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QC 1235 by Breadman
Astarte1
astartedon

Still not fully back to doing quickies on a daily basis although I have done a few since my last blog. Perhaps this contributed to my completing this in about 9 minutes, as it 'felt' a bit more difficult than that. There were quite a few clues that I thought were tricky but luckily I seemed to be on the right wavelength for them. The result was that several clues that I think I would have normally been consciously piecing together became straight write-ins. Many thanks to Breadman as this gave me a very welcome Monday-morning sense of achievement (no doubt soon to evaporate when the comments start and I realise that everybody else found it easier than I did).

I think I have blogged a Breadman once before and in my ignorance on that occasion I speculated that it might have been his first contribution. Those who know all about these things corrected me though and I now know that he has been contributing for some years although very infrequently.

I think my FOI could have been 1A, but for some reason I started reading the clues at random today rather than starting at the beginning which is most unlike me. In the event I think it was 10A. LOI was, I believe, 15D. There were many clues to like so it is difficult to pick a COD, but I'm going to go for 12A simply because it gave me the greatest 'kick' when I solved it. I'm just such an adrenalin junkie, me.

Deploying my recently fitted NATRAF (Nina And Theme Radar And Filter) on the finished grid yielded... absolutely nothing. But at least I remembered to give it a go. Having said that, perhaps there is somebody out there with a more powerful model who will be able to turn something up. After all, they say that if you look hard enough you can find patterns in anything.

Definitions are underlined, and my thought processes in arriving at the answers are explained just as they occurred to me in the simplest language that I have at my command.

Across
1 Hide criminal Alec deviously (7)
CONCEAL - CON (criminal, as in CONvict) + anagram ('deviously') of ALEC = CEAL.
5 Unknown eight in German vessel on water (5)
YACHT - OK here we go back to school. First lesson: algebra. Unknown quantities in algebraic equations are generally x, y and z. Here we have Y. Second lesson: basic German (counting): eins, zwei, drei, vier, funf, sechs, sieben, ACHT!
8 Basic pool area — blokes converse endlessly (11)
FUNDAMENTAL - FUND (pool) + A (area) + MEN (blokes) + TAL (TALk = converse 'endlessly')
10 Whale heads for ocean reef, cruising around (4)
ORCA - first letters of (heads for) Ocean Reef Cruising Around.
11 Divided pears messily consumed (8)
SEPARATE - anagram of PEARS = SEPAR ('messily') + ATE (consumed).
12 Holiday entertainment reps, at first, comparatively pure (6)
WHITER - possibly a difficult one for the inexperienced. WHIT is short for WHITSUN or WHITSUNDAY, being the Anglican church holiday commemorating Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended upon Christ's disciples and they started speaking in tongues (glossolalia) and casting out demons and doing all sorts of other crazy things. Probably now mostly remembered in the public consciousness for Philip Larkin's poem (and collection of poems) The Whitsun Weddings. At the time Whitsun was seen as a particularly propitious time for weddings, and Larkin describes a train journey that he makes at Whitsun which coincides with some wedding parties. Apparently the actual train journey that Larkin visualises in his poem never took place, but his description is so vivid that for me this only magnifies my admiration for the man's art. If you haven't read it it is worth it: https://www.poetryarchive.org/poem/whitsun-weddings.  Oops, sorry, the rest of the clue: initial letters of Entertainment Reps ('at first') added on to WHIT gives WHITER.
14 Prize relating to hospital section (6)
REWARD - RE (relating to) + WARD (hospital section).
16 Perhaps rocker broadcast after March, strangely (8)
ARMCHAIR - anagram of MARCH = ARMCH ('strangely') + AIR (broadcast).
18 Edge inside church (4)
INCH - IN (inside) + CH (church).
20 I'm clearly circling island in a fretful manner (11)
IMPATIENTLY - IM (I'm) + PATENTLY (clearly) 'circling' I (island).
22 Problems in Bundestag growing (5)
AGGRO - hidden word: BundestAG GROwing.
23 Male spy, a reddish colour (7)
MAGENTA - M (male) + AGENT (spy) + A.
Down
2 Present topless chest (5)
OFFER - take the top off a COFFER (chest) in this down clue and there you have it.
3 Meeting politician with diplomacy (7)
CONTACT - CON (politician (CONservative)) + TACT (diplomacy).
4 It's a cooker, whichever way you look (3)
AGA - I don't need to explain that an AGA is a type of cooker do I? As in AGA SAGA? And that it is a very short palindrome?
6 Rising schedule restricts club player (5)
ACTOR - another clue that uses the up and down geometry of the down clue. ROTA (schedule) 'rising', and 'restricting' C (club, as in the card suit, particularly in Bridge).
7 Belt for tools, stupidly lost, grabbed by that lady (7)
HOLSTER - anagaram of LOST = OLST ('stupidly') 'grabbed by' HER (that lady).
9 Ruler backing representative in Italian city (7)
EMPEROR - REP (representative) in ROME (Italian city) all written backwards (backing).
11 Taverns manipulated menial person (7)
SERVANT - striaght anagram of TAVERNS ('manipulated').
13 Husband supplying weapons causing damage (7)
HARMING - H (husband) + ARMING (supplying weapons).
15 Pipe Len's half-finished after game of cards (7)
WHISTLE - WHIST (game of cards) + LE (LEN half finished, i.e. the end of LEN is EN, and only half of that is included).
17 Playfully dance and run below headland (5)
CAPER - again the geography of the down clue comes into play: R (run) 'below' CAPE (headland).
19 Loud call by priest emptied underground chapel (5)
CRYPT - CRY (loud call) by PT (PriesT 'emptied', i.e. without the middle letters).
21 Cheese knocking out female Greek character (3)
ETA - FETA (cheese) 'knocking out' F (female) gives the seventh letter of the Greek alphabet.

QC 1225 by Teazel
Astarte1
astartedon

I am still not following the quickie on a daily basis, so I don't know the current state of the debate on how difficult people are finding the puzzles at present. All I can say is that having gone through this without any problems I think we are back to a level at which the most inexperienced of solvers can dive in without any fear of sharks. Or even jellyfish.

Many thanks to Teazel for some very entertaining clues. As I say, I didn't find anything very difficult about them so my COD is chosen more on pleasing narrative surface than tricksiness. There were two or three contenders for the crown but in the end I went for the clever cryptic definition at 3D. FOI was 1A as expected in a puzzle of this level of difficulty, and LOI was, also appropriately, 17D simply because it was the last clue that I read, having completed all the others before getting to it.

Definitions are underlined, and everything else is explained just as I see it in the simplest language I have at my command.

