Astarte1

QC 1525 by Trelawney

I am pretty sure I have never met Trelawney before on this blog, so good morning to you and thank you very much for this offering which I think would have become my PB if I had done it sitting down properly and concentrating. Which I very seldom do as I am always doing something else at the same time.

Practically all the clues were write-ins although as often happens with me and QCs my mind snagged on the easiest clue that leapt to my eye which was 6A for my FOI. LOI was 12D. COD for me was probably 23A. As usual there is no clue that really stands out for difficulty so I normally go for the reassuring feel of a smooth surface.

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

Across
1 Leader of Tories in posh headgear? Well I never! (5,4)
FANCY THAT - T ('leader' of Tories) in FANCY HAT (posh headgear).
6 Gangster loses one item of clothing (3)
CAP - CAPone (gangster) 'losing' ONE.
8 Wrong note, right singer (5)
TENOR - TENO (anagram ('wrong') of NOTE) + R (right).
9 Algeria destroyed symbols of royalty (7)
REGALIA - straight anagram ('destroyed') of ALGERIA.
10 Girl with record, we hear, that’s something comparable (8)
ANALOGUE - sounds like ('we hear') ANNA (girl) + LOG (record).
11 Vulgar puritan is beheaded (4)
RUDE - pRUDE (puritan) 'beheaded'.
13 Meander to restored cathedral (5,4)
NOTRE DAME - straight anagram ('restored') of MEANDER TO. Sadly, of course, not yet restored in reality.
16 Bring back enthusiastic opera singer (4)
DIVA - AVID (enthusiastic) reversed ('brought back').
17 Leaders of drinking society drink vintage liquor for melancholy (8)
DOLDRUMS - D + S (leaders of Drinking Society) 'drinking' OLD RUM (vintage liquor).
20 Service person putting iodine in join (7)
SOLDIER - I (chemical symbol for the element iodine) 'in' SOLDER (join).
21 Starts to acquire cheap tops off rugby player (5)
ACTOR - initial letters ('starts to') Acquire Cheap Toys Off Rugby. A nice misdirection as the answer has nothing to do with playing Rugby.
22 Sneaky on a regular basis? No! (3)
NAY - take out 'regular' letters from sNeAkY.
23 Big guns badly stuck in main road (9)
ARTILLERY - ILL (badly) 'stuck in' ARTERY (main road).
Down
1 Result of putting lots of dough in the kitty? (3,3)
FAT CAT - cryptic definition. If you put a lot of dough (money) into a kitty (kitten) you may well end up with a FAT CAT.
2 Assassin infiltrating town in Japan (5)
NINJA - hidden word: towN IN JApan.
3 Department in minor seaside town (8)
YARMOUTH - ARM (department) 'in' YOUTH (minor).
4 Detective flying our helicopter (7,6)
HERCULE POIROT - straight anagram ('flying') of OUR HELICOPTER. Funnily enough I heard David Suchet giving an address from the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula on Radio 4 yesterday morning.
5 Got up, put on a white robe (4)
TOGA - TOG (GOT reversed (i.e. 'up' in this down clue)) 'put on' A.
6 Promote growth of civilisation (7)
CULTURE - double definition.
7 Scheme with alien world (6)
PLANET - PLAN (scheme) + ET (alien).
12 Foul game (8)
HANDBALL - double definition. A HAND BALL is a foul in Association Football, but not, of course, in Rugby Football or, indeed, in the game of HANDBALL.
13 Vet only reused something new (7)
NOVELTY - straight anagram ('reused') of VET ONLY.
14 Inventor is done with invention (6)
EDISON - another straight anagram ('with invention') of IS DONE.
15 Aid for smoking, herring primarily having gone missing (6)
ASTRAY - AShTRAY (aid for smoking) with H (Herring primarily) 'having gone'.
18 A French match is separate (5)
UNTIE - UN (French indefinite article) + TIE (match).
19 Fix a Baltic city (4)
RIGA - RIG (fix) + A gives the capital of Latvia on the Baltic coast.
Astarte1

QC 1515 by Orpheus

This was a very straightforward puzzle, but I can't really tell you how that translates into time as I did it during a fairly chaotic interlude spent lodging with my mother while her carer was off for the Christmas holidays. Inevitably during this time several household chores crept out of the woodwork which needed to be addressed (broken toilet seat, blocked drain, the usual suspects) which meant that the expected few days of quietly catching up on admin tasks such as calculating the size of the New Year's gift I am expected to send to HMRC never quite materialised, with the result that such joys are now postponed until the early part of January. Similarly the blog got squeezed into a corner and once again I find myself rushing to finish it without enough time to say anything very much apart from reporting the standard stats. Many thanks to Orpheus for an entertaining cup of tea to start the week.

FOI was what I think of as the 'Gigolo Aunt' (any other Syd Barrett fans out there?) at 1A as you would expect in a puzzle of this level of difficulty. I think my LOI was technically 17A because although I wrote in the obvious answer early on, I was thinking of 'son' as being the usual abbreviation to 'S' and so didn't quite see how it worked. It was only when I sat back and drew breath at the end that I realised it was actually easier than that and I didn't even have to make the abbreviation. As usual I have difficulty in choosing a COD because no clue stands out as being particularly challenging so I think I'll plump for the smooth surface of 11A.

Definitions are underlined and everything else is explained just as I see it in the plainest English I can manage.

