, all reversed
37 CHEEKINESS - CHE = revolutionary, KINES(i)S = movement
40 ANARCHIST - AN = a, ARCH = leading, I = one, ST = street
41 STRONGMAN - ST = good man, RON = Reagan, G MAN = FBI agent
43 RUSSELL - RUSE = trick, around S = singular, L,L = lines
45 SMILEYS - double definition
46 LESSEE - LESS = not so much, E(stat)E
48 RUMBA - RUM = odd, BA = soul
51 ISLE - alternate letters in dIsSoLvE
Well, this was harder than the previous week. It also expanded my general knowledge with things like 11 and 26 across, and was a master class in oblique definitions like those at 14 across, and 15 and 19 down! I think, once the penny dropped, 19dn was my clue of the day!

Finishing the puzzle was interesting. My last five answers were 18dn, 27ac, 19dn, 20ac and 15dn, where each answer gave me just enough helpers to see the next one! Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

Clues are in blue, with definitions underlined. Answers are in BOLD CAPS, then wordplay. (ABC*) means 'anagram of ABC'. Deletions are in [square brackets].

BTW I will be out of contact for most of the day, so refer to the comments with any issues.

1 Multi-tasking psychiatrist accommodating Italian tenor, not the first one (8)
JUGGLING: JUNG was the psychiatrist, “accommodating” GIGLI the tenor, minus his first “I”.

9 Vegetable course spoken of, followed by whip (4,4)
ROOT CROP: ROOT sounds like route, and then a CROP is a whip.

10 Perhaps miss chasing ball in sports ground (4)
OVAL: O (ball), VAL (a random girl).

11 Rex loudly scrapping with Tim for sweets (5,7)
DOLLY MIXTURE: anagram (“scrapping”) of (REX LOUDLY TIM*). Never heard of it, but I can visualise the dolls’ tea party!

13 Shrinking skin on feet of duck that’s lost weight (6)

14 Wine found next to hamper: that brings relief! (3,5)
RED CROSS: RED (wine), CROSS (hamper). Bringing relief in disaster zones, of course.

15 Type that exasperates, somewhat (3,4)
PET HATE: hidden answer (indicated by “somewhat”), and the whole clue as an &lit. definition.

16 Great figures maybe exhaust and defeat one (7)
COLOSSI: CO (carbon monoxide = exhaust gas, maybe), LOSS (defeat), I (one).

20 Tramps round Australia in tears (8)
FLOOZIES: O (round) OZ (Australia), all in FLIES (tears). I had the OOZ early, but was slow to see that “tears” was “speeds”, not “weeps”.

22 Petition backing high speed rail terminal (6)
EUSTON: EUS=SUE (petition, “backing”), TON (high speed).

If there's one thing that I like
It's a burn up on my bike
A burn up wiv a bird up on my bike
Now the M1 ain't much fun
Till you try and do a ton
A burn up on my bike, that's what I like.

23 Preacher, one carrying around miniature cloth for protection? (5-7)
BIBLE THUMPER: or, differently split, a BIBLET HUMPER. “Biblet” isn’t in the 3 dictionaries I checked, but you get the idea. We call these folks BIBLE BASHERS in my neck of the woods, but again I got the idea.

25 Negative response from Guthrum oddly ignored Henry (2-2)
UH-UH: ignoring the odd letters, GUTHRUM becomes -U-H-U-. Add H for Henry.

26 Symbol of affection nothing granny would show? (4,4)
LOVE KNOT: LOVE (nothing), KNOT (a granny knot, for example). Another I hadn’t heard of, but had no trouble believing.

27 Pole and Greek performing in corner where Victoria is (4,4)
HONG KONG: N (North pole), GK (Greek), ON (performing), all in HOG (corner).

2 Not going to work in blue van I rent (8)
UNVIABLE: anagram (“rent”) of (BLUE VAN I*).

3 First prize catch to get out in the public sphere! (8,4)
GOLDFISH BOWL: GOLD (first prize), FISH (catch), BOWL (get out, at cricket).

4 Husband lifting pants for taking up? (2-6)
IN FLIGHT: anagram (“pants”) of (H LIFTING*).

5 Russian spies you touching cheese (7)
GRUYERE: GRU (Russian spies: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Intelligence_Directorate_(GRU)), YE (you), RE (touching).

