This is a very special puzzle.

It’s been  a pleasure to blog this crossword. Guest puzzles tend to be few and far between, and this one has that certain something. Click here, and you’ll find it. I recommend that you download this as a pdf and print it, rather than completing it online.

It’s unique. Of course, every crossword is unique, but this one goes somewhere that I have never before known a crossword to go. Perhaps it’s a bit naughty, but I dare say very few indeed would not grant an indulgence, under the circumstances. It is clear from the appearance of the grid that something is going on – but my advice is to enjoy this as the straightforward cryptic it appears to be, and only then to ponder on what to do next.

It’s quite a dense crossword, with lots of crossing letters throughout, only five clues where the initial letter is not a crossing one and an impressive total of thirty-five clues, a good 20% more than one might normally find in this particular genre. This makes it a little easier for the solver than some other grids do. That’s helpful, because it makes a puzzle of above-par difficulty that bit more accessible for beginners and improvers. Given the title of the puzzle it’s not giving anything away to say that there is an American flavour to some of the clues and some of the answers.

SPOILER ALERT! Scroll down for the answers – and then scroll down again for some more!   

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Across

1. “President, reportedly a faithful fellow… (6)”  TRUMAN.  A homophone (indicated by “reportedly”) of “true man” for “faithful fellow”. “President” is the definition.

4. “…fellow (admirable Australian), last to play bagatelle. (8)” FRIPPERY. A charade of F (fellow), RIPPER (Australian parlance for admirable) and the last letter of plaY. “Bagatelle” is the definition.

10. “Expert democrat with muscle (3)” DAB. D for Democrat  followed by “ab” for “muscle”. The definition is “expert”. I wonder whether one can have an ab in the singular? It seems to me that it’s abs in the plural when referring to a well-toned abdomen. However, in my case, even one would be nice.

11. “Crucial contrivance with Conservative going round (11)” CIRCULATORY. “Contrivance” is an anagram indicator for “crucial”. Add TORY (Conservative) on the end, and the definition is “going round”.

12. “In a crescent in France, the one with a Kennedy or Roosevelt (7)”. LUNATED. The definition is “in a crescent”. It’s  “l’un”, which is how you would say “the one” in France, plus “A” plus “Ted”, being the first name of a Kennedy and a Roosevelt. An unusual and perhaps less well-known word, but with helpful crossing letters, so quite gettable.

13. “Origin of hurling is in extreme tickling” (6)”.  EMETIC .  A hidden inclusion (“is in”) in extrEME TICkling. “Origin of” in this instance means “cause of”, and hurling is caused by an emetic. A  nicely misleading clue, making you think of the sport.

15. “I tire easily, absorbed in reversing road cleaner? Quite the reverse (7)”. DIRTIER. “Easily” is the anagram indicator for “I tire”, which is inserted in (“absorbed in”) DR (Rd for “road” reversing). The definition is “Cleaner? Quite the reverse!”. These sort of clues can quite often take a bit of unravelling – exactly what do I reverse?

17. “White copper at key party (3,4)”. CUE BALL. A charade of Cu, being the atomic symbol for copper, plus “E” being a musical key, and “ball” for “party”. The definition is “white”; a snooker cue ball often being referred to as “the white”. Since the composition of this puzzle, recent events have made this clue seem more prominent than it might have done.

18. “Round five-amp cells (3)”. OVA. “O” for “round”, “V” for “five” and “A” for “amp”. Ova being the plural of the Latin for eggs, commonly used for mammals, so the definition is “cells”.

19. “Colourful conservative wearing frames (7)”. CRIMSON. “C” for “Conservative” plus “rims on” for “wearing frames”. The definition is “colourful”.

19. “Sort of image found upside-down later in reformation (7)”. RETINAL. An anagram (“in reformation”) of “later in”. Images on the retina are, it would seem, upside-down, and our brain corrects them.

23. “Bullet idiot heard in Art of Noise samples (6)”. DUMDUM.  The definition is “bullet”. I think this is simply a homophone of “dumb-dumb” for “idiot”, the “Art of Noise samples” being the homophone-indicator. I may be wrong about this and invite correction.

25. “Swimmer from Red or Dead, perhaps, with deep voice (3,4)”. SEA BASS. The definition is “Swimmer”, for a fish. “Red” and “Dead” are the names of seas, and “bass” is a “deep voice”.

