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A gentle giant, this one, that I tore through in not much more than the time it would take to do a toughish 15x15. Lots to enjoy though, with some very chucklesome surfaces (5ac, 4dn) and a light touch to the cluing throughout. My Clue of the Day goes to 41ac as I really liked untangling the "Polish-American author". Nice work, setter!

1 Entirely at home with Dorothy's best friend (2,4)
IN TOTO - IN [at home] with TOTO [Dorothy (Gale)'s best friend]

5 Fancy trousers, back to front and extremely ticklish (7)
STREWTH - take TREWS [trousers], put the back letter to the front, and add T{icklis}H to get a word for "fancy!" or "fancy that!'

9 Literary marquis (not duke) embracing top adventure (8)
ESCAPADE - {d}E SADE [literary Marquis, minus D for duke] "embracing" CAP [top]

13 Mathematical statements confusing fifteen old antiquaries (12,9)

14 Shout about rough Australian pots (8)
CROCKERY - CRY [shout] "about" OCKER [rough Australian]

15 Face of incredibly quiet chap, reportedly Abraham's son (7)
ISHMAEL - I{ncredibly} + SH [quiet] + homophone of MALE [chap]

16 Dull second mate with primitive instincts (6)
STUPID - S [second] + TUP [mate] + ID [primitive instincts]

17 Fellow Estonian perhaps exhaled audibly in shade (6,4)
COBALT BLUE - CO-BALT [fellow Estonian, perhaps] + homophone of BLEW [exhaled]

20 Port in India surrounded by jade, iron ore, bananas (3,2,7)
RIO DE JANEIRO - I [India] "surrounded" by (JADE, IRON ORE*) ["bananas"]

23 Man perhaps lives vacuous life (4)
ISLE - IS [lives] + L{if}E

24 Use blades, decapitating delightful fish (3,5)
ICE SKATE - {n}ICE ["decapitated" delightful] + SKATE [fish]

26 Draw on book jacket of "Candide" for entertainment (3,5)
TAP DANCE - TAP [draw on] + DAN. [book (of the Bible, abbrev.)] + C{andid}E

29 Pension off screwed up Teresa, a nun (12)

30 Cut tax allowance after European liberality (10)
TOLERATION - TOL{l} ["cut" tax] + RATION [allowance] after E [European]

32 Lover ditches the setter behind the main sewer (10)
SEAMSTRESS - M{i}STRESS [lover "ditches" I = the setter], behind SEA [the main]

34 Describe carer ethic as amazing (12)

36 Toddler wrapped in flag by ace Bulgarian copper (8)
STOTINKA - TOT [toddler] "wrapped" in SINK [flag] by A [ace]. Classic crossword word, 1/100 of a lev.

38 Pub regulars in Lucerne make insinuation (8)
INNUENDO - INN [pub] + {l}U{c}E{r}N{e} + DO [make]

39 Ghastly Hanoverian king, first of many (4)
GRIM - G.R. I [George the First] + M{any}. Possibly semi-&lit, depending on your opinion of Hanoverian monarchs.

41 Polish-Irish writer accepting brother as impartial mediator (6,6)
HONEST BROKER - HONE STOKER [polish | Irish writer (Bram)] "accepting" BR [broker]

43 Awful acts in urban areas after matron sheds clothing (10)
ATROCITIES - CITIES [urban areas] after {m}ATRO{n}

44 Oppressive temperature in cupboard (6)
CLOSET - CLOSE T [oppressive | temperature]

46 Spoke highly of lift in Palladium (7)
PRAISED - RAISE [lift] in PD [Palladium (the element)]

48 Middle part </u>that fits into socket</u> (8)
EYEPIECE - EYE [middle, as in "of the storm"] + PIECE [part]. Eye socket, not plug socket here!

50 Last words seen by proofreader? (4,4,13)
QUOD ERAT DEMONSTRANDUM - cryptic definition, these being the final words read by the reader of a mathematical proof.

51 Kind look for Baskerville, perhaps (8)
TYPEFACE - TYPE [kind] + FACE [look]

52 Beset by strain, Mary's mum hides here (7)
TANNERY - "Beset" by TRY [strain], ANNE [Mary's mum (Jesus's grandmother)]. Tannery as in a place where hides are tanned.

53 Suppress a retired magistrate in Rome (6)
AEDILE - reversed ELIDE A [suppress | a]

2 Lowest point of rebellious playwright after female disappears (5)
NADIR - {she}RIDAN [playwright, minus SHE = female] "rebelling" = up/reversed. Hardest parse of the puzzle.

3 Formal language changing if I lose face (11)
OFFICIALESE - (IF I LOSE FACE*) ["changing"]

4 Smashed eggs over non-drinker in brawl (8)
OMELETTE - O [over] + TT [non-drinker] in MELEE [brawl]

5 Disreputable bishop's office, disturbingly empty (5)
SEEDY - SEE [bishop's office] + D{isturbingl}Y

6 Row after sailor climbs part of rigging (7)
RATLINE - LINE [row] after reversed TAR [sailor]

7 Brave tenor on radio, one unsettled by wind (7,4)
WEATHER VANE - WEATHER [brave] + homophone of VEIN [tenor]

8 Why we leave wife with an upset animal (5)
HYENA - {w}HY {w}E losing all its W's, + reversed AN

9 Exuberant cows briefly entering hospital department (9)
EBULLIENT - BULLIE{s} [cows (the verb) "briefly"] "entering" ENT [hospital department]

10 Smart girls shunning drug for skin (5)
CUTIS - CUTI{e}S [smart girls, "shunning" E = drug]

11 Proud, angry words in favour of public transport (11)
PROTUBERANT - PRO-TUBE RANT [angry words in favour of public transport!]

12 Tramp clutching paper documents (7)
DOSSIER - DOSSER [tramp] "clutching" I [(the news)paper]

18 Extremely dim old boy sat on the outside eating kippers, say (9)
OBSCUREST - OB [old bay] + S{a}T "eating" CURES [kippers, say]

19 Allow parasites to bite rear of passionate non-smoker (7)
LICENSE - LICE [parasites] to "bite" {passionat}E + NS [non-smoker]. Luckily for those of us who get mixed up between LICENSE and LICENCE it's pretty unambiguous how to abbreviate "non-smoker".

21 Make business error, partially backing failed art revolution (9)
OVERTRADE - hidden reversed in {fail}ED ART REVO{lution}

22 Asks half-cut buccaneer to inhale (8)
ASPIRATE - AS{ks} + PIRATE [buccaneer]

25 Mates turned up with glue for knockabout comedy (9)
SLAPSTICK - reversed PALS [mates] + STICK [glue]

27 Mix force and fury in fierce exchange (9)
CROSSFIRE - CROSS [mix] + F [force] + IRE [fury]

28 Appallingly trite man, strict disciplinarian (8)
MARTINET - (TRITE MAN*) ["appallingly"]

31 Hero's mate is slim, revolutionary communist (7)
LEANDER - LEAN [slim] + reversed RED [communist]. The mythological, female Hero.

33 Club members awaiting deliveries (7-2-2)
MOTHERS-TO-BE - cryptic definition. As in "in the club", and obstetric deliveries.

34 Carmen snogs vile US politician (11)

35 Just cared, having moral sense (5-6)
RIGHT-MINDED - RIGHT [just] + MINDED [cared]

37 Originally advising extensive repair work on road in Lancaster? (9)
AEROPLANE - A{dvising} E{xtensive} R{epair} + OP [work] on LANE [road]. Lancaster as in the aircraft here.

40 Plans novel e-cash ATM (8)
SCHEMATA - (E-CASH ATM*) ["novel"]

42 Censure unruly yob grabbing two thirds of fruit (7)
OBLOQUY - (YOB*) ["unruly"] "grabbing" LOQU{at} ["two third of" fruit]

43 Bald men, scratching heads, finally taught me how to cook pasta (2,5)
AL DENTE - {b}ALD {m}EN + {taugh}T {m}E

45 Cheers supporting article and letter (5)
THETA - TA [cheers] "supporting" THE [article]

47 Initially act upon Morse's sound assessment (5)
AUDIT - A{ct} U{pon} + DIT [Morse's sound (that isn't DAH)]

48 Guard neglecting southern gate? (5)
ENTRY - {s}ENTRY [guard, "neglecting" S = southern]

49 Arrived on back of doleful quadruped (5)
CAMEL - CAME [arrived] on {dolefu}L
Welcome, travellers. This puzzle will take us through Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, and a Pacific island, on our way to South America. We’ll need lots of foreign money!

The puzzle wasn’t particularly hard, but featured lots of diversity. I thought it had many clever clues. So much so that it’s hard to name an exception. Many clues required thought, but the clue of the day has to be 13dn with its punning literary reference. I wrote it in but couldn’t parse it until I eventually appealed to my wife. 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].

1 Want party to exchange leaders? That’ll bring hostile reaction! (8)
BACKLASH: swap leading letters of LACK BASH. Nice to be spared mention of Dr Spooner.

5 Volume four including books English offered as promised (6)
VOTIVE: V=volume, OT=a set of books commonly mentioned in crosswords, IV=four, E=English. I knew “votive” had religious significance, but not that it meant this.

8 One swoops near ground, moving left to right (3)
OWL: start with LOW=near ground, and follow the instructions!

9 Consent for each assignment (10)

10 No longer confined, holding on for advocate? (8)

11 Girl brought to mark that locates treasure chest (6)
THORAX: THORA is “Miss Saturday” this week. X marks the location. Make sure you separate “treasure” from “chest”.

12 Australia finally getting spinner on (4)
ATOP: add TOP to [Australi]A. The definition is almost invisible! And no, not a cricketing clue.

14 Came down after snooze, subdued (10)

17 What one has to go on is fresh and amusing (5,5)
GREEN LIGHT: GREEN=fresh, LIGHT=amusing. Definition relates to traffic signals.

20 Authentic quartet to be seen in Liechtenstein (4)
ECHT: hidden answer.

23 Animal, better left in two areas, sent west (6)
ALPACA: LCAP=CAP / L[eft] “sent west”. Top and tail it with 2 x A=area.

