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QC 1435 by Teazel
Astarte1
astartedon

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.

QC 1425 by Oink
Astarte1
astartedon

Can't remember if I've blogged an Oink before. I think I might have done one, but I certainly haven't done many. I found this very entertaining, if a little on the easy side with several obvious anagrams, double definitions and cryptic definitions, but I loved the sense of humour. And having been a 'BEGGER' (or BEGGAR?) as referred to in 14A in a previous life I am awarding that my COD for the pleasing cryptic definition. So thank you, Oink, hope to meet you again soon.

FOI was the obvious anagram at 1A. LOI I can't rightly remember but I think it may have been 4D, which was one of those clues where the answer always felt as though it was but a synapse connection away from resolution but unfortunately the vital link wasn't made until the end.

I am finding it difficult to record realistic times at the moment as I spend a lot of time actually reading the clues. I think my reading eyesight (bad at the best of times) is undergoing one of those middle-age changes that periodically necessitate a visit to my optician. It was about 10 minutes but I'm sure it could have been a lot quicker had my eyes not kept going in and out of focus.

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

Across
1 Play around and perversely earn DPhil (9)
PHILANDER - straight anagram ('perversely') of EARN DPHIL.
6 Could only odd characters chew this? (3)
CUD - the odd characters of CoUlD.
8 Son joins in attacks (7)
SALLIES - S (son) + ALLIES (joins in).
9 Top-class puzzle. Wow! (5)
AMAZE - A (top class) + MAZE (puzzle). To wow is a verb these days and not just an exclamation. (Another usage that I had forgotten about until now was in the phrase 'wow and flutter' in the assessment of the performance of record turntables back in the day. Nothing to do with the clue, I just remembered it as a concept I used to think about occasionally that I now haven't thought about for decades. Just thought I'd mention it as a disappearing usage and wave goodbye.)
10 With time to spare, a little like a nobleman? (5)
EARLY - whimsical definition. If you were EARL-Y, might you be said to be a bit like an EARL?
12 Medici cleverness concealing evidence of freeze (6)
ICICLE - hidden word ('concealing'): MedICI CLEverness.
14 Communication from solicitor? (7,6)
BEGGING LETTER - cryptic definition, a solicitor being one who solicits, or begs.
16 At around one, cooked pie in Asian capital (6)
TAIPEI - TA (at 'around') + I (one) + PEI (anagram of PIE ('cooked')).
17 At last expectant ambassador gets thank you letter from Greece (5)
THETA - T (expectanT 'at last') + HE (His or Her Excellency, the usual formal title of the ambassador to Crosswordland) + TA (thank you). THETA is the eighth letter of the Greek alphabet. (Actually I just corrected a felicitous misprint on reading this through which has given me a new neame for Crosswordland: Crossworld. Maybe I'll start using that and trying it on for size.)
19 Australian unit making gas (5)
OZONE - OZ (Australian) + ONE (unit). The definition is GAS. I only mention that because the underlining is a bit difficultto see, but then again maybe only to my eyesight (see above).
20 Rubbish place to clean a pig? (7)
HOGWASH - whimsical definition. You clean a car in a carwash, so why not a hog in a HOGWASH?
22 Woman knocking back some chartreuse (3)
SUE - hidden word ('some') backwards ('knocking back'): chartrEUSe.
23 Team unhappy about LA dish (4,5)
SIDE SALAD - SIDE (team) + SAD (unhappy) 'about' LA.
Down
1 Observer employing a Serb spy (6-2)
PASSER-BY - straight anagram ('employing') A SERB SPY.
2 Jack leaves Jill out of sorts (3)
ILL - JILL minus J (Jack) leaves ILL.
3 Friendship? A girl must embrace it (5)
AMITY - AMY (a girl) 'embracing' IT.
4 Determined to be famous (13)
DISTINGUISHED - double definition.
5 Effect of ale is … er … getting drunk! (7)
REALISE - straight anagram ('getting drunk') of ALE IS ER. Perhaps a difficult definition for anybody who has ever struggled with the different uses of AFFECT and EFFECT. One use of the word EFFECT is 'to bring about' or 'realise' as in "the new head effected many changes in the school curriculum".
6 A pudding for Miss Bronte? (9)
CHARLOTTE - double definition, the Misses Bronte being Emily, Anne and CHARLOTTE.
7 It’s a noble act, whichever way you look at it (4)
DEED - read backwards or forwards, it is still a DEED.
11 Restore large Miro? That’ll be a lengthy process (9)
RIGMAROLE - straight anagram ('restore') of LARGE MIRO.
13 Came to after Papa gave sermon (8)
PREACHED - P (phonetic alphabet Papa) + REACHED (came to).
15 Grab mischievous child on ship (7)
IMPRESS - IMP (mischievous child) + RE (on) + SS (ship). If you are a bit stumped by the definition here we are talking 'grab' in the sense of 'grab one's attention'.
17 Turn gun on American banker in Portugal (5)
TAGUS - Richard Jordan Gatling was the American inventor of the Gatling gun. I am not a firearms expert but I think it is the type you see in old gangster movies where there is a circular magazine that feeds bullets into the barrel, so to my mind that seems like an early form of machine gun or 'automatic'. I'll now put my head back below the parapet while all the people who know about such things pelt me with comments on my ignorance. But back to the clue. Gatling is often abbreviated to GAT. So 'turn' that and you have TAG. Add on US (American) and you have TAGUS, a river in Portugal. The next thing you have to know is that in Crossworld (see above) rivers are often cryptically called 'BANKERS' (because they have banks), and for that matter also 'FLOWERS' (because they flow). Obviously this is second nature to people who regularly do the 15 x15 but at the level of just starting out on your cryptic crossword journey you may be wondering what's going on.
18 What cow does in periods of depression? (4)
LOWS - double definition.
21 The whole of the room, except Henry (3)
ALL - a HALL is a room, remove H (Henry, either in the sense of the abbreviation of a king's name or as the standard abbreviation of the SI unit of inductance in Physics) and you have ALL.

