Friday, September 18, 2020

Friday, September 11, 2020 — DT 29276

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 29276
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Monday, February 3, 2020
Setter
Campbell (Allan Scott)
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 29276]
Big Dave's Crossword Blog Review Written By
Miffypops
BD Rating
Difficulty - ★ Enjoyment - ★★★
Falcon's Experience
┌────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬────┐ ███████████████████████████████████ └────┴────┴────┴────┴────┴────┴────┘
Legend:
- solved without assistance
- incorrect prior to use of puzzle solving tools
- solved with assistance from puzzle solving tools
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by puzzle solving tools
- solved but without fully parsing the clue
- unsolved or incorrect prior to visiting Big Dave's Crossword Blog
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by solutions from Big Dave's Crossword Blog
- reviewed by Falcon for Big Dave's Crossword Blog
- yet to be solved

Introduction

I received an unpleasant surprise when I logged on to write today's blog. Google has discontinued support for Blogger's legacy editor. For several months, Google has been urging bloggers to switch to the new Blogger editor but the option has been available to revert back to the legacy editor. Today that option is gone.

A few week's ago, I did attempt to use the new editor but it was such an unmitigated disaster that I switched back to the legacy editor after about a week. To make matters worse, Google provides no documentation on the new editor — or, if such documentation does exist, provides no link to it (or even any inkling that it does exist). As a result, I have had to learn how to use the new editor through trial and error while trying to compose this blog. With the new editor, many of the tasks that I do in writing the blog require either more complex operations, more steps or more keystrokes. For example, with the new editor, pressing the ENTER key produces very bizarre results (which vary depending on the context). I accidentally discovered that I can replicate the expected action of the ENTER key (i.e., the way it works in the old blogger or, or that matter, in any word processing or editing program) by pressing SHIFT + ENTER. I literally press this key dozens — if not hundreds — of times in the course of composing a post (and now I need to remember to press SHIFT + ENTER every time).

Believe it or not, I just finished writing the previous sentence and then stupidly pressed ENTER!

Rant over.

I invite you to leave a comment to let us know how you fared with the puzzle.

Notes on Today's Puzzle

This commentary is intended to serve as a supplement to the review of this puzzle found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog, to which a link is provided in the table above.

Markup Conventions
  • "//" - marks the boundary between wordplay and definition when no link word or link phrase is present
  • "/[link word or phrase]/" - marks the boundary between wordplay and definition when a link word or link phrase is present
  • "solid underline" - precise definition
  • "dotted underline" - cryptic definition
  • "dashed underline" - wordplay
  • "double underline" - both wordplay and definition
Click here for further explanation and usage examples of markup conventions used on this blog.

Across

1a   Small private room // near end of unit (6)

Closet[5] is used not in the sense of a place to store things but as a small room for private study.

4a   Area in good order round university/'s/ central hall (6)

8a   Model // soldier, like leader of mission (8)

Para[4,11] (short for paratrooper) is a soldier in an airborne unit.

10a   Property /in/ European country (6)

"European " = E [as in E number]

E[1,2] is the abbreviation for European (as in E number*).

* An E number[1,4,10,14] (or E-number[2,5]) is any of various identification codes required by EU law, consisting of the letter E (for European) followed by a number, that are used to denote food additives such as colourings and preservatives (but excluding flavourings) that have been approved by the European Union.

hide

11a   Sketch /of/ Saint Christopher (4)

"saint " = S

S[5] (chiefly in Catholic use) is an abbreviation for Saint S Ignatius Loyola with SS[5] being the abbreviation for Saints the Church of SS Peter and Paul.

hide

Kit[7] is a nickname for the given name Christopher.

12a   Diplomat // dancing samba, pathetic otherwise (10)

Scratching the Surface
The samba[5] is a Brazilian dance of African origin.

13a   Diarist // cross with Juliet wearing shades (7,5)

"Juliet " = J [NATO Phonetic Alphabet]

In what is commonly known as the NATO Phonetic Alphabet[7]*, Juliet[5] is a code word representing the letter J.