24 Decline to accept drink, having answer ready for Bulgarian (8)
STOTINKA: SINK=decline, “accepting” TOT=drink, then A=answer. As it happened, I’d just seen the same answer in the previous week’s Jumbo with an almost identical type of clue, so this was a “gimme”. Definition is Bulgarian currency.

25 Motorway route cut short as data misread (10)
AUTOSTRADA: (ROUT- AS DATA*), “cut short” and “misread”.

26 Works informer shifting Republican to the centre (3)
ART: RAT with R=Republican moved as instructed.

27 Impulsive thing in north going after new money (6)
NEURON: N=new, EURO=money, N=north. Neutrons transmit nerve impulses.

28 Sit and adore rippling body (8)
ASTEROID: (SIT ADORE*) “rippling”.

1 Recoil from report about distraught Romeo (9)
BOOMERANG: BANG=report, around “distraught” (ROMEO*). Some boomerangs, not all, do return  but I would dispute that they recoil. Alas, it’s in the dictionary!

2 Music from revolutionary agent welcomed to state ball (7)
CALYPSO: YPS=“revolutionary” SPY, in CAL O (State, ball).

3 Raised in family like some wild animal (6)

4 Tiger seen abroad where lion holds sway? (9)

5 Six men accommodating model tourist (7)
VISITOR: SIT “accommodated” by VI=six, OR=other ranks.

6 Fossil — see black one with dull exterior (9)
TRILOBITE: LO=see, B=black, all inside TRITE=dull.

7 Excellent plonk given at raves (7)
VINTAGE: (GIVEN AT*) “raves”.

13 Rhymester's introduction to The Pit and the Pendulum say (9)
POETASTER: The Pit and the Pendulum is a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe, so an introduction to it might be a Poe “taster”.

15 Islanders and old volunteers whacked Scotsmen (9)
TAHITIANS: TA=old volunteers, HIT, IANS=(certain) Scotsmen.

16 Action needed about land taken away (9)

18 Rare vacant tenancy agreement — it's free! (7)
RELEASE: R[ar]E is “vacant”, followed by LEASE.

19 Appears following trouble over affair (7)
LIAISON: LIA=AIL “over”, IS ON=appears (at the Alhambra, say).

21 Tax in one country initially raised money abroad (7)
CENTAVO: VAT in ONE, followed by C[ountry] … all “raised”, since this is a down clue. It’s a currency unit, mainly in South American countries.

22 Gunners captured by amphibious creatures mounting low attack (6)
STRAFE: RA in EFTS “mounting”.

Times Quick Cryptic No 1309 by Mara

A typically neat and entertaining puzzle from Mara today. Nothiing too difficult, I think, but I'm sure you will correct me if you found it otherwise; some may find 22A and 3D a bit of a stretch, perhaps. With dance, run, hop and fly in the first four clues I thought we might be having a bit of a theme of activity, but 13A and 21A put paid to that. There is much to enjoy in the surfaces and wordplay. I particularly liked 13A, 4D, 10D, 12D and (my favourite) 16D. How did you all get on? Update: Oops. I neglected to give my thanks to our setter for a great puzzle. I think the comments below speak for themselves, but let me add that I thought it was right in the Goldilocks zone, with lots for the experienced solver to smile at and the less-experienced to discover. Looking forward to the next one. Thanks Mara!
Read all about it...Collapse )
I was straight off to the races on this charming, pangrammatic but not particularly Fridayish puzzle, hitting the submit button a shade after the 5 minute mark as the answer to 5ac finally swam into view. I personally found this something of a biff-fest as none of the longer clues with the possible exception of 14dn needed any parsing to be popped confidently in. The whole thing reminded me rather of a Telegraph Toughie, I'm not sure why: perhaps I associate the slightly unusual "prime locations" device at 25dn more with the setters of that venerable organ.

Clue of the day in my book was definitely 12dn, with its creative wordplay harmonising into a rather nice surface - thanks very much, dear setter!

1 All but last of ice creams dished up in pots (8)
CERAMICS - (IC{e} CREAMS*) ["dished up"]

5 Go off on the trail of very old Times interviews (3,3)
VOX POP - POP [go off] on the trail of V O X [very | old | times]

10 People generally bearing blame after a model addict's treatment (8,7)
AVERSION THERAPY - THEY [people generally] "bearing" RAP [blame] after A VERSION [a | model]

11 Italian in action with Hun and E European (10)
LITHUANIAN - (ITALIAN + HUN*) ["in action"]

13 Stoical leader of Japanese school finding love (4)
ZENO - ZEN [Japanese school] finding O [love]

15 Flawed Republican alarmed hosts (7)
SCARRED - R [Republican] "hosted" by SCARED [alarmed]

17 Obliged to leave husband behind — the car can hold no more (7)
TANKFUL - T{h}ANKFUL [obliged, minus H for husband]

18 Picked for team before start of season, showing guts (7)
INSIDES - IN SIDE [picked for team] before S{eason}

19 Contacts from East cut by ambassador (it's in old records) (7)
SHELLAC - reverse CALLS [contacts], "cut" by H.E. [ambassador]

21 Yank is fool (4)
JERK - double def

22 Serious music disheartened grenadier on parade ground (5,5)
GRAND OPERA - G{renadie}R + (ON PARADE*) ["ground"]

25 Press church to restrain island's senior politician (7,8)
CABINET MINISTER - CABINET [press] + MINSTER [church] to "restrain" I [island]

27 Messy drawing, possibly small fawn? (6)
SCRAWL - S CRAWL [small | fawn]

28 Square within enclosure providing shade (3-5)
PEA-GREEN - AGREE [square] within PEN [enclosure]

1 Rachel's new name after sex change? (7)
CHARLES - (RACHEL'S*) ["new"], semi-&lit

2 Food from fish regularly taken from Rhone (3)
ROE - R{h}O{n}E

3 Deception accomplished as short reservation's accepted (10)
MASQUERADE - MADE [accomplished], AS QUER{y} ["short" reservation] having been "accepted"

4 First couple of clubs to admit entertainer (5)
CLOWN - CL{ubs} + OWN [to admit]

6 Reading out of letters hasn't paid off (4)
OWES - homophone of O's [letters]

7 What traitor did struck the wrong note (6,5)
PLAYED FALSE - double def

8 Scots borough blocking vote for salaried staff (7)
PAYROLL - AYR [Scots borough] "blocking" POLL [vote]

9 Lost land from biblical books, one in mountain range (8)
ATLANTIS - NT I [biblical books | one] in ATLAS [(N African) mountain range]

12 Copyist's basic error not resolved — zeros overlooked (11)
TRANSCRIBER - (BASIC ERR{o}R N{o}T*) ["resolved", once all the O's = zeros have been subtracted]

14 Covering traces of evidence, notorious villain running off (10)
ENVELOPING - E{vidence} N{otorious} V{illain} + ELOPING [running off]

16 Unattached police on island (8)
DISCRETE - D.I.S [police] on CRETE [island]

18 Introduces fast way to travel round cape (7)
INJECTS - IN JETS [fast way to travel] "round" C [cape]

20 Series featuring King George's vexation (7)
CHAGRIN - CHAIN [series] "featuring" G.R. [King George]

23 Time to leave local green (5)
NAIVE - NA{t}IVE [local, minus T = time]

24 Understand speaker's refusal (4)
KNOW - homophone of NO [refusal]

25 Feature of footwear occupying prime locations in store (3)
TOE - {s}TO{r}E, the "prime locations" being letters 2, 3, 5, (7, 11, 13...)

Times Quick Cryptic No 1308 by Rongo

Gentle enough from Rongo today. I did Tuesday's not-too-tricky QC just beforehand, took about 14 minutes, and did this in a bit under half that. Missed three of the acrosses on the first read through: 12ac, partly because I don't credit the word "breathe" with the status of a 7-letter word (it's surely 6, right?), partly because it's an uncommon name for a drink I don't mind forgetting; 16ac was also missed, thanks to a Pavlovian shudder at the first bit of the clue, so I moved quickly on; and 20ac was missed legitimately, because of trickier wordplay and a certainty that there have to be loads of 13-letter words for "dispassionate" (none of which was immediately forthcoming). I also liked the spasmodic subdivision at 9ac and the neatness of 1d. I don't remember that particular grid layout either. Anyway, many thanks to Rongo!

1 Twice cook dead bird (4)
DODO - To do a meal = to cook a meal, repeat. And I suppose if you're a dodgy accountant, doing the books and cooking the books are the same thing as well.
3 Move rider's head on horseback — put his foot here (7)
STIRRUP - STIR (move) R (Rider's "head") UP (on horseback)
8 Parisian's one in favour to receive furniture, to be remembered always (13)
UNFORGETTABLE - UN (Parisian's one) FOR (in favour) to GET (receive) TABLE (furniture)
9 Latter half of erotic spasm (3)
TIC - latter half of eroTIC
10 Those people in front of English subject (5)
THEME - THEM (those people) afront E(nglish)
12 Breathe, stirring hot soothing drink? (4,3)
HERB TEA - anagram (stirring) of BREATHE. An earlier term for herbal tea.
14 Old saint put in mature, clever reply (7)
RIPOSTE - O (old) St. (saint) put in RIPE (mature)
16 After referendum, it's unknown who wants a cracker? (5)
POLLY - POLL (referendum) Y (unknown). You can read why parrots are called pollys, and why they want crackers, here.
17 Fate of man whose wife turned to salt (3)
LOT - double definition
20 Unemotional lives go by, one likely to interrupt romantic meeting (13)
DISPASSIONATE - IS (lives: to be = to live = to exist) PASS (go by) I (one) ON (likely) to interrupt DATE (romantic meeting).
21 Overshadow cuts within Europe's borders (7)
ECLIPSE - CLIPS (cuts) within EE ("borders" of EuropE)
22 Stick contents of bulges out (4)
GLUE - anagram (out) of ULGE ("contents" of bULGEs)