QC 1415 by Teazel
Astarte1
astartedon

No time to stop and say anything today. I'm afraid I totally forgot I was on duty and am doing this in a complete rush before having to deal with the rest of life. Many thanks to Teazel for a puzzle which I am sure would have been enjoyable had I had but world enough and time.

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

Across
1 Part of book that may come out in the theatre (8)
APPENDIX - double definition. The theatre in question obviously being an operating one.
5 Shortly announce a piece of data (4)
STAT - STATe ('shortly' announce).
9 Stiff outfit I had (5)
RIGID - RIG (outfit) + ID (I'D = I HAD).
10 Wildly annoyed — relieving drug found (7)
ANODYNE - straight anagram ('wildly') of ANNOYED.
11 Dog old police force rejected (3)
CUR - RUC (Royal Ulster Constabularly) 'rejected'.
12 Magazine I’m not involved in? (9)
SPECTATOR - if I am a spectator then I am not involved.
13 Signify assent, given sweet dessert? Negative reply (2,4)
NO DICE - NOD (signify assent) + ICE (sweet dessert).
15 Tucking hard into alcohol, daughter complained peevishly (6)
WHINED - WINE (alcohol) with H (hard) 'tucked in' + D (daughter).
17 Injured Cuban, lame, collected in this? (9)
AMBULANCE - straight anagram ('injured') of CUBAN LAME.
19 Joker, one accompanying a footballer (3)
WAG - a footballer is often escorted by one of the pack of Wives And Girlfriends.
20 Shows off extremely faithful relatives (7)
FLAUNTS - FL ('extremely' FaithfuL) + AUNTS (relatives).
21 Entitlement, OK? (5)
RIGHT - double definition.
22 Cover over swimming pool (4)
LIDO - LID (cover) + O (over).
23 In old heaps, wild flower (8)
ASPHODEL - straight anagram ('wild') of OLD HEAPS.
Down
1 Perhaps Egyptian’s day in a prison (7)
AFRICAN - FRIday in A CAN (prison)
2 Publicity about period radio device (5)
PAGER - PR (publicity) 'about' AGE (period).
3 Holiday camp that is barely visited (6,6)
NUDIST COLONY - cryptic definition.
4 I count as angry (5)
IRATE - I + RATE (count).
6 Take liberty to see if dress fits (3,2,2)
TRY IT ON - double definition.
7 Those people’s time with the next in line (5)
THEIR - T (time) + HEIR (next in line).
8 Assess price of electrical connection to be very expensive (4,3,5)
COST THE EARTH - cryptic definition - COST (assess price of) + THE EARTH (electrical connection).
14 Expert wrong to pick up cards (3,4)
DAB HAND - BAD (wrong) backwards ('to pick up' in this down clue) + HAND (cards).
16 Glad it can be twisted round one of the fingers (7)
DIGITAL - anagram of GLAD IT ('twisted') 'round' I (one).
17 Permitted to remove top, very bad (5)
AWFUL - remove the 'top' (i.e. the first letter in this down clue) of lAWFUL (permitted).
18 Are they found in top of tree in loch? (5)
NESTS - semi &lit.: T (top of Tree) in NESS (loch).
19 Carried on having weekly-paid job (5)
WAGED - double definition.