Across
1 Jerkiest sort of water sportsman? (3,5)
JET SKIER - anagram ('sort of') of JERKIEST.
5 Musical work starting off piano, ultimately strident (4)
OPUS - initial letters ('starting') of Off Piano Ultimately Strident.
8 Accepting pound, deliver ointment (5)
SALVE - SAVE (deliver, as in "deliver us from evil") 'accepting' L (pound).
9 Spend a long time in corridor (7)
PASSAGE - PASS (spend) + AGE (a long time).
11 Minor go-cart crashing in speedy competition (5-6)
MOTOR-RACING - anagram ('crashing') of MINOR GO CART.
13 Kingdoms concerned with charity (6)
REALMS - RE (concerned with) + ALMS (charity).
14 Grail oddly found on mountain in area of Asia (6)
BENGAL - BEN (mountain, as in Ben Nevis) + the odd letters of GrAiL
16 Pulverised stump: is it level with the garden? (6,5)
GROUND FLOOR - what I call a one and two halves definition. GROUND (pulverised) + STUMP (floor, as in 'I was stumped/floored by that clue') gives the floor of a building that is level with the garden.
18 Deed you say was worrying? Get going (7)
ACTUATE - ACT (deed) + U (sounds like you, therefore 'you say') + ATE (was worrying, as in 'my inability to finish the crossword really ATE at me').
19 A devil or two (5)
DEUCE - double definition. DEUCE as in the two of a suit of cards, or the lowest possible score when rollling a pair of dice, and also as in the mild oath used when superstitiously afraid of calling the Devil by name, as in "where the DEUCE/DEVIL did he go to?". It is suggested that the usage came from the fact that two was the lowest score in both gaming instances above, and therefore represented bad luck which in turn was the work of the Devil. When researching the background for this comment I also found a suggestion that there was a connection between 'deuce' and 'deus' (Latin for 'god'). I found this very interesting but I must admit that the theological implications are beyond me.
20 Thanks, thanks, and goodbye (2-2)
TA-TA - do you really need an explanation?
21 Moving to fridge or bin (3,3,2)
GET RID OF - anagram ('moving') of TO FRIDGE.
Down
1 It’s only fair (4)
JUST - double definition.
2 Please confide: I’ve had that problem too (4,2,5,2)
TELL ME ABOUT IT - double definition again.
3 Inability to stop taking offence (11)
KLEPTOMANIA - cryptic definition. A 'taking offence' could be stealing. And an inability to stop stealing is KLEPTOMANIA.
4 Send abroad from old harbour (6)
EXPORT - EX (old) + PORT (harbour).
6 Enjoying golf, cheating on partner (7,6)
PLAYING AROUND - if you are enjoying golf, you might be PLAYING A ROUND, although as a player myself I might object that just PLAYING A ROUND is not necessarily synonymous with enjoyment! What was Mark Twain said? A good walk spoiled? (Well apparently he didn't actually say that and it's just one of those amazingly common misattributions. That's one of the things I love about crosswords. You're always picking up incidental snippets like that. Oh, and by the way, I would never make the objection above in reality, because I always do enjoy my round of golf, however badly I may play!).
7 Evil hypnotist’s son leaving to reform (8)
SVENGALI - S (son) + anagram of LEAVING ('to reform'). The original SVENGALI is a character in the novel Trilby by George du Maurier.
10 One carrying section of plough is part-owner of company (11)
SHAREHOLDER - a lovely mental image. Part of a plough is a SHARE (as in the book of Isaiah: "and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks"), so if you 'carry a section of a plough' you might be a SHAREHOLDER..
12 Expecting initially positive ruling (8)
PREGNANT - P (initial letter of Positive) + REGNANT (ruling).
15 Exhausted, using energy on fine charity event (6)
EFFETE - E (energy) + F (fine) + FETE (charity event).
17 Charge raised to support British meat (4)
BEEF - FEE written backwards (i.e. 'raised' in this down clue) 'supporting' B (British).

QC 1215 by Felix
Astarte1
astartedon

Well here I am blogging at you, not, as predicted in my last blog two weeks ago, from New York after a cruise down from Canada, but instead from the majestic streets of Hammersmith as per usual. A family illness sadly caused us to abort our holiday, so instead of soaking up North American culture for a couple of weeks I find myself collating receipts and medical reports to support an insurance claim, which I calculate should occupy a similar amount of my time. (Sorry, that's just me being grumpy. It'll probably only take me a day.)

Partly as a result of that, and partly just because it's been the way my crossword life has been going the last few weeks, I am writing this from a very limited viewpoint. If you have been reading my recent fortnightly posts you will realise that I have been doing the 15 x 15 as regularly as ever, but that I have only been looking at the quickie on my appointed blog days. And it so happens that on my last two blogs I have have encountered what you might call 'quickie stiffies' (stop sniggering there at the back.). I have written the blogs on these days thinking that dementia is setting in and that my mental faculties are rapidly deteriorating, only to find from the comments that everybody else has found them difficult too, and that I am in fact providing a more useful service than normal, with several people being genuinely grateful that I have been able to shine some light into their darkness (for which, of course, I am in my own turn grateful).

So once again, this is the first quickie I have done since my last blog two weeks ago, and I would say it is a return to normal standards. Medium difficulty, with no fewer than six pretty straightforward anagrams that I can count on a quick read-through and at least two fairly obvious double definitions, with two or three slightly more difficult clues to push me up to the 10-minute mark. Overall I found the clues pleasant and witty and I am grateful to Felix for taking me on a nostalgic tour of some of my youthful enthusiasms (such as T S Eliot and topology). Great fun.

And before signing off perhaps I could just give my personal comment on the 'stiffies' mentioned above. There were a lot of comments on the blog complaining that they were too hard for quickies, but personally I disagree. I found them genuinely enjoyable. I am sorry if they put some people off, but equally well I am sure that there were some people who are working up to the 15 x 15 who found them a very valuable stepping stone. You can't have a 'standard difficulty' every day for either the quickie or the 15 x 15, you can only have a range of difficulty with any single crossword falling either side of the mean. In terms of the 15 x 15, we tend to talk of 'Monday' and 'Friday' puzzles, and when we encounter a particularly elegant example we all stand back and applaud. I felt similarly with those last two quickie puzzles because they show how far you can go with that format (and to be honest I am sure that if the setters really tried they could go a lot further). There have been some people commenting on the blog asking if we can 'flag up' when there is an 'easy' 15 x 15 that the inexperienced population can have a go at. Such people could presumably also regard a 'difficult' 13 x 13 as a similar scale of challenge.

Inevitably, there will be easy and difficult 13 x 13s, and the same for 15 x 15s. Together they form a spectral ladder which the novice can aspire to climb until they reach a level at which they can look down and regard a successful daily 15 x 15 solve as a formality rather than an occasional cause for celebration.

It remains for me to say:

FOI 1A, as it should be. A nice welcoming anagram to kick off with.

LOI 14D (I think).

COD? I think I will go for 15A. An elegant mechanism that took me drifting gently down the Thames with my beloved Mr Eliot to finish up (as I see it) on Margate Sands. Even though this location is mentioned earlier in the poem and not specifically referred to in this final part it seems likely to me that this was his intended final destination.

Definitions are underlined and everything else is explained just as I see it in the simplest language I can lay my mental mitts on.