29. “Wife wearing tux before noon goes to French sea with small ships (11)”. WINDJAMMERS.  A charade of “W” plus “in” plus “DJ”, (“wife wearing tux”) “am” for “before noon”, “mer” being the sea in French, and “s” for “small”. The definition is “ships”. The surface reading creates a rather unlikely image, but nevertheless the clue is impeccably constructed.

30. “Decline English books (3)”. EBB. Definition is “decline”. E from “English” plus “b” for book, twice, because it’s “books”.

31. “Strangely biased about America, but free of wrong ideas (8)”. DISABUSE. An anagram (“strangely”) of “biased” around “US” for “America”. The definition is “free of wrong ideas”.

32. “He loses weight more quickly (6)”. FASTER.  A double definition, and an &lit. Someone who fasts will lose weight, “faster” means “more quickly”, and I dare say someone who fasts will lose weight more quickly than someone who merely diets.

Down

1. “Boy with sex appeal rising… rising and falling (5)”. TIDAL The definition is “rising and falling”, made up from “lad” from “boy” and “it” for “sex appeal”, reading upwards (“rising”). An amusing visual image is brought to mind…

2. “Proto-batman villain resolving at first to be more refined (7)”. URBANER. A charade of “ur” for “proto”, “Bane”, being the eponymously-immortalised-in-film Batman villain, and the first letter of “Resolving”. The definition is “more refined”. Is “urbaner” a word? I suppose so, even if we are more likely to say “more urbane”.

3. “A Caledonian cravat (5)”. ASCOT. “A” plus “Scot” from “Caledonian”. An ascot is a sort of cravat.

5. “Get up or put up with application (5)”. ROUSE. The definition is “get up”. It made by “or” being “put up” to give “ro” plus “use” from “application”.

6. “Setting exercise about, say, Honiton chaps (9)”. PLACEMENT. The definition is “setting”. “Exercise” is “PT” around (“about”) “lace” (of which the Honiton variety is an example) and “men” from “chaps”.

7. “Former London arts centre houses old books and weird objets d’art (7)”. EXOTICA. “Ex” from “former” and . “ICA” from the Institute of Contemporary Art (in London) around (“housing”) “OT” referring  to the Old Testament from “books”.

8. “Toy that’s had it’s ups and downs” (2-2). YO-YO. A cryptic definition and an &lit, since they have come in and gone out of fashion, over the years.

9. “Field taxman working to support Greek papers (8)”. GRIDIRON. Taxman of yore, really, since the Inland Revenue (“IR”) has been replaced by HMRC (which is probably less use in Crosswordland). “On” is from “working” and both are beneath, and so “support” “gr” from “Greek” and “ID” for one’s “papers”. In keeping with the American flavour of this puzzle, the definition (“field”) refers to the playing field for American football.

14. “They run flights between Basel and Algiers (2,2)”. EL AL.  Made from the end of BasEL and the beginning of ALgiers. The definition is “they run flights”. I haven’t checked, but it’s an unlikely route for an airline based in Tel Aviv, so I doubt it’s an &lit. Pity, really.

15. “‘Little Richard’s dead?’ That’s repulsive (4)”. DICK. Dick is a diminutive form of Richard, hence the definition “Little Richard”. The wordplay is “D” from “dead” and “ick”, being  the response that might be elicited by something repulsive.

16. “Caper planned with help from within beds? I join up. (6,3)”. INSIDE JOB. An anagram of “beds I join”, indicated by “up”. The definition is “caper planned with help from within”.

17. “Lovingly stroked vehicle, being Dutch (8)”. CARESSED. A charade of “car” (“vehicle”) plus “esse” (“being”) plus “D” for Dutch. The definition is “lovingly stroked”.

20. “Animals scaled Asia – gnu, perhaps. (7)”. IGUANAS. An anagram (indicated by “perhaps”) of “Asia gnu”.  The definition is “animals, scaled” – iguanas, being reptiles, have scales.

22. “Turkey and the Balkans short of a best estimate (7)”. NEAREST. A subtraction (“short of”) of “a” from “Near East”, suggested by “Turkey and the Balkans”. “Best estimate” is the definition.

24. “They quietly perform miracles in modern English setting – leading characters? (5)”. MIMES. First letters (“leading characters”) of “Miracles In Modern English Setting”. The definition is “they quietly perform”.