QC 1405 by Izetti
Astarte1
astartedon

No idea about time, done in the middle of other tasks and interruptions, but it felt like medium difficulty to me.

FOI 5A. LOI 10D and I think that must also be my COD.

Nothing showing on the NATRAF.

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

Sorry, got to dash, life beckons with its crooked little finger.

Across
1 Holiday-maker? Person getting half cut by river (6)
CAMPER - CAM (river) + PER (PERson 'half cut').
5 Work involving paintings maybe to some extent (6)
PARTLY - PLY (work) 'involving' ART (paintings).
8 Statements as discharged nun meets canon (13)
ANNOUNCEMENTS - straight anagram ('discharged') of NUN MEETS CANON.
9 What sounds like terrible person working with colours (4)
DYER - homophone of DIRE (terrible).
10 Composer taking part after comeback — fellow yet to meet his match? (8)
BACHELOR - BACH (composer) + ELOR (ROLE backwards, i.e. part 'after comeback')
11 Trick by Greek character providing sea food (6)
SCAMPI - SCAM (trick) + PI (Greek character).
13 Mean to have nurse at back of home (6)
INTEND - TEND (nurse) 'at back of' IN (home).
15 Splash when soup initially meets dish (8)
SPLATTER - S (Soup 'initially') + PLATTER (dish).
17 Some crushed in stampede (4)
RUSH - hidden word: cRUSHed.
19 Kitchen ingredient we'd cooked in novel pud — carrots (7,6)
CUSTARD POWDER - straight anagram of WE'D ('cooked') in another anagram ('novel') of PUD CARROTS.
21 Get angry as one of the top players, without hesitation (3,3)
SEE RED - SEED (top player, as at Wimbledon) 'without', i.e. 'outside' ER (hesitation).
22 Good attempt to incorporate a new framework (6)
GANTRY - G + TRY (good attempt) 'incorporating' A + N (a new).
Down
2 A togetherness comes with the departure of one relation (5)
AUNTY - A + UNTY (UNiTY (togetherness) with the departure of I (one)).
3 Set of instructions for scientific unit (7)
PROGRAM - PRO (for) + GRAM (scientific unit).
4 Possibly an extra sequence (3)
RUN - in cricket, a run that is scored other than by the batsman hitting the ball with his bat, is called an 'extra'. Please adapt gender of relevant noun and pronoun to suit your taste.
5 More inclined to moralise, having power and influence? That is right (9)
PREACHIER - P (power) + REACH (influence) + IE (that is) + R (right).
6 Old magistrate about to meet woman in garden (5)
REEVE - RE (about) + EVE (woman in garden (of Eden)).
7 Disappointment in the French community — about 500 (3-4)
LET-DOWN - LE (French definite article) + TOWN (community) 'about' D (Roman numeral for 500).
10 Like one with skin problems needing surgeon in hospital unit (9)
BLISTERED - LISTER (Joseph Lister, surgeon who pioneered the use of antisepctics) 'in' BED (hospital unit).
12 Catch a cold, turning up, then erupt furiously (7)
CAPTURE - AC (A + Cold) reversed (i.e. 'turning up' in this down clue) = CA. Then add on PTURE,  anagram of ERUPT ('furiously').
14 Action in football match to add as extra feature (5-2)
THROW-IN - if you add something as an extra feature you might 'throw it in'.
16 Feature of church to change, we hear (5)
ALTAR - sounds like ALTER (to change).
18 Some problems — we argue and use bad language (5)
SWEAR - hidden word: problemS WE ARgue.
20 Margaret turning up in strange petticoat (3)
PEG - hidden word reversed (i.e. 'turning up' in this down clue): stranGE Petticoat. Peg or Peggy is a comon diminutive for Margaret.

QC 1395 by Teazel
Astarte1
astartedon

Well having had my first PB for a long time two weeks ago I now have another one that has taken me under the 6-minute mark. So many thanks to Teazel for giving me that milestone (and it is most appropriate as I believe my first ever blog puzzle was a Teazel). I think that after being a natural paper solver these many years I have now managed to get used to how the online version deals with overwriting of letters so that I don't waste so much time re-entering stuff. Onwards and upwards from here I hope!

FOI was 1A as God intended. After that most of the rest of the across clues went in pretty easily although not all on the first pass, but then practically everything went in in the down department so that when I came through again it was all ptretty straightforward. LOI was, I think, 12A. No particular clue really stands out for difficulty so I'll give my COD to the neatest surface which I judge to be 5D.

Not so much as a twitch on the NATRAF.