Across
1 Catamaran ordered to transport grand historic document (5,5)
MAGNA CARTA - anagram of CATAMARAN with G (grand) 'transported' (i.e. put inside).
8 Farm building containing old cut of beef (5)
BARON - BARN (farm building) 'containing' O (old) gives BARON (a double sirloin).
9 Girl’s tunic boy picked up by mistake (3,4)
GYM SLIP - GYM sounds like JIM, so if you heard someone saying GYM you might instead 'pick up' JIM. Put this 'by' SLIP (mistake) and there can be no mistake.
10 A French work put forward without being challenged (9)
UNOPPOSED - UN (French indefinite article) + OP (opus, work) + POSED (put forward).
12 Syrupy stuff, mostly wholesome (3)
GOO - GOO is 'mostly' GOOd (wholesome).
13 Small pieces of coal, loose (5)
SLACK - double definition.
15 The two letters often associated with Lowry’s estate (5)
LANDS - L(aurence) S(tephen) Lowry was the guy who painted the 'matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs', and is almost always referred to as 'L S' Lowry. Thus L AND S are the 'two letters often associated with Lowry'. Put them closer together and you have LANDS, a mostly archaic term for a person's estate, as in The Waste Land by T(homas) S(tearns) Eliot (coincidentally another guy who is most commonly referred to by his initials):

"I sat upon the shore
Fishing, with the arid plain behind me
Shall I at least set my lands in order?"
17 Rag and bone (3)
RIB - another double definition.
18 Remedy nun concocted in historic English meadow (9)
RUNNYMEDE - straight anagram of REMEDY NUN.
20 Kit out for short film recording (7)
PROVIDE - PRO (for) + VIDE ('short' VIDEo).
21 One hundred and fifty live in part of Ireland (5)
CLARE - CL (Roman 150) + ARE (if to be is to live, then in the second person YOU ARE can mean YOU LIVE). I suppose the meaning is most powerfully illustrated in the biblical quote where Yahweh proclaims his name by saying "Before Abraham was, I AM".
22 Look after sea eagles, small, being kind (10)
TENDERNESS - TEND (look after) + ERNES (sea eagles) + S (small).
Down
1 I miss pub: sort that’s put out special ribbons? (6,6)
MOBIUS STRIPS - straight anagram of I MISS PUB SORT gives these topological curiosities. A Mobius strip is a band which has only one surface. If you want some fun you can make one yourself by taking a strip of paper and putting a single twist into it before gluing it into a band. You can then draw a line from any starting point and follow all the way round the strip back to the starting point and realise that your line has passed through the whole surface of the strip thus demonstrating that the structure has only one surface. Then if you cut the strip down the middle, that is, along the line that you have just drawn, instead of ending up with two strips as you might expect, you get just one larger strip. Even more strangely (or maybe less strangely, depending on what sort of scale of strangeness you are using) if you then cut that resulting strip down the middle you do now end up with two strips, but they are linked together as in a paper decoration chain.
2 Actress filling sugar bowls and cigar boxes (5)
GARBO - hidden word: ciGAR BOxes.
3 Girl’s warning oddly ignored (3)
ANN - take wArNiNg and ignore the odd letters...
4 An uncannily grim, upsetting story, that’s initially impressive (6)
AUGUST - ... and now take all the initial letters (initially): An Uncannily Grim Upsetting Story That's.
5 Male deity unexpectedly requiring a pause in operation? (4-5)
TIME-DELAY - another straight anagram of MALE DEITY ('unexpectedly').
6 Keep signalling vessel (6)
FLAGON - if you keep signalling with a flag, you might be said to 'FLAG ON'.
7 Luther’s prose adapted for stuffy artisans? (12)
UPHOLSTERERS - straight anagram of LUTHER'S PROSE ('adapted').
11 Metal rod, old penny and diamonds for gambling game (5,4)
POKER DICE - POKER (metal rod) + D (denarius: an old penny as in pounds, shillings and pence (l. s. d.) in the days before the decimal scourge washed ashore) + ICE (diamonds). (NB no BREXIT opinion is being expressed here, just a simple nostalgic fondness for the eccentric old British monetary system).
14 England”: book penned by a famous author (6)
ALBION - B (book) 'penned by' A LION (a famous author). A lion in the modern sense can be any sort of celebrity but was much more likely to refer to an author back in the days when literature was king. Albion is a romantic name for old England (when everybody used to reckon in pounds, shillings and pence, see above).
16 Nude DA, wandering around like a zombie? (6)
UNDEAD - straight anagram of NUDE DA.
19 Dodge publicity, going in the night before (5)
EVADE - AD (publicity) 'going in' EVE (the night before, as in Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve).
21 Vehicle that’s about right (3)
CAR - CA (circa, about) + R (right).

QC 1205 by Joker
Astarte1
astartedon

Still suffering from my QC withdrawal symptoms (if indeed they exist and are not simply dimwittedness symptoms - see last blog from me), although I do believe that the QCs are getting harder. Nevertheless, that is how I like them, so many thanks to Joker, who produced at least three clues here that stumped me for longer than usual and contributed to another 12-minute time for me. Great fun.

1A set the tone. It was my FOI, but not in the usual way. It did not come immediately to me, but with the above thoughts spinning round my head I spent several extra seconds thinking it through and rejecting the more obvious sorts of 'tree'. What with my recent experience I was thinking "Surely a tree is just a tree - or is it? Ah yes, but how many different types of tree are there?".

And so it went on. Yes, of course, there were plenty of the usual QC write-ins, but a good number of others that made me stop and think longer than usual. Whether justifiably or not I will discover when you all add your own comments. 12A held me up a long time, and my LOI was 17D, although looking back I can't really see why it was that as it definitely seems easier in retrospect than some of the others. Difficult to choose a COD but I will go for 7D (even though this was one of the write-ins for me) because of the smooth surface and mechanism. 16A also deserves a mention for the same reasons although again I happened to be on the right wavelength for this.

The next time I do this I will be on holiday in Canada and the USA, so please expect nothing more from me than FOI, LOI, COD and a brief comment on ease or difficulty.