26. “Lost in deep water (2,3)”. AT SEA. Double definition.

27. “Very British queen’s unamused (5)”. SOBER. A charade of “so” (from “very”) then “B” for Britiah and “ER” referring to the Queen. The definition is “unamused”, and the clue evokes  a picture of the very British, and anecdotally unamused Queen Victoria.

28. “Outstanding lines read out (4)”. OWED. A homophone (“read out”) of ode (“lines”). The definition is “outstanding”.

So far an enjoyable, straightforward Cryptic. But what do we make of the annotations to the grid? And why is this called “American Classic”, when there is no more than a smattering of American references, barely more than there would be in any daily Cryptic, and not enough to constitute even a mini-theme?

SPOILER ALERT NUMBER TWO! There’s more…

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Move next to the three circled letters in the fourth column. These spell out the name of an American publication.

Need help? Click here.

And if you’re familiar with the publication in question you may have guessed what to do with the A and B and the arrows at the top.  If not, click here.

FINAL SPOILER ALERT!

So there we have it. Possibly the most astute political analysis yet. Bravo, Skirwingle!

Guest Puzzle 4 by Panthera

August 25, 2019

Another Bank Holiday weekend rolls round, and with it another in our sporadic series of guest puzzles. Something a little trickier this time, and one a little saucy in places too. It’s a pangram, though I didn’t notice until I’d finished. No Nina or theme that I can see, but I’m notoriously bad at spotting either. I imagine there’ll be some debate about 6d and 14d, both inventive, as is the (extremely good) puzzle as a whole.

Talking of which, you can find it here:

https://www.idothei.co.uk/Puzzles/Details/4

COD? Much to like, which makes picking one a little tricky, but I’ll go with 15ac – “One article down – illuminating story about popular model is fit for publication (9)”.

But let me know what you thought.

And so, with warnings of spoilers ahead, being all the answers and parsing of the clues…

 

 

 

Across

1 Toys owned by people of a particular kind? (7,7)
STUFFED ANIMALS
toys – STUFFED = “owned” (as in trounced, defeated completely) + (“by”) ANIMALS = “people of a particular kind?” (e.g. party animals)

9 Sick leave? Just take the week off! (3)
ILL
wILL

10 Exhibitionist spectacle from France (4-3)
SHOW OFF
SHOW + OF + F

11 Director caught with beefy eunuch? (3)
COX
C + OX Presumably Alex Cox, who also did a series on cult films for the BBC donkeys years ago.

12 Umbrella breaks as a result of tackle hug catching one out, say? (7,8)
PACKAGE HOLIDAYS
PACKAGE (= “tackle”) + HOL{I}D + *(AYS)

13 Source of job worries for interns? (5)
JAILS
J + AILS

15 One article down – illuminating story about popular model is fit for publication (9)
PRINTABLE
Take the A from PARABLE, around IN + T (that old favourite of the crossword setter, the Model T Ford)

17 Much Ado About Nothing’s real grim when miscast (9)
RIGMAROLE
An anagram of “real grim” about O

18 Schedule time for workshop (5)
PLANT
PLAN T

19 Shoddily built, mostly ordinary tunnel, bar a bit of ingenious optics, perhaps providing some natural light? (15)
BIOLUMINESCENCE
An anagram of BUILt and O + MINE + SCIENCE (“optics, perhaps”) minus the I. Very nicely done.

24 Panthera’s chasing a dream (3)
AIM
A IM

25 Expressed doubts about replacing area of College Green with lake? (7)
QUERIED
Replace the A in QUAD with ERIE

26 Vent put out a mix of gases (3)
AIR
A triple definition.

27 Non-drinker’s overwhelmed by booze here – he’s struggling to talk (5,3,6)
SHOOT THE BREEZE
TT “overwhelmed by” an anagram of “booze here – he’s”.

Down

1 Pinch (or just touch) chap’s bottom (5)
SKIMP
SKIM + P

2 Opening without a key? Quite the opposite! (9)
UNLOCKING
UNBLOCKING minus the B (a key, musically). An &lit?

3 Following bones could lead you to this cat-like carnivore (5)
FOSSA
F OSSA This beast, and well done if you’d heard of it.

4 Upset after dumping hot nerd? Ho hum… (5)
DRONE
An anagram of NERD + O

5 At first, escaped lion “goes cray-cray”, to use a new word (9)
NEOLOGISE
An anagram of E + + LION + GOES. I assumed “cray-cray” was in fact a neologism, but apparently it’s an Americanism.