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

Across
1 Throne for baby? (4,5)
HIGH CHAIR - cryptic definition.
6 Something lacking in a student’s year (3)
GAP - double definition.
8 Within radius, one has exclusive knowledge (7)
INSIDER - INSIDE (within) + R (radius).
9 Miss capturing rook — feeble! (5)
FRAIL - FAIL (miss) 'capturing' R (rook, as in the chess piece).
10 City casino — francs wasted (3,9)
SAN FRANCISCO - straight anagram ('wasted') of CASINO FRANCS.
12 Complain aloud, getting cut (4)
MOWN - homophone ('aloud') of MOAN (complaint).
13 Fearsome type making some progress (4)
OGRE - hidden word ('some'): prOGREss.
17 But older women can also take this trip (6,6)
MAIDEN VOYAGE - cryptic definition.
20 Not demanding illumination (5)
LIGHT - double definition.
21 Repel it, horrible snake? (7)
REPTILE - straight anagram ('horrible') of REPEL IT. Question mark included in the definition as other forms of reptile are available.
23 On the wagon, consuming zero alcoholic drink (3)
TOT - TT (teetotaller, i.e. on the wagon) 'consuming' O (zero).
24 Paraded, like some foods? (9)
PROCESSED - double definition.
Down
1 Song is heard: one may succeed (4)
HEIR - homophone of AIR (song). An HEIR succeeds to an estate.
2 Special postage for secret police (7)
GESTAPO - straight anagram ('special') of POSTAGE.
3 Fish not paid for till it arrives (3)
COD - double definition (COD = Cash On Delivery).
4 A minor thoroughfare, not in the UK (6)
ABROAD - A + B ROAD (minor thoroughfare).
5 Beef regularly served in clergy-house dining room (9)
REFECTORY - EF (bEeF 'regularly') 'served in' RECTORY (clergy-house).
6 Informer that may be regularly 12? (5)
GRASS - something that may regularly be MOWN (cross refer to 12 across above as there is no 12 down).
7 Cheek raised on soft cushion (6)
PILLOW - LIP ('cheek') reversed (i.e. 'raised' in this down clue) 'on' (again in this down clue) LOW (soft, as in a low whisper or voice)
11 Such delicate control: grip net if loose (9)
FINGERTIP - straight anagram ('loose') of GRIP NET IF.
14 Recovers, for example, in the wet season (7)
REGAINS - EG (for example) 'in' RAINS (wet season).
15 A drug-smuggler on time? This may be lucky (6)
AMULET - A + MULE (drug smuggler) 'on' T (time) in this down clue.
16 Exaggerate what lover doubtfully admits (6)
OVERDO - hidden word ('admits'): lOVER DOubtfully.
18 At home, received what may be gold (5)
INGOT - IN (home) + GOT (received).
19 Drop article into cot (4)
BEAD - A (indefinite article) 'into' BED (cot).
22 Exercise, having eaten one baked dish (3)
PIE - PE (exercise) having 'eaten' I (one).

QC 1385 by Hurley
Astarte1
astartedon

OK, this was officially the most straightforward crossword I have ever had to blog. I am claiming a PB for it at around the 6.30 mark even though I took ages over my LOI which was 5D. I could see that the answer was obviously MEDIATOR. I could see that it was obviously an anagram with 'mad' as the anagrind. But I was mystified by the anagrist which appeared to me to be NOT MADE. This was because I was doing the puzzle on a smaller than usual screen with my awful reading eyesight as corrected by a bad pair of pound shop reading glasses which made 'ri' appear as 'n' to me. As soon as I looked at it on my normal Mac screen with my normal glasses all became clear.

So many thanks to Hurley for providing me with my latest benchmark for future progress.

FOI was 7A as you would expect. COD is difficult to choose as there were no clues that really stood out from the others but I probably liked 2D the best.