1 Family member seeing changing of the guard (8)
DAUGHTER - anagram, (changing of) THE GUARD. Very nice.
2 Silly duke at the back of the boat (4)
DAFT - D(uke) AFT (back of the boat)
3 Strong smell from small fish (6)
STENCH - S(mall) TENCH (fish)
4 Bury broadcast or put in continuity break (12)
INTERRUPTION - INTER (bury), anagram (broadcast) of OR PUT IN.
5 Thick end in actual counterargument (8)
REBUTTAL - BUTT (thick end) in REAL (actual)
6 Composition of lines displayed regularly by pro team (4)
POEM - "displayed regularly by" P r O  t E a M.
7 Overworked forger might have this problem in holding pen (7,5)
WRITERS CRAMP - vaguely cryptic definition. Possibly a pun on "holding pen", although unless the forger is making fake wool it's hard to see what business they have being in a holding pen... aah, they could be sheep rustling, and altering a farmer's identification mark.
11 Adoption of English as a second language involving power over America (8)
ESPOUSAL - ESL (English as a Second Language) involves P(ower) O(ver) USA (America)
13 Unsettled year when in no particular place (8)
ANYWHERE - anagram (unsettled) of YEAR WHEN
15 Part of rarely seen French palace (6)
ELYSEE - "part of" the letters of rarELY SEEn
18 Tool commercials on the radio (4)
ADZE - sounds like (heard on the radio) ADS (commercials)
19 Icy shower is welcome (4)
HAIL - double definition. Very true, if the ice is of the diamond variety.
I found this quite sticky and, even allowing for time taken to lovingly extract the full measure of each clue (except the troublesome 27 across), my 32.48 is unlikely to set the world on fire. But I think it’s a goodie, with some inspired definitions scattered throughout: I particularly liked the country home, and the &lit at 12 down. At the other end of the scale, perhaps, I found 8 down problematic, with the definition being more of an allusion, though I’m open to persuasion. Most of my slower stuff came in the top left corner, never a good place to find trouble. Perhaps it was Mrs Z watching Masterchef on catch-up that dulled my senses.
While it’s not really crawling with ants, there are two of them in the grid, a mildly unusual feature.
My attempt to unravel the tangled skein of thought is  embellished below with clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS. Click on Ah, there it is to reveal all

[Ah, there it is]

1 Orchestral movement not working, give in (4-3)
DOWN-BOW To draw the bow across the violin starting with the nut or bottom end. Not working (the computer’s ) DOWN, give in BOW (to the inevitable, May be)
5 Farewell speech originally without conclusion? (7)
SENDOFF Hyphenated in Chambers. Speech’s first letter (originally) plus END OFF suggested by without conclusion.
9 Overpriced establishment, bit common (4,5)
CLIP JOINT Not that I’ve ever thought of it that way, but a place where you get clipped, ripped off. I think CLIP as in a bit of film, and (more convinced) JOINT as in held in common
10 Fine total (5)
SHEER One of those swinish double definitions where both words have multiple possibilities.  Fine gives you SHEER if you think of 10 denier and therefore practically see through stockings (a gentleman would think thus only fleetingly, of course), total as in SHEER madness.
11 I speed up and give impromptu, impressing conductor finally, Italian maestro (8,5)
GIUSEPPE VERDI Responsible for the music for the latest Audi advert, the one that goes whump boom whump boom whump boom whump boom dee da dee...  “Impromptu” is your anagram indicator, sort out I SPEED UP GIVE as your fodder, slip in the R from the end of conductor.
13 In sport, time is going fast (8)
HURTLING Once you remember that HURLING is actually a sport (iománaíocht in its native Irish, believe it or not) sticking a T(ime) in  is a simple exercise
15 Doctor on call : exactly the same? (6)
CLONAL “Doctor” (verb) the letters ON CALL
17 Country, note, surrounded by water (6)
POLAND The note is LA, the water is POND. I would do my usual thing of citing the Do, a deer thing, but Hammerstein ran out of imagination at that point and just called it “a note to follow So”
19 Fix trouble — check parts fit (8)
DOVETAIL Clever wording (if I’ve sussed it right). Fix gives DO, trouble is a crossword staple AIL Check is VET, which parts the other two bits. Extra points for dawdling long enough to work that out
22 Inexperienced competitor on river, is one's concern great? (13)
INDUSTRIALIST An inexperienced competitor is a TRIALIST (sometimes with LL, but not here) which leaves the INDUS for the river.
25 Old king and tiresome infants initially play together (5)
TUTTI Musical Italian. TUT is the old king, more formally known as Tutankhamen (other spellings are available). T and I from the initials of the Tiresome Infants
26 Snatch and rip off fastener (9)
CHINSTRAP You need to spot that “off” presages anagram and that SNATCH and (again that intrusive coupler) RIP are your bits. I suppose it fastens the helmet/busby to the head, but it’s a bit loose (as a definition, that is)
27 Plant life no better, all ending the wrong way for animal (3,4)
ROE DEER Ah, right, got it. The plant is REED, then just all the endings of lifE nO betteR, all reversed. Not sussed while solving.
28 Through the ear, visitor took a shot (7)
GUESSED Probably from the Golden Treasury of Homophones Through the Ear 1948 edition. Guest.

1 Avoid nothing (4)
DUCK Can’t believe this was almost my last in. Today’s (faintly)  cricket reference for the second definition
2 One complaining when footballer’s grabbed hard (7)
WHINGER A splendidly contemporary clue, echoing three such incidents in British football in the last week. But the footballer’s a WINGER, and H(ard) the grabbed letter.
3 Desirable to roll up sail, out to drop anchor? (5)
BIJOU Easy (-ish) to see that the “rolled up” sail is a JIB, the you have to assume the OU comes from out with the T designated as the word’s dropped anchor. Hmm
4 Insect finding crumb on each set of books (5,3)
WHITE ANT The termite, I believe. WHIT for crumb, EA for each, and NT for our regular scriptural set of books visitor to these parts.
5 Some training relative needs to pen sheep (3-3)
SIT UPS A relative SIS(ter) pens the TUP, a useful (to  setters) form of sheep.
6 Architect left residing in loathsome country home? (9)
NASHVILLE We’ll take John NASH, responsible for just about every decent bit of Regency Architecture, add VILE for loathsome with an L(eft) residing therein
7 Stretch too far above ladder (7)
OVERRUN Above: OVER, ladder: RUN as in those 10 denier stockings.
8 Expect trouble — from a catfight? (3,4,3)
FUR WILL FLY There may be trouble ahead. There are variations on the phrase in most dictionaries. The feline allusion is obvious enough
12 One moving quickly to secrete objects, petty larcenist primarily? (10)
SHOPLIFTER A brilliant &lit. SHIFTER interprets one moving quickly, hiding the objects which are the first letters of Petty Larceny  Gothick Matt points out you also need the O from objects to make the wordplay work. Cheers!
14 Overwhelming success gets recounted ultimately in fiction (9)
LANDSLIDE The innocent “gets” is there to provide LANDS, the fiction is a LIE, and the remaining D comes from the ultimate letter of recounteD
16 Coming across fish, old mog fed (8)
LOCATING O(ld) CAT (or mog) is fed to the fish LING in a reversal of normal practice
18 Case of demoiselle being into drink, is this? (7)
LADETTE I don’t think an instance of a demoiselle quaffing a drink of LATTE is particularly ladettish behaviour, but hey, this is a crossword clue, and the case of DemoisellE is just DE
20 Star soldier, God of war (7)
ANTARES Soldier is our second ANT du jour, and ARES the (Greek) god of war. And this is the fabulous Uhura singing “Beyond Antares” just for the trekkies among us.
21 Trader more vulgar, might you say? (6)
GROCER More vulgar? GROSSER, sounds like.
23 Problem children (5)
ISSUE A neat little double definition, probably another vintage clue
24 Small and sweet, one's eyed (4)
SPUD S(mall) and PUD for sweet.  Eyes are the growing points on potatoes (but you knew that)
Starting at 1a, I sped through the top half then lower left of this one on a PB schedule, then the opposite of 13d happened. I slowed down to cope with a couple of unknown or obscure words at 20a and 13d put in purely on wordplay, but still finished in a respectable 16 minutes.
An enjoyable but somewhat inconsistent puzzle, some clues very sraightforward (1a, 12a, 14a, 2d, 17d) and a few quite tricky. 8d may hold up a few who aren't familiar with An Lár in the Emerald Isle but it was a gift for me. I'm not crazy about the randomly named 'man' at 6d or the 'fellow' at 24d, but at least we haven't got 'journalist' clueing the first two letters of 6d.

1 Mo’s back! (6)
SECOND - Double def; MO = second, brief bit of time, SECOND = back as in support a candidate.
4 Sad endeavour to secure run for American singer (8)
BLUEBIRD - BLUE = sad, BID = endeavour, insert an R.
10 Pie cooked by French priest, an enjoyer of good food (9)
EPICUREAN - (PIE)*, CURÉ = French priest, AN.
11 Arab artillery invading islands without question (5)
IRAQI - Two I's = islands, insert RA and Q.
12 Propose article on music, meeting challenge (3,3,8)
POP THE QUESTION - POP music, THE an article, QUESTION = challenge. A write-in I thought.
14 Content, but extremely hazy about download? (5)
HAPPY - H Y about APP = download.
16 Dutch painter left with worker, one making plea (9)
APPELLANT - Karel APPEL was a Dutch painter; L, ANT = worker.
18 Haughty nature of knight entering plant with sons (9)
ALOOFNESS - Another one biffed then parsed. ALOE = plant, insert OF N (knight in chess), add S S for sons.
20 Bird identified by a good friend in Paris (5)
AGAMI - All good cruciverbalists know their birds, antelopes and odd mammals, don't they? Or they do it from wordplay and assume AGAMI must be a bird. It is, a S. American type of heron, consisting of A, G, AMI = French for friend.
21 Dodgy presentation of light sauce? (6-8)
25 Live with wooded area around (5)
DWELL - Insert W for with into DELL.
26 English cleric backing new plant? (9)
EVERGREEN - E, REV reversed, GREEN = new.
27 Staid old lady, but about to relax at the front (8)
MATRONLY - MA and ONLY (=but) have TR inserted, the T and R being initial letters of To Relax.
28 Back in resort, siblings find somewhere to eat (6)
BISTRO - Today's hidden word, reversed in RES(ORT SIB)LINGS.