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

Across
1 Old chestnut caught by a lot of another tree (6)
CLICHE - C ('caught', as in the abbreviation for being 'out' by that method in Cricket) + LICHEe ('a lot of' another tree, viz LICHEE, the chinese tree from which cometh the fruit of the same name). These used to be a fairly inevitable dessert accompaniment to a Chinese meal back in the early 70s when they were exotic and new. Children and adolescents (as I was then) used to love them for their ghoulish resemblance in colour and presumed texture to human eyeballs. Interesting to see a step up in the obscurity of the type of tree that grows in QC crossword land, where we are more used to seeing ASHes, ELMs, YEWs and other more obvious (to home-grown eyeballs anyway) varieties.
4 A quick look outside hotel for dustbin in New York (6)
ASHCAN - A + SCAN (quick look) 'outside' H (hotel in most of the phonetic alphabets generally in use).
8 Old wine they do fancy with very fixed views (4-2-3-4)
DYED-IN-THE-WOOL - straight anagram ('fancy') of OLD WINE THEY DO.
10 Insinuate plainly where son has gone (5)
IMPLY - SIMPLY minus the S ('when son has gone').
11 Silver mesh installed in second generator (7)
MAGNETO - AG (silver, from the Periodic Table symbol Ag for argentum, meaning silver in Latin) + NET (mesh) 'in' MO (a second, as in "wait a mo(ment)").
12 Expensive retaining mine that’s very steep (11)
PRECIPITOUS - PRECIOUS 'retaining' PIT (mine).
16 Mean to assert seniority (7)
AVERAGE - AVER (assert) + AGE (seniority).
17 Certain about good rise (5)
SURGE - SURE (certain) 'about' G (good).
18 What’s immoral parking by local politician (4,9)
VICE PRESIDENT - VICE (something immoral) + P (parking) + RESIDENT (local).
19 Mounted equipment to limit noise (6)
RIDING - RIG (equipment) 'limiting' DIN (noise).
20 Cut sound made by detector (6)
CENSOR - homophone for SENSOR (detector).
Down
1 Taxi driver has change of heart as driver’s assistant? (6)
CADDIE - CABBIE (taxi driver) with his 'heart' (two central letters) changed gives CADDIE, cryptically an assistant to a 'driver', as a golfer hits many different types of shots, of which some are 'drives' (the first shots on the longer holes). Perhaps at this point I could quickly mention in passing the comment made on the ALBATROSS that appeared in the 15 x 15 the other day. I saw that the blogger, quite rightly in my view, queried the definition as being a 'shot' (as I remember it) and suggested rather that it was a series of shots. Well yes, that is normally how it is, because it is actually a score of 3 under the par for a hole. So the usual way of doing that (I say usual, but it is in fact an extremely rare occurrence, rarer in fact than a hole in one) is to finish a hole that is a par 5 in 2 shots. But another way of doing it would be to hit a hole in one on a par 4. And in that case the albatross would in fact be just a single shot.

While I am at it, perhaps I could blow the trumpet for my son (as he certainly would not do it for himself) who became a 'scratch' (0 handicap) golfer recently, and who hit an albatross once while playing with a friend and his brother and me. On the 565-yard par 5 17th at his local course he hit his drive what must have been about 320 yards, then stepped up and holed his 235-yard 3-wood second. As I said, that is rarer than a hole in one, and I was very privileged to have been there at the time as even just to witness an albatross is probably rarer than a hole in one!
2 Precede nine with XI in mix-up, being new to the job (13)
INEXPERIENCED - straight anagram again ('in mix-up') of PRECEDE NINE + XI.
3 Uncovered fire in dry grass is rather alarming (5)
HAIRY - IR ('uncovered' fIRe) 'in' HAY (dry grass).
5 Cunning dexterity of small and large rowing team (7)
SLEIGHT - S (small) + L (large) + EIGHT ('rowing team').
6 Shut parts of town as restricted area (5,8)
CLOSE QUARTERS - CLOSE (shut) + QUARTERS (parts of town, probably heard more on the continent such as in French quartieres. Apologies for my French spelling as the blog keyboard doesn't seem to know how to do a grave accent).
7 Hold one in high position in Westminster (6)
NELSON - cryptic definition. A NELSON (either HALF or FULL) is a 'hold' in wrestling. And of course there is a tall column somewhere in Westminster atop which stands a statue of Admiral Lord Horatio NELSON.
9 Hunter, perhaps still following herb, reportedly (9)
TIMEPIECE - double homophone ('reportedly') for PIECE (sounds like PEACE = STILL) 'following' TIME (sounds like THYME = HERB). Unusually in a QC I am finding myself feeling as though I ought to explain some defnitions as well. A hunter is a type of pocket watch. A 'full' hunter has a cover over the face, and a 'half' hunter has a hole in the cover so that you can see the time without having to open the cover, a distinct advantage when you are trying to HUNT on horseback, (hence the name) and would rather not have to distract your attention from the upcoming low tree branch in order to open the cover on your watch to find out when you should be home for your tea.
13 Climber’s aid is a disadvantage round slope (7)
CRAMPON - CON (diasadvantage, as in 'pros and cons') 'round' RAMP (slope). Do I have to explain this definition as well? An attachment to a climbing boot to make climbing easier and less hazardous?
14 Be undecided about India’s suspension of rights (6)
WAIVER - WAVER (be undecided) 'about' I (India, again in phonetic alphabets, but also I think just as a straight abbreviation used for the country (similar to UK or USA)).
15 Delicious drink? About time in local (6)
NECTAR - C (about) + T (time) 'in' NEAR (local).
17 Sleep’s upset on English lace? (5)
SPIKE - KIP'S (sleep's) 'upset' (upside down) 'on' E (English) in this down clue. Definition is LACE in the sense of to 'SPIKE' a drink, as in: "I later found out that she had spiked my tequila with Rohypnol, barbiturates and ayahuasca, which might have been why I felt a little unsteady on my feet". Sorry, that was a completely gratuitous unscripted example of the use of the verb in question, but I just felt like signing off with a bang.

QC 1195 by Hurley
Astarte1
astartedon

Right, I really liked this puzzle, and found a lot of the clues entertaining and challenging. Unfortunately it shows in my time which was uncomfortably near the 12-minute mark.

Oh I can make excuses. Chief among them being that I haven't even looked at a Quickie since I blogged my last one because if you remember I was having a wobble around the 15x15 at the time and was feeling a bit jaded about the whole prospect of crosswords generally. Well, that has passed, but I still haven't got back into the daily routine of doing the Quickie as well. Nevertheless, if I'm doing the 15x15 every day then to my logic I ought to be able to pick up the Quickie, give it some bread, pat it on the head and put it to bed more quickly than I did today, no matter how long it's been. But I didn't. Maybe I was rusty. Maybe it takes time to get back into the rhythm of the Quickie. But I think that's just making excuses. I just don't think I was up to it. How about the rest of you?

But as I say, I enjoyed it and admired a lot of the clues. Thank you and well done Hurley. FOI was 5A (as with so many of the clues today 1A was not far from my mind but on the first pass was somehow just beyond my reach). LOI I think was 14D. Difficult to choose a COD because I liked so many of them, but I'd probably go for 1A itself. Great to see an &lit. in the Quickie, and stuck up there boldly at the top of the table as well.

Definitions are underlined in italics and everything else is explained as simply as possible just as I see it.