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

Across
7 Performers etc involved in Old Testament (5)
OCTET - anagram of ETC = CTE ('involved') 'in' OT (Old Testament).
8 Demanding individual, Proust — peripheral sections cut (7)
ONEROUS - ONE (individual) + ROUS (pROUSt with the 'peripheral sections' cut).
10 He criticizes prison? (7)
SLAMMER - double definition. I've included the question mark which signifies that the second definition is 'unexpected', but in this case merely because it is a slang definition rather than cryptic.
11 Victor initially ignored private (5)
INNER - wINNER 'initially ignored'.
12 Was late up — pet lovers wild (9)
OVERSLEPT - straight anagram ('wild') of PET LOVERS.
14 Drink is brought round — pub’s Number One (3)
SIP - SI (is 'brought round') + P (Pub's 'Number One').
15 Evasive firm, untrustworthy ultimately (3)
COY - CO (company, often used to denote 'firm' in crossword land, where the legal distinction between a partnership and a company is less distinct than in the real world) + Y (untrustworthY 'ultimately').
16 A “wart” clue, poor, getting shrill response? (9)
CATERWAUL - straight anagram ('poor') of A WART CLUE.
18 Material from centres, industrial (5)
RESIN - hidden word: centRES INdustrial.
20 Bill left French water scene (7)
TABLEAU - TAB (bill) = L (left) + EAU (French for water)
22 Seeing that Religious Education’s genuine (7)
SINCERE - SINCE (seeing that) + RE (Religious Education).
23 Referring to girl, fit for king (5)
REGAL - RE (referring to) + GAL (girl).
Down
1 Collection featuring suits — it may not last long! (5,2,5)
HOUSE OF CARDS - a pack of cards may be seen as a collection of suits.
2 Get overthrown in maverick plan (8)
STRATEGY - TEG (GET 'overthrown') 'in' STRAY (maverick).
3 Art form oddly seen as something minute (4)
ATOM - odd letters of ArT fOrM.
4 Notice about Old Irish evening gathering (6)
SOIREE - SEE (notice) 'about' O (old) + IR (Irish).
5 One seeking agreement riot made mad (8)
MEDIATOR - straight anagram ('mad') of RIOT MADE.
6 Good — have dress for formal wear (4)
GOWN - G (good) + OWN (have).
9 Cull spurs you to change, taking great care (12)
SCRUPULOUSLY - straight anagram ('to change') of CULL SPURS YOU.
13 One supporting monarch after short time (8)
SECONDER - ER (monarch) after SECOND (short time).
14 Search of Southern grotto initially not good enough (8)
SCAVENGE - S (southern) + CAVE (grotto) + NGE (initials of Not Good Enough).
17 Measure of spirits and half of bitter — walk unsteadily? (6)
TOTTER - TOT (meaure of spirits) = TER (half of bitTER).
19 Smooth, starts to sing awfully, needling daughter (4)
SAND - initials letters ('starts to') Sing Awfully Needling Daughter.
21 Insult lawyers and bishop (4)
BARB - BAR (collective name for barristers) + B (bishop).

QC 1375 by Teazel
Astarte1
astartedon

Average difficulty for me. Would have probably been about the 8-minute mark had I not got held up slightly by 14A (see below) which was my LOI.

FOI was 9A and COD goes to 5D. Not the most elegant of surfaces perhaps, but a pleasing clue overall particularly for me with the flashback to my Law of Conservation of Matter-defying motorcyclist (see below again). Many thanks to Teazel for an enjoyable 10-minute tussle.

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

Across
1 Allocates such dreadful tee-shirts and jeans (6,7)
CASUAL CLOTHES - straight anagram ('dreadful') of ALLOCATES SUCH.
8 Countryman sees game-bird losing height (7)
PEASANT - PhEASANT (game bird) 'losing' H (height).
9 Skin lotion not rejected by monarch (5)
TONER - TON (NOT reversed, i.e. 'rejected') + ER (monarch).
10 It’s easy to be a little angel? (1,5,2,4)
A PIECE OF CAKE - if the sort of cake you have is an ANGEL cake, then 'a little angel' could be a a cryptic definition for a piece of it.
12 A bad mark for this sort of clue (6)
ACROSS - A + CROSS (bad mark).
14 Strode round rural area (6)
DORSET - straight anagram ('round') of STRODE. I am not entirley convinced of 'round' as a sufficient anagrind I have to say although I think I have probably seen it before. Certainly OK as an indicator for reversal or inclusion, but that is not what we have here. Then again if you look at STRODE in isolation it pretty much jumps out at you as an anagram of DORSET, so maybe the seasoned solver won't mind too much. Besides, I suppose if I just swallow my objection and quietly add it to my vocabulary of anagrinds, then the next time it comes up it'll just be a 10A.
17 Wild flower grew up beside pet (3,4)
DOG ROSE - ROSE (grew up) beside DOG (pet).
19 Animal runs into pipe (5)
HORSE - R (runs) 'into' HOSE (pipe).
20 Jump over tomb (5)
VAULT - double definition.
21 Perfect French dessert (7)
PARFAIT - PARFAIT is French for perfect.
22 Fat person’s pudding (4-4)
ROLY-POLY - double definition. One of my favourite puddings at school (served with warm syrup!).
23 Instrument once used in daily recital (4)
LYRE - hidden word: daiLY REcital.
Down
1 Headgear on back of the head (4)
CAPE - CAP (headgear) 'on' (in this down clue) E (back of thE). HEAD in the sense of a headland, as in 'Cape of Good Hope'.
2 A fish that’s biting (7)
SNAPPER - fairly obvious?
3 “A day, long time” — proverb (5)
ADAGE - A + D (day) + AGE (long time).
4 Ship’s tailor? (6)
CUTTER - a tailor does quite a lot of cutting.
5 Suddenly and unexpectedly lacking a couple of presents (3,2,7)
OUT OF NOWHERE - OUT OF (lacking) + NOW + HERE (a couple of presents - as in Fatboy Slim's "Right Here, Right Now!"). Reminds me of those humorous extracts the insurance industry releases from time to time from statements made to them following accidents. I heard one once where a driver showed a touching faith in the possibility of spontaneous incarnation by claiming "The motorcyclist came out of nowhere...".
6 Dye Anne Hathaway originally used up (5)
HENNA - ANNE + H (Hathaway 'originally' used) reversed (i.e. 'up' in this down clue).
7 Dramatic work by pavement artists? (6,7)
STREET THEATRE - cryptic definition.
11 Worker completed transfer (4,4)
HAND OVER - HAND (worker) + OVER (completed).
13 Grow rapidly, and drive ram away (5,2)
SHOOT UP - SHOO (drive away) + TUP (ram).
15 Such bacon uneven in quality? (7)
STREAKY - double definition.
16 A friend? Only on paper (3,3)
PEN PAL - cryptic definition.
18 Good rule to mix up thin porridge (5)
GRUEL - straight anagram ('to mix up') of G (good) + RULE.