Across
1 High-spirited relative in borders of Jersey (6)
JAUNTY - AUNT (relative) in the 'borders' of JerseY.
4 Metallic element unknown in China’s capital (4)
ZINC - Z (unknown) + IN + C (China's capital).
9 Crackpot’s proceedings against teachers? (7)
NUTCASE - NUT (National Union of Teachers) + CASE (proceedings).
10 Supporter employed in theatre as elocutionist (5)
EASEL - hidden word ('employed in'): theatrE AS ELocutionist.
11 Certain to be in tears breaking up valuables (9)
TREASURES - SURE (certain) 'in' TREAS (anagram ('breaking up') of TEARS).
12 Grassy area providing shelter, by the sound of it (3)
LEA - sounds like LEE, as in a LEE SHORE.
13 Country game with good person in charge (6)
RUSTIC - RU (Rugby Union (game)) + ST (saint (good person)) + IC (in charge). Country here used as an adjective as in Hamlet: "Do you think I meant country matters?". Or now I come to think of it just as in a 'country lane' or a 'country house'.
15 Cook too much, having finished party? (6)
OVERDO - OVER (finished) + DO (party).
17 Woman abandoned by son, a heavyweight boxer once (3)
ALI - ALISON (woman) 'abandoned' by SON.
18 Weapon in new condition in plant (9)
SPEARMINT - SPEAR (weapon) + MINT (new condition).
21 Pugnacity of a gang going round Oxford, originally (5)
AGGRO - first letters ('originally') of A Gang Going Round Oxford.
22 Flavouring substance in vehicle, one everybody rejected (7)
VANILLA - VAN (vehicle) + I (one) + LLA (ALL (everybody) 'rejected').
23 Terrible-sounding person changing colour of cloth? (4)
DYER - sounds like DIRE (terrible). Aren't the Dyers the livery company that comes just outside the 'Top Twelve' at number thirteen in the list of precedence? Anyway, they are the ones that go swan-upping on the Thames and enjoy eating swan at their dinners (just because they are the only ones who are allowed to).
24 Pay for high-backed bench (6)
SETTLE - double definition.
Down
1 Doorman brought up rubbish after New Year’s Day (7)
JANITOR - TOR (ROT (rubbish) reversed, i.e. 'brought up' in this down clue) after JAN I (New Year's Day).
2 Free time in university — Edinburgh, principally (5)
UNTIE - T (time) 'in' UNI (university) + E (Edinburgh 'principally').
3 Brown’s undertaking involving king’s broadcast (12)
TRANSMISSION - TAN'S (brown's) + MISSION (undertaking) 'involving' R (king).
5 Detached ruins scattered around US city (7)
INSULAR - anagram ('scattered') of RUINS 'around' LA (US city).
6 Woman about to receive priest (5)
CELIA - CA (circa, about) 'to receive' ELI (biblical high priest).
7 For example, the Earl of Emsworth’s equal? (4)
PEER - double definition.
8 Tenacity of agent upset over separation (12)
PERSEVERANCE - PER (REP (agent) 'upset' over (in this down clue) SEVERANCE (separation).
14 Run round hard pebbles on beach (7)
SHINGLE - SINGLE (run) 'round' H (hard).
16 Indignation that’s not in fashion? (7)
OUTRAGE - OUT (not in) + RAGE (fashion, as in 'all the rage').
17 A protégé’s recognition of distinguished service (5)
AWARD - A + WARD (protégé).
19 Covetousness of emissary lacking nothing (4)
ENVY - ENVoY (emissary) 'lacking' O (nothing).
20 At home, permitted to see bay (5)
INLET - IN (at home) + LET (permitted).
Astarte1

QC 1505 by Teazel

No idea about timing for this one, I was away on holiday at the time and too much else was going on, but I thought it was above average difficulty for a Monday quickie. Looking back over the clues they were mostly just that little bit closer to daily cryptic level than usual so a good test for those trying to step up a level (IMHO anyway - now I'll wait for the court of public opinion to deliver the verdict that it was just me being slow to wake up on a Monday morning). Many thanks to Teazel for what I personally found a slightly tougher than usual challenge.

Once again, no time to say much so just the usual stats. FOI 8A. LOI 3D which is strange as I thought it was ultimately one of the easier pickings on offer but I was obviously tuned just a little bit off the wavelength. For COD there were a couple that appealed to me. I liked 16A, but because I run a domestic cleaning business it was a write-in for me and so I am reluctant to give it the rosette. (The number of times I have had cleaners for whom English is not their first language tell me that they do 'hovering' cannot easily be counted. The result is that the interesting mental image which that malapropism conjures up is never far from my mind's eye.) I also liked 1D, but couldn't quite bring myself to believe fully in the surface. In the end I think I'll go for 13D.

