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QC 1325 by Grumpy
Astarte1
astartedon

The blog is here but I am not. I am away celebrating a wedding and extending it into a long weekend so I am solving and posting as quickly as possible in between the festivities and the sightseeing. Necessarily brief therefore.

Just under 10 minutes for me and I think I would have been quicker in normal circumstances, so relatively straightforward. Thanks to Grumpy for an entertaining cup of tea.

FOI should have been 1A. An obvious anagram but the letters wouldn't whirl around fast enough in my mind first time around. As it was I think it was 9A. Then for some reason I didn't write in 8A straight away even though the definition leapt out at me so in the end it was the LOI that I came back to and tapped in last thing.

The neatest clue to my mind was 7D, so that is my COD.

Not even a twitch on the NATRAF needle.

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

Across
1 Associates could make it fail-safe (10)
AFFILIATES - straight anagram ('could make') of IT FAIL SAFE.
8 Outlaw leader revealing career in financial sector (7)
BANKING - BAN (outlaw) + KING (leader).
9 Anger about loud weapon (5)
RIFLE - RILE (anger) 'about' F (loud (musical annotation)).
10 Young man from the right English valley (4)
DALE - DAL = LAD reversed (young man 'from the right') + E (English).
11 Orange for high-ranking bureaucrat (8)
MANDARIN - double definition.
13 The solver's breakfast finally includes good dairy product (6)
YOGURT - YOUR (the solver's) + T (breakfasT 'finally') 'including' G (good).
14 Coming back to dry fish (6)
TURBOT - TO (to) + BRUT (dry, as in Champagne) reversed ('coming back') = TURBOT.
17 Switch positions from time to time (2,3,3)
ON AND OFF - double definition, the potential positions of a switch being 'ON' and 'OFF'.
19 Resident in Highlands cottage? (4)
SCOT - hidden word &lit: HighlandS COTtage, and of course the whole clue is a potential definition of a Scot.
21 Not standing for mendacity (5)
LYING - double definition.
22 Bore, extremely unpopular, stopped outside (7)
ENDURED - ENDED (stopped) 'outside' UR (the extremes of UnpopulaR).
23 Still like clones? (3,3,4)
ALL THE SAME - double definition.
Down
2 Cricketer feeling funny (4,3)
FINE LEG - straight anagram of FEELING ('funny'). For the non-cricketers 'FINE LEG' is a fielding position at a fine angle behind the batsman's legs, as opposed to SQUARE LEG who stands square to the batsman. This is also where the 'Square Leg Umpire' stands to get a good view of any potential run out at the striker's end.
3 Flower from the Emerald Isle? Not quite! (4)
IRIS - IRISh (from the Emerald Isle, but 'not quite' with the end chopped off).
4 Dressed and ready to drive? (2,4)
IN GEAR - double definition.
5 Exhausted solicitor accepts rough ride (5,3)
TIRED OUT - TOUT (solicitor) 'accepting' IRED (anagram of RIDE ('rough')).
6 Fly around Finland's capital — until now (2,3)
SO FAR - SOAR (fly) 'around' F, the capital letter of Finland.
7 Restraint said to be put back (10)
REINSTATED - REIN (restraint) + STATED (said).
8 Pal completely ignoring lead singer in the Fifties (5,5)
BUDDY HOLLY - BUDDY (pal) + wHOLLY (completely, ignoring the 'lead').
12 Extravagant lord with a pig? That's novel (8)
PRODIGAL - straight anagram of LORD A PIG ('novel').
15 Two beastly males providing stiff fabric (7)
BUCKRAM - BUCK + RAM (two 'beastly' males). I seem to remember some stage description in Shakespeare describing "two knaves in buckram suits".
16 Father Edward's first in wood once more (6)
AFRESH - FR (father) + E (Edward's first) 'in' ASH (wood).
18 You may hear a tidier girl (5)
ANITA - homophone: A NEATER (a tidier).
20 Missing leader conceals date in Rome (4)
IDES - hIDES 'mising its leader' gives the famous Roman date (as in the Ides of March).