1 In Peel's day he mistreated a dozy kid? (10)
2 Primate's mischievous child overwhelmed by church (5)
CHIMP - IMP follows CH. Simples.
3 Wicked US city accepting anything once! (7)
NAUGHTY - NY has AUGHT inserted. Aught is a adaption of naught = nothing, to mean anything, in use for centuries e.g. the Bard wisely wrote, as you may recall, "Ay me! For aught that ever I could read, could ever hear by tale or history, the course of true love never did run smooth".
5 Move suddenly east after a breather (5)
LUNGE - E after LUNG a 'breather'. Seen this clue elsewhere very recently, can't recall if T, ST or Guardian.
6 Man in charge of army journal's last description of decree (7)
EDICTAL - ED a random man, IC = in charge of, TA = army, L = last letter of journal. Not a common word but simply means pertaining to edicts.
7 Lover upset a sailor of Arabian origin (9)
INAMORATA - all reversed: A, TAR (sailor), OMANI (of Arab origin).
8 Tabloid, possibly, not unknown in lower chamber (4)
DAIL - DAILY = tabloid possibly, lose the 'unknown' Y; the lower house of the Oireachtas, Ireland's parliament, the upper being the Seanad. I lived in Dublin for many years so this came easily to mind, but maybe not so for those further away.
9 In the main it constitutes a seismic convulsion (8)
SEAQUAKE - A not very cryptic definition.
13 Dispatch oxygen round Herts town, gradually increasing speed (10)
STRINGENDO - Regulars will know that Herts town often means TRING, surround that with SEND and O for oxygen. Musical term meaning what it says above, in Italian literally 'clutching'.
15 Well-known Republican feeding dog where otolaryngologists work (9)
PROMINENT - I thought, it can't just be President? And it wasn't. R goes into POM(eranian dog), then those ear nose and throat chaps work IN ENT.
17 Rich confections —the old man’s samples (8)
PASTRIES - PA'S = the old man's, TRIES = samples. Simples too.
19 Opera in which priest is bitten by dog? (7)
FIDELIO - FIDO bites ELI the priest. Beethoven's only opera, premiered in 1805.
20 Spear produced by stupid person, say, leading to fine? (7)
ASSEGAI - When I was a youth (a Mod, not a Ted, Jimbo), I terrorised cats and streetlamps with catapults, home made crossbows and ASSEGAIS made of sticks and string, the word has stuck in my memory. ASS = stupid person, EG = say, A1 = fine.
22 Excited cry over Lenin's first revolutionary device (5)
WHEEL - WHEE ! + L(enin). Simples again.
23 Bungling writer brought up in centre of Linlithgow (5)
INEPT - PEN reversed inside IT the central letters of that Scottish place.
24 Fellow US attorney visiting a medium (4)
ADAM - DA goes into A, M for medium. Not an award winning clue, with a random chap's name as an answer.

Times Quick Cryptic 1307 by Hurley

Anagrams abound, which makes for an accessible grid. And nothing really obscure either (except possibly 8ac and 4dn), so I hope to see some satisfied customers today. There are some nice, cryptic-y, sideways definitions to enjoy here, my favourite being 11dn - thanks Hurley.

Definitions underlined

1 Competitive activity could yield cigar — grand! (4,6)
DRAG RACING - anagram of (could yield) CIGAR GRAND.
8 Noticed spades, multi-coloured (5)
SPIED - S (spades) and PIED (multi-coloured, like a horse, magpie, etc.).
9 Supply to the full at sea, it's fantastic (7)
SATIATE - anagram of (fantastic) AT SEA IT.
10 Fiddling taximeter — that could lead to penalties! (5,4)
EXTRA TIME - anagram of (fiddling) TAXIMETER.
12 Baking stolen (3)
HOT - double definition.
13 Mike leaving wood finds river (5)
TIBER - take M (mike) away from (leaving) TImBER (wood).
15 Have same opinion: an excessive desire must be cut (5)
AGREE - A GREEd (an excessive desire) without the last letter (must be cut).
17 Criticise sleep on return (3)
PAN - reversal of (of return) NAP.
18 Principal lecturer's claim disheartened Oscar (9)
PROFESSOR - PROFESS (claim) then OscaR without its inside letters (without its heart, disheartened).
20 Plain about account for ham (7)
OVERACT - OVERT (plain) surrounding (about) AC (account).
21 Gave talk, producing part of wheel (5)
SPOKE - double definition.
22 Revised rent decree that puts people off? (10)
DETERRENCE - anagram of (revised) RENT DECREE.

1 It could hold sweet drops one's set to move around (7,5)
DESSERT SPOON - anagram of (to move around) DROPS ONES SET.
2 Boxer on street celebrity roll (1-4)
A-LIST - ALI (boxer) then ST (street).
3 One might make catch, some hero, dashing? (3)
ROD - hidden in (some) heRO Dashing.
4 Showcase, industrial, displaying dairy product (6)
CASEIN - hidden in (displaying) showCASE INdustrial.
5 Written comment about king made after upset in Cathedral (5,4)
NOTRE DAME - NOTE (written comment) surrounding (about) R (Rex, king), then an anagram of (after upset) MADE.
6 Long way off about the originator (6)
FATHER - FAR (long way off) surrounding (about) THE.
7 Be lent geezer at work — no fast mover! (6,6)
GENTLE BREEZE - anagram of (at work) BE LENT GEEZER.
11 A loan peer arranged, one moving up? (9)
AEROPLANE - anagram of (arranged) A LOAN PEER.
14 In poem bishop replaces second hat (6)
BONNET - sONNET (poem) but with B (bishop) replacing 's' (second).
16 German author's attempt overlooks English theory, half completed (6)
GOETHE - GO (attempt), E (English), and the first half of (half completed) THEory.
19 Reject with contempt ultimately useless banal stuff (5)
SCORN - last letter of (ultimately) uselesS then CORN (banal stuff).
21 Title seems ideal, respectful first of all (3)
SIR - first letters of (first of all) Seems, Ideal and Respectful.

Times Cryptic 27296

I found this rather tricky and needed 47 minutes to complete it, but it was enormously enjoyable with a number of very inventive devices and an inspired cryptic clue at 22ac that made me laugh.

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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Times Quick Cryptic 1306 by Teazel

I struggled in the top half, so quite quickly dropped down to the bottom where progress was easier. Having built up the base, the two long down clues (3 and 8) then helped with checkers to piece the top half together - finishing on 2dn. That sounds like a struggle but I came in 2 seconds under 8 minutes - another fast finish for me.

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Times 27295 - The metronome mazurka!

Time: 39 minutes
Music: Shostakovich, Symphony 14, Ormandy/Philadelphia

I found this a refreshing puzzle, with unusual clues and novel cryptic technique.   At first it seemed almost unapproachable, but I found a few Quickie-style clues scattered around the edges, and was able to just get a foothold.   Once you have a few crossing letters, it is possible to biff some of the longer answers and really get going with good speed.   A good bit of general knowledge is required, mostly of the sort that can be picked up from doing these puzzles for a few years.

I was left in the end with a few that were more difficult to crack, and I really had to think hard to see how the cryptic worked.   I ended up with 'Sudanese', which was the obvious answer, but I had a blind spot for the cryptic for the longest time.   So I was perhaps not as quick as I should have been - but I did enjoy the puzzle.

1 Glue rifle butt, not taking seconds. That’s sound for some time (8)
TICKTOCK - [s]TICK + [s]TOCK,    Definitely a novel cluing technique right at the start.
5 Composer writing feature about opus (6)
9 Badly sung idea for a religious piece (5,3)
AGNUS DEI - Anagram of SUNG IDEA, which took me a little while to see.
10 Died down and burned away, last of coal not needed (6)
ABATED - AB[l]ATED.   'Ablated' does not usually meaned 'burned away', but the idea is clear enough.
12 Soldiers beheaded Achilles’ foe — not state business (7,6)
15 In a spot, perhaps, the man is flexible (5)
LITHE - LIT + HE, spotlit, that is, not drunk.
16 Dish inducting fool into Creole cooking (9)
CASSEROLE - C(ASS)EROLE, where the enclosing letters are an anagram of CREOLE.
17 German town burger men upset (9)
19 Eye work that gets a lot of credit (5)
OPTIC - OP + TIC[k], without the drinks dispenser for a change.
20 Rocks here seething with male fish (5,8)
22 True Australian is mostly stupid about tattoo (6)
DINKUM - D(INK)UM[b], where some little knowledge of the Australian lingo is needed.
23 People in country to appeal about invading Vikings (8)
SUDANESE - SU(DANES)E.   I had a lot of trouble because I was attempting the opposite construction, with a word for 'appeal' invading a word for 'Vikings'.
25 Sound is harsh, missing out on gold disc (6)
STEREO - [au]STERE + O.   A rather loose definition, but the cryptic should give it to you.
26 Where film stage went for useless employees (8)
DEADWOOD -  double definition, I believe - there were a number of films and TV series set in Deadwood, South Dakota. I would like to thank our honorable correspondent from Shanghai for the additional information on how this clue works - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_xmujSyxkU
1 Spring up from vagrant, old and rank (10)
TRAMPOLINE - TRAMP + O + LINE, i.e. a tier or a row.
2 Company gets on top of new scam (3)
CON - CO + N, one from the Quickie.
3 Where there’s a will, there’s a — (7)
TESTATE - Cryptic definition, not very cryptic.
4 Artful Charlie going to bar more than once (6-6)
CLEVER-CLEVER - C + LEVER twice.  A UK-centric expression that it is important for overseas solvers to know.
6 Regular visitor put somewhat in shade (7)
HABITUE - H(A BIT)UE, another chestnut.
7 Prayer gives one lift (11)
PATERNOSTER - double definition, referring to the continually-moving elevator.
8 Where conductors meet to agree on technique, ultimately (4)
NODE - NOD + [techniqu]E.  Another rather loose literal where most solvers will just use the cryptic.
11 This fixes pitches, yet using rake is wrong (3,9)
13 Bury coins where roads meet (11)
14 What draws little money to protect unwell these days (6,4)
18 Damage most of camping man’s tent (7)
MARQUEE - MAR + QUEE[n], presumably 'camp' in a much different sense
19 City tree has to come down (7)
OAKLAND - OAK + LAND, another easy one.
21 Team’s cancelling southern date in Rome (4)
IDES - [s]IDES, another one from the Quickie.
24 I pass after end of course (3)
EGO -  [cours]E + GO.