6 Government abandons bungling bank in recession, thus creating a “squeezed middle” phenomenon (6,3)
MUFFIN TOP
MUFFING minus the G + a reversal of TOP, and a very whimsical definition.

7 Potentially crass clothing material? (5)
LYCRA
A very nicely hidden word.

8 Real sex is tentative, for the most part (8)
EXISTENT
And another one…

13 Rodent swallows disc on top of milk bottle (8)
JEROBOAM
JER(O)BOA + M

14 According to reports, the government reject the idea that they could triumph in the current situation (6,3)
STATUS QUO
A homonym of STATE + US CROW? I’m not sure if this is incredibly clever or a stretch too far. Over to you.

15 Leading expert in heading off depression’s raked in millions (9)
PROMINENT
PRO M IN dENT

16 Refuse to embrace current trend? Good idea! (9)
BRAIN WAVE
BRA(I)N WAVE

20 Rings on husband’s member might provide sex appeal? (5)
OOMPH
OO MP H. Ooer missus…

21 Cut off priest’s vacuous diatribe (5)
ELIDE
ELI + the first and last letters from “diatribe”. No, I didn’t know it either.

22 Programmer’s about to have another crack at getting promoted (5)
CODER
C + a reversal of REDO, but I’m guessing most solvers only needed the C.

23 Champion shuns acclaim? That’s strange… (5)
EERIE
chEER + IE

So, our third guest puzzle, and one from exit who I’d been secretly hoping would send something our way for a while. 🙂 This was a thoroughly enjoyable, pretty breezy offering, finished in a time that would be considerably under par for the i. Think an IoS reprint, or a gentle Dac. Very much what I was hoping for when I foolishly decided – just one more puzzle – very late one evening. Just the thing to while away a little time over a traditionally wet Bank Holiday weekend.

To solve, click here: https://www.idothei.co.uk/Puzzles/Details/3

COD? A difficult choice, tbh, but in a good way, because there are loads to choose from. But let’s go with 17d which has a lovely surface reading, a definition I bet you didn’t know, and nice clear wordplay to lead you home safe and sound – “Flats offering view over railway (7)”.

Answers and parsing of the clues follows, so if you don’t want to be spoiled, look away now.

 

 

 

 

 

Across

1 Less than half-hearted roar (5)
BELOW
BEL{l}OW

4 Surpass courier, maybe, with direction on label (7)
UPSTAGE
UPS (courier, maybe) + TAG (label) + E{ast} (direction)

8 Oscar held by poet for directors (5)
BOARD
O{scar} (‘phonetic’ alphabet) inside BARD (poet)

9 University note is incorrect about sex service providers (9)
UTILITIES
U{niversity} + TI (note in tonic sol-fa scale) + LIES (is incorrect) enclosing IT (about sex)

11 Hotel said to be involved in 21A (4)
RITZ
Homophone of ‘WRITS’ – which are likely to feature in litigation (21ac)

12 How do a tuxedo, one small coin and 50 yen lie next to each other? (10)
ADJACENTLY
A + DJ (dinner jacket, tuxedo) + A (one) + CENT + L (50, Roman numeral) + Y{en}

14 “I rate BR awful” – judge (7)
ARBITER
(I RATE BR)*. A subject close to the other half’s heart at the moment, as she’s been on jury duty for the past couple of weeks.

16 If new they would be American – balls! (7)
YORKERS
A ball in cricket which hits the pitch around the batsman’s feet is called a yorker, and New Yorkers are American.

18 Endless criticism for movement (3)
TIC
STICK (criticism, usually adverse) minus its first and last letters (endless).

19 I rush on in a frenzy to feed (7)
NOURISH
(I RUSH ON)*

20 Supervise bishop’s position (7)
OVERSEE
OVER + SEE – a bishop can be said to be over a see (diocese).

21 Court case – in it Ali got rattled (10)
LITIGATION
(IN IT ALI GOT)*

22/10 In Idaho nest you’ll find frankness (7)
HONESTY
Hidden in IdaHO NEST You’ll. Phi splits his answers across the grid quite often and I’m never sure if I love or loathe the device. I suppose it adds a little spice.