QC 1375 by Teazel
Astarte1
astartedon

Add your introduction here

Definitions underlined in italics, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, {} deletions and [] other indicators.

Across
1 Allocates such dreadful tee-shirts and jeans (6,7)
CASUAL CLOTHES - straight anagram ('dreadful') of ALLOCATES SUCH.
8 Countryman sees game-bird losing height (7)
PEASANT - PhEASANT (game bird) 'losing' H (height).
9 Skin lotion not rejected by monarch (5)
TONER - TON (NOT reversed, i.e. 'rejected') + ER (monarch).
10 It’s easy to be a little angel? (1,5,2,4)
A PIECE OF CAKE - if the sort of cake you have is an ANGEL cake, then 'a little angel' could be a a cryptic definition for a piece of it.
12 A bad mark for this sort of clue (6)
ACROSS - A + CROSS (bad mark).
14 Strode round rural area (6)
DORSET - straight anagram ('round') of STRODE. I am not entirley convinced of 'round' as a sufficient anagrind I have to say. Certainly OK as an indicator for reversal, but that is not what we have here.
17 Wild flower grew up beside pet (3,4)
DOG ROSE - ROSE (grew up) beside DOG (pet).
19 Animal runs into pipe (5)
HORSE - R (runs) 'into' HOSE (pipe).
20 Jump over tomb (5)
VAULT - double definition.
21 Perfect French dessert (7)
PARFAIT - PARFAIT is French for perfect.
22 Fat person’s pudding (4-4)
ROLY-POLY - double definition. One of my favourite puddings at school (served with warm syrup!).
23 Instrument once used in daily recital (4)
LYRE - hidden word: daiLY REcital.
Down
1 Headgear on back of the head (4)
CAPE - CAP (headgear) 'on' (in this down clue) E (back of thE). HEAD in the sense of a headland, as in 'Cape of Good Hope'.
2 A fish that’s biting (7)
SNAPPER - fairly obvious?
3 “A day, long time” — proverb (5)
ADAGE - A + D (day) + AGE (long time).
4 Ship’s tailor? (6)
CUTTER - a tailor does quite a lot of cutting.
5 Suddenly and unexpectedly lacking a couple of presents (3,2,7)
OUT OF NOWHERE - OUT OF (lacking) + NOW + HERE (a couple of presents - as in Fatboy Slim's "Right Here, Right Now!").
6 Dye Anne Hathaway originally used up (5)
HENNA - ANNE + H (Hathaway 'originally' used) reversed (i.e. 'up' in this down clue).
7 Dramatic work by pavement artists? (6,7)
STREET THEATRE - cryptic definition.
11 Worker completed transfer (4,4)
HAND OVER - HAND (worker) + OVER (completed).
13 Grow rapidly, and drive ram away (5,2)
SHOOT UP - SHOO (drive away) + TUP (ram).
15 Such bacon uneven in quality? (7)
STREAKY - double definition.
16 A friend? Only on paper (3,3)
PEN PAL - cryptic definition.
18 Good rule to mix up thin porridge (5)
GRUEL - straight anagram ('to mix up') of G (good) + RULE.