* officially the International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet

hide



Bridget Jones's Diary[7] is a 1996 novel by Helen Fielding. Written in the form of a personal diary, the novel chronicles a year in the life of Bridget Jones, a thirty-something single working woman living in London. She not only obsesses about her love life, but also details her various daily struggles with her weight, her over-indulgence in alcohol and cigarettes, and her career.

What did he say?
In his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, Miffypops tells us we need the IVA code letter for Juliet.
He likely meant to write IVR (International Vehicle Registration) instead of IVA. However, it is actually a symbol from the NATO phonetic alphabet that is required and not an IVR code.

16a   Railway buff /that's/ wizard on coaches (12)

Harry Potter[7] is the title character in a series of fantasy novels written by British author J. K. Rowling. The novels chronicle the life of a young wizard, Harry Potter, and his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.



Trainspotter*[5] is a British term for a person who collects train or locomotive numbers as a hobby.

* The name is also often used in a derogatory sense to refer to a person who obsessively studies the minutiae of any minority interest or specialized hobby ⇒ the idea is to make the music really really collectable so the trainspotters will buy it in their pathetic thousands.

20a   Method of teaching singing, // complicated solo in fact (5,3-2)

Tonic sol-fa[10] (or sol-fa[10]) is a method of teaching music, especially singing, used mainly in Britain, by which the syllables of a movable system of solmization* are used as names for the notes of the major scale in any key. In this system sol is usually replaced by so as the name of the fifth degree.

* Solmization[10] (or solmisation) is a system of naming the notes of a scale by syllables instead of letters derived from the 11th-century hexachord system of Guido d'Arezzo, which assigns the names ut (or do), re, mi, fa, sol, la, si (or ti) to the degrees of the major scale of C (fixed system) or (excluding the syllables ut and si) to the major scale in any key (movable system).

21a   Run // second leg (4)

Pin[5,10] (usually plural) is an informal term for a leg ⇒ she was very nimble on her pins.

22a   Progressive // kind joining Royal Navy (6)

"Royal Navy " = RN

The Royal Navy[5] (abbreviation RN) is the British navy. It was the most powerful navy in the world from the 17th century until the Second World War.

hide

What did he say?
In his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, Miffypops refers to the Royal Navy as the senior service.
Senior Service[5] is a British term for the Royal Navy.

* A standing "Navy Royal", with its own secretariat, dockyards and a permanent core of purpose-built warships, originated in the early 16th century during the reign of Henry VIII.[7] The English Army was first established as a standing military force in 1660.[7] I trust that it is self-evident that the Royal Air Force came into existence much later.

23a   Article appears after group // rehearsed play (3,5)

Set piece
[5] is a British term for a carefully organized and practised move in a team game by which the ball is returned to play, as at a scrum or a free kick* in the 89th minute another set piece produced the third goal.

* a somewhat related term — and one commonly heard in North American sport — is set play[5], a prearranged manoeuvre carried out from a restart by the team who have the advantage ⇒ the Germans scored the deciding goal on a set play, off a corner kick in the 15th minute

24a   See // literary review? (6)

25a   Nonsense written about Laurel originally // having three parts (6)

Tripe[5] is an informal term* meaning nonsense or rubbish ⇒ you do talk tripe sometimes.

* "Formally", tripe is the first or second stomach of a cow or other ruminant used as food.

Scratching the Surface
The surface reading may be a tip of the bowler hat to comedian Stan Laurel. Laurel and Hardy[5] were an American comedy duo consisting of Stan Laurel (born Arthur Stanley Jefferson) (1890–1965) and Oliver Hardy (1892–1957). British-born Stan Laurel played the scatterbrained and often tearful innocent, Oliver Hardy his pompous, overbearing, and frequently exasperated friend. They brought their distinctive slapstick comedy to many films from 1927 onwards.

Down

1d   Biscuits /and/ nuts // off one's trolley (8)

Here and There
The British use the term biscuit[3,4,11] to refer to a range of foods that include those that would be called either cookies or crackers in North America.

A North American biscuit[5] is similar to what is known in Britain as a scone.



Nuts
[10] is an offensive slang term meaning insane.



Off one's trolley is an informal British expression[14] (or offensive slang[10]) meaning insane. The trolley in this case is a pulley running on an overhead track that transmits power from the track to drive a tram; the idea is similar to that in the expression go off the rails.