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

Across
7 A curtain said to be useful (5)
AVAIL - A + VAIL (sounds like VEIL, curtain).
8 In NASA lab, a mad state (7)
ALABAMA - hidden word: nasA LAB A MAd.
10 Current man on board (7)
DRAUGHT - double definition.
11 Island’s importance, short of energy (5)
WIGHT - WeIGHT (importance) 'short of' E (energy).
12 Goons hail different ruffians (9)
HOOLIGANS - straight anagram ('different') of GOONS HAIL.
14 On the front, extremely large, mature tree (3)
ELM - first letters ('on the front') of Extremely Large Mature.
15 For audience, bring in vessel (3)
URN - sounds like ('for audience') EARN (bring in).
16 Hanging around, putting in zero housework (9)
HOOVERING - HOVERING (hanging around) with O (zero) inserted.
18 Piece of information union contributed to barrier (5)
DATUM - TU (trade union) 'contributed to' DAM (barrier).
20 Hang on here: this is part of a circus act (7)
TRAPEZE - cryptic double definition.
22 Assessments of sailors? (7)
RATINGS - double definition.
23 Caught by tree branch, making this? (5)
CLIMB - C (caught) + LIMB (tree branch).
Down
1 Tough joint of meat for refuge, by the way (4,8)
HARD SHOULDER - HARD (tough) + SHOULDER (joint of meat).
2 About to tuck into reddish-brown biscuit (8)
MACAROON - CA (circa, about) 'tucked into' MAROON (reddish-brown).
3 Bung in favourable publicity (4)
PLUG - double definition.
4 Incantation provides chap with raised skill (6)
MANTRA - MAN (chap) + TRA (ART (skill) reversed, i.e. 'raised' in this down clue).
5 To ravage always wrong, note (3,5)
LAY WASTE - anagram of ALWAYS ('wrong') + TE (one of the notes of the musical SOL-FA scale).
6 Sudden noise? Exactly (4)
BANG - double definition. 'Exactly' as in 'BANG in the middle of...'.
9 Maybe egoists changing gradually (2,4,4,2)
AS TIME GOES BY - straight anagram (changing) of MAYBE EGOISTS.
13 Cruel and senseless to inhibit what bees do (8)
INHUMANE - HUM (what bees do) 'inhibited by' INANE (senseless).
14 Wide outbreak of pied mice disrupted (8)
EPIDEMIC - straight anagram of PIED MICE.
17 Not an intelligent sort of angle? (6)
OBTUSE - cryptic definition.
19 WW2 leader’s some competitor! (4)
TITO - hidden word ('some'): compeTITOr.
21 Principal gateway perhaps (4)
ARCH - double definition.
Astarte1

QC 1495 by Izetti

Nothing here to break anyone out in a cold sweat. Some straightforward anagrams, obvious cryptic definitions and double definitions make up the main framework and there are no other startling devices to write home (or indeed blog) about. So another gentle Monday start to the week. Many thanks to Izetti for a puzzle that I imagine was a very soft-boiled egg for the pacesetters.

My lack of discipline meant that my eye randomly snagged on the easiet clue that immediately jumped out at me (rather than starting at the beginning, going on to the end and then stopping as you are taught to do in kindergarten), which was 8A. LOI was, however 20D as I forgot about this tiddler till right at the end. In fact I thought I had finished until I saw the little white space winking up at me waiting to be filled. COD is again difficult to choose as no one clue presented any more of a challenge than the others, but I think I liked the humorous cultural specificity of 13A. So, unusually for me I am plumping for an anagram.

Definitions are underlined and everything else is explained just as I see it in the simplest language I can manage.

Across
1 Modern musician's cover in the auditorium (6)
RAPPER - sounds like ('in the auditorium') WRAPPER (cover).
4 Frolics happily, given drink aboard ship (6)
SPORTS - PORT (drink) 'aboard' SS (steamship).
8 One may remove coat (5,8)
PAINT STRIPPER - cryptic definition.
10 Wander in street with just a bit of light (5)
STRAY - ST (street) + RAY (just a bit of light).
11 Reds are disturbing folk at university (7)
READERS - straight anagram ('disturbing') of REDS ARE. For those unfamiliar with academic staff levels at universities a READER is a grade somewhere between a Senior Lecturer and a Professor.
13 A rest home dished up food British wouldn't want? (9)
HORSEMEAT - straight anagram ('dished up') of A REST HOME.
17 One has lost a member (7)
AMPUTEE - cryptic definition.
18 Part of Switzerland shortly offering a bt of poetry (5)
CANTO - CANTOn (part of Switzerland 'shortly').
19 As a despot I sin, somehow showing no emotion (13)
DISPASSIONATE - straight anagram ('somehow') of AS A DESPOT I SIN.
21 Powerful male, 80, with energy draining (6)
MIGHTY - M (male) + IGHTY (80 minus 'E' (with energy draining)).
22 Dry outside facility providing meal service (3,3)
TEA SET - TT (teetotaller, i.e. dry) 'outside' EASE (facility).
Down
1 Composure shown by model again (6)
REPOSE - if asked to 'model again', you might be asked to RE-POSE.
2 Monk's office, earlier his extraordinary source of power (9)
PRIORSHIP - PRIOR (earlier) + SHI (anagram of HIS ('extraordinary')) + P ('source' of Power).
3 Hospital department initially restricting your access (5)
ENTRY - in Crossworld the hospitals have a very limited number of departments, and the one that is most often visited by far is Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT). Add on R + Y (Restricting Your 'initially')
5 Ape an archbishop? (7)
PRIMATE - double definition.
6 Reprobate is the reverse of holy, right? (3)
RIP - I don't think I have heard this definition before, but it is an entirely logical (RIP sounds like REP) and guessable bit of slang with a cryptic that could hardly be clearer: PI (holy) + R (right) reversed.
7 An aspect of pronunciation bringing trouble (6)
STRESS - double definition.
9 Sneers set somehow to lead to an abrupt manner (9)
TERSENESS - straight anagram ('somehow') of SNEERS SET.
12 Europeans succeeded, interrupting public school types (9)
ESTONIANS - S (succeeded) 'interrupting' ETONIANS (public school types).
14 Soldiers coming on to extended area pull back (7)
RETRACT - RE (Royal Engineers, soldiers) + TRACT (extended area).
15 Little female along with old maiden in group of enthusiasts (6)
FANDOM - F (little female) + AND (with) + O (old) + M (maiden, an over in cricket in which no runs are scored).
16 Wood and minerals wrapped in newspaper (6)
FOREST - ORES (minerals) 'wrapped' in FT (Finamcial Times, a British newspaper).
18 Something spicy about sweetheart (5)
CLOVE - C (circa, about) + LOVE (sweetheart).
20 Wise person, briefly, to sink (3)
SAG - SAGe (wise person 'briefly').
Astarte1

QC 1485 by Joker

Another easy Monday puzzle. I think the FOI was 1A, and LOI was 5D, but once again, as with the last one I blogged, not because that was the most diffcult clue but just because it happened to be the last one that I came upon in a fairly random hop around the grid. COD was difficult to determine as usual with no particular clue standing out for difficulty so I'll go for the one I found most entertaining, which was 13A. Many thanks to Joker for another entertaining puzzle.