QC 1305 by Oink

I believe this is the first time I have blogged an Oink puzzle. Pleased to meet you, Sir or Madam, and I enjoyed your puzzle very much. I think because the 'handwriting' was unfamiliar I read it through first time without filling in much, but all went in pretty quickly after that and provided a very gentle start to the week, with everything fitting in quite smoothly in just under 7 minutes.

FOI was 5A I think. Should have been 1A looking back, but it was so obvious that I couldn't see it first time. I believe my LOI was BATHE, because once I got into my stride most of it happened quite sequentially. No particular clue stood out for difficulty so my COD goes to 8D for smoothness of surface and general tidiness.

I am very pleased to report that at some point towards the end of the week before last I managed to catch up with all my 15x15s. When I tell you that my two standout clues were "Line that stops tongue moving, twisted in knots? (8)" (27243) and "
Online dealer; as announced (9): (27246), you will realise how long I had been letting them stack up. I am sure there must have been a load of better clues during the accumulated backlog of 20-30 puzzles but those are just the random two that really stand out for me as I look back. Maybe now I can get back to doing the QC daily as well.

And while I am on the subject of favourite clues I wonder if this might be an excuse to invite everybody to post their all time golden nuggets? I always find that sort of thing fascinating (but I realise I may be in a minority and all the rest of you might have been there before and find it a bit boring).

While I am at it though I do remember that when I first started doing this blog somebody posted one of their favourite clues. I thought about it briefly and moved on, intending to come back to it later but now I realise I completely forgot. If you can remember who you were would you mind posting it again? I think it had something to do with a square.

Finally I did remember to whip out my NATRAF (Nina And Theme Radar And Filter) at the end and scanned the final grid, but I could detect no evidence of unusual activity.

Definitions are underlined and everything else is explained just as I see it as simply as I can.

1 A country pile? (8)
HAYSTACK - cryptic definition.
5 Henry’s in great pain (4)
ACHE - H (Henry) 'in' ACE (great).
9 Timid chap getting married by river (5)
MOUSE - M (married) + OUSE (Yorkshire river).
10 One who weeps about resistance fighter (7)
BRAWLER - BAWLER (one who weeps) 'about' R (resistance).
11 Occasionally arrange fundraising event (3)
RAG - 'occasional' letters of aRrAnGe.
12 Partner is in trouble, that’s become apparent (9)
TRANSPIRE - straight anagram ('in trouble') of PARTNER IS.
13 Briefly follow popular Soviet leader (6)
STALIN - STAL (STALk (follow) 'briefly') + IN (popular).
15 Remarkable dramas in Indian city of old (6)
MADRAS - straight anagram ('remarkable') of DRAMAS.
17 England going mad? That’s the impression (9)
ENGRAVING - ENG (England) + RAVING (going mad).
19 Legal profession's drinking den (3)
BAR - double definition.
20 Primate's a partisan, it’s said (7)
GORILLA - sounds like ('it's said') GUERRILLA (partisan).
21 Sum to put back (3,2)
TOT UP - TO + TUP (PUT backwards).
22 Travel in part of Hebrides (4)
RIDE - hidden word: HebRIDEs.
23 Beyond compare, as House of Lords when empty? (8)
PEERLESS - an empty House of Lords would have no PEERS in it and so could be described as PEERLESS.
1 Reporter's funny bone (7)
HUMERUS - sounds like ('reporter's') HUMOROUS (funny). But I would say this is hardly a clue really at all because that is why the upper bone of your upper limb is popularly referred to as your 'funny bone' anyway.
2 Immature, year-old gnu heading north (5)
YOUNG - Y (year) + O (old) + UNG (GNU 'heading north' in this Down clue).
3 Tear city hall apart in dramatic fashion (12)
THEATRICALLY - straight anagram ('apart') of TEAR CITY HALL.
4 Emergency committee needs firm support (5)
COBRA - CO ('company', commonly used in Crossword Land to mean a 'firm' although in strict legal terms a firm is a partnership as distinct from a company) + BRA (support).
6 Coal miner runs after dog (7)
COLLIER - COLLIE (dog) + R (runs).
7 Strange place for an eagle, they say (5)
EERIE - sounds like EYRIE ('they say'), an eagle's nest.
8 Servant's amusement causes serious offence (12)
MANSLAUGHTER - MAN'S (servant's) + LAUGHTER (amusement).
14 Terribly enraged? (7)
ANGERED - anagram &lit. ENRAGED 'terribly' = ANGERED, of which the whole clue is also a possible definition.
16 Fights about European difficulties (7)
SCRAPES - SCRAPS (fights) 'about' E (European).
17 Keen to be a long time in Her Majesty's embrace? (5)
EAGER - AGE (a long time) 'in ER's ('Her Majesty's') embrace'.
18 Fatuous characters in Twain anecdote (5)
INANE - hidden word: TwaIN ANEcdote.
19 Bill turned up with ambassador to have a swim (5)
BATHE - BAT (TAB (bill) 'turned up' in this Down clue) + HE (His or Her Excellency, formal title of an ambassador).

Mephisto 3053 - Tim Moorey

I found this one kind of a struggle and I'm not sure if I have everything 100% sussed out.

There are an unsually large number of clues that require reversal of wordplay components here.

The first definition is underlined in the clues. Definitions can be verified in Chambers, so I'm only going to comment on definitions if there is something unusual.

Away we go...

4 Certainly boring church conference, say — it reduces one to silence (9)
CHOKE-PEAR - OKE(certainly) inside CH(church) and a conference PEAR
10 Shock with bag — one should keep locks in order (8)
HAIRGRIP -  HAIR(shock) and GRIP(bag). This is given in Chambers as one or two words
11 Bury up north picked up — Hearts knocked out (4)
EARD - HEARD(picked up) missing H(Hearts)
12 Short service before mass presages rejoicing (8)
13 Gurnard in cans, Australian not English (4)
TUBS - the cans are TUBES, remove E(English)
14 Miss Right, very small (5)
PETTY - remove the R(right) from PRETTY(very)
15 Spotted swine without heads and hound without owner (6)
PIEDOG - SPIED(spotted) and HOG(swine) missing the first letters
17 No little following for gala occurring in Washington summer? (7)
ESTIVAL - remove F(following) from FESTIVAL(gala)
21 One mocks Stokes put in difficulty (7)
SCORNER - S at a CORNER(difficulty)
23 With openings say, around one, ring first (7)
OSTIATE - STATE(say) surrounding I(one) with O(ring) at the front
26 Prohibition covering liquor and one’s backing revolution (7)
INQILAB - BAN(prohibition) surrounding LIQ(liqur) and then I(one) - all reversed
27 Fine arresting extremes of opulent love poem (6)
EROTIC - ERIC(a blood fine) surrounding the outside letters in OpulenT
28 Opening line forgotten, almost disastrously (5)
STOMA - remove L(line) from ALMOST, then anagram
31 Berks doctor removed braces (4)
DUOS - the berks are DUMBOS, remove the MB(doctor)
32 Rachel disturbed about case of poorest in capital (8)
CHAPTREL - anagram of RACHEL surrounding P(oores)T - the capital of a column
33 Amateur move on and off the straight at Gleneagles (4)
AGEE - A(amateur) and GEE(move on)
34 Leaving railway, deliberate about getting drunk (8)
EBRIATED - anaram of DELIBERATE missing EL(railway)
35 Troops caught by night in preparation as before (9)
PARASCEVE - PARAS(troops), C(caught), EVE(night)

1 Endless cod for each individual and my charges are small (9)
CHAPERONE - CHA(p) (cod), PER ONE (for each individual)
2 Pressure-relieving pad rejected? Bin it! (4)
WASE - WASTE(rejected) missing 'T
3 Description concealing rent out of date (4)
RIPT - hidden in descRIPTion
4 Charlie on brass is soft (6)
CRETIN - C(charlie, NATO alphabet), RE(on), TIN(brass)
5 Wild reveller, alternatively huge person getting a change of direction (7)
ORGIAST -  OR(alternately), then GIANT(huge person) with N changing to S
6 No speech impediment Earl picked up from Greek character (7)
EPSILON - NO, LISP(speech impediment), E(earl) all reversed
7 Fellow safe till down under (5)
PETER - three definitions
8 Did stuff on Emirates put over in pale-green colour (8, three words)
EAU DE NIL - LINED(did stuff, or stuffed), UAE(United Arab Emirates), all reversed
9 Gardens conveyed in painting first class (8)
ARBORETA - BORE(conveyed) in ART(painting), A(first class)
16 Soldier eats a blue biscuit (9)
GARIBALDI - GI(soldier) containing A, RIBALD
18 Absolute tenacity while ascending outside run in ice ridge (8)
SASTRUGA - A, GUTS(tenacity), AS(while), all reversed
19 Murphy holds very colourful skin marker (8)
TATTOOER - TATER(Murphy) containing TOO(very)
20 Changes brought about 100 enlarged vessels (7)
VARICES - VARIES(changes) surrounding C(100)
22 One square metre area adopted by resort (7)
CENTARE - A(area) inside CENTRE(resort)
24 Irritate transvestite turning around in colourful stripes (6)
VITTAE - EAT(irritate), TV(transvestite) all reversed surrounding I(in)
25 Lost? Take a satnav regularly when going north (5, two words)
AT SEA - alternating letters in tAkE a SaTnAv, all reversed
29 Enthusiasm’s shown up with no little energy in scraps (4)
ORTS - ESTRO(enthusiam) reversed, missing E(energy)
30 Moslem ruler is male, always (4)
MEER - M(make), EER(always)

Sunday Times 4840 by Dean Mayer

14:29. This was another very straightforward puzzle by Dean’s standards, I thought. There’s the hint of a theme in here: something about an INIQUITOUS place where there are NO HALF MEASURES and HEDONISTs and HOOLIGANS DRINK LIKE A FISH listening to NINA SIMONE. ESPRESSO and ASPIRIN to follow in the morning. My kind of place.