Across
1 Name initially used in memoirs wrongly? (8)
MISNOMER - N (name initially) 'used in' an anagram of MEMOIRS ('wrongly') gives MISNOMER, the whole of the clue then acting as a definition of the answer, giving us a rare & lit. clue for a quickie (and in the first clue no less).
5 Judge is French — that’s funny (4)
JEST - J (judge) + EST ('is' in French).
9 Portion, slim, reduced, provided by church (5)
SLICE - reduce SLIM by cutting off its end, add on CE for the Church of England and there you have your portion served up in front of you.
10 One might betray characteristic worry, oddly overlooked (7)
TRAITOR - TRAIT (characteristic) + OR (wOrRy with the odd letters 'overlooked').
11 Flier, ace, associated with this country (3)
AUK - A (ace) plus UK (this country).
12 Talk about troubled teen — be understood (9)
PENETRATE - PRATE is one of those words often used in Crossword Land and not so much anywhere else. Put it 'about' an anagram of TEEN ('troubled') and this clue can easily 'be understood'.
13 A case for frail boat not starting in the water (6)
AFLOAT - A + FL (the 'case' of FraiL) + OAT (boat not starting).
15 Claimant legally keeping cloak (6)
MANTLE - hidden word: claiMANT LEgally.
17 Son currently at Southern headland finding wintry scene (9)
SNOWSCAPE - S (son) + NOW (currently) + S (southern) + CAPE (headland).
19 Drunk very tiresome at start (3)
SOT - SO (very) + T (Tiresome 'at start').
20 Oregon provided diamonds for opening (7)
ORIFICE - OR (Oregon) + IF (provided) + ICE (diamonds).
21 Senseless idea not alerting new entrants first of all (5)
INANE - the initial letters ('first of all') of Idea Not Alerting New Entrants.
22 Cricket score, good — a step up! (4)
RUNG - RUN (a score in cricket) + G (good).
23 One readily deceived a mate? Yes, sadly (4,4)
EASY MEAT - anagram of A MATE YES ('sadly').
Down
1 Mother’s vehicle, a thing of beauty? (7)
MASCARA - MA'S (mother's) + CAR (vehicle) + A.
2 Pong from black liquid at bottom of street (5)
STINK - INK (black liquid, although in my experience you can have other colours) at the bottom of (i.e. underneath in this down clue) ST (street).
3 Maintaining advantage, open main push possibly (3-9)
ONE-UPMANSHIP - straight anagram ('possibly') of OPEN MAIN PUSH.
4 We hear school’s taken in (5)
EATEN - homophone for Crossword Land's favourite educational establishment, ETON.
6 Additional court clip (7)
EXTRACT - EXTRA (additional) + CT (court).
7 Ultimately elegant Celtic language, neat and concise (5)
TERSE - T ('ultimately' eleganT) + ERSE (Celtic language).
8 Potentially catalyst, like this US capital (4,4,4)
SALT LAKE CITY - another straight anagram ('potentially') of CATALYST LIKE.
14 Lot divided by a fellow’s language (7)
LAOTIAN - LOT 'divided by' A gives LAOT. Add on a IAN (a fellow) and there you have it.
16 Implore centre attendant a bit (7)
ENTREAT - hidden word: cENTRE ATtendant.
17 Society with little money for track (5)
SPOOR - S (society) + POOR (with little money). At first I had this as S + CENT (litttle money) giving SCENT which was perfectly plausible. Had I written in ORIFICE when I first thought of it at 20A then I would not have been delayed by this but as it was my reticence meant that my mind started thinking illogically of EDIFICE when I came back to 20A (although somehow still retaining the idea of ORIFICE without actually writing it straight in, and looking back it is only because of the chime with ORIFICE that EDIFICE jumped into my mind anyway even though it has nothing to do with the definition). Nice bit of potential misdirection there but easily avoidable if you solve the clues in the correct order!
18 Where to contest article about North America (5)
ARENA - A ((indefinite) article) + RE (about) + NA (North America).
19 Criticize schedule (5)
SLATE - double definition.

QC 1185 by Teazel
Astarte1
astartedon

This was medium difficulty for me, about 10 minutes, although I cannot be exact as I have just been all over the place the past couple of weeks with too much going on and not being able to find any time to sit down with a few minutes to myself. I haven't even been able to do that many QCs and this is the first one I have looked at for days.

I don't know about you, but for me the 15 x 15 is my therapy. It is my daily reassurance that all is right with the world. I can have any number of pressure situations going on, but if I can get some time to work happily through the 15 x 15 then somehow all the wrinkles of the universe are ironed out and serenity comes over me in the same way that it apparently does for people who contort themselves into painfully impossible shapes with yoga, or who grind themselves into the dust with gruelling road runs, or who fill the holes in their heads with multicoloured mantra stuffing. I know that if I can take on the 15 x 15 and finish it then nobody is going to be able to get to me for the rest of the day.

Well two weeks ago my serene solving bubble was punctured. On one or two days it took me a lot longer to finish than normal and overall I was struggling. It felt like I had lost the 'knack'. Got the yips as the sportspeople like to say. I thought about giving up these silly games. What was the point?

But the phase passed, and last week normal service was resumed. I came to look upon the previous week's endeavours as a learning experience. It hadn't killed me; it had made me stronger. But it had definitely thrown my rhythm out and made me dispense with the QCs for the time being.

Anyway, tackling this entertaining offering from Teazel has, I feel, got me back on track. Rebooted my software so to speak. Rehabilitated me.

Not too difficult with some straightforward double definitions and anagrams forming the main structure. FOI was the obvious 9A, and LOI was 8A as I had not met the concept in that form before (see blog comment below). COD is difficult to choose as I felt some of the surfaces were a little strained but probably 5A is the most economical and pleasing. Many thanks to Teazel.

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

Across
1 More short argument the following day (6)
MORROW - MOR (MORe 'short') + ROW (argument.
5 Tax cut (6)
EXCISE - double definition.
8 Single interval in plays to demonstrate skill (4,4,5)
SHOW ONES PACES - ONE SPACE (single interval) inside SHOWS (plays). I don't think I had met the exact phrase before but I had obviously heard of 'putting someone through their paces', and the cryptic leaves little room for doubt.
9 Out of custody without charge (4)
FREE - another double definition.
10 Replaced a grim, long-established flower (8)
MARIGOLD - anagram of A GRIM ('replaced') + OLD (long-established).
11 Scarf, new, taken by thief (6)
STOLEN - STOLE (scarf) + N (new).
13 Falsely said marine put down weapons (6)
DISARM - anagram of SAID ('falsely') + RM (Royal Marine)
15 Comfortable seat for such a critic? (8)
ARMCHAIR - another double definition.
17 You will scream (4)
YELL - YOU WILL contracts to YOU'LL. If you use the dialect form of YOU as in YE (although this is not indicated in the cryptic it is pretty standard to substitute YE for YOU in Crossword Land) then you get YE'LL.
19 Top technician reviewed cigarette substitute (8,5)
NICOTINE PATCH - straightforward anagram of TOP TECHNICIAN ('reviewed').
21 Guard southern way in (6)
SENTRY - S (southern) + ENTRY (way in).
22 Improvise to attend party (4,2)
MAKE DO - to improvise is to MAKE DO, and cryptically if you manage to get to a party you can be said to 'MAKE' the "DO'.
Down
2 Different parent, not married (5)
OTHER - parent = MOTHER. Remove the M ('not married') and there you have it.
3 Poor bargain for untreated wood? (3,4)
RAW DEAL - RAW = untreated, DEAL is a type of wood.
4 Now from the bottom, finished first? (3)
WON - reverse NOW ('from the bottom' in this down clue) and you have WON!
5 Duck taking in a second year film (4,5)
EASY RIDER - EIDER (duck) 'taking in' A S YR (a second year) gives us this classic road movie.
6 Good to support family, sound as a bell (5)
CLANG - CLAN (family) 'supported by' G (good) making a sound as a bell [does].
7 Witch, perhaps, one dictating letters? (7)
SPELLER - a witch casts spells, so could cryptically be seen as a 'SPELLER', with the straight definition being someone who spells out the letters of a word when dictating.
10 Lying to get candy item changed (9)
MENDACITY - another straight anagram, CANDY ITEM 'changed'.
12 So-called ant: call it eastern (7)
TERMITE - TERM (call) + IT + E (eastern) gives TERMITE, a 'so-called' ant. Termites are not ants, and evolutionarily are not even very closely related, although they do behave similarly and live in colonies and so on. Thus they could get called ants by people who can't tell the difference.
14 Singer’s TV fun (7)
SKYLARK - SKY (a digital TV provider) + LARK (fun).
16 Add to committee foolish person who welcomes power (2-3)
CO-OPT - COOT (could be a foolish person as well as a type of bird) 'welcoming' P (power).
18 Regularly flout detectives, that’s clear (5)
LUCID - fLoUt 'regularly' gives LU. Add on CID (detectives) and the case is solved.
20 Wood used in pelmet (3)
ELM - hidden word: pELMet.