6 Party girl to serve porridge (2,4)
DO BIRD: I might resurrect an old practice and leave this one to explain itself!

7 Hamburger off the shelf? (4)
FRAU: cryptic definition. A married German woman would not be on the metaphorical shelf, and would be addressed as FRAU, not FRAÜLEIN. I suspect people will either love or hate this clue. I haven’t altogether decided which camp I’m in!

8 Journalists visiting mostly like holiday entertainment (5-3)
APRES-SKI: PRESS inside (“visiting”) AKI[n].

12 Slips into lorry, stammering in panic (6-6)
TERROR-STRUCK: ERRORS in T-TRUCK (“stuttering”).

15 Simple life of bouncer after promotion (8)
PUFFBALL: BALL (bouncer) after PUFF (promotion). I took “simple life” as in the song, give me the simple life, but of course it’s a fungus.

17 On receiving foreign correspondent, promoting large sort of office (4-4)
OPEN-PLAN: PEN PAL with the ‘L’ “promoted”, inside ON.

18 Hardly the reaction of one in the fast stream (4,4)
SLOW BURN: self-explanatory once you remember a BURN is a stream.

19 Pack in wooden boxes for old cabinet maker (7)
ASQUITH: QUIT (pack in) “boxed” by ASH. Delightful definition! H. H. Asquith was Prime Minister 1908-1916, so his cabinet was made up of Cabinet Ministers, not wood. (No unkind comments about Cabinet Ministers, please!)

21 According to signal from Cockney, Parisian’s one (2,4)
IN TUNE: ‘INT (signal, with the ‘H’ dropped), UNE (French for ‘one’).

24 Drink spoken of in female company? (4)
BEVY: sounds like BEVVY. The setter didn’t really need the “spoken of”, since Chambers gives BEVY and BEVVY as alternative spellings for a drink. I didn’t realise that “bevy” specifically means a group of women, although a “bevy of beauties” obviously is so.

Times Quick Cryptic No 1369 by Pedro

I find Pedro has the knack of combining the straightfoward clues needed to get you going with some that need a bit more thought, and today's crossword did just that for me. Nothing too obscure or difficult, but not easy, and some devious definitions and a couple of tricky bits of wordplay meant I took well over a minute over my target of 6 minutes. Smooth and entertaining surfaces abound and there are a few garden paths to wander up... as I duly did. A bit of a tester to end the week, I think. Thanks Pedro! How did you all get on? [On edit] If you found it difficult, don't despair, you are in good company as even the experienced solvers found it hard.
Read all about it...Collapse )
Well I don't know about you lot, but I thought this was too easy for the Friday slot that is categorically no harder than any of the other days on average according to management... capping off a very easy week. 1ac went in straightaway from "very softly... thumb (9)", LUCID came a second later, and we were off to the races with clues that were invariably wittily and prettily clued, but equally rather straightforward in their wordplay.

I will say that this was pretty much a model easyish Times crossword, with great surfaces everywhere you look and an inventive way with its containment indicators, but it's a shame that some of the more interesting stuff was lost to me in my flurry of biffing - I didn't feel much need to double-check what was going on with EGG TIMER, REVEILLE, GROUNDSHEET, HERRING GULL, THESAURUSES etc given a crosser or two. COD to 21dn whose surface tickled my ribs very pleasantly. And overall this puzzle was pleasant indeed, just not for quite long enough! Thanks to the setter and to the image of porcine cheese-munching jockeys (another excellent one)!

1 Very softly swathed in rings and fur, like a primate's thumb (9)
OPPOSABLE - PP [very softly] "swathed in" O O [(two) rings] + SABLE [fur]. FOI.