* Whole several of my sources identify the expression as British, Webster’s New World College Dictionary claims it to be US slang[12].



Crackers[5] is an informal British term meaning insane.

2d   Love some, but not all, // abstract paintings (2,3)

"love " = O [nil score in tennis]

In tennis, squash, and some other sports, love[5] is a score of zero or nil ⇒ love fifteen. The resemblance of a zero written as a numeral (0) to the letter O leads to the cryptic crossword convention of the word "love" being used to clue this letter.

Although folk etymology has connected the word with French l'oeuf 'egg', from the resemblance in shape between an egg and a zero, the term apparently comes from the phrase play for love (i.e. the love of the game, not for money).

hide



Op art[5] is a form of abstract art that gives the illusion of movement by the precise use of pattern and colour, or in which conflicting patterns emerge and overlap. Bridget Riley and Victor Vasarely are its most famous exponents.

3d   Abu Dhabi, for example, // angry after Middle East uprising (7)

ME[1] is the abbreviation for Middle East*.

* The Chambers Dictionary is the only one of my regular reference sources to list this meaning.



Abu Dhabi[5] the  largest of the seven member states of the United Arab Emirates, lying between Oman and the Persian Gulf coast. The former sheikhdom joined the federation of the United Arab Emirates in 1971.

5d   Traitor's initial motive /for/ his crime? (7)

6d   Inn artist condemned // on the way (2,7)

7d   Moving // proposal (6)

9d   Noel G's jam surprisingly includes R&B // song (2,9)

"Mr. Bojangles"[7] is a song written and originally recorded by American country music artist Jerry Jeff Walker for his 1968 album of the same title. Since then, it has been recorded by many other artists, including US country rock band Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, whose version rose to No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1971. The song is also widely associated with Sammy Davis Jr., who made the song part of his stage shows and live television performances for nearly two decades.

Scratching the Surface
Noel Gallagher[7] is an English singer, songwriter, and musician. He served as the songwriter, lead guitarist, and co-lead vocalist of the rock band Oasis. After leaving Oasis in 2009, he formed and became the lead vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter for Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds.

14d   Loss /of/ red mitten processed (9)

15d   Ordinary // French wine I imported, rouge lacking body (8)

Médoc[5] is a red wine produced in Médoc, the area along the left bank of the Gironde estuary in southwestern France.

Scratching the Surface
Rouge[2] (in full vin rouge) is a French red wine.

17d   Poison // scare broadcast across Northern Ireland (7)

"Northern Ireland " = NI

Northern Ireland[5] (abbreviation NI[5]) is a province of the United Kingdom occupying the northeast part of Ireland.

According to Oxford Dictionaries, Northern Ireland[5] is the only major division of the United Kingdom to hold the status of province, with England[5], Scotland[5] and Wales[5] considered to be countries.

hide

18d   Detailed decorative design around large // dish (7)

The setter uses "detailed" in a whimsical cryptic crossword sense meaning having the tail removed — analogous to the formation of words such as deflowered or defrocked.

"large " = L [clothing size]

L[5] is the abbreviation for large (as a clothing size).

hide

19d   Belittle // act, blue (2,4)

Do down[12] is an informal British expression meaning to to criticize, belittle, or demean.

21d   Getting married in spring, /so/ tighten one's belt (5)

"married " = M [genealogy]

In genealogies, m[5] is the abbreviation for married m twice; two d*.

* married twice; two daughters.

hide



Key to Reference Sources: 

  [1]   - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
  [2]   - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
  [3]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (American Heritage Dictionary)
  [4]   - TheFreeDictionarycom (Collins English Dictionary)
  [5]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Dictionary of English)
  [6]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Advanced American Dictionary)
  [7]   - Wikipedia
  [8]   - Reverso Online Dictionary (Collins French-English Dictionary)
  [9]   - Infoplease (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
[10]   - CollinsDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
[11]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)
[12]   - CollinsDictionary.com (Webster’s New World College Dictionary)
[13]   - MacmillanDictionary.com (Macmillan Dictionary)
[14]   - CollinsDictionary.com (COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary)