QC 1175 by Hurley
Astarte1
astartedon

Well I found this a bit like eating a piece of cake during a walk in the park with a gentle breeze blowing whilst swiping tasty candy from passing babies with a load of children running around enjoying child's play and rehearsing their ABCs and 123s. Perhaps it could have been a PB if someone hadn't called me unexpectedly in the middle and busted my concentration. As it was I think it took me about 7 minutes but it felt like it should have been 5. One of these days I am going to seal myself in an isolation tube and do it under strictest exam conditions and really try and trim some flesh off the clock. But for now all I can say is that I found it very easy by my own lights and I am sure some of you others hardly even had to open your bleary eyes or lift your worn out fingers.

The main structure was composed of several juicy, low-hanging anagrams that fairly screamed out their identity and paid out in cascading jackpots of checkers. Add to this some straightforward hidden words and double definitions and a smattering of slightly less obvious clues and you have a recipe for pie. As in easy.

But for all that this was a fun puzzle, and as we have often said before it's great for all you beginners out there to have something you can really get your teeth into. Meanwhile all you experienced PB-hunters can blaze away and fill your tucker bags to your hearts' content. Many thanks to Hurley, I found it most enjoyable, and I hope that the whole spectrum of Monday-morning solvers did too.

FOI was 1A as you might expect in a puzzle of this sort. And I think also the LOI was appropriately enough 20D. But that was not because I did everything in absolute sequence. I didn't do that, but not for the normal reason of finding a clue too difficult at first and moving on. It was more because I kept sort of seeing clues out of the corner of my eye (mostly the large anagrams) that solved themselves while I was thinking about another clue*. So then I would jump to that clue next to fill it in out of sequence and then have to backtrack to do the others. And then what was left at the end but just that last little minnow waiting to be gobbled up.

OK, going a bit off piste there, so getting back on track I think my COD was 22A. Half an anagram, bit of sports GK, nice twist in the surface and an overall pleasing mental image.

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

*Hmmm. Solving one clue while thinking about another? Reminds me a bit of the classic advice for keeping a monogamous relatioship alive. And before you start lamenting my smutty mind, I should tell you that the thought has only just come to me now because it came up in an article in this very paper not more than a week ago.

Across
1 Snack costs — a top rip off (6,6)
POTATO CRISPS - a simple anagram to kick off with: COSTS A TOP RIP rearranged ('off'). Reminds me of the famous graffito anagram back in the 70s: CATS LIKE PLAIN CRISPS. Those were the days.
8 Assistant catching second stage whisper (5)
ASIDE - AIDE (assistant) 'catching' S (second).
9 Senior common room raised the French moral doubt (7)
SCRUPLE - SCR (Senior Common Room) + UP (raised) + LE (French definite article).
10 Had meal Greek character brought over (3)
ATE - ETA, seventh letter of the Greek alphabet, reversed ('brought over').
11 Most likely to drop off pastries in wintry weather (9)
SLEEPIEST - who's eaten all the PIES in this SLEET (wintry weather)?
13 Woodland creature upsets a tyrant to some extent (5)
SATYR - Hidden word: upsetS A TYRant. OK well I suppose it is a creature, but a mythical one. As James Thurber said: "The unicorn is a mythical beast..." Same for the satyr. And it sets off a string of memories and connections for me. First, I went to see The Merchant of Venice the other day, which reminded me of The Jew of Malta, which reminded me of Christopher Marlowe, which reminded me of The Troublesome Reign and Lamentable Death of Edward the Second, King of England, which has the lines "My men, like satyrs grazing on the lawn/Shall with their goats' feet dance the antic hay", which reminds me of Aldous Huxley's Antic Hay, which quotes the lines on its title page, and which is how I first came across them back in the day when I just used to read everything I could in an endlessly exciting daisy chain of literature where one thing always referenced another, which led to another, and another. Sorry, this is turning out to be one of those nostalgic days for me. I'd better not get started on the difference between satyrs and fauns and Mr Tumnus in The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe or I'll be here all day.
14 Snake putting two and two together? (5)
ADDER - well that's fairly simple, isn't it. Do I need to explain?
16 Excellent trees in front of Gallery? About right (5-4)
FIRST-RATE - FIRS (trees) 'in front of' TATE (gallery) 'about' R (right).
17 Small boy is cunning (3)
ART - if ARTHUR is a boy, then his contraction, ART, may cryptically be a 'small' boy.
19 Way out involving Apollo, disregarding odds? A feat! (7)
EXPLOIT - EXIT (way out) 'involving' PLO (the even letters of APOLLO, i.e. 'disregarding the odds').
21 Bankrupt agent abandoning resistance in end (5)
BROKE - a BROKER is an agent. Disregard the R at the end (resistance as in Ohm's Law, V = IR) and there you have it.
22 Yell on poor football team: they’re looking for a match? (6,6)
LONELY HEARTS - anagram of YELL ON = LONELY, plus HEARTS, as in the Scottish football team Heart of Midlothian. Note that the anagrind is 'poor' and thus no football fans have been offended in the setting of this clue.
Down
1 Some hoopla, zany, in public area (5)
PLAZA - another hidden word: hooPL A ZAny.
2 Merit rest — could be three months (9)
TRIMESTER - another anagram. MERIT REST 'could be' TRIMESTER.
3 Worked over true rates: valuable find (8-5)
TREASURE-TROVE - and another one. OVER TRUE RATES 'worked' becomes TREASURE TROVE.
4 Money initially earned with type of nut (6)
CASHEW - CASH (money) + EW (initials of Earned With).
5 Label, epic, rare, potentially unique (13)
IRREPLACEABLE - keep hitting me with those anagrams! Go ahead, I can take it! LABEL EPIC RARE 'potentially'.
6 Music for Dad (3)
POP - double definition.
7 One advising soldiers on hill (6)
MENTOR - MEN (soldiers) 'on' (in this down clue) TOR (hill).
12 Effort to finish with ultimately fine favour — start to go off (9)
ENDEAVOUR - END (to finish) + E (ultimately finE) + AVOUR (fAVOUR with the 'start' going off).
13 Become gentle, beginning to soothe frequently (6)
SOFTEN - S (beginning to Soothe) + OFTEN (frequently).
15 Insignificant attempt to support friend (6)
PALTRY - TRY (attempt) 'supporting' (in this down clue) PAL (friend).
18 Lock of hair given emphasis — not the first (5)
TRESS - STRESS (emphasis), but 'not the first' gives TRESS.
20 In favour of person getting paid (3)
PRO - double definition. PRO means for, and is also short for professional and prostitute. Take your pick as to whom you prefer to pay!