I am blogging this just after getting back from a highly enjoyable weekend at Stratford-on Avon, so I really don't have time to write very much, and my head is still buzzing with the brilliance of the production of King John that I saw last night. This is one of Shakespeare's least-performed plays and I had never seen it before (although I had read it and enjoyed it and found it difficult to understand why it was not more popular). I am one of those typical bookworms who has always more enjoyed reading Shakespeare than watching it, but last night's performance was outstanding and quite simply one of the best things I have ever seen on the stage. I can highly recommend it.

Definitions are underlined and everything else is explained just as I see it in the simplest language I can manage.

Across
1 Inflammation I insist is circulating outside United States (9)
SINUSITIS - anagram of I INSIST ('circulating') 'outside' US (United States).
6 Cost of penny cereal (5)
PRICE - P (penny) + RICE (cereal).
8 Fare collector caught on tube with old queen (9)
CONDUCTOR - C (caught) + ON + DUCT (tube) + O (old) + R (Regina, queen).
9 Indian lute is brought back by sailor (5)
SITAR - SI (IS 'brought back') + TAR (sailor).
10 Discharge from English mother country (9)
EMANATION - E (English) + MA (mother) + NATION (country).
12 Supporting a Mountie, perhaps, with free study (6)
RIDDEN - RID (free) + DEN (study).
13 Another drink could be reason for cancelling football match? (6)
REFILL - if the REF was ILL, might you cancel the football match?
16 Chap tried getting drunk really inexpensively (4-5)
DIRT-CHEAP - straight anagram ('getting drunk') of CHAP TRIED.
18 Some treasure trove appearing from the past (5)
RETRO - hidden word ('some'): treasuRE TROve
19 A box with insipid artificial sweetener (9)
ASPARTAME - A + SPAR (box) + TAME (insipid).
21 Scrap put right in outhouse (5)
SHRED - R (right) 'in' SHED (outhouse).
22 European MP is sent out for vacancy (9)
EMPTINESS - E (European) + MP + anagram ('out') of IS SENT.
Down
1 Hide away in south-eastern Greek island (7)
SECRETE - SE (south-eastern) + CRETE (Greek island).
2 Good for dieters, regularly needed in undoing feasts? (6)
NONFAT - take regular letters from uNdOiNg FeAsTs.
3 Diving apparatus son got on Caribbean island (5)
SCUBA - S (son) + CUBA (Caribbean island).
4 Mostly carry young child (3)
TOT - 'mostly' TOTe (carry).
5 Grip left in odd storage space on ship (12)
STRANGLEHOLD - L (left) 'in' STRANGE (odd) + HOLD (space on ship).
6 Working outraged past student (12)
POSTGRADUATE - straight anagram ('working') of OUTRAGED PAST.
7 Trespasser at home initially turned more disrespectful (8)
INTRUDER - IN (at home) + T ('initially' Turned) + RUDER (more disrespectful).
11 I’m one having volunteers to run copier (8)
IMITATOR - IM (I'm) + I (one) + TA (territorial army - 'volunteers') + TO + R (run).
14 European millions getting iron ruler (7)
EMPRESS - E (European) + M (millions) + PRESS (iron).
15 Staid, sitting down when the last one rises (6)
SEDATE - SEATED (sitting down) with D ('the last one') 'rising' to third place in this down clue.
17 Expression of surprise over soldier’s dog (5)
CORGI - COR (expression of surprise) 'over' (in this down clue) GI (soldier).
20 Narrowly defeat Philip (3)
PIP - double definition: to narrowly defeat ('pip at the post') and a contraction of the male name Philip (as in, for example, Philip Pirrip, the protagonist of Dickens's Great Expectations).
Astarte1

QC 1475 by Breadman

Too busy to write much again I'm afraid this week, plus I am also suffering from the inevitable cloud of depression that sets over me whenever I yet again see an England team fall short of sporting glory. What does it matter? Who cares? It's only a game. All these are very rational arguments but somehow they just never work. Only time heals. Or at least develops scar tissue.

So I went through this in a daze, noticing only that it was a comparatievely easy offering and that it was set by Breadman, whom I think I may have met once or twice before but can't quite remember. I'm terrible with names. But thanks anyway for a highly therapeutic puzzle, gradually waking my brain up again as it did and providing a valuable step back on the road to recovery and normal daily life.

FOI was 1A as God intended and things followed pretty smoothly after that. LOI was 22A I think, but not for reasons of difficulty. I found this was one of those puzzles that are so straightforward that you don't even get into the straight rhythm of following the clues in sequence. You start filling the grid and then you notice clues out of the corner of your eye that are obviously correct and you also notice spaces in the grid that are obvious write-ins without even looking at the clue so you fill those in out of order and before long you're doing a pretty random knight's tour around the grid.

Hard to find a COD as they were all fairly uniformly easy. In the end I'll probably go for the wit of 13A.