Signing off for today — Falcon

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Thursday, September 17, 2020 — DT 29275

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 29275
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Saturday, February 1, 2020
Setter
Unknown
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 29275 – Hints]
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 29275 – Review]
Big Dave's Crossword Blog Review Written By
Big Dave (Hints)
crypticsue (Review)
BD Rating
Difficulty - ★ / ★★ Enjoyment - ★★ / ★★★
Falcon's Experience
┌────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬────┐ ███████████████████████████████████ └────┴────┴────┴────┴────┴────┴────┘
Legend:
- solved without assistance
- incorrect prior to use of puzzle solving tools
- solved with assistance from puzzle solving tools
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by puzzle solving tools
- solved but without fully parsing the clue
- unsolved or incorrect prior to visiting Big Dave's Crossword Blog
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by solutions from Big Dave's Crossword Blog
- reviewed by Falcon for Big Dave's Crossword Blog
- yet to be solved
Notes
As this was a Saturday "Prize Puzzle" in Britain, there are two entries related to it on Big Dave's Crossword Blog — the first, posted on the date of publication, contains hints for selected clues while the second is a full review issued following the entry deadline for the contest. The vast majority of reader comments will generally be found attached to the "hints" posting with a minimal number — if any — accompanying the full review.

Introduction

After yesterday's extreme test, today's puzzle proves to be a welcome respite. It was especially welcome as well in the UK when it was published there on February 1 as it seems a good portion of the readership of Big Dave's Crossword Blog had been celebrating Brexit well into the wee hours the night before.

I invite you to leave a comment to let us know how you fared with the puzzle.

Notes on Today's Puzzle

This commentary is intended to serve as a supplement to the review of this puzzle found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog, to which a link is provided in the table above.

Markup Conventions
  • "//" - marks the boundary between wordplay and definition when no link word or link phrase is present
  • "/[link word or phrase]/" - marks the boundary between wordplay and definition when a link word or link phrase is present
  • "solid underline" - precise definition
  • "dotted underline" - cryptic definition
  • "dashed underline" - wordplay
  • "double underline" - both wordplay and definition
Click here for further explanation and usage examples of markup conventions used on this blog.

Across

1a   Still the same // as one entertaining 1960s teenager (10)

Mod[5] is a British term for a young person, especially in the early 1960s, of a subculture characterized by a smart stylish appearance, the riding of motor scooters, and a liking for soul music.

6a  Staff employed for spells? (4)

9a   Inn merited changing // when to eat (6-4)

10a   What sea may do // to ship (4)

"ship " = SS

In Crosswordland, a ship is almost invariably a steamship, the abbreviation for which is SS[5] the SS Canberra.

hide

12a   Times /in/ shock broadcast (4)

Times[10] and days[10] are used in the sense of a period marked by specific attributes or events (i) in olden times; (ii) in days of yore.

13a  Thumbs up to do this! (5-4)

15a   Student deserving // education (8)

"student " = L [driver under instruction]

The cryptic crossword convention of L meaning learner or student arises from the L-plate[7], a square plate bearing a sans-serif letter L, for learner, which must be affixed to the front and back of a vehicle in various jurisdictions (including the UK) if its driver is a learner under instruction.

Automobile displaying an L-plate

hide

16a   Old king // whose seat's in Edinburgh? (6)

Arthur[5] was a legendary king of Britain, historically perhaps a 5th- or 6th-century Romano-British chieftain or general. Stories of his life, the exploits of his knights, and the Round Table of his court at Camelot were developed by Malory, Chrétien de Troyes, and other medieval writers and became the subject of many legends.



Arthur's Seat[7] is an extinct volcano which is the main peak of the group of hills in Edinburgh, Scotland, which form most of Holyrood Park.

18a   Ministers // left in church run to face guy on vacation (6)

"church " = CE [Church of England]

The Church of England[10] (abbreviation CE[10]) is the reformed established state Church in England, Catholic in order and basic doctrine, with the Sovereign as its temporal head.

hide

"run " = R [cricket notation]

On cricket scorecards [not to mention baseball scoreboards], the abbreviation R[5] denotes run(s).