6 Intellectually bright, left university to join police (5)
LUCID - L U [left | university] to join CID [police]. SOI.

9 Tenth muse initially failing to inspire (7)

10 Men paid to perform for one after retirement (7)
GIGOLOS - GIG [to perform] + reversed SOLO [for one]

11 Remove contents of round tower (3)
TUG - reversed GUT [remove contents of]

12 Seabird messing up girl's head in Yorkshire port (7,4)
HERRING GULL - ERRING [messing up] + G{irl}, in HULL [Yorkshire port]

14 Conflict is very common on street (6)
STRIFE - RIFE [very common] on ST [street]

15 Porcine jockeys love cheese (8)
PECORINO - (PORCINE*) ["jockeys"] + O [love]

17 About to ring apple-picker with incorrect wake-up call (8)
REVEILLE - RE [about], to "ring" EVE [apple-picker] with ILL [incorrect]

19 Fashionable babywear on sale, three-quarters off (6)
SNAPPY - NAPPY [babywear] on S{ale}

22 Folk with spring birthdays welcoming what's in these books (11)
THESAURUSES - TAURUSES [folk with spring birthdays] "welcoming" {t}HES{e}

23 Zero in, turning attention away from earl (3)
NIL - reversed IN, plus {ear}L (having lost EAR = attention)

25 Mythical creature speaking amusingly, tail before face (7)
GRIFFIN - RIFFING [speaking amusingly], moving its last letter to pole position

27 Polished table leg, antagonising hosts (7)
ELEGANT - hidden in {tabl}E LEG ANT{agonising}

28 Face granny, extremely close (5)
MUGGY - MUG [face] + G{rann}Y

29 Elaborate purge repressing returning former reservists (9)
EXPATIATE - EXPIATE [purge] "repressing" reversed T.A. [former reservists]. Somewhat saddening that this seems to always have to be qualified with "former", now it's been the "Army Reserve" since 2014. No one would kick up a stink about AL needing to be specified as a former gangster, or TREE as a former actor, would they? Though I guess plenty of people might happily ditch the archaisms entirely...

1 Obvious floating voter (5)
OVERT - (VOTER*) ["floating"]

2 Grass covering a German kitchen garden (7)
POTAGER - POT [grass] covering A GER [a | German]. LOI, solely due to being an unfamiliar word.

3 Exotic haircuts of a Commonwealth nation (5,6)

4 Tired king wearing busby inside out (6)
BLEARY - LEAR [king] wearing B{usb}Y

5 Device for boiler say ultimately needing set-up instructions (3,5)
EGG TIMER - E.G. [say] + {needin}G + reversed REMIT [instructions]

6 Member oddly ignoring allergy (3)
LEG - {a}L{l}E{r}G{y}

7 Briefly soothe copper with fifty one gallstones? (7)
CALCULI - CAL{m} ["briefly" soothe] + CU [copper] + LI [fifty one]

8 Random duels upset Peel, for one (9)
DESULTORY - (DUELS*) ["upset"] + TORY [Peel, for one]

13 Stout female dons acquire camping equipment (11)
GROUNDSHEET - ROUND SHE [stout | female] "dons" GET [acquire]

14 Plan to sabotage regattas on first of May (9)
STRATAGEM - (REGATTAS*) ["to sabotage"], on M{ay}

16 Prof finally learning about boring north-eastern city (8)
FLORENCE - {pro}F + LORE [learning] + C [about] "boring" NE [north-eastern]

18 Opportunity to see rival faction (7)
VIEWING - VIE [rival] + WING [faction]

20 Slate, silver, turning up on each ancient landmass (7)
PANGAEA - PAN [slate] + reversed AG [silver] on EA [each]

21 Was repelling wife with revolting skin like a kipper (6)
ASLEEP - {w}AS [losing its W = wife] + rising PEEL [skin]

24 Lissome, and happy to go topless (5)
LITHE - {b}LITHE [happy, "to go topless"]

26 Leaders of France, enthusiastic yet slightly mad (3)
FEY - F{rance} E{nthusiastic} Y{et}

Times Quick Cryptic No 1368 by Izetti

A bit easier than average, I'd say, and certainly so for an Izetti: I came in with a bit of change from eight-and-a-half minutes, and that included a minute staring dumbly at 2d, for no particular reason. Nothing much in the way of obscurity, but some typically neat clues - much enjoyed, many thanks to Izetti!