25 Be off! Race madly for source of refreshment (6,3)
COFFEE BAR
(BE OFF RACE)*

26 Opposition from New Musical Express initially, we’re told (5)
ENEMY
Sounds like the initials NME. Am I the only person who remembers the headline from said journal “Sleeping with the NME”?

27 Defamation of South country queen (7)
SLANDER
S{outh} + LAND (country) + ER (queen)

28 Quiet dramatist’s dismissive comment (5)
PSHAW
P (musical indication for soft, quiet) + SHAW (George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright and critic)

Down

2 Old key to lift (5)
EXALT
EX (former, old) + ALT (key on computer keyboard)

3 Probability of sailor taking in theologian (4)
ODDS
DD (Doctor of Divinity, theologian) inside OS (Ordinary Seaman, sailor)

5 In our prom a lyric could be blue, say (7,6)
PRIMARY COLOUR
(OUR PROM A LYRIC)* – blue is an example of a primary colour

6 I let Tories rampage for soap, shampoo, etcetera (10)
TOILETRIES
(I LET TORIES)*

7 Blame reduced for the innocent (9)
GUILTLESS
GUILT (blame) + LESS (reduced)

8 Snip a girl’s first bra in confusion (7)
BARGAIN
Anagram (confusion) of (A + G + BRA + IN) – “Girl’s first” indicates first letter only

9 One over the eight, eh? So we hear (5,3,5)
UNDER THE TABLE
1ac = Below, giving UNDER + THE + a synonym of 8ac (BOARD), TABLE. Across because “eh” sounds like “a”. “One over the eight” and “under the table” are both synonyms for “drunk”. And 9 is one more than 8, just for good measure. Very clever, and quite complex, so true to form I just lobbed it in on solving from the definition and enumeration alone. 🙂

13 Vegetable found in wreckage of Nantes brig (6,4)
STRING BEAN
(NANTES BRIG)*

15 Generous, reportedly stuffed with chocolate bars? (9)
BOUNTIFUL
Homophone of ‘bounty-full’ – Bounty is a type of chocolate bar

17 Flats offering view over railway (7)
SCENERY
SCENE (view) + RY (abbr for railway: line) – flats are the painted panels used for scenery in a theatre. Who knew? Well, exit of course.

21/24 Servants’ need changed? Yes! (7)
LACKEYS
LACK (need) + YES* (anagram indicator is ‘changed’).

23 Trollope: “Ragnarök includes Götterdämmerung, for example” (5)
OPERA
Hidden in TrollOPE RAgnarök. In Norse mythology Ragnarök is “the coming mutual destruction of the gods and the powers of evil, and the end of this world, to he superseded by a better.” – according to the BRB. Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the gods) is the final opera in Wagner’s Ring cycle.

CLICK HERE FOR THE PUZZLE

Roll up ladies and gentlemen, and no shoving at the back please.  Welcome to the second idothei Guest Puzzle, and the debut of a new setter. As far as I know this is Saltamonte’s first published crossword, and Jon tells me that a constructive critique would not be unwelcome. My job is to provide an introduction and the parsings: I’ll raise any niggles which occur to me but leave the general criticism for the comments. Positive and polite are the watchwords, of course. I enjoyed solving this puzzle, and there are some punchy surfaces and unusual clue constructions to ponder. Here is my COD:

16ac: “Mineral keys lock in the French (5,4)”

… and here is a little diversion for you. I have been rather harsh about 25ac, which seemed to let the general standard down somewhat. Therefore, money where your mouth is time, Batarde. I’m inviting suggestions for alternative clues, and here’s mine:

“Take measures before capturing poet (7)”

And so to the parsings. There are, of course conventions for doing this, all of which are going out of the window in the interests of plain English. Definitions are in bold face and anagram indicators are italicised. Obviously if you scroll down any further you’ll come to the answers, so it seems prudent to issue a

SPOILER ALERT

 

 

 


Across

1 Acrobatic Cleo, no learner, appeared in dodgy strip joint’s showers (14)
PROJECTIONISTS. Anagram of “Cleo” minus the “L” plus “strip joints”.

10 Incorporate measure of info into bomb (5)
IMBED Mb (megabyte) in IED (improvised explosive device).

11 Ruinous PA went wild producing offspring (just the one) (9)
UNIPAROUS Anagram of “ruinous PA”, and a fairly recondite word.