QC 1165 by Flamande
Astarte1
astartedon

Fairly straightforward this one. I certainly came in at under 10 minutes but was interrupted by having to perform baggage checks for my wife who has been called away to Dubai at short notice on business. "Have I got my passport? Have you printed out my boarding pass? Have I got my UAE dirhams? Can you zip up my overstuffed bag?" Anyway, the taxi is now a disappearing dot on the horizon, several days of uninterrupted beer and curries lie before me, and I am able to turn my attention to finishing off the details of this enjoyable quickie which displayed some intelligent and economical cluing as well as a high percentage of particularly well constructed surfaces.

FOI was 8A where the anagram practically jumped out of the clue and lay down submissively in its position in the grid without much help from me. LOI was I think 3A which displays the admirable qualities mentioned above very well. A very natural surface backed up by a pair of good internal definitions leading to a noun crossdressing as a verb before submitting to insertion. I think that performance also merits my COD award. Thanks to Flamande for an enjoyable early morning Bank Holiday diversion.

Definitions are underlined in italics, and everything else is just explained as simply as I can.

Across
3 Second group of scouts to go travelling (8)
BACKPACK - BACK (second) + PACK (group of scouts).
7 A climber spotted near river valley (6)
RAVINE - A VINE (a climber) 'spotted near' R (river).
8 Floor covering Lionel unrolled with some hesitation (8)
LINOLEUM - anagram of LIONEL ('unrolled') + UM (some hesitation).
9 Port imbibed by grandad enthusiastically (4)
ADEN - hidden word: grandAD ENthusiastically.
10 Feature of wintry weather in Central Europe principally (3)
ICE - first letters ('principally') of In Central Europe.
11 Newspaper editor reflected (8)
MIRRORED - MIRROR (newspaper) + ED (editor).
13 Scam about to take us in (4)
RUSE - RE (about) taking US in = RUSE.
15 Make-up friends rejected also a hit (4)
SLAP - double definition with a cryptic: PALS (friends) 'rejected' = SLAP.
17 Yuletide singer given a big wave by leader of choir (8)
CAROLLER - C (leader of Choir) + A ROLLER (a big wave).
19 Learner loves card game (3)
LOO - L (learner) + OO (loves).
22 Manage to bring old piano into church (4)
COPE - CE (Church (of England)) 'bringing in' OP (old piano).
23 Inadequate English teacher put under pressure (6,2)
LEANED ON - LEAN (inadequate) + E (English) + DON (teacher).
24 Size of old canvas shelter (6)
EXTENT - EX (old) + TENT (canvas shelter).
25 Where mob gathered for some beer (4-4)
HOME-BREW - anagram of WHERE MOB ('gathered').
Down
1 Fellow has to train monkey (8)
MANDRILL - MAN (fellow) + DRILL (to train).
2 The German eats local meal (6)
DINNER - DER (one form of the definite article in German) 'eating' INN (local, as in pub).
3 Energy-filled sandwich to make you move fast (4)
BELT - BLT (bacon, lettuce & tomato sandwich) 'filled' with E (energy).
4 Think left winger is upset after Tory takes first place (8)
CONSIDER - RED (left winger) + IS, all reversed ('upset'), after CON (Tory).
5 Nick beginning to pen flier for circulation (6)
PILFER - P (beginning to Pen) + anagram of flier ('for circulation').
6 Disco beat? (4)
CLUB - double definition.
12 First half of recent arrangement for wind instrument (8)
RECORDER - first half of RECent + ORDER (arrangement).
14 Comprehensive school's head appearing very upset (8)
SWEEPING - S (School's head) + WEEPING (appearing very upset).
16 Enter the pool, taking breather during PE (6)
PLUNGE - something that breathes, i.e. a 'breather', is a LUNG. Place it 'during' PE and there you have it.
18 Site ace lot refurbished (6)
LOCATE - anagram of ACE LOT ('refurbished').
20 Repeat one note after another (4)
REDO - two notes, RE and DO (as in the DO, RE, MI note system).
21 Recognised novel when read aloud (4)
KNEW - homophone for NEW (novel).

QC 1155 by Joker
Astarte1
astartedon

Medium dificulty for me, I would say just under 10 minutes although I fielded an early morning business call in the middle which muddied the waters. But it felt like the easy side of average on my scale.

I think my FOI was 8A although looking back I can't see why it was not 5A. My brain flirted with that one, tasting it as the easiest initial prey but for some reason (probably visual association, one of the mental facilities that one generally has to try to switch off while wandering through Crossword Land) I kept thinking of POLO as in the water version. LOI was, uncommonly, 1A, as I swooped back round for the third time and twigged to 'LAY'. I think that has to be my COD too (I also liked 9A but ultimately felt that the surface was a bit laboured). In passing I wonder if the surface of 1A was at all inspired by recent news items involving Downside and Ampleforth but then I may just be oversensitive having known people who lived through St Benedict's.

Many thanks to Joker for a pleasantly challenging accompaniment to my Monday morning wake-up cup of tea.

Definitions are underlined in italics and everything else is explained just as I see it.