1 Demon going wrong with his excessive pursuit of pleasure (8)
HEDONISM - Anagram (going wrong of DEMON with HIS. Not necessarily an excessive pursuit, although that's now the usual usage. As originally espoused by Aristippus, however, it was the much more noble aim of deriving pleasure from all circumstances, pleasant or adverse, and exercising control rather than excess.
5 Bird beginning to create racket (4)
CROW - C (beginning to Create) ROW (racket)
8 Huge car may be actor's reward (5)
OSCAR - OS (outsize = huge) CAR
9 Dish in sink getting in the way (7)
LASAGNE - LAG (sink) getting in LANE (way)
11 Thrown into meanest type of accommodation (11)
MAISONNETTE - Anagram (thrown) of INTO MEANEST. I'd have spelt this with one "n", but I see both are allowed. How long before an enterprising developer/estate agent comes up with a "luxury mezzaninette"?
13 Cope with time on isle (6)
MANAGE - AGE (time) on MAN (isle of __)
14 Wood in piece of furniture gets dented (6)
BASHED -ASH (wood) in BED (piece of furniture)
16 Girl with quiet speech drying up (11)
EVAPORATION - EVA (girl) with P (quiet) ORATION (speech). As a noun, as in the drying up of a puddle.
18 Coldness of manner of former company head (7)
ICINESS - ICI (former company) NESS (head)
19 Beastly sound nearby — escape finally inside (5)
NEIGH - NIGH (nearby) E (escapE, "finally") going inside.
20 On loan for a period before Easter (4)
LENT - double definition. Lent, or Lenten, is an old word for Spring, from the Germanic for "long" from the lengthening days.
21 Socialist land gives warning of danger (3,5)
RED LIGHT - RED (socialist) LIGHT (land, as in to alight)

1 Funny person making particular bird sound (4)
HOOT - double definition
2 Mad to continue churning out paper records? (13)
DOCUMENTATION - anagram (churning out) of MAD TO CONTINUE.
3 Men rush in, go berserk in one sort of residence (7,4)
NURSING HOME - anagram (berserk) of MEN RUSH IN GO
4 Bar one type of vehicle (6)
SALOON - double definition.
6 Logical, going against the ideas of left-wingers? (5-8)
RIGHT-THINKING - cryptic-ish hint.
7 Feeble-sounding objectives for periods off work maybe (8)
WEEKENDS - WEEK = weak/feeble "sounding", ENDS (objectives)
10 Revolutionary Stalin as one evoking horror? (11)
SENSATIONAL - anagram (revolutionary) of STALIN AS ONE. Such as sensationalist journalism, peddling shock/horror/disgust.
12 Noble adult at first involved in risk (8)
IMPERIAL - A (Adult, "at first") involved in IMPERIL (risk)
15 Lashes out when there is trouble (6)
HASSLE - anagram (out) of LASHES
17 After end of business, building is closed (4)
SHUT - after S ("end" of businesS) goes HUT (building)

More TLS stuff in this one than some of you will be comfortable with, so I’ve added some extra high and low culture just to be even more annoying. Barely a scrap of sciency stuff anywhere in sight.
You might be forgiven for scratching around for the full alphabet as some of the higher scoring letters turn up but Q and X are missing.
I trundled through this in just over 17 minutes, hesitating only over my last in at 14 across, which I should have seen more readily.
I have taken the liberty of placing clues in italics, definitions in underlined italics, and solutions in BOLD CAPITALS