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

Across
1 Cleaning item rusted badly (6)
DUSTER - Straight anagram ('badly') of RUSTED.
4 Play on words to dig somewhere in India (6)
PUNJAB - PUN (play on words) + JAB (dig).
8 Suffer in part of aircraft, crying loudly (7)
WAILING - AIL (suffer) in WING (part of aircraft).
10 Brownish-yellow section of brooch revealed (5)
OCHRE - hidden word: broOCH REvealed.
11 Hanger-on, a slippery creature, rejected companion (5)
LEECH - LEE (EEL, a slippery creature, reversed) + CH (Companion of Honour).
12 Observes twitching inside damaged nose (7)
NOTICES - TIC (twitching) inside NOES (anagram ('damaged') of NOSE).
13 Location of travelling ocean liner, generally (2,3,4)
IN THE MAIN - cryptic definition (MAIN as in SEA).
17 Mostly hairless oddball inflated plaything (7)
BALLOON - BAL ('mostly' BALd, hairless) + LOON (oddball).
19 Modify church table, one says (5)
ALTER - sounds like ('one says') ALTAR (church table).
20 A golfer may register this bird of prey (5)
EAGLE - in golf a BIRDIE is one under par. A reasonably common variety of avian life on the golf course. A rarer bird is the EAGLE, which is a score of 2 under par for a hole. So for those of you able to keep up with the arithmetic the fabled 'hole in one' is effectively an EAGLE, being a tee shot that pops straight into the hole on a par-3 hole. For the record an ALBATROSS is a very rare bird indeed at 3 under par, and I have been fortunate enough to witness the flight of one of these extremely elusive birds while playing once with my son, a talented (well actually I think he would style it more as 'hard work' than 'talent') scratch golfer. At the par-5 17th on his home course he hit his drive something over 300 yards and then holed out from the remaining 250-odd yards with his 3-wood. Just as he finished the stroke he breathed "that's going to be close". I think it is the most self-congratulatory thing I have ever heard him say as he is usually a merceiless self-critic. It was one of those perfect moments that just come together sometimes. Like England winning the World Cup. Amazing to behold.
21 Doctor in Leith arranged protective cover for finger (7)
THIMBLE - the particular Crossworld incarnation of the medical professional here is the MB (Bachelor of Medicine). Here he or she is placed inside an anagram of LEITH ('arranged').
22 Combatant's helmet that restricts batting (3,3)
TIN HAT - when you are batting at cricket you are 'IN'. Place IN inside THAT and there you have it.
23 Member to conclude traditional story (6)
LEGEND - LEG (member) + END (conclude).
Down
1 Prosper initially over in lodge (2,4)
DO WELL - O (over) in DWELL (lodge).
2 Old comedian's second fish factory Gina organised (5,8)
SPIKE MILLIGAN - S (second) + PIKE (fish) + MILL (factory) + anagram of GINA ('organised').
3 English mine with the odd descriptive term (7)
EPITHET - E (English) + PIT (mine) + anagram of THE ('odd').
5 Vessel that was submersible but buoyant at regular intervals (1-4)
U-BOAT - bUt BuOyAnT 'at regular intervals'.
6 Landscape painter's private room with PC (4,9)
JOHN CONSTABLE - JOHN (slang for toilet or 'private room') + CONSTABLE (PC).
7 Creature consumes right cut of meat (6)
BREAST - BEAST (creature) 'consumes' R (right).
9 Biscuit barrel upside-down below item on spice rack? (6,3)
GINGER NUT - TUN (barrel) reversed (i.e. 'upside-down' in this down clue) gives NUT, and this is placed below (again in this down clue) GINGER (item on spice rack).
14 Desire for wealth pilot's seen around two eastern US states (7)
AVARICE - two eastern US states are VA (Virginia) and RI (Rhode Island), and here an ACE (pilot, as in Snoopy and the Red Baron) is 'seen around' them.
15 Worker, carrying infectious disease, not present (6)
ABSENT - the poor old overworked Crossworld worker, the ANT, is here made to 'carry' BSE (bovine spongiform encephalitis, the infectious disease known as 'mad cow disease' in cattle and which manifests in humans as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease). 
16 Female diner excited partner (6)
FRIEND - F (female) + anagram of DINER ('excited').
18 Greek character old and huge (5)
OMEGA - O (old) + MEGA (huge).
Astarte1

QC 1465 by Hurley

There will be jubilation in certain quarters when I say I honestly have no time to say anything this week except:

1. Medium difficulty
2. FOI: 5A
3. LOI: 13A
4. COD: 1A

Many thanks to Hurley for another entertaining cup of tea.

Definitions are underlined in italics. Everything else is explained just as I see it in the simplest language I can manage.