Across
1 Unprofessional with boy during PE break in school (8)
PLAYTIME - LAY (unprofessional) + TIM (boy) 'during' PE.
5 Place for swimming game (4)
POOL - double definition.
7 I assembled returned article (4)
ITEM - I + TEM (MET (assembled) 'returned').
8 Menace near the front of tent, moving (8)
THREATEN - anagram ('moving') of NEAR THE + T ('front' of Tent).
9 Standards for judging writer sacrificing wife taken in by spies (8)
CRITERIA - CIA (spies) 'taking in' RITER (WRITER 'sacrificing' W (wife))
11 Suitable small apartment (3)
APT - contraction ('small') of apartment. Nearly a double definition except that the contraction isn't really a word.
13 Lines held by last Anzacs (6)
STANZA - hidden word - laST ANZAcs.
16 After start of printing, our editor’s served tea? (6)
POURED - P ('start' of Printing) + OUR ED (our editor).
18 Part of colonel’s unit (3)
ONE - hidden word - colONEl.
19 Visitor called cutting rest, unfortunately (8)
STRANGER - RANG (called) 'cutting' STER (anagram of REST ('unfortunately'))
20 Dawn’s daughter — certainly not heavy (8)
DAYLIGHT - D (daughter) + AY (certainly) + LIGHT (not heavy).
22 Make heavy demands on current vehicle (4)
TAXI - TAX (make heavy demands on) + I (the conventional physical symbol for the electrical quantity 'current'). On first reading you might think this would have to be a down clue, with TAX being 'on' I, but on closer reading 'on' falls within the surface verb phrase.
23 Cry over small employer (4)
BOSS - SOB 'over' (i.e. reversed) + S (small).
24 SAS tried sorting out calamity (8)
DISASTER - anagram of SAS TRIED ('sorting out').
Down
1 Royals their sister cut? (7)
PRINCES - if you cut PRINCESS by taking off the last letter you get PRINCES.
2 A man hugs another from the New World (8)
AMERICAN - A MAN 'hugging' ERIC (another man).
3 Vast liner converted for short breaks (9)
INTERVALS - anagram ('converted') of VAST LINER.
4 Expensive losing diamonds in some corn (3)
EAR - DEAR (expensive) 'losing' D (diamonds to all you Bridge players).
5 Deposit metal coating on gold table (7)
PLATEAU - PLATE (to deposit metal coating on, cf. 22A above) + AU (chemical symbol for gold, aurum). Once again 'on' falls within the verb phrase of the surface.
6 Oxygen exercises used on speed run (7)
OPERATE - O (oxygen) + PE (exercises) + RATE (speed).
10 A quiet soldier needs time with American kit (9)
APPARATUS - A + P (quiet) + PARA (soldier) + T (time) + US (American).
12 Expecting ruling after pressure (8)
PREGNANT - P (pressure) + REGNANT (ruling).
14 Strong wind ripped advert off, initially (7)
TORNADO - TORN (ripped) + AD (advert) + O (Off 'initially').
15 Pointers being almost not necessary (7)
NEEDLES - 'almost' NEEDLESs, i.e. with the last letter chopped off.
17 Row after doctor’s introducing iodine that’s more contaminated (7)
DIRTIER - TIER (row) 'after' DR (doctor) 'introducing' I (chemical symbol for iodine as well as current. A versatile scientific letter that in its lower case guise also represents the square root of -1, so making a significant contribution to each of Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics.).
21 Precious metal’s left out. Mercury, perhaps? (3)
GOD - GOLD with L (left) out = GOD.

QC 1155 by Joker
Astarte1
astartedon

Medium dificulty for me, I would say just under 10 minutes although I fielded an early morning business call in the middle which muddied the waters. But it felt like the easy side of average on my scale.

I think my FOI was 8A although looking back I can't see why it was not 5A. My brain flirted with that one, tasting it as the easiest initial prey but for some reason (probably visual association, one of the mental facilities that one generally has to try to switch off while wandering through Crossword Land) I kept thinking of POLO as in the water version. LOI was, uncommonly, 1A, as I swooped back round for the third time and twigged to 'LAY'. I think that has to be my COD too (I also liked 9A but ultimately felt that the surface was a bit laboured). In passing I wonder if the surface of 1A was at all inspired by recent news items involving Downside and Ampleforth but then I may just be oversensitive having known people who lived through St Benedicts.

Many thanks to Joker for a pleasantly challenging accompaniment to my Monday morning wake-up cup of tea.

Definitions are underlined in italics and everything else is explained just as I see it.

Across
1 Unprofessional with boy during PE break in school (8)
PLAYTIME - LAY (unprofessional) + TIM (boy) 'during' PE.
5 Place for swimming game (4)
POOL - double definition.
7 I assembled returned article (4)
ITEM - I + TEM (MET (assembled) 'returned').
8 Menace near the front of tent, moving (8)
THREATEN - anagram ('moving') of NEAR THE + T ('front' of Tent).
9 Standards for judging writer sacrificing wife taken in by spies (8)
CRITERIA - CIA (spies) 'taking in' RITER (WRITER 'sacrificing' W (wife))
11 Suitable small apartment (3)
APT - contraction ('small') of apartment. Nearly a double definition except that the contraction isn't really a word.
13 Lines held by last Anzacs (6)
STANZA - hidden word - laST ANZAcs.
16 After start of printing, our editor’s served tea? (6)
POURED - P ('start' of Printing) + OUR ED (our editor).
18 Part of colonel’s unit (3)
ONE - hidden word - colONEl.
19 Visitor called cutting rest, unfortunately (8)
STRANGER - RANG (called) 'cutting' STER (anagram of REST ('unfortunately'))
20 Dawn’s daughter — certainly not heavy (8)
DAYLIGHT - D (daughter) + AY (certainly) + LIGHT (not heavy).
22 Make heavy demands on current vehicle (4)
TAXI - TAX (make heavy demands on) + I (the conventional physical symbol for the electrical quantity 'current'). On first reading you might think this would have to be a down clue, with TAX being 'on' I, but on closer reading 'on' falls within the surface verb phrase.
23 Cry over small employer (4)
BOSS - SOB 'over' (i.e. reversed) + S (small).
24 SAS tried sorting out calamity (8)
DISASTER - anagram of SAS TRIED ('sorting out').
Down
1 Royals their sister cut? (7)
PRINCES - if you cut PRINCESS by taking off the last letter you get PRINCES.
2 A man hugs another from the New World (8)
AMERICAN - A MAN 'hugging' ERIC (another man).
3 Vast liner converted for short breaks (9)
INTERVALS - anagram ('converted') of VAST LINER.
4 Expensive losing diamonds in some corn (3)
EAR - DEAR (expensive) 'losing' D (diamonds to all you Bridge players).
5 Deposit metal coating on gold table (7)
PLATEAU - PLATE (to deposit metal coating on, cf. 22A above) + AU (chemical symbol for gold, aurum). Once again 'on' falls within the verb phrase of the surface.
6 Oxygen exercises used on speed run (7)
OPERATE - O (oxygen) + PE (exercises) + RATE (speed).
10 A quiet soldier needs time with American kit (9)
APPARATUS - A + P (quiet) + PARA (soldier) + T (time) + US (American).
12 Expecting ruling after pressure (8)
PREGNANT - P (pressure + REGNANT (ruling).
14 Strong wind ripped advert off, initially (7)
TORNADO - TORN (ripped) + AD (advert) + O (Off 'initially').
15 Pointers being almost not necessary (7)
NEEDLES - 'almost' NEEDLESs, i.e. with the last letter chopped off.
17 Row after doctor’s introducing iodine that’s more contaminated (7)
DIRTIER - TIER (row) 'after' DR (doctor) 'introducing' I (chemical symbol for iodine as well as current. A versatile scientific letter that in its lower case guise also represents the square root of -1, so making a significant contribution to each of Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics.).
21 Precious metal’s left out. Mercury, perhaps? (3)
GOD - GOLD with L (left) out = GOD.