12 Battleaxe held bra in tatters (7)
HALBERD Anagram of “held bra”.

13 Enterprise headed by explorer returned to dock maybe (7)
TOBACCO The explorer is either John or Sebastian Cabot, backwards, plus CO for company. This refers to Tobacco Dock in London.

14 From head to toe, Spain aches (5)
PAINS Spain with the “S” moved to the end.

16 Mineral keys lock in the French (5,4)
TABLE SALT “Les”, the French definite article (plural) between “tab” and “alt”, both to be found on your keyboard. Smashing clue.

19 Reading maybe outside, a book with wine. Superb! (9)
FANTASTIC Refers to Reading FC football club, with “a” plus “NT” plus “asti” inside. The New Testament is books plural, surely, even if bound in a single volume?

20 Medics eat, for example, leftovers (5)
DREGS “eg” inside “drs”.

22 Catching mesh (7)
NETTING Double definition.

25 Given curtailed supply (7)
PROVIDE Simply “provided” without the final letter. This does seem weak to me since it uses the same sense of the verb.

27 Dali art on mixed freight (9)
TRAINLOAD Anagram of “Dali on art”

28 Slow starts to begin really active kinetic exercises (5)
BRAKE First letters of Begin Really Active Kinetic Exercises.

29 Trick put double agent in crumbling gaol unit. Well done (14)
CONGRATULATION “con” (trick) followed by “rat” in an anagram of “gaolunit”. A couple of queries here: is a rat a double agent? – and can congratulation be singular in this sense. I feel that both can be justified, but it’s a bit of a stretch.

Down

2 Plan to enter dance before brave uprising (9)
REBELLION Hmm. That would be plan B inside “reel”, followed by “lion”, I think. Brave can mean a courageous soldier, as can lion, but I don’t really buy it because the sense here only works as an adjective.

3 Good hearted saint finds justice (5)
JUDGE “g(ood)” in St Jude.

4 Looking for a new start? Adopt cute fashion (4,5)
COUP D’ETAT Anagram of “adopt cute”; not keen on fashion as an anagrind. “Looking for” appears to be redundant.

5 Pointless edition produced for numbskull (5)
IDIOT Anagram of “edition” minus the points, ie. East and North.

6 Mashed red banana found in restaurants (4,5)
NAAN BREAD Anagram of “red banana” – a good spot.

7 Emotionless King left exorcist working (5)
STOIC Anagram of “exorcist” without “rex”. The pedant in me thinks that a Stoic controls his or her emotions rather than lacks them.

8 Colossus southpaw shows resolve (4,3)
SUSS OUT Hidden solution.

9 Mitred piece? (6)
BISHOP Cryptic definition.

15 Drug has nothing on queen, but ruler sold here (9)
STATIONER “statin” with “o” inside, followed by HM the Queen.

17 Retreat but return by bike (9)
BACKPEDAL Cryptic definition, nicely done.

18 Coffee brewing, nice aroma (9)
AMERICANO Anagram of “nice aroma”.

19 Brown back in charge after governing body shows excessive zeal (7)
FANATIC “tan” backwards plus “i(n) c(harge)”, preceded by F(ootball) A(ssociation).  “Showing” would be better in my opinion, since the sense is adjectival.

21 Discharged driver headed north to collect upturned sample? (6)
SEEPED My last one in. The sample is “pee”, the driver is “des” and the whole lot is inverted. Is the designated driver thing widely known? It had passed me by.

23 Nonsensical witterings regularly held back writer (5)
TWAIN Not sure I’ve seen this done before – anyway, every other letter of “nonsensical witterings” backwards reads “gieTWAINso”, and there’s Mr Clemens in the middle.

24 Billy holds fifty and isn’t shy to tell (5)
GLOAT A (billy) goat with an L in it.  The definition isn’t quite right because it suggests “gloats”.

26 Ring composer (5)
ORBIT Double definition, referring to William Orbit. Who knew?

As promised a few weeks back, here’s the first in a potentially sporadic series of guest puzzles. If you’d like to submit, there are some brief guidelines on our crossword hosting site linked to below.

Talking of which, you can find the first puzzle by Skirwingle here: https://www.idothei.co.uk/Puzzles/Details/1

Let me know if the site gives you grief. I’ve tested it pretty thoroughly, but, well, you never know. Apparently it should work for 99.9% of browsers, which should be comforting but isn’t. Who knew there were so many?