Across
1 Country girl’s examination (7)
PERUSAL - PERU (country) + SAL (girl).
5 Signify average (4)
MEAN - double definition.
7 Traitor oddly missed in port (3)
RIO - miss out the odd letters of tRaItOr.
8 Aware lad’s suffering unfair treatment (1,3,4)
A RAW DEAL - straight anagram ('suffering') of AWARE LAD.
10 Got the odour of fish (5)
SMELT - double definition. As in 'I smelt the smelt'.
11 In natural movement edit books, English, on return (3,4)
EBB TIDE - EDIT + BB (books) + E (English) all reversed ('on return').
13 Doorman’s endless resilience (6)
BOUNCE - remove the end from BOUNCEr (doorman).
15 Genuine in path one’s taken (6)
HONEST - hidden word: patH ONES Taken.
17 Start to notice, we hear, area away from land (4,3)
OPEN SEA - OPEN (start) + SEA (sounds like SEE (notice)).
18 Excellent protest at noon (5)
DEMON - DEMO (protest) + N (noon). DEMON can be an adjective as in 'a demon card player' or 'a demon driver'.
20 Tess welcoming European I’d at first engaged in regional area (8)
TEESSIDE - TESS 'welcoming' E (European) + ID (I'd) + E (at first Engaged).
22 Originally filed under national merriment? (3)
FUN - first letters ('originally') of Filed Under National.
23 Colour clash? Yes, in part (4)
ASHY - hidden word: clASH Yes.
24 Frantically lug a new section of boat (7)
GUNWALE - straight anagram of LUG A NEW.
Down
1 Abroad, broke, a shop providing help for translation? (6,4)
PHRASE BOOK - straight anagram ('abroad') of BROKE A SHOP.
2 With new start, shone in river (5)
RHONE - give SHONE a new start and you could get RHONE.
3 After fight, thanks copper and son, leader of revolt (9)
SPARTACUS - SPAR (fight) + TA (thanks) + CU (copper (chemical symbol)) + S (son).
4 Gloomy field retreat (6)
LEADEN - LEA (field) + DEN (retreat in the sense of study).
5 Foolish mother supported by daughter (3)
MAD - MA (mother) 'supported by' (i.e. 'on top of' in this down clue) D (daughter).
6 Greed, a bad habit, ensnaring artist on rise (7)
AVARICE - A VICE (bad habit) 'ensnaring' RA (artist) reversed ('on rise' in this down clue).
9 Relevance of net price uncertain around northeast (10)
PERTINENCE - anagram of NET PRICE ('uncertain') around NE (northeast).
12 Barn, abode, unusually for this vegetable? (5,4)
BROAD BEAN - straight anagram ('unusually') of BARN ABODE.
14 Stupid plea to economize? (7)
USELESS - a plea to economise might be USE LESS.
16 Darling, left out as reckless (6)
DARING - hardly needs explanation: take L (left) out of DARlING.
19 Criminal organisation’s aim to take in footballers all round? (5)
MAFIA - AIM 'taking in' FA (Football Association) 'all round', i.e. all reversed.
21 Catch sight of Bond perhaps (3)
SPY - double definition.
Astarte1

QC 1455 by Joker

I found this very easy. In fact I think it would have been a PB if I had sat down and done it under exam conditions. As it was though I got started, realised I hadn't got my reading glasses on, and then struggled on regardless peering uselessly at the screen for a bit before eventually reaching for the glasses and getting them entangled with my normal glasses, which then fell under the bed. By the time I had recovered all my eyewear and put it all back where it should be and got the reading glasses on my nose, about 2 minutes had gone by. I then finished in about 7 minutes even though my wife was interrupting me and giving me instructions about all the stuff that we had just unloaded from the car having just returned from our holiday. So what with all that I think it is fairly likely that I might have got in under the 5 minute mark. But hey, so what, who's counting. The fact is that practically every clue I looked at more or less wrote itself into the grid.

FOI was 1A as you would expect, and LOI I think was similarly 19D. It really was that linear. I think maybe one or two clues were written in out of order but it was more or less sequential. No particular COD jumps out and hits me in the face but I will go for 20A. Many thanks to Joker for an enjoyable experience. It is not often that things happen that smoothly for me.

Definitions are underlined and everything else is explained just as I see it in the simplest language I can manage.

Across
1 Message sent from holiday job by Joker, perhaps (8)
POSTCARD - POST (job) + CARD (Joker).
5 Hurtful remark from pub bore, initially (4)
BARB - BAR (pub) + B (Bore initially).
9 Knock back beer fit for a monarch (5)
REGAL - LAGER (beer) backwards.
10 A time in location that’s calm (7)
PLACATE - A + T (time) 'in' PLACE (location).
11 Openly gay youth stripped (3)
OUT - yOUTh 'stripped' (i.e. with outer letters removed).
12 Idiot sues bizarrely, promoting disorder (9)
SEDITIOUS - straight anagram ('bizarrely') of IDIOT SUES.
13 Shortly getting in a large car (6)
SALOON - SOON (shortly) 'getting in' A + L (large).
15 Left, for instance, to finish traditional tale (6)
LEGEND - L (left) + EG (for instance) + END (to finish).
17 What can control large tour going round? (9)
REGULATOR - straight anagram ('going round') of LARGE TOUR.
19 Setter, perhaps, is good after party (3)
DOG - DO (party) + G (good).
20 Gasp about restraint for one being treated (7)
PATIENT - PANT (gasp) 'about' TIE (restraint).
21 Join university with term half gone (5)
UNITE - UNI (university) + TE (TErm 'half gone').
22 Beam about new story (4)
YARN - RAY (beam) 'about' = YAR + N (new).
23 Credit us with cooking raw fruit & veg (8)
CRUDITES - straight anagram ('with cooking') of CREDIT US.
Down
1 Soul-rap rocks? Dire (7)
PARLOUS - straight anagram ('rocks') of SOUL RAP.
2 Express sadness over onset of tunnel vision (5)
SIGHT - SIGH (express sadness) 'over' (in this down clue) T (onset of Tunnel).
3 Show indifference to lamb joint from yesterday? (4-8)
COLD-SHOULDER - cryptic definition. Where my family comes from originally the traditional Monday evening meal was 'Stovies', consisting of the heated up stewed remains of the previous day's roast (I understand that alternative regional variants are available).
4 Very fast unexpected attack grabbing power (5)
RAPID - RAID (unexpected attack) 'grabbing' P (power).
6 Edible shellfish in middle of seabed singly (7)
ABALONE - AB (middle of seABed) + ALONE (singly).
7 Bishop with fewer to consecrate (5)
BLESS - B (bishop) + LESS (fewer).
8 Scene of conflict sees site of historic abbey reduced to dust (12)
BATTLEGROUND - BATTLE (site of the historic Battle Abbey) + GROUND (reduced to dust).
14 Large open boat is not so dark (7)
LIGHTER - double definition.
16 Get sidetracked — I note during shift? (7)
DIGRESS - I + G (note) 'during' DRESS (shift).
17 Give money back to travelling salesman, certainly (5)
REPAY - REP (travelling salesman) + AY (certainly).
18 Express disapproval over Romeo teacher (5)
TUTOR - TUT (express disapproval) + O (over) + R (Romeo).
19 Daughter on break to travel aimlessly (5)
DRIFT - D (daughter) 'on' (in this down clue) RIFT (break).
Astarte1

QC 1445 by Tracy - An MER Fer 'ER And An FER Fer Me, Cor Blimey Stone The Crows Me Old Pearly Queen!