I don't often nominate a clue of the day/puzzle, because that's not really how I think about these things, but I can't help mentioning 12ac today, which I think is particularly neat. It looks like, and could be, a straight definition, and it took me a while to figure out why it wasn't. Hiding the cryptic structure of the clue in plain sight like this very clever.

Definitions are underlined, anagrams indicated like (THIS)*, anagram indicators like this.

1 Fantastic beat in chorus
5 Makes incisions around firm plaster
STUCCO - reversal (around) of CUTS, CO.
10 Fleet's pressure in attack
11 More than one tough problem I see over hotel backing
HOOLIGANS - reversal (backing) of SNAG, I, LO, O, H.
12 Quaff many pints of Bass?
DRINK LIKE A FISH - my reading of this clue is that it’s an &Lit in which ‘quaff many pints’ gives DRINK and ‘of Bass’ gives LIKE A FISH. So it is a cryptic clue, in spite of appearances.
14 Singer at home while I’m cutting new single
NINA SIMONE - N(IN, AS, I’M), ONE. Also a very accomplished pianist.
15 One loving the sound of a violin player?
BEAU - sounds like ‘bow’. Here the violin player is the physical object playing the violin rather than the person holding it.
17 Left somewhat short
19 Old Italian ready to eat a new bread for cheese
LANCASHIRE - L(A, N, CASH)IRE. Kirkham’s is magnificent cheese. I’m told Shorrock’s is also excellent.
22 Forgive me for what?
24 Please hold books about captain and crew
ONE MOMENT - O(NEMO, MEN)T. NEMO being the captain of the Nautilus, of course.
25 Enclosure made by hedge
26 Retreating soldiers capture seal
SIGNET - reversal of GIS, NET. Most often seen in the form of a ring on the pinky finger of a posh Englishman.
27 Underwear for boobs

1 Small rescue vessel needed for small island
2 Aiming to get rid of good drug
3 Playboy in robbery framing mafia boss
4 Shameful reason for changing full-on approach
6 Pilot restrains British family
7 Cup of tea left on rocks
CHALICE - CHA, L, ICE. ICE and rocks are both words for diamonds.
8 Doctor has to operate in huge Kent properties
OAST HOUSES - OS (huge) containing (HAS TO)*, USE. Kent is famous for these distinctive round brick buildings with conical tile roofs topped with white cowls.
9 Ready to trade on A1?
WORKING CAPITAL - WORKING (on), CAPITAL (excellent, A1). A slightly inaccurate definition because WORKING CAPITAL doesn’t consist only of cash (ready) but it’s close enough and the intention is clear.
13 In one capital city, US base
INIQUITOUS - IN, I, QUITO (capital of Ecuador), US.
16 Leaving motorway premises drunk, getting very strong coffee
18 I caught diver’s upturned frozen body
ICEBERG - I, C, reversal of GREBE.
20 Maroon tie, also pants
21 Good acting parts see you getting past
BYGONE - BYE (see you) containing G, ON (acting, as in on stage).
23 Benefit of luxury slightly reduced

Jumbo 1368

Nothing contentious here although parts of 2D may have caused issues for overseas solvers. No clue stands out as a particular favourite, but if I had to choose one it would probably be 36A or 43A

1 MALINGERED - MALIGNER = person traducing with N and G swapped, ED = editor
6 HOT CROSS BUNS - HOT = stolen, CROSS = to thwart, BUS around N = any number. I know they were for the Easter bank holiday, but now the seem to appear in the shops soon after Christmas!
14 SOLOIST - SO = very much, LOST = at sea, around I
15 REPLICA - REP = agent, LI = fifty-one, CA = thereabouts
16 CHANCEL - CHANCE = risk, L(ocation)
17 LAIN - L.A. = US city, IN = at home
18 BROWSE - sounds like BROWS = summits
20 CERULEAN - CLEAN = pure, around EUR = URE = river, reversed
25 DAWDLES - DALES = valleys, around W(in)D
26 ENTWINES - ENT*, WINES = drinks
27 EVER SO - E(ngland), OVERS*
31 LIBRETTI - hidden reversed in twITTER BILingually
34 CANOODLE - CAN (p)OODLE = is dog able
36 WINDOW SHOPPING - WINDOWS = bays, HOPING = wishing, around P = parking
39 EXCITE - EXIT = gateway, around C = caught, E(nsign)
41 JEWS HARP - JEW = believer, SHARP = keen
43 UPRIGHT - double definition, the second mildly cryptic referring to different versions of piano
46 LAW OF DIMINISHING RETURNS - LOAF*, around W = wife, DIMINISHING = sinking, RETURNS = is recalled
47 ROOTLESS - ROOTLES = digs, around S(taying)
48 SHYEST - hidden in marSHY ESTuary
49 PIAF - PI = Greek character, A, F = fine
53 AVIGNON - AVION = plane, in French, around G(erma)N
54 OMINOUS - (rome)O, MINUS = without, around O = love
56 REALGAR - REAL = concrete, GAR = RAG = roof tile, reversed. I was not aware of that definition of RAG
57 PRESS RELEASE - PRESS = petition, RELEASE = drop
1 MISPLACED - M = mike, IS PLACED = has qualified for a medal
2 LOLLIPOP WOMAN - LOLLIPOP = Kojak's favourite, W(estern), OMAN = state. The first part is easy for those of a certain age, but possibly not for younger solvers, and the whole may be unfamiliar to overseas solvers. A lollipop woman looks after children crossing a road outside a school with a round sign on the top of a pole (the lollipop) as a warning to traffic to stop
3 NAIF - NIF = FIN(n) = N European, reversed around A = area
4 ENTERPRISINGLY - ENTER SINGLY = arrive alone, around (ap)R(il)
5 ERR - alternate letters in bEaReR
7 OBIT - O = old, BIT = coin
8 CHAPERONED - CHAD = African republic, around PERON = deposed president and (thre)E
9 ON COURSE - double definition
10 SLAVE-DRIVER - SAVED = rescued, around L = learner, RIVER = runner
11 UNCANNIER - (d)UNCAN = unfortunate king, NIER = REIN = control, reversed
12 SOLD - S = spades, OLD = of considerable age
13 UPPERCUT - UPPER = stimulant, CUT = nicked
19 WASHED-UP - double definition
21 EN BLOC - ENOC = CONE = bollard, reversed around BL(okes)
22 STAIR-ROD - S = son, TROD = walked, around AIR = strain
23 REVOKING - REVO = OVER = left, reversed, KING = ruler
28 WITHOUT RESERVE - WITHOUT = not using, RESERVE = book
29 SECRETLY - SECRETARY = office worker with L = left replacing A R(un)
32 TRIGGER FINGER - T(exas), RIGGER = oil worker, FINER = better, around (appearin)G
35 OUT OF BOUNDS - OUT OF BONDS = without ties, around U = uniform
37 PARITY - PARTY = litigant, around I
38 SET IN STONE - double definition
40 COWARDICE - COWARD = dramatist, I = one, initial letters in C(alled) E(rnest)
42 ADHESION - HAD*, ESION = NOISE = racket, reversed
44 TASK FORCE - TASK FOR C.E. = civil engineer's job
45 VIOLENCE - (IN LOVE)*, C.E. = church
50 WASP - double definition, the second referring to the acronym for White Anglo-Saxon Protestants
51 MISS - double definition
52 IAMB - I AM = the writer's, B = book
55 SKA - (ala)SKA = US state
This was a fly-by-night effort. In other words, I did it on an inter-city flight on my way home from a long meeting.

Under the circumstances, it went reasonably quickly – at least I finished before we landed. It was probably harder than the week before, but mercifully it was free from unknown answers clued by other unknowns. A plus for doing it later in the day was that I could use the iPad app for the Times newspaper, and avoid worrying about internet access.

I snaked my way around the grid, basically from left to right or bottom to top, so the last to yield was the NE corner, with 5ac and 7dn exposing gaps in my general knowledge. I was also reluctant to commit to 8dn – forgive the pun, but the clue seemed a bit thin. The clue of the day for me was definitely 1dn, with its imaginative “letterplay”! 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].

1 Fruit satisfied in fall (7)

5 Place to set free American skunk (7)
POLECAT: (PLACE TO*) is “set free”. Didn’t know a polecat is, or at least is called, a skunk. In my ignorance, I imagined it would be a cat! Still, with the anagram and the helpers, it was obvious enough.

9 Forgers concerned with one article in museum (11)
SMITHSONIAN: SMITHS=forgers (of metal), ON=concerned with, I=one, AN=article.

10 Letter recently ignored in stamp collecting (3)
PHI: PHI[lately].

11 Mass of eggs, but not the first year in bird sanctuary (6)
AVIARY: [c]AVIAR=mass of eggs, “not the first”; Y=year.

12 Comic show needs help over name (8)
COMEDIAN: COME=show, AID “over”, N=name.

14 Father rows with son about celebrity’s wicked cruelty (13)

17 Making accusations about mostly unlawful politician (13)
RECRIMINATORY: RE=about, CRIMINA[l]=unlawful (mostly), TORY=politician.