In cricket, a run[5] is a unit of scoring achieved by hitting the ball so that both batsmen are able to run between the wickets, or awarded in some other circumstances.

hide

The phrase "on vacation" is an indication to remove the contents (interior letters) from the word "G(u)Y". Vacation[10]  is likely used in the sense of the act of departing from or abandoning property, etc. Thus the setter would seem to be suggesting that the interior letters pack up and leave.

20a   Scene about short musical work united // people (8)

"short musical work " = OP [opus]

In music, an opus[5] (Latin 'work', plural opuses or opera) is a separate composition or set of compositions.

The abbreviation Op.[5] (also op.), denoting opus, is used before a number given to each work of a particular composer, usually indicating the order of publication. The plural form of Op. is Opp..

Opus[5] can also be used in other contexts to denote an artistic work, especially one on a large scale ⇒ he was writing an opus on Mexico.

hide

"united " = U

In the names of sports clubs, U[5] is the abbreviation for United[5] which, in Britain is a word commonly used in the names of soccer and other sports teams formed by amalgamation ⇒ Man U [Manchester United].

hide

23a   Returning with sailor, popped outside /for/ something to eat (9)

"sailor " = TAR

Tar[5] is an informal, dated nickname for a sailor. The term came into use in the mid 17th century and is perhaps an abbreviation of tarpaulin, also used as a nickname for a sailor at that time.

hide

24a   Loathe // best man regularly rejected by husband (4)

26a   Like // coming round naked (4)

27a   Critical // sort of mood (10)

28a   Study onset of terrible // depression (4)

29a   Doctor later calls /for/ crystal dispenser (4,6)

Down

1d   Free /and/ occasionally funny party (4)

"party " = DO

Do[5,12] is an informal British[5] or chiefly British[12] term* for a party or other social event the soccer club Christmas do

* although Webster’s New World College Dictionary[12] supports the contention by Oxford Dictionaries Online[5] that this usage is British, two other US dictionaries do not characterize do[3,11] used in this sense as a British term

hide

2d   Introduced by Stormont -- a nanny // state (7)

Scratching the Surface
Stormont[10] is a suburb of Belfast, Northern Ireland. It is the site of Parliament House (1928–30), formerly the seat of the parliament of Northern Ireland (1922–72) and since 1998 of the Northern Ireland assembly, and Stormont Castle, formerly the residence of the prime minister of Northern Ireland and since 1998 the office of the province's first minister.

Just as Ottawa, Washington, and London are metonyms for the governments of their respective countries, Stormont is a metonym for the government of Northern Ireland.



Nanny state[5] is a British term for the government regarded as overprotective or as interfering unduly with personal choice.

3d   Tailor designs wrong // item of clothing (8-4)

4d   Pretty // fine work of art (8)

"fine " = F [grade of pencil lead]

F[5] is an abbreviation for fine, as used in describing grades of pencil lead.

Note: Surprisingly, Oxford Dictionaries Online characterizes this usage as British

hide

5d  It's adopted by heartless foe? (6)

This is an &lit. clue, a clue in which the entire clue serves as both wordplay and definition.

7d   Get rid of // boils spreading in a hospital (7)

"hospital " = H [symbol used on street signs]


H is a symbol for 'hospital' used on street signs.

hide

8d   Crush // bowl made of clay (not hard) (10)

"hard " = H [grade of pencil lead]

H[2,5] is an abbreviation for hard, as used in describing grades of pencil lead ⇒ a 2H pencil.

hide

11d   Ought RAF hero to play /in/ street? (12)

14d   Bigwigs initially need directors /to supply/ teaching aid (10)

17d   Support // pay for others (8)

19d   Avoidance /of/ oddball so naive (7)

21d  High-rise accommodation for workers? (3-4)

"worker " = ANT

The terms "worker" and "social worker" are commonly used in cryptic crossword puzzles to clue ANT or BEE.

A worker[5] is a neuter or undeveloped female bee, wasp, ant, or other social insect, large numbers of which do the basic work of the colony.