1 Taken to court about smear that’s continuing(9)
SUSTAINED Taken to court: SUED surrounds STAIN for smear
6 Drinkjust less — only halves — in front of papa(5)
JULEP Take the front halves of JUst LEss and add the front of Papa. Better, in my opinion, take mint leaf, bourbon, simple syrup, and crushed ice, mix and serve.
9 Streambroadcast following down time(7)
AIRFLOW I wasted time with this trying to make an anagram of stream follow D for down, but it’s broadcast: AIR, F(ollowing) down time: LOW. The “time”, is, perhaps, not strictly necessary, but makes for a better surface
10 Playwright has Romeo fencing?(7)
BARRIER Well, he has Peter Pan fencing, anyway. J M BARRIE plus the NATO Romeo.
11 Upset if gun rusts?(5)
FUNGI Rust is a fungus that attacks wheat, one of the things you look for when roguing in a seed crop. Here, it’s an anagram (upset) of IF GUN
12 Say what you thinkto be smarter than leading clobber (3,4,2)
OUT WITH IT A charade of be smarter than: OUTWIT plus clobber: HIT
13 Notice article making one very angry(8)
14 Wisdom, say, not an expected thing(4)
NORM Pass me the stupid hat. I immediately thought NORMAN Wisdom, the darling of ultra Communist Albania (sic), and tried to remember if he’d ever played the part of a forman (which isn’t even spelt right). Added many ticking seconds to my time until I just took the AN (which is not…) off his forename.
17 Facilitate rental agreement, saving pounds(4)
EASE Rental agreement LEASE. Save,or knock off, the £
18 IR webcam disturbed cheery clerk(8)
MICAWBER The Dickensian optimist from David Copperfield, somehow captured in the disturbed, confused form of an IR WEBCAM, which he shouldn’t have been.
21 Russian impresario given good hour in Live Aid broadcast(9)
DIAGHILEV If you  know not the name, start with the G(ood) H(our) and sprinkle the letters of LIVE AID around until something that looks like a Russian impresario emerges. Perhaps most (in)famous for staging Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring in 1913, and for being the lover of Nijinsky (the ballet dancer, not the horse)
22 Openup about antipodean isle?(5)
UNZIP UP is given in plain sight, insert N(ew) Z(ealand) I(sland)
24 Colourful displayof artist in east London?(7)
RAINBOW An artist in east London is an RA IN BOW
25 Attendant eats too much soup(7)
POTTAGE Too much is OTT, which the attendant PAGE ingests. I’m more familiar with the single T version, but either is OK
26 Very familiarwith supporterless North London landmark(5)
PALLY Alexandra Palace is “the People’s Palace” in Haringey, built in 1873 and again in 1875, surviving (somehow) to this day as a magnificently unlikely piece of living British heritage. I sang there once in a scratch choir at one of its many reopenings. It housed the original BBC TV broadcasting antenna (see Dr Who, The Idiot’s Lantern). Anyway, everyone knows it as Ally Pally. For our “supporterless” purpose, remove the Ally
27 Widespread bird split by hill range(9)
PARTRIDGE Fair enough, they turn up almost everywhere, trying not to get shot. Split: PART, hill range: RIDGE


1 Island’s cut back workforce(5)
STAFF The island is Staffa, from which you cut the back. Again, the “back” is not strictly necessary, but pretty.
2 Dogchewed up grannie’s slipper(8,7)
SPRINGER SPANIEL Clearly an anagram “chewed up”. GRANNIE’S SLIPPER has the requisite 15 letters.
3 Nothing left? OK(3,5)
ALL RIGHT I once got into an argument with my primary school teacher (must have been Mr Downing) about whether it was alright to write all right alright. We carried on until there was nothing left to say, which was therefore all right.
4 Recently-discoveredisland — refusing to go ashore (3-5)
NEW-FOUND The island of Noufunland without its go ashore land
5 Chap seen outside bar entrances(6)
DEBUTS Our first random bloke is DES, and the bar he takes in is all BUT
6 Yank wearing leather jacket(6)
JERKIN Yank wearing translates directly to JERK IN
7 One who painted bird somewhere in Bedfordshire(8,7)
LEIGHTON BUZZARDis the setter’s go to Bedfordshire town with 15 letters, and has turned almost as often as it does in the Leighton Buzzard Observer – even at least once in the MCS. For the “one who painted”, you can have either Edmondor Frederic, both of whom produced rather drippy works in semi-rafaelite style. The bird is perhaps more familiar.
8 Get two men in for each worker on reduced hours(4-5)
PART-TIMER We have our next two random blokes, ART and TIM, in PER for each.
13 Drug constituent turned up in police operation(5,4)
SPEED TRAP The drug is SPEED, and the constituent PART is upended
15 Crawler in support guarding time with dignitary(3,5)
PIT VIPER The support is a PIER, which “guards” T(ime) and VIP for dignitry
16 What supports running later bus(8)
BALUSTER An anagram (running) of LATER BUS
19 Caught partner getting fat(6)
CHUBBY HUBBY is an affectionate term for husband in the lower orders (so I believe). Put C(aught) on the front
20 Picturelocal set up with vulgar inside (4-2)
BLOW-UP The local PUB is inverted and houses LOW for vulgar. Blow-up as a picture came to public notice with the 1966 film of the same name with David Hemmings and several skinny lovely ladies. I wasn’t quite old enough to see it in the cinema, more’s the pity.
23 Get annoyed with girl after exercise(5)
PEEVEAnd our random miss to finish with. EVE follows PE for exercise

Times 27369 - French bread and anagrams

Another faiirly easy puzzle for midweek, I thought, with some pleasant touches and no less than five straight anagrams to make life even easier. And the species of ungulate was one we've all heard of! It took me around 20 minutes but it could have been faster if I wasn't watching the TV at the same time.