Well what a week that was for eyebrows, and it is carrying over into the first puzzle of this week. Perhaps TfTT could apply for a royal warrant on the supply of acronyms for expressions of disapproval, as it was revealed last week that our very own MER, coined in the TfTT blog a couple of years ago, was suggested by David Cameron to Crossworld's favourite royal, ER 'erself, as a method of signalling disapproval for a vote for independence in the Scottish referendum a few years ago. He was obviously struggling to express himself when he suggested that it might help the vote go the 'right' way if ER were to "raise an eyebrow a quarter of an inch", but if everything had happened a few years later he would have had a ready-made acronym for the concept: "Ma'am, you know when you were doing the crossword the other day and you had an MER about that dodgy clue? Well, might I suggest that the same thing could be put to good use in the current referendum difficulty?"

I'm afraid that I got so excited at the possibility that TfTT could be drawn into one of these earth-shaking constitutional battles that seem to happen about twice a week these days that I fell to composing a clue in celebration of the incident:

Prime minister returns no account about slight expression of disapproval (7)

(I'm sure you've all got it but just in case I am supplying the answer at the end of the blog below. And of course clue composition is not my strongest suit, so I'm sure somebody can come up with a better one and if so I'd love to see it.)

And just for good measure I'm throwing in the associated bad one-liner of the week:

"I told my wife she paints her eyebrows too high. She looked surprised."

Anyway, coming to the puzzle (at last!), I thought this was a gentle offering from Tracy, apart from 5D which held me up a bit at the end and which gets my COD. I think it is one of those that I would have written straight in if it had been in the 15 x 15 just because it is the sort of word you expect to see over there, but it is perhaps slightly off the beaten track for the QC. I think my FOI was 9A as it took me a second pass to get the first two.

Although 5D was effectively my LOI in actuality it wasn't because although I knew what the answer to 22D must be the clue didn't work as far as I could see. So I left it until the end but then it only took a second to realise that my answer must be right and that I was going to have to deploy the eyebrow. And not just for an MER. No, not even for an HER (Half Eyebrow Raise). In this case nothing will do but the full Monty: an FER (Full Eyebrow Raise), because I think the setter has simply made an error, as explained below.

So apart from that apparent aberration, many thanks for an entertaining puzzle. And even with the aberration, many thanks for an excuse to deviate and expatiate upon alternative uses of the eyebrow other than the presumed evolutionary one of simply keeping bugs out of your eyes.

Definitions are underlined and everything else is explained just as I see it in the simplest language I can manage.

Across
7 Gift tied up at resort (8)
APTITUDE - straight anagram ('resort' - as in 're-sort') of TIED UP AT.
8 Star clue (4)
LEAD - double definition.
9 Ordered in more wool (6)
MERINO - straight anagram ('ordered') of IN MORE.
10 Victor leaking wife's secret (5)
INNER - wINNER (victor) 'leaking' W (wife).
11 Employ trick, right away (3)
USE - same idea: rUSE with R (right) 'away'.
12 Name one foolish person, then another (6)
NITWIT - N (name) + I (one) + TWIT (foolish person).
14 Tired agent outside shelter (6)
SLEEPY - SPY (agent) 'outside' LEE (shelter).
16 Tabloid reportedly studied first (3-3)
RED-TOP - homophone ('reportedly') of READ (studied) + TOP (first).
18 Released a Parisian, drawn (6)
UNTIED - UN (French indefinite article, thus = 'a Parisian') + TIED (drawn).
19 Tear in jumper I purchased (3)
RIP - hidden word: jumpeR I Purchased.
20 Army chaplain quietly read novel (5)
PADRE -  P (piano, quietly) + anagram ('novel') of READ.
21 Black parasitic insect does for garment (6)
BLOUSE - B (black) + LOUSE (parasitic insect).
23 Old garment, article obtained in recession (4)
TOGA - A (article) + GOT (obtained) 'in recession'.
24 Complex patterns in part of church (8)
TRANSEPT - straight anagram ('complex') of PATTERNS.
Down
1 The old man rises with very little desire to eat (8)
APPETITE - PA (the old man) reversed (i.e. 'rises' in this down clue) = AP + PETITE (very little).
2 Note short skirt (4)
MINI - if I remember my music theory correctly a MINIM is a two-beat note. Shorten it and you have MINI.
3 Issue dismissed (3,3)
PUT OUT - double definition.
4 Run two sons across lake (6)
SERIES - S + S (two sons) 'across' ERIE (one of the Great Lakes). A rare chance to quote the great Tom Waits:
"Sittin' by the Erie with a Bull-whipped dog
Tellin' everyone he saw they went thatta way, o boys,
Tellin' everyone he saw they went thatta way."
5 Noisy fellow supporting idea (8)
PLANGENT - GENT (fellow) 'supporting' (i.e. underneath in this down clue) PLAN (idea).
6 Adequate food, it's said (4)
FAIR - homophone ('it's said') for FARE (or FAYRE if you are going to be particularly twee in writing your pub signs) = food.
13 Take back and charge up (8)
WITHDRAW - WITH (and) + WARD (charge) reversed (i.e. 'up' in this down clue).
15 Exercises before first of several drinks (5-3)
PRESS-UPS - PRE (before) + S (first of Several) + SUPS (drinks).
17 Rather small-minded hiding last of cider (6)
PRETTY - PETTY (small-minded) 'hiding' R (last of cideR).
18 Optimistic at university before defeat (6)
UPBEAT - UP (at university) + BEAT (defeat).
20 Fifty on board vessel providing storyline (4)
PLOT - POT (vessel) with L (fifty in Roman numerals) 'on board'.
22 Force out from famous street (4)
OUST - I believe this is meant to be a hidden word, but I am raising my eyebrow (how appropriate after last week's royal raised eyebrow), and signalling not just an MER but an FER (Full Eyebrow Raise). I believe the setter MEANT famOUS STreet to give OUST but unfortunately there is an extra S in there. I hope someone can tell me I am wrong but that's what it seems like to me. The only other way to read the clue that I could see was STREET = ST leaving OU somehow to mean famous, but I cannot find any basis for that.