In crossword puzzles, "worker" will most frequently be used to clue ANT and occasionally BEE but I have yet to see it used to clue WASP. Of course, "worker" is sometimes also used to clue HAND or MAN.

hide

22d   America briefly unsettled // European region (6)

According to Lexico (formerly Oxford Dictionaries Online), Crimea[5] (usually the Crimea) is a peninsula of Ukraine lying between the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. It was the scene of the Crimean War in the 1850s. The majority of the population is Russian. Nary a mention of the fact that Russia invaded and annexed Crimea in 2014.

25d   That woman's protecting one // next in line (4)



Key to Reference Sources: 

  [1]   - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
  [2]   - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
  [3]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (American Heritage Dictionary)
  [4]   - TheFreeDictionarycom (Collins English Dictionary)
  [5]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Dictionary of English)
  [6]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Advanced American Dictionary)
  [7]   - Wikipedia
  [8]   - Reverso Online Dictionary (Collins French-English Dictionary)
  [9]   - Infoplease (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
[10]   - CollinsDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
[11]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)
[12]   - CollinsDictionary.com (Webster’s New World College Dictionary)
[13]   - MacmillanDictionary.com (Macmillan Dictionary)
[14]   - CollinsDictionary.com (COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary)



Signing off for today — Falcon

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Wednesday, September 16, 2020 — DT 29274

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 29274
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Friday, January 31, 2020
Setter
Unknown
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 29274]
Big Dave's Crossword Blog Review Written By
Deep Threat
BD Rating
Difficulty - ★★★★ Enjoyment - ★★★
Falcon's Experience
┌────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬────┐ ███████████████████████████████████ └────┴────┴────┴────┴────┴────┴────┘
Legend:
- solved without assistance
- incorrect prior to use of puzzle solving tools
- solved with assistance from puzzle solving tools
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by puzzle solving tools
- solved but without fully parsing the clue
- unsolved or incorrect prior to visiting Big Dave's Crossword Blog
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by solutions from Big Dave's Crossword Blog
- reviewed by Falcon for Big Dave's Crossword Blog
- yet to be solved

Introduction

This is certainly one of the most difficult puzzles I have ever encountered. It has been a very long time since I have had to use so much electronic assistance to complete a puzzle.

The appearance of this puzzle in the UK coincided with the consummation of Brexit with a few glasses being raised.

I invite you to leave a comment to let us know how you fared with the puzzle.

Notes on Today's Puzzle

This commentary is intended to serve as a supplement to the review of this puzzle found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog, to which a link is provided in the table above.

Markup Conventions
  • "//" - marks the boundary between wordplay and definition when no link word or link phrase is present
  • "/[link word or phrase]/" - marks the boundary between wordplay and definition when a link word or link phrase is present
  • "solid underline" - precise definition
  • "dotted underline" - cryptic definition
  • "dashed underline" - wordplay
  • "double underline" - both wordplay and definition
Click here for further explanation and usage examples of markup conventions used on this blog.

Across

1a  They turn up orating -- // flashy Uber customers? (11)

The definition is expressed in a rather whimsical fashion.

Loudhailer[5] is a British term for a bullhorn[10] or electric megaphone, an electronic device used to amplify the sound of a person's voice so that it can be heard at a distance.

7a   Fool's hoarding high-explosive // gear (7)

Clot[5] is an informal British term for a foolish or clumsy person ⇒ Watch where you’re going, you clot!.

HE[5] is the abbreviation for high explosive.

8a   Vocally cool one from Cats -- // Lloyd Webber's work? (7)

The Phantom of the Opera[7] is a 1986 musical with music by English composer and musical theatre impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Charles Hart, and a book by Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe. It is based on the 1910 French novel of the same name by Gaston Leroux.

Scratching the Surface
CATS[7] is a musical by English composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by American-born British writer T. S. Eliot (1888–1965) and produced by British theatrical producer Cameron Mackintosh. It premiered in London in 1981 and on Broadway in 1982.

10a   Young // son and cook going round arcade (5,3)

"son " = S [genealogy]

In genealogies, s[5] is the abbreviation for son(s) m 1991; one s one d*.

* married in 1991; one son and one daughter.

hide

11a   Singer /that's/ rejected Christmas -- gripping news! (6)

"new " = N [abbreviation used on maps]

N[5] is an abbreviation (chiefly in place names) for New ⇒ N Zealand.

hide



John Lennon[5] (1940–1980) was an English pop and rock singer, guitarist, and songwriter. A founder member of the Beatles, he wrote most of their songs in collaboration with Paul McCartney. He was assassinated outside his home in New York.