QC 1355 by Tracy
Astarte1
astartedon

No problems this week, everything slipped in nice and easily just under the 10-minute mark and when I pressed the button all was present and correct.

FOI was 1A, LOI was 5D. COD could have been 5D too as I thought it was a fairly neat clue, but I felt that 11A and 7D were slightly neater. Very difficult to choose between those two as both surfaces are very natural but 7D has slightly more moving parts so I'll go for that one. Thanks Tracy for an entertaining and enojoyable cup of tea.

A slightly cultural theme this week perhaps, with literature extending from the nursery to the A-level Eng. Lit. syllabus with Aldous Huxley and, by quotational reference, to Shakespeare's Tempest, nodding to Joe Orton and Dvorak along the way. Not enough to cause anything more than a brief twitch on the NATRAF needle though.

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

Across
1 Grey flatfish crossing river (4)
DRAB - DAB (flatfish) 'crossing' R (river.
4 Kind female by a church font (8)
TYPEFACE - TYPE (kind) + F (female) + A CH (a church)
8 American manoeuvres kept secret (2,6)
IN CAMERA - straight anagram of American ('manoeuvres').
9 Reportedly follow story (4)
TALE - sounds like ('reportedly') TAIL (follow).
10 Key member, close (6)
LEGEND - LEG (member) + END (close).
11 Quick pint after concert (6)
PROMPT - PT (pint) after PROM (concert).
12 Put off M1 before race, leading to conviction (13)
DETERMINATION - DETER (put off) + MI (M1) + NATION (race).
16 One pointing out group one disapproves of? (6)
SHOWER - double definition. SHOWER as in someone who shows + SHOWER as in "You don't want to hang out with that shower.".
17 Sacked from Orton play (Joe's last), departs (6)
LOOTED - LOOT (a play by Joe Orton) + E (JoE's last) + D (departs).
19 Mark in second vehicle (4)
SCAR - S (second) + CAR (vehicle).
20 Animal: one leapt out (8)
ANTELOPE - straight anagram ('out') of ONE LEAPT.
21 Good boys protecting kid in best clothes (4,4)
GLAD RAGS - G (good) + LADS (boys) 'protecting' RAG (kid).
22 Part of conditional release the old man ignored (4)
ROLE - PAROLE (conditional release) 'ignoring' PA (old man).
Down
2 Compass showing north during storm (5)
RANGE - N (north) 'during' RAGE (storm).
3 Novel and courageous symphony? (5,3,5)
BRAVE NEW WORLD - BRAVE (courageous) + NEW WORLD (symphony (by Anton Dvorak)).
4 Time to remove unwanted plants in river (5)
TWEED - T (time) + WEED (remove unwanted plants).
5 Drama writer in junior enclosure (7)
PLAYPEN - PLAY (drama) + PEN (writer).
6 Fictional railway boss's diet, perhaps? (3,10)
FAT CONTROLLER - whimsical cryptic definition. The FAT CONTROLLER was the guy who ran the railways in the Thomas the Tank Engine books, and this could also be read as a cryptic definition for a diet.
7 Combo's leader plays new love song (7)
CALYPSO - C (Combo's leader) + ALYPS (anagram ('new') of PLAYS) + O (love).
10 Young man may get praise skipping university (3)
LAD - LAUD (praise) 'skipping' U (university).
13 Decent chalet, I suspect (7)
ETHICAL - straight anagram ('suspect') of CHALET I.
14 Unfortunately butter possibly going up, and dessert wine (7)
MARSALA - read this backwards (i.e. 'going up' in this down clue) and you have ALAS (unfortunately) + RAM (a 'butter').
15 Fellow brought over gives slight bow (3)
NOD - DON (fellow) reversed ('brought over').
17 American after fortune for plant (5)
LOTUS - US (American) 'after' LOT (fortune).
18 Get rid of former PM, half-heartedly (5)
EXPEL - EX (former) + PEL (PeEL, a Prime Minister 'half-heartedly').

QC 1345 by Hurley
Astarte1
astartedon

Many thanks to Hurley for this puzzle which was promising to be a personal best for me (allowing for the fact that I was doing it from a bed in a hotel near Terminal 5 while away on a conference a few minutes after waking up with my wife pestering me to make a cup of tea), but which ended up with my pressing 'submit' and receiving the message "Unlucky, it's not quite right yet".

I have been through my solution several times now and scratched my head so hard that I am surprised I haven't caused a brain haemorrhage. I cannot for the life of me see what is wrong with it. I checked and double-checked for my usual butterfingered typos arising from my unfamiliarity with the way letters get entered in the online grid and for once there were none. Eventually in desperation I reset the grid and entered the whole thing over again but to no avail. I can only assume that I have fundamentally misunderstood one of the clues and got it horribly wrong.

