23,7010 – a bit of a struggle

Solving time 16:10

On first look, I got to 16A before writing anything, but then did quite well with the bottom half and worked back into the NE corner. But the top left took ages, with the last few answers being 10, 8, 6A, 6D, (long pause), 14. Overall experience was a mixture of feeling good for getting some answers quickly and feeling thick for taking ages with some others. Stock blogging phrase no. 27 applies – there are lots of well-written clues to admire here.

1 STIR=prison,ABOUT=nearby – I didn’t understand why this is “Oscar Wilde’s porridge” until looking up stirabout and finding “Anglo-Irish for porridge”.
6 MOUNT – 2 defs, one referring to the volcano, not the Lancs town with the Rugby League side that the surface meaning is about. And the other is “that upon which a thing is placed”
10 CHAIN=four perches,SHOT=attempt – two bullets / half-bullets, joined by a chain, used to destroy the rigging of ships. My new word for the day. In Imperial measurement, a chain (22 yds) is four perches, or rods or poles – which we’ll meet later as it happens.
11 MOVING STAIRCASE = (it’s a scare)* – wordplay in the answer
13 HORSE BOX – punch as in “Suffolk punch” – a short-legged draught horse
14 WHACK,O – with ?H?C?O I had one of those “what fits here?” panics, and initially forgot to include W in my list of options for the first letter. Whack = share is Brit slang. Whacko = nuts – as in “Whacko Jacko”. Horribly tempted by THICKO for a while but decided thick=share was too ridiculous.
16 NEEDLE – 2 defs – a great clue which I don’t think I’ve seen before.
18 PR(ACT)ISE – handy wordplay for those with an -ice / -ise spelling blind spot.
21 SITUATION,COME,DY – the friends in Friends are in one, then state=SITUATION, appear = COME, extremely dopey = DY
23 RO(A)D,HOUSE – rod = pole – either as a stick or as the measurement mentioned above.
25 (r)ELATE(d)
27 DI=I’d rev.,RTY WORD = (w(ith), dry rot)*
1 S,WARM – with “group flying” as the def.
2 INADVERTENT = (ate TV dinner)*
3 AL(DENT)E – dent as in “dent one’s finances”, I think
5 TO A MAN = To A(m)man! – Amman is the capital of Jordan. Edited to reflect fgbp’s comment about which M is removed
6 M(ON)ARCH – kind of butterfly involved in a fairly epic migration in the US and Mexico, from memory.
7 (h)UGH – St Hugh was a bishop of Lincoln. All I can tell you about him is that he had a pet swan for some reason.
8 TITLE,(p)ROLE – Mother C is a play – Brecht, I think.
12 ARCHIPELA=(cheap rail)*,GO – didn’t know that Bahrain is one.
15 G.R.,AND=with,EUR(o)
17 LEA(THE)R – ‘humourist’ is nearly always Edward LEAR
19 COOKERY – C.(= about) replaces the R in rookery. Poaching is cooking as well as stealing game.
20 PIQUED = “peeked”

13 comments on “23,7010 – a bit of a struggle”

  1. My time of 14 minutes surprised me considering that – as ever – no attempt was made to race the clock; also surprising because I too struggled with word blindness at TITLE ROLE, last to go in. COOKERY was the penultimate fill, and a nicely disguised clue it is.
  2. A satisfying puzzle, I felt, and I was pleased to solve it in 12:37. It took me a while to get started, and the problem areas for me included TITLE ROLE and MOUNT, as well as PRACTISE and COOKERY (I entered ROOKERY, thinking that perhaps the poachers’ art is CROOKERY, but wasn’t convinced, and took it out again). 15D and 20D were also quite cleverly hidden, although one of my rules when I see a “U” as in 20D is to consider the “Q” options. Jason J
    1. I also spent ages with (C)ROOKERY in place which prevented me solving 18A until I spotted my mistake.

      I still don’t understand 6D btw despite reading PB’s comment above; how does “border area” = MARCH?

      1. A MARCH is a border area, usually used in the plural, and most commonly in “the Welsh Marches” for the lands on the English/Welsh border, in which much feuding went on. Also, in the same sense, to MARCH WITH means to adjoin.

        Harry Shipley

    2. The advice about the U and the Q is very good: after spent several minutes wrestling with this one (the last to go in) I made a mental note to establish such a rule for myself in future.
      Being irritatingly pedantic (because I made the same mistake myself) the clue to 5 down parses as TO A(M)MAN. It’s the centre of the clue that is missing, not the centre of Amman, which wouldn’t make sense, surface-wise.
  3. I knew one day I would discover a benefit of being ancient and having been made to chant 4 perches = 1 chain and all the rest of it at school. Thanks to Peter for explanation of 1 across and 7 down. A nice puzzle overall that took just over 40 minutes with a number of enjoyable clues. I’m off to revise grains and drahms. Jimbo
  4. you could argue (having seen “Friends” and reruns ad nauseum over the last 10 years) that 21 is an &lit.
  5. Presumably “executed” in 7D = “beheaded”? I don’t remember seeing this before.
    1. Yes – I have seen this before, obviously enough times not to notice it and therefore whinge about its inaccuracy – execution does not imply decapitation. For me it’s in the same “sloppy xwd convention” box as {Student => L}.
  6. I was held up for a bit, thinking that 11A was (7,8). A similar thing happened the day before when I couldn’t see STRAIT-LACED as I was looking for (7-4). As soon as I spotted the error, the answers came immediately.
    I can’t remember doing this before. What’s happening?
    1. Don’t worry – I’ve done this twice recently: once was with STRAIGHT (oddly enough) FLUSH, which I read as (7,5). Held me up for ages!
    2. I think it’s just one of the hazards of trying to speed up. Twenty ryears from now you may still be seeking the perfect mixture of frantic rushing and making haste slowly.
  7. Quite a tricky one with just the half dozen “easies” left out of the blog:

    9a A returned lottery prize (5)
    A WARD. A then DRAW backwards.

    26a Record held by AberdeEN TERrier (5)

    4d A special time for instance (8)
    OCCASION. Double definition.

    13d Like some mobiles workers have not charged up (5-4)
    HANDS-FREE. Not sure about the “up” at the end?

    22d Give up the struggle and return (5)
    YIELD. Another double def.

    24d Paintings of pArRoTs oddly overlooked (3)

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