13a   Was the creator of // cheese from the East? (4)

Edam[5] is a round Dutch cheese, typically pale yellow with a red wax coating.

14a   My lead-free scooter managed around 150 -- // fast vehicle (10)

16a   Pitch tent while taking in river /and/ towers (10)

The Nile[5] is a river in eastern Africa, [disputably (show more )] the longest river in the world, which rises in east central Africa near Lake Victoria and flows 6,695 km (4,160 miles) generally northwards through Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan, and Egypt to empty through a large delta into the Mediterranean.

There are many factors, such as the source, the identification or the definition of the mouth, and the scale of measurement of the river length between source and mouth, that determine the precise meaning of "river length"[7]. As a result, the length measurements of many rivers are only approximations. In particular, there has long been disagreement as to whether the Nile or the Amazon is the world's longest river. The Nile has traditionally been considered longer, but in recent years some Brazilian and Peruvian studies have suggested that the Amazon is longer by measuring the river plus the adjacent Pará estuary and the longest connecting tidal canal.

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A campanile[5] is an Italian bell tower, especially a free-standing one.

18a   Tramp /makes/ dogs etc recoil (4)

21a   After eating duck, diner's fancy // decreased? (6)

Decreased is used in the whimsical cryptic crossword sense of removed the creases from.

22a   Cool shade keeps chap // cold inside (8)

"chap " = MAN

Chap[3,4,11] is an informal British[5] or chiefly British[3] term for a man or boy — although a term that is certainly not uncommon in Canada. It is a shortened form of chapman[3,4,11], an archaic term for a trader, especially an itinerant pedlar[a,b].

[a] Pedlar is the modern British spelling of peddler[14] which, in most senses, is considered by the Brits to be a US or old-fashioned British spelling. The exception is in the sense of a dealer in illegal drugs which the Brits spell as drug peddler.
[b] The current meaning of chap[2] dates from the 18th century. In the 16th century, chap meant 'a customer'. The dictionaries do not explain how a shortened form of 'chapman' (pedlar) came to mean 'customer'.

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One who is described thus might also be said to have a cold heart.

24a  Personal account that gets carved up when one's dead? (7)

Cryptic definition of a message inscribed on one's tombstone.

25a   Piggott on nag, evidently concealing // weight (7)

Scratching the Surface
Lester Piggott[7] is a retired English professional jockey. With 4,493 career wins, including nine Epsom Derby victories, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest flat racing jockeys of all time.

26a   Big wave -- something in the sea // that is ridden precariously? (6,5)

Down

1d  Spotted cat with snapping canines (7)

Like Deep Threat, I spent a great deal of time fruitlessly looking for non-existent wordplay. The clue is merely a cryptic definition of a spotted cat with teeth to beware of.

2d   University philosophy student // inclined to be hard going (6)

"student " = L [driver under instruction]

The cryptic crossword convention of L meaning learner or student arises from the L-plate[7], a square plate bearing a sans-serif letter L, for learner, which must be affixed to the front and back of a vehicle in various jurisdictions (including the UK) if its driver is a learner under instruction.

Automobile displaying an L-plate

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3d   Theatrical // cast sit in choir (10)

As an anagram indicator, cast[5] is used in the sense of to shape (metal or other material) by pouring it into a mould while molten ⇒ when hammered or cast, bronze could be made into tools.

4d   More than one mischief-maker // is ringing politician (4)

"politician " = MP

In Britain (as in Canada), a politician elected to the House of Commons is known as a Member of Parliament[10] (abbreviation MP[5]) or, informally, as a member[5].

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5d   Adjacent parts of steeple vane scenically // fade (8)

6d   Like a devil /or/ a saint gone astray, getting caught (7)

"caught " = C [cricket notation]

In cricket, one way for a batsman to be dismissed is to be caught out[5], that is for a player on the opposing team to catch a ball that has been hit by the batsman before it touches the ground.

On cricket scorecards, the abbreviation c[5] or c.[2,10] denotes caught (by).