21 I’m after gold that’s fake (8)
IMPOSTOR: IM, POST=after, OR=gold.

23 Only partially sanguine about money (6)
GUINEA: hidden answer.

25 There’s a point to this law needing reform (3)
AWL: (LAW*) “reformed”.

26 Popular — till people will show resentment (11)
INDIGNATION: IN=popular, DIG=till (the soil), NATION=people.

27 Completely or nearly closed account (7)
TOTALLY: TO=nearly closed, TALLY=account.

28 Note port light on front of German boat (7)
DREDGER: D=(musical) note, RED=port light, GER= “front of” GER[man].

1 Mischievous child cuts leg off its first unit (6)
PASCAL: “cut the (right) ‘leg’ off” the R of RASCAL, to produce PASCAL. An imaginative device ... well done setter! (On edit, to explain further: it’s a visual clue. Write down a capital R, and erase the line that points down towards 4 o’clock on the watch dial. That leaves you with a capital P. Voila ... you've changed RASCAL to PASCAL!)

2 One sacked after university abandons resistance (7)
UNIFIED: UNI, FI[r]ED. Dropping the R is “abandoning resistance”.

3 Graduate severe about one current leading teacher (9)
MAHARISHI: MA, HARSH around I=one, followed by I=current. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was a guru to the Beatles among others.

4 Pack’s expelled a communist (4)
TROT: take a T[a]ROT pack, and expel the A.

5 Original clock face has proper gold on it (10)
PRIMORDIAL: PRIM=proper, OR=gold, DIAL=clock face. All assembled as indicated.

6 Organ adds energy for fast movement (5)
LUNGE: LUNG, E=energy.

7 Cut wood, framing picture in deal successfully (7)
COPPICE: PIC[ture] inside COPE=deal successfully. Apparently a coppice is regularly trimmed, or “coppiced”. Another thing I didn’t know!

8 Most fine chicks could be at risk in this? (8)
THINNEST: could chicks really be in danger of falling out of a thin nest, or is this just whimsy?

13 Chap, though elderly, plays regularly in several ways (10)
MANIFOLDLY: MAN=chap, IF=though, OLD=elderly, LY=even letters of plays.

15 Inject copper into deformed toenail (9)
INOCULATE: CU=copper in (TOENAIL*) “deformed”.

16 Annoying train, it runs irregularly (8)
IRRITANT: (TAIN IT R*) “irregularly”, where R=runs is our cricket cameo of the day.

18 Company scheme limits one crew member (7)
COPILOT: CO=company, PLOT=scheme “limiting” I=one.

19 What a jerk’s doing never rising before monarch? (7)
YANKING: YAN=nay “rising”=never, KING=monarch.

20 One not allowing large headline (6)
BANNER: double definition.

22 Small bag for art (5)

24 Old were furious when right’s lost (4)

Times 27,293: Eggs Over Easy

This was a really good puzzle, tricksy in the wordplay department without being obscure, impeccably surfaced, and having a pleasantly Timesy old-worldliness to its vocabulary. I adored the thwarted soldiers at 9ac and the clever containment indicators "boxes" and "fences" in 15ac and 22dn, but 25ac may have to take the cake as the best "hidden" of the day. Nine and a half minutes on the clock, all of them joyous: much kudos to the setter!

1 Rival’s back-to-back works (4)
OPPO - OP [work] twice, one facing forwards, one backwards. Not quite sure how an oppo (opposite number?) is a rival, when it's usually a mate, but there wasn't much room for doubt. A friendly rival perhaps?

4 Excursionist not falling over things in the dark? (3,7)
DAY TRIPPER - if you aren't TRIPPING [falling over things] in the dark, presumably you're doing it by DAY.

9 Demanding key allowing smooth access? Yet denying entry to soldiers? (4-6)
HARD-BOILED - HARD B OILED [demanding | key | allowing smooth access]. Soldiers as in pieces of toast on soft-boiled egg duty.

10 Knight grabbing a coat casually (4)
DAUB - DUB [knight] "grabbing" A. LOI, taking ages as I was slightly fixated on GARB.

11 Burn lots of paper by side of road (6)
STREAM - REAM [lots of paper] by side of ST [road]. Burn as in a small watercourse.

12 Resident publisher holding minor volume with a set of books (8)
OCCUPANT - O.U.P. [publisher, from the best university town] "holding" CC [minor, as in small, volume] with A NT [a | set of (holy) books]

14 With no touching allowed, display flesh (4)
VEAL - {re}VEAL [display, minus RE = touching]

15 Conservative altered the ballot boxes: one’s providing teatime coverage? (10)
TABLECLOTH - C [Conservative], "boxed" by (THE BALLOT*) ["altered"]

17 Complete a facility for scrap (2,4,4)
DO AWAY WITH - DO [complete] + A WAY WITH [a facility for]

20 Partners with hands empty poet lamented (4)
WEPT - W + E [partners with (bridge) hands] + P{oe}T

21 Fear musical genres haven’t succeeded (4,4)
BLUE FUNK - BLUE{s} + FUNK [two musical genres, minus S = succeeded]

23 Old bit of gym and some games area (6)
PESETA - P.E. [gym] + SET [some games] + A [area]

24 No oil painting of Burghley’s oddly extant: the opposite (4)
UGLY - {b}U{r}G{h}L{e}Y, with the even letters, not the odd ones, extant

25 Address in Bishop’s Stortford (10)
APOSTROPHE - hidden in {Bishop}'{s Stortford}. An apostrophe is also an exclamatory passage in a speech or poem addressed to a person or thing.

26 King of Troy under horse after collapsing (5,5)
HENRY TUDOR - (TROY UNDER H*) ["collapsing"]. I took ages trying to anagram "under horse" into some legendary ancestor of Priam's, perhaps the sweaty-sounding HERNE SUDOR.

27 Possible alternative to barrel bomb (4)
TANK - either a container for liquids, or to flop miserably.

2 Lark about to fly initially hit a pole sadly (4,3,4)
PLAY THE FOOL - (TO FLY H{it} A POLE*) ["sadly"]

3 Society member getting rum down with pained expression (9)
ODDFELLOW - ODD [rum] + FELL [down] with OW! [pained expression]. An 18th century London, and subsequently American, secret society.

4 Drudge ultimately destined to roam haphazardly ... (7)
DOORMAT - {destine}D + (TO ROAM*) ["haphazardly"]

5 ... or reliable person on staff seizing a path to fortune (6,5,4)
YELLOW BRICK ROAD - YELLOW [or, as in gold] + BRICK [reliable person] + ROD [staff] "seizing" A

6 Root in the end for a rising hero (7)
RADICLE - {fo}R A + reversed EL CID [hero]

7 Milan outfit quietly training players (5)
PRADA - P [quietly] + RADA [training players, i.e. trainee actors]

8 Raised swelling is to explode (5)
REBUT - reversed TUBER [swelling]. Explode as in "explode a myth".

13 Greatly inferior to what an unrepaired bike tube has? (3,1,5,2)
NOT A PATCH ON - double definition, one slightly more forced than the other!

16 Resort typically ranked bottom? (9)
LOWESTOFT - or LOWEST, OFT suggesting [typically ranked bottom]

18 Warning as unknown circle replaces ME state’s king (3,4)
YOU WAIT - take KUWAIT [M(iddle)E(ast) state] and replace its K [king] with Y O [unknown | circle]

19 New PE shirt fitting below the waist (7)
HIPSTER - (PE SHIRT*) ["new"]. As in "hipster jeans".

21 Gesture of respect for auditor’s branch (5)
BOUGH - homophone of BOW [gesture of respect]

22 Horseman once going over national hunt fences (5)
UHLAN - fenced in reversed by {natio}NAL HU{nt}. An obscurish word for a Polish cavalryman, but fortunately the cryptic doesn't leave much room for doubt!

Quick Cryptic 1304 by Joker

So I'm in another French alpine hotel with sub-dialup WiFi speed, and because the Times page took so long to refresh I almost ended up blogging yesterday's, which would have been interesting. Another straightforward one, 6 minutes for me. Not sure about 2dn, but everything else is pretty fair.

1 So a post office for each area is a drama? (4,5)
SOAP OPERA -  SO + A + PO (post office) + PER (for each) + A (area)
6 Down south in these times (3)
SAD - S (south) + AD (these times, anno domini)
8 Completely correct Conservatives (5)
RIGHT - triple definition. And these days, an oxymoron. (ooh, bit of politics...)
9 Close up by one concerning marine mammal (3,4)
SEA LION - SEAL (close up) + I + ON
10 Lift a lever to reset (8)
ELEVATOR - Anangram ("reset") of A LEVER TO
11 Armada stopped early to run away (4)
FLEE - FLEET without the T
13 Prestige suits — and what paid for them? (6,5)
CREDIT CARDS - CREDIT (prestige) + CARDS (suits)
17 500 sheets? Manufacturer backed turning out a thousand (4)
REAM - Manufacturer is MAKER, write backwards, take out K (a thousand)
18 Newspaper writer on beer (8)
REPORTER - RE (on) + PORTER (beer). I don't think I knew what porter was until I started doing crosswords. No one seems to drink the stuff these days.
21 Three linked works I record in test (7)
TRILOGY - I LOG (record) inside TRY
22 Little time after incentive to put on a burst of speed (5)
SPURT - Incentive is SPUR, little time is T
23 Catch a number returning (3)
NET - TEN backwards
24 Wretchedly unhappy blame rise in disorder (9)
MISERABLE - Anangram ("in disorder") of BLAME RISE

1 Observed holding chromium mask (6)
SCREEN - SEEN with Cr (Cromium) inside
2 Butcher takes head off fish (5)
ANGLE - I'm guessing this is MANGLE without the first letter, but I'm not sure that's a particlarly satisfactory synonym for butcher
3 Public rooms in hospital away from the centre (8)
4 Pretty lenient on you in the past, certainly (4,2,3,4)
EASY ON THE EYES - EASY ON (lenient) + THEE ('you' in the past) + YES
5 Just open a container (4)
AJAR - self explanatory
6 Second murdered expert (7)
7 Idiot's guide provided by university lecturer (6)
12 Drunken reveller changing side finally on merry-go-round (8)
CAROUSER - CAROUSEL changing the L to R, i.e. changing side
14 One with no illusions is alert to change (7)
REALIST - Anangram ("to change") of IS ALERT
15 Expert needs weight for elementary particle (6)
PROTON - PRO (expert) + TON
16 Twist and turn to set down outside hotel (6)
WRITHE - Set down is WRITE with H inside
19 Request a free ride in Northumbria (5)
THUMB - Hidden word NorTHUMBria
20 Market upsurge or crash? (4)
BOOM - double definition

Times Quick Cryptic No 1303 by Izetti

It is always a pleasure to blog an Izetti puzzle, my last one was 17 blogs ago.  I was just outside 10 minutes for this one, but some of that time was spent worrying over a couple of possibly redundant words in the clueing (1a and 22a and 1d).  Still, this was my best time this week I think.  COD to 8a for the humour.