And the answer to the clue in the preamble: CAMERON (NO AC (no account) 'returned about' MER (slight expression of disapproval). But of course that clue only works in the TfTT world, because nobody else, not even 'ER indoors at the palace I suspect, knows what an MER is.
Astarte1

QC 1435 by Teazel

Most of these were straight write-ins for me. I was seeing it like a beach ball. Oops sorry, that hurts doesn't it. I suppose one more unlikely escape was too much to hope for. Recall Geoffrey Boycott, that's what I say. I'm sure he could still stand there all day without scoring anything just like the old days. Although don't tell him I said so or his head will swell up like a beach ball (oh no - look - that's only about half as big as it is already) and Steve Smith will take deadly aim and hit it to the boundary.

Anyway, as usually seems to be the case these days I am squeezing this blog into a business and personal commitment sandwich so I don't have much to say except thank you Teazel, my oldest adversary at this game, for another entertaining puzzle to get the neurons firing again after the weekend anaesthesia.

FOI was 7A as appropriate. LOI was 21A because although I could easily see the answer the logic escaped me until the end (and I hope I've got the explanation right at that - no doubt I will be swiftly corrected if not). COD was 8A for me. As usual in the QC marks are awarded for elegance rather than difficulty and I thought this double definition was quite neat. Particularly as there are two potential anagrainds to divert the attention and make it seem less straightforward than it is.

Definitions are underlined, and everything else is explained just as I see it in the simplest language I can manage.

Across
7 Essential part of company: engineers (4)
CORE - CO (company) + RE (Royal Engineers).
8 Novel, not the translation (8)
ORIGINAL - double definition.
9 Take ages to fit in (6)
BELONG - 'be long' = 'to take ages'. As in 'don't be long'.
10 The old warning for farmers (6)
YEOMEN - YE (old word for 'the') + OMEN (warning).
11 Drop all the actors (4)
CAST - double definition.
12 Bird’s colours sharp (8)
REDSTART - REDS (colours) + TART (sharp).
15 Punctilious type left in gummed label (8)
STICKLER - L (left) 'in' STICKER (gummed label).
17 One in a suit in the Athenaeum, say (4)
CLUB - double definition.
18 Offering beautiful views, since moving clutter at the front (6)
SCENIC - anagram of SINCE ('moving') + C (Clutter 'at the front').
21 Sounds unwanted? (6)
NOISES - cryptic definition, 'noise' being an unwanted disturbance accompanying a signal in electronics, as in 'background noise' or 'white noise'.
22 It is painful in unfurnished carriage (8)
BAROUCHE - OUCH (it is painful) 'in' BARE (unfurnished).
23 Musical animals? Yes and no (4)
CATS - CATS is a musical in which the characters are cats, and CATS are also animals. So the CATS in the musical are musical animals by definition, but cats per se are not particularly musical. Hence 'yes and no'. (And of course if we didn't have 'yes and no' it would be a straight double definition.)
Down
1 Witches and possible soldier make agreement (8)
COVENANT - COVEN (a group of witches) + ANT (as in soldier ant).
2 Porter prepared an account (6)
REPORT - straight anagram of PORTER ('prepared').
3 Bank on the Spanish for poor verse (8)
DOGGEREL - DOGGER (the 'Dogger Bank' is between England and Denmark in the North Sea) + EL ('the' in Spanish).
4 Coventry, for example — it replaces its centre (4)
CITY - replace the centre of C(OVENTR)Y with IT = CITY.
5 Apparently good to get over painful condition: have a binge (3,3)
PIG OUT - PI (schoolboy slang for PIOUS and thus 'apparently good') + GOUT (painful condition).
6 Big pothole in chic avenue (4)
CAVE - hidden word: chiC AVEnue.
13 Mad to have gardened in a storm (8)
DERANGED - straight anagram of GARDENED ('in a storm').
14 It may be fatal to play this when Russian (8)
ROULETTE - well, obviously. As in the Deer Hunter. Except that was Vietnam.
16 Am not able to get girl into bed (6)
CANNOT - ANN (girl) 'getting into' COT (bed).
17 Embrace easy task, accepting pounds (6)
CLINCH - CINCH (easy task) 'acepting' L (pounds, as in lsd (pounds, shillings and pence)).
19 Seafood, and a sort of apple (4)
CRAB - double definition.
20 Raise male bird (4)
COCK - double definition.