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7d  One gets ready to come out on the street? (4,7)

Ready[5,10] or the ready[10] (also called readies or the readies) is an informal British term for ready money[5,10] (also called ready cash), funds for immediate use or, in other words, available money or cash Because I haven't got the readies to hand, I could offer a pittance now and promise to pay the rest at a date more to my convenience.

9d   Soldier authorised to raise gun /offers/ top covering fire (11)

12d   Short-term policies /involving/ sheet music? (5,5)

Cover note is a British term for a temporary certificate showing that a person has a current insurance policy The text of the cover note showed that the policy wording was at that time still to be agreed.

Here and There
When it comes to describing insurance protection, while the same verb form is used in Britain and North America, we use a different form of the noun on this side of the pond.

As a verb, cover[5] means to protect against a liability, loss, or accident involving financial consequences ⇒ your contents are now covered against accidental loss or damage in transit.

However, in the UK, the word cover[5] is also used as a noun to denote protection by insurance against a liability, loss, or accident ⇒ your policy provides cover against damage by subsidence. This is equivalent to the North American term coverage[5] meaning the amount of protection given by an insurance policy ⇒ your policy provides coverage against damage by subsidence.

15d   Disreputable dance // action Americans like to watch (8)

17d   Peter out in Ilkley, maybe // more miserable (7)

Ilkley Moor[7] is part of Rombalds Moor, the moorland* between Ilkley and Keighley (pronounced Keethly) in West Yorkshire, England.

* Moor[5] is a chiefly British term for a tract of open uncultivated upland, typically covered with heather.

What did he say?
In his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, Deep Threat writes that we need something for which Ilkley is known in song.
Ilkley Moor[7] is well known — at least in England — as the inspiration for the Yorkshire "county anthem" On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at (Yorkshie dialect for 'on Ilkley Moor without a hat').

19d   Bear consuming almost every // bun? (7)

Bun[5] is used in the sense of a small cake, typically containing dried fruit, rather than in the sense of a bread roll.

Teacake[5] is a British term for a light yeast-based sweet bun with dried fruit, typically served toasted and buttered.

20d   New Age gathering united in // country (6)

"united " = U

In the names of sports clubs, U[5] is the abbreviation for United[5] which, in Britain is a word commonly used in the names of soccer and other sports teams formed by amalgamation ⇒ Man U [Manchester United].

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Guinea[5] is a country on the west coast of Africa. Part of a feudal Fulani empire from the 16th century, Guinea was colonized by France, becoming part of French West Africa. It became an independent republic in 1958.

23d   Note about that fellow // you employed in the past (4)

"note " = TE [in tonic sol-fa, the seventh note of a major scale]

From a perusal of entries in American and British dictionaries, I gather that the only recognized spelling of this musical note in the US would be ti[3,11] while British dictionaries are split into two camps. On one side, Chambers 21st Century Dictionary and Collins English Dictionary give the principal spelling as te[2,4,10] with ti[2,4,10] being an alternative spelling. The Chambers Dictionary and Lexico (formerly Oxford Dictionaries Online) take the contrary position, giving the spelling as ti[1,5] with te[1,5] shown as an alternative spelling.

Note that the sister publications, The Chambers Dictionary and Chambers 21st Century Dictionary, are diametrically opposed on the issue and Oxford Dictionaries has done a complete about face as I have notes in my files from a previous review showing that "Oxford Dictionaries decrees that te is the British spelling with ti being the North American spelling".

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Key to Reference Sources: 

  [1]   - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
  [2]   - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
  [3]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (American Heritage Dictionary)
  [4]   - TheFreeDictionarycom (Collins English Dictionary)
  [5]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Dictionary of English)
  [6]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Advanced American Dictionary)
  [7]   - Wikipedia
  [8]   - Reverso Online Dictionary (Collins French-English Dictionary)
  [9]   - Infoplease (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
[10]   - CollinsDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
[11]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)
[12]   - CollinsDictionary.com (Webster’s New World College Dictionary)
[13]   - MacmillanDictionary.com (Macmillan Dictionary)
[14]   - CollinsDictionary.com (COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary)



Signing off for today — Falcon