Unfortunately though I do not have much time to investigate further as I have to write this quickly in order to go and join the rest of the conference attenders (not attendees: please see previous discussion on this blog). So I am just going to have to leave my answer out there in its imperfect state and hope that when I return verlaine or some other Olympian (or even some anonymous occasional solver) will have stooped to correct my error.

As I say, before pressing 'submit' everything was going swimmingly. FOI was 7A just as it should be. LOI was 5D, which is my most likely candidate for my error. My misgivings come from the fact that 'life' for 'source of vitality' is perhaps too tautological (although I think well within the usual parameters for an acceptable clue) but it is the only way that I can see that it works. The alternative might be to have 'V' cryptically as the 'source of vitality', but then I would need a 3-letter word meaning 'quite' to make things work. And one that fits with the 'I' checker into the bargain to make sense of everything in the end. And then, of course, the definition seems right, with a 'TRUE-LIFE' drama being one that is 'quite realistic'.

In my current state of incomplete knowledge and limited time I am loth to choose a COD but I will go for the double definition at 22D just because of the picture it paints in my mind.

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

Across
7 Organised go at base wrecking? (8)
SABOTAGE - straight anagram ('organised') of GO AT BASE.
8 Australian jumper, male, finds space (4)
ROOM - ROO (kangaroo, Australian 'jumper') + M (male).
9 House fruit (6)
ORANGE - double definition (house as in William of Orange).
10 Long-serving soldier’s wife in chair (5)
SWEAT - W (wife) 'in' SEAT (chair). SWEAT is a slang term for a soldier with a long service record.
11 Vote in favour, I heard (3)
AYE - sounds like 'I' (heard). AYE as in 'the AYEs have it'.
12 Wise person in a vehicle entering street (6)
SAVANT - A VAN (a vehicle) 'entering' ST (street).
14 In middle of morning, I’d emptied sachet (6)
AMIDST - AM (morning) + ID + ST (SacheT 'emptied').
16 By sound of it, vendor’s storage area for wines (6)
CELLAR - sounds like 'seller' (vendor).
18 First and third of colours always bright (6)
CLEVER - CL (first and third letters of CoLours) + EVER (always).
19 Bustling activity in meadow (3)
ADO - hidden word: meADOw.
20 Happen again in playground, initially unexpected result (5)
RECUR - REC (recreation ground) + UR (Unexpected Result 'initially').
21 King, Eastern, accommodated in requirement for outdated gun (6)
MUSKET - K (king) + E (eastern) 'accommodated in' MUST (requirement).
23 Ruin diet regularly getting measure of alcohol (4)
UNIT - rUiN dIeT 'regularly' gives UNIT, the language in which the nanny state attempts to get us to regulate our alcohol intake. (Incidentally, my son, who doesn't like alcohol but who likes a beer, buys an alcohol-free drink appropriately branded "Nanny State" which is made by Brewdog (alternative alcohol-free beers are available) which he says is quite palatable.)
24 Coins are switched? That might happen (8)
SCENARIO - striaght anagram ('switched') of COINS ARE.
Down
1 Market willing to identify legitimate target (4,4)
FAIR GAME - FAIR (market) + GAME (willing).
2 Old Boy turns up, referring to something useful (4)
BOON - OB (old boy, turns 'up' in this down clue) + ON (referring to).
3 Warning feline’s gobbling veal left out (6)
CAVEAT - CAT (feline) 'gobbling' VEA (VEAL minus L (i.e. 'left' out)).
4 When swimming, reads about English stretch of water (3,3)
RED SEA - anagram ('swimming') of READS 'about' E (English).
5 Time on French street source of vitality? Quite realistic (4-4)
TRUE-LIFE - T (time) 'on' (in this down clue) RUE (French street) + LIFE (source of vitality). Please see comments above however.
6 Move fast to get security feature (4)
BOLT - double definition.
13 Distribute tea, local, in new arrangement (8)
ALLOCATE - straight anagram ('in new arrangement') of TEA LOCAL.
15 Mischievous elves hid wicked lady? (3-5)
SHE-DEVIL - straight anagram ('mischievous') of ELVES HID.
17 Most unusual artist on break (6)
RAREST - RA (Royal Academician, i.e. a member of the Royal Academy of Arts, therefore 'artist') 'on' (in this down clue) REST (break).
18 Oblige Pimlico MP, electioneering, just a bit (6)
COMPEL - hidden word: PimliCO MP ELectioneering.
20 Call boxing arena (4)
RING - double definition.
22 Gaiter disagreement (4)
SPAT - double definition.