This QC shouldn’t scare the horses, middle of the road time for me. Well- balanced with good surfaces.
The last Down clue requires a synonym for “drunk”. The book Intoxerated claims to have 2,985 synonyms for various states of intoxication, and is the Guiness Book of Record holder for most synonyms. Favorite: “Boris Yeltsinned”, and “Circling Over Shannon”
Definitions underlined in bold italics, (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, deletions and  other indicators.
|1||Dire straits engulfing one ironic writer (8)|
|SATIRIST – Anagram (dire) of (STRAITS)* + I|
|5||Loving but discovered to have no heart (4)|
|FOND – FO[u]ND (discovered) without the middle letter (heart)
FOND as an adjective for Loving, as in a “fond smile”
|8||Imitation brooch with silver coating (5)|
|APING – PIN (brooch) surrounded by AG (silver)
This is actually a noun for imitation, from the verb “ape”. OED has as usage “a poor aping of conscientiousness”.
|9||101 tons carried in true performance (7)|
|RECITAL -CI (101 in Roman Numerals) + T [ons] inside REAL (true)|
|11||Be dishonest, don’t be upstanding (3)|
|LIE – Double Def|
|12||Increase assuming variable follows in decimal units (9)|
|INTENSIFY – IN + TENS (decimal units) + IF (assuming) + Y (variable)|
|13||Importance of announcement of delay (6)|
|WEIGHT – Homophone (announcement of) for WAIT (delay)|
|15||Reverse of label the woman’s to pull into folds of fabric (6)|
|GATHER – TAG (label) reversed + HER (woman’s)
The definition is very precise, taking 6 full words.
|18||Little program relating to energy growth that’ll bear fruit (5,4)|
|APPLE TREE – APPLET (little program) + RE (relating to) + E[nergy]
I though APP was enough for a little program, so was missing a clue for LET. LET can be appended on to many English nouns, and is our diminutive suffix, like “ette” in French. There’s a great Wikipedia page on this.
|19||Large container merely overturned (3)|
|TUB – BUT (merely) reversed|
|20||Hollow stamens inside a flower or flowers (7)|
|BLOSSOM – S[tamen]S inside BLOOM (flower)
“Hollow” here is yet another way of indicating the first and last letters of a word. I was looking for flower=river.
|21||A regret about golf dispute (5)|
|ARGUE – A + RUE (regret) containing G[olf]
RUE is a very common short word in cryptics, worth remembering.
|22||European getting rid of good or bad smell (4)|
|REEK – [G]reek (European) with G[ood] removed.
Greek, clued by “European” appeared in the QC yesterday as well.
|23||Extremes in formal use, not likely how a native speaks? (8)|
|FLUENTLY – F[orma]L + U[s]E + N[o]T + L[ikel]Y first and last letters indicated by “extremes”
I got the FL quickly before noticing that “extremes” should be applied to four words not just the first.
|1||Bird needing second mudbath? (7)|
|SWALLOW – S[econd] + WALLOW (mudbath)|
|2||Journey east is rubbish (5)|
|TRIPE – TRIP(journey) + E[ast]|
|3||Wild horses using rascally quality (11)|
|ROGUISHNESS – Anagram (wild) of (HORSES USING)*
Got stuck in trying to make something starting with ROUGH.
|4||A topless pie’s rising layers (6)|
|STRATA – A + TARTS (pies) reversed in a down clue (rising)|
|6||Nothing stumped affluent person who ignores problems? (7)|
|OSTRICH – O + ST[umped] + RICH (affluent)
ST for stumped is the abbreviation on a cricket scorecard.
The OED explains this one neatly: the practice of thrusting its head into the sand or a bush when being overtaken by pursuers, supposedly through an incapacity to distinguish between seeing and being seen.
|7||Hold up Ecstasy to be swallowed by crazy lady (5)|
|DELAY – Anagram (crazy) of (LADY)* containing E[cstasy]|
|10||Surprisingly neat once holding puss’s string together (11)|
|CONCATENATE -Anagram (surprisingly) of (NEAT ONCE)* containing CAT (puss)
I like this word, which comes from CATENA (latin for Chain), hence Catenary, the curve formed by a hanging chain.
|14||Earnestly request collection of elf stories? (7)|
|IMPLORE – Whimsical definition: IMP (elf) + LORE (collection of stories)
Very clever and my COD, we have animal lore, bird lore, fairy lore so why not imp lore? At my primary school the class names were : Fairies, Imps, Nymphs, Elves, Pixies, Gnomes, Sprites and Brownies. So imps were not equal to elves.
|16||Mugging of bishop wearing vestment on railway (7)|
|ROBBERY – ROBE (vestment) containing B[ishop] + RY (railway)|
|17||Description of furious screams from friend clutching edge (6)|
|PRIMAL – PAL (friend) containing RIM (edge)
Primal Scream are a Scottish rock band from the 1980s, the band took their name from a psychology book published in 1970.
|18||Fossilised resin found in Cookham Berkshire (5)|
|AMBER – Hidden inside Cookham Berkshire
Very pretty village on the Thames.
|19||Drunk on leaving this evening (5)|
|TIGHT – T[on]IGHT (this evening)
And of the 2985 possibly synonyms, we get this decidedly PG Wodehouse one.