It is Mrs Rotter’s birthday today, when she simultaneously becomes as old as me, and the oldest woman I ever slept with! I've been telling her that for decades, but for some reason, recently, she finds it less amusing!  We are celebrating by going to the Don McCullin exhibition this afternoon at the Tate Britain, so responses to any of your comments may be delayed.

Thanks to Izetti.  Please do let me know how you found it.


1  Gold rush in a particular month (6)
AUGUST – AU (gold, from aurum), and GUST (rush).  AUGUST is the 8th month of the year, but whether it is ‘particular’ or not depends on your viewpoint, I imagine.
Maroon seashore (6)
STRAND – Double definition, the first to leave behind or castaway as happened to Ben Gunn in Treasure Island (“Got any cheese?”), and the second meaning shore, beach or waterfront.
8 Old fashioned underwear for artists (7)
DRAWERS – Another DD, this time referring to a close fitting undergarment for the lower body, or people who draw or sketch.
10  Small journey to see river (5)
STOUR – S{mall} and TOUR (journey to see).  There are several rivers of that name in the UK, but the one in Dorset that terminates in Christchurch and the one in the West Midlands that passes through Stourbridge are probably the best known.
11  Animal housed by eccentric Amelia (5)
CAMEL –  Hidden in {eccentri}C AMEL{ia}
12 Moves quickly in autos, always getting caught (7)
CAREERS – CARS from autos, into which is slipped (getting caught) E’ER (poetic ‘always’) .
13  Listen again to Sarah in practice (9)
REHEARSAL – RE-HEAR (listen again) and SAL (short for Sarah).
17  First woman to embrace clan reassembled in eg Lesotho (7)
ENCLAVE – EVE (first woman) surrounding (embracing) an anagram (reassembled) of [CLAN].
19  Article buried in pit somewhere in America (5)
MAINE – A (article) inside (buried in) MINE (pit), to give the name of a New England State.
20  Puddles of water around vessel (5)
SLOOP – POOLS (puddles of water) reversed (around) to give SLOOP, the single-masted cutter-rigged vessel.
21  True son in order shows sign of being a monk (7)
TONSURE – Anagram (in order) of [TRUE SON].  A TONSURE is the partly shaved head of a novice monk.  Reminds me of Friar Tuck in the old TV series Robin Hood.
22  Minister, 50, is about to get tangible awards? (6)
SILVER – REV{erend} (minister) with L (50 in Roman Numerals) and IS (is) all reversed (about) to get SILVER.  A silver medal is an award, but what is tangible doing in the clue.  SILVER can mean money, medal, cutlery or other silverware, all of which could be described as tangible benefits or awards, but tangible can also mean material, which could also describe these things.  Can anyone do better?  I think the clue would work just as well without the word tangible.
23  Troublemaker receives Religious Instruction – from me? (6)
PRIEST – PEST (troublemaker) containing (receives) RI (religious instruction).  The clue is an &lit I think, and the question mark indicates that other providers of RI are available, e.g. teachers, Rabbis, etc.

1         Notice short dictionary for obsessive crossworder? (6)
ADDICT – AD (notice, as in advertisement) and DICT{ionary} (short).  Other types of ADDICT are available, hence the question mark.  Is the word 'crossworder' really necessary?
2  Cool Mrs Graham runs educational establishment (7,6)
GRAMMAR SCHOOL – Anagram (runs) of [COOL MRS GRAHAM].  At the time of leaving my GRAMMAR SCHOOL, I think both the school and I would have agreed that not much education had been achieved in my particular case! 
Secrecy at hostel, somehow giving nothing away (7)
STEALTH – Anagram (somehow) of [AT HOSTEL] after dropping the O (giving nothing away).
Means to give crook a shocking experience? (5)
TASER – Cryptic definition referring to the weapon used to induce temporary paralysis in its target, used by police officers in several countries against potentially violent miscreants or crooks.  The name is said to originate from an acronym of Tom Swift’s Electric Rifle, pronounced to sound like LASER.
6  See us getting drunk with relation, taking any amount of time (2,4,7)
AT ONES LEISURE – Anagram (getting drunk) of [SEE US] with [RELATION]
Force of habit restricting you ultimately (6)
DURESS – DRESS (habit) containing (restricting) {yo}U (ultimately – last letter).
Religious ceremony that could bring about ma’s trance (9)
SACRAMENT – Anagram (could bring about) of [MA’S TRANCE]
14  Managed to turn up at end of house discussion group (7)
SEMINAR – RAN (managed) reversed (turn up) at end of SEMI (house).
15  Facility introduced by Civil Service comes to an end (6)
CEASES –  EASE (facility) inside (introduced by) C{ivil} S{ervice}.
16  Go over to the enemythere’s something wrong (6)
DEFECT – DD.  To defect is to go over to the enemy, and a defect is something wrong.
18  Fruit that’s very soft dunked in beer (5)
APPLE – PP (very soft – musical notation) inside (dunked in) ALE (beer)

Times 27292 - fool me three times!

Solving time: 14:11... but when I hit submit, even though I thought I have checked it over, I made not one, not two, but three very silly errors in the puzzle! Must be playing with the old brain today.

I don't think this is an easy puzzle, there's some obscure answers and some tricky wordplay, so I hope you all did better than me.

The first definition is underlined in each clue.

Away we go...

1 Indication of virtue by low-down element (7)
HALOGEN - the indication of virtue is a HALO, then GEN(low-down, information)
5 Researcher's not genuine, back on the job (7)
POSTDOC - COD(not genuine) reversed after POST(job)
9 Test comprehended by unusual three or six-footer (9)
HEXAMETER -  EXAM(test) inside an anagram of THREE
10 Such languages one caught by Hungary regularly (5)
UGRIC - I(one), C(caught) next to alternating letters in hUnGaRy
11 Do lie in chat (13)
CONFABULATION - CON(do), FABULATION(lie) - at least this is what I think it is. FABULATION isn't supported by Collins or Chambers but it could be construed from FABLE
13 The French knight admitted to relative indulgence (8)
LENIENCE - LE(the, in French) then N(Knight in chess) inside NIECE(relative)
15 Improvise in gin rummy, cutting card (4,2)
WING IT - anagram of GIN inside WIT(card)
17 Swan around with man and wife's kinsman (6)
NEPHEW - PEN(swan) reversed, then HE(man) and W(wife)
19 Speaking drunkenly, neglect religious ceremony in confusion (8)
MISHMASH - sounds like someone slurring MISS MASS
22 One acquiring conviction friend's effort is wasted (5,8)
25 Is it a tobogganist’s arm? (5)
LUGER - double definition for the winter sport and the gun
26 After forging, had US cent checked (9)
27 Do some shopping — allowed underwear (7)
SINGLET - SING(do some shopping, rat on), LET(allowed)
28 Soldier to spoil works (7)
PARAPET - PARA(soldier), PET(spoil, cosset) - works here being a wall

1 Chemist offering heroin, a case of it (4)
HAHN - H(heroin), A, then the outside letters in HeroiN. Tricky wordplay for a chemist that is not a household name, despite having a Nobel prize - Otto Hahn worked on nuclear fission
2 Back in jail, prisoner no longer accepting one's set of terms (7)
LEXICON - last letter of jaiL, then EX-CON(prisoner no longer) containing I(one)
3 Kid endlessly on his Nintendo? (5)
GAMIN - if you are on a Nintendo (and I have both a 3DS and a Switch, both highly recommended) you are GAMING... remove the last letter
4 Flier's eccentric garment with skin of cheetah (8)
NUTHATCH - NUT(eccentric), HAT(garment) and the outside letters of CheetaH
5 Dog turning up, sure to be barking (6)
PURSUE - reversal of UP, then anagram of SURE
6 Queen's in bed, somewhat likely to feel sick (9)
SQUEAMISH - QU(queen) in SEAM(bed of mineral), ISH(somewhat likely)
7 Favourite line put in bold (7)
DARLING - L(line) in DARING(bold)
8 Firms head without assurance for fair competition (7,3)
COCONUT SHY - CO, CO(firms), NUT(head), SHY(without assurance)
12 Blocks view of churchgoers hidden by screens (10)
BLINDFOLDS - FOLD(churchgoers) inside BLINDS(screens)
14 Shocks in the Spanish exam in kind of US college (9)
ELECTORAL - ECT(electrical shocks) in EL, ORAL(exam)
16 Got rid of current measure for gas (8)
FIREDAMP - FIRED(got rid of), AMP(current measure)
18 Model's head in painting by surrealist (7)
PARAGON - P(ainting) then Louis ARAGON, surrealist writer
20 Means of transport, or pretentiousness with it (7)
AIRSHIP - AIRS(pretentiousness) and HIP(with it)
21 Balance is wrong on TV (6)
OFFSET - OFF(wrong), SET(TV)
23 Correct and right fare from Turkey (5)
DONER - DONE(correct), and R(right)
24 Passage from "Clemenza di Tito" (4)
ADIT - hidden inside clemenzA DI Tito

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