See EDIT at 14a.

1 Nice bakery's production troubles? (5)
PAINS - Well a bakery in France produces PAIN, but the plural pains = breads does exist even if it's scarcely used.
4 Rod reversed in before animal (8)
ANTELOPE - This week's antelope is, er - ANTELOPE, POLE reversed inside ANTE.
8 Perpetrate a CGI shambles, part of something that’s dragged on? (9,5)
10 Butcher turned out to be lacking education (9)
11 A day that is top-class, the last word? (5)
ADIEU - A, D(ay), I.E., U.
12 Standard kind, heading off to tour south (6)
ENSIGN - BENIGN = kind loses B and has S inserted.
14 Bloke's accompanying country star (8)
HESPERUS - I wonder if there's a typo in this clue, as I can't see where the last S comes from. Bloke's = HE'S, counntry = PERU. Shouldn't it be "country's" to lead to PERU'S? EDIT at noon: suggested below that "accompanying country" could be = PER US. I am not keen on this as PER doesn't mean accompanying, more 'by' or 'through'. I could however buy into the idea that 'accompanying Peru' could = PERU'S, at a stretch. But I think it's an error.
17 Order diet books (8)
REGIMENT - REGIME = diet, NT = books.
18 Good songs lacking English craft without power (6)
GLIDER - G(ood), LI(E)DER. Lieder being German language songs.
20 Chairman wants at first to stifle one catty remark (5)
MIAOW - chairman MAO then W(ANTS) has I inserted.
22 He’s after majority, damaging morale etc (9)
LATECOMER - (MORALE ETC)*. A nice misleading, topical definition.
24 My band listened transportedtheir thoughts elsewhere? (14)
25 Hard-core unit sent into company cutting leave (8)
EXPLICIT - I (unit) inside PLC (company) inside EXIT = leave.
26 Swimmer seen among icebergs heading west (5)
GREBE - Hidden reversed in IC(EBERG)S.

1 Imagine stuff in iron mounting (7,5)
PICTURE FRAME - PICTURE = imagine, FE = Fe, iron, insert RAM = stuff.
2 Occupying fast car circling round block (5)
INGOT - IN = occupying, GT = fast car, insert O = round.
3 Learned motorway is masking restaurant plot (9)
STRATAGEM - SAGE = learned has TRAT (trattoria) inserted then add M for motorway.
4 Wear a sort of square flag (6)
ATTIRE - A, T (square), TIRE = flag.
5 Split in row, getting more in? (8)
TRENDIER - REND = split, inside TIER = row.
6 Wool supplier from a shopping complex turning up (5)
LLAMA - A MALL reversed. Chestnut time.
7 PM and press boss shown first (9)
PREMIERED - PM = PREMIER, ED = press boss.
9 Rum Henry’s stirred with rye for Doctor Foster, say? (7,5)
NURSERY RHYME - (RUM HENRY RYE)*. Doctor Foster went to Gloucester.
13 Notice a large strike where worker changes lines (6,3)
SIGNAL BOX - Notice = SIGN, A, L, BOX = strike.
15 Drug hunter cut up reserve trail (6,3)
POLICE DOG - Cut reversed = LOP reversed = POL, ICE = reserve, DOG = trail.
16 Obsessive with unknown jerk breaking down (8)
ANALYTIC - ANAL = obsessive (as cropped up recently with some discussion), Y = unknown, TIC = jerk.
19 Tough area with no policeman on top of it (6)
STRICT - DISTRICT = area, remove the DI or Detective Inspector.
21 Parade order with list (5)
WHEEL - W = with, HEEL = list, tip over. The order would need to be 'right wheel' or 'left wheel' else there could be chaos in the ranks.
23 Fly jet carrying duke east (5)
MIDGE - MIG the Russian jet we find in puzzles; insert D = duke, add E for east.

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