To Skirwingle then. A good puzzle to begin with as expected on past form. In terms of i difficulty this felt pretty Wednesday-ish with only the one obscure term (most musical terms are obscure to me). Nicely clued, good surface readings throughout, I liked it. But what did you think? There was one I couldn’t parse, of which more below.

COD? I particularly liked 22d. Short, sweet, and to the point.

Across

1 Everyone’s different – How do Maynards Bassetts turn a profit? (2,5,3,5)
IT TAKES ALL SORTS
A nice cryptic definition to begin with.

9 Where to find pilot? Yes, Russian one in space station (6)
MIDAIR
MI(DA)R, which is about the extent of my Russian and presumably yours too.

10 French one beginning to dry tangled layer that’s backing mat (8)
UNDERLAY
UN + D + an anagram of “layer”.

11 Unbelievable statement from Cockney cartoon character – detailed estimate to start with (5,3)
PORKY PIE
The answer’s obvious with a few letters in place, but the parsing took a little more figuring out. It’s this character, presumably, “detailed”, with the E from “estimate” at the end.

13 French pupil’s new time for morning snacks (6)
ELEVEN
The N’s obvious, but as for the ELEVE bit. Colour me confused.

14 Notice part of your ear (4)
OTIC
Contained in the first word, and not the last two as I first thought.

16 That person (female) is carrying a bundle (5)
SHEAF
SHE(A)F

17 Competed to put Ellen’s onset into 6 down (4)
VIED
Hands up if you were looking for an insertion of E into the answer for 6d sort of thing? It’s actually VI E D, the D presumably from “down”, though the abbreviation isn’t in Chambers.

18 Small vessel for fish from America (4)
SCUP
S + CUP, though well done if you’d actually heard of it. 🙂

20 I rent unusual place in the ground (5)
INTER
A nice easy anagram of the first two words in case you were struggling at this point.

21 Box got from supermarket (4)
SPAR
A double definition. The supermarket’s obvious to anyone in the UK, but box? Apparently “spar” can mean “to shut” as well. Who knew?

23 Stewpot‘s got one from Ultravox in number 10 (6)
TUREEN
That would be Midge URE contained in TEN.

24 Ute customised with nitro’s losing speed (8)
RITENUTO
An obscure bit of musical terminology I needed to look up, an anagram of UTE and NITRO.

26 Doctor to peer at Candide, perhaps (8)
OPERETTA
Of which Candide is an example. It’s an anagram of “to peer at”.

27 Southern church is heading for major division (6)
SCHISM
S CH IS M

28 Plate of fizzy sweets perhaps for those whose skills are rusty? (9,6)
REFRESHER COURSE
A cryptic definition, referencing yet another sweet. Is this how Skirwingle keeps his sugar levels up?

Down

2 See things high up tor – it may be crumbling (4,3)
TRIP OUT
An anagram of “up tor it”.

3 Find a defender by surprise (5)
ABACK
A + BACK.

4 Fine art’s embracing listener (3)
EAR
Hidden in the first two words…

5 Something on the pier perhaps playing REM etc., ad nauseam (9,6)
AMUSEMENT ARCADE
An anagram of “REM etc., ad nauseam”.

6 Chivalric comment about toilet cleaning schedule? (6,5)
LADIES FIRST
A slightly whimsical cryptic definition.

7 Confused EU solvers (us) resolve to untangle this (9)
OURSELVES
It’s an anagram of both “EU solvers” and “(us) resolve” which is quite neat.

8 Bring in unknown to repeat crazy circus act (7)
TRAPEZE
Z’s the unknown, in an anagram (crazy) of “repeat”.

12 Tacky items stuck up around the office (4-2,5)
POST-IT NOTES
A cryptic definition that is presumably referencing other sorts of tacky items that might be put on the walls in offices.

15 Who serves drinks and ghastly crab puree? (9)
CUPBEARER
An anagram of “crab puree”.

19 Collapse of Conservative arse when lead’s cut by 50% (7)
CRUMPLE
C RUMP and half of “lead”.

22 Dire Straits? (7)
ARTISTS
Now, I particularly liked this one, a very nicely observed &lit.

25 Statesman brought up by Arthur Hendrix (5)
NEHRU
Reverse hidden in the last two words. A statesman I know from crosswords alone which says more about my own ignorance than anything else.

27 Switch alternate parts thus (3)
SIC
Alternate letters from “Switch”.