Sunday Times Cryptic 4971, by Robert Price — cheeky as ever

This was a three-ring circus of delights, even including elephants. But seriously, folks, elephants are gradually achieving liberation from their long servitude to the spectacle. Perhaps we can still manage to save these magnificent creatures, endangered now worldwide (in my Inbox just this morning is the newletter of Philosophie magazine, headlined En défense des éléphants). There are certainly other ways in which they could earn their keep. Check out the Thai Elephant Orchestra, cofounded by my acquaintance the neuroscientist and musician David Sulzer/Soldier. Some of them even paint!

I indicate (ragas, man!)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.

 1 Volume of moans gently audible (4)
SIZE — “sighs”
 4 Joke made by working class about Labour’s leader (10)
…something to do with a ham sandwich?
 9 One shifting around ice as fish start to rot (6)
SKATER — SKATE, “fish” + R[-ot] The definition for “shift” that fits the surface best is the British slang usage I found in Collins: “to move quickly.”
10 Reserved band after soldiers backed it (8)
RETIRING — RE (Royal Engineers), “soldiers” + IT<=“backed” before RING, “band”
11 Departs from Eilat, maybe in the late PM (8)
DISRAELI — D(eparta) + ISRAELI, “from Eilat, maybe” First heard of this bloke from the title of the Cream album Disraeli Gears. (I didn’t get the pun. Having gotten it, its significance eludes me. Which is cool.)
12 A case of rare wine bottles brought up (6)
REARED — RE(A)(R[-ar]E)D
13 It’s some cheek saying America trails EU in surpluses (7,7)
GLUTEUS MAXIMUS — GLUT(EU)S coming before MAXIM, “saying” + US, “America”… The term has been proposed as the “Roman emperor name” of a certain recent US president.
16 Useless stuff repaired with a teen’s help (5,9)
WHITE ELEPHANTS — (with a teen’s help)* Poessession of such an animal has traditionally been held to have great symbolic importance by your typical Southeast Asian monarch… who has an army of servants and vast financial reserves to assure that the enormous (and sensitive) creature is fed, well and happy. Sometimes the potentate will, as a sign of his highest favor, bestow such a precious pachyderm on a worthy subject—who will have to provide for the beast’s maintenance out of his own meager resources. “Geez, thanks, Yer Highness…” Nowadays people may try to get some value out of worthless things they have lying around by participating in “white elephant sales”—one person’s garbage is sometimes another’s treasure.
20 Meeting places of old men having a chat outside (6)
22 Sceptical or acting so anyhow (8)
AGNOSTIC — (acting so)*
24 Bloke swamped by too much huge furniture (8)
OTTOMANS — OTT (over the top), “too much” + OS, “oversize” with MAN sunk inside
25 Oath I for one said out loud (6)
AVOWAL — “a vowel”
26 Religious believers curtailed underwear thefts (10)
PANTHEISTS — PANT[-y] + HEISTS, “thefts”
27 Real turnaround for the boxing clubs (4)
ECHT — TH(C)E<=turned around

 2 Making a connection after dropping large hint (7)
INKLING — LINKING with the L(arge) moved
 3 Lacking capital, one paying for room and board (5)
 4 Plough on a grave (9)
PERSEVERE — PER, “a” + SEVERE, “grave”
 5 Some insects are ruinous to rugs (7)
EARWIGS — (are)* + WIGS, “rugs”
 6 One’s lifted to accompany raga primarily (5)
SITAR — IS<=“lifted” + T[-o] A[-ccompany] R[-aga]… &lit!
 7 Telling people a bishop is visiting (9)
NARRATION — N(A RR)ATION, “bishop” being Right Reverend
 8 Poem don sent in about a university (7)
RONDEAU — RE, “about” with (don)* inserted + A + U(niversity)… That’s “sent” in the sense of “excited” for the anagrind.
14 Make the speech that’s longest and greatest (9)
15 Articles name Scotsmen as foreign capitalists? (9)
ATHENIANS — A THE, “articles” + N(ame) + IANS, “Scotsmen”
17 Meal that’s bad to eat unfortunately (4,3)
HIGH TEA — HIGH, “bad” meaning rotting + (eat)*
18 Slips by left-winger in England failures (7)
ELAPSES — E[-ngland] + LAPSES, “failures”
19 Small measure of salt coating a vegetable (7)
SPINACH — S(mall) + PIN(A)CH
21 Wine bar hides Barolo at the back (5)
SOAVE — S(O)AVE, “bar” as in “except”
23 Ways to leave clothes item worn by clergy (5)
STOLE — Hidden. Also, of course, a woman’s long scarf or shawl. Once, in the early 1980s, I was standing in line in a soup kitchen in Philadelphia with squatter comrades, and when my turn came to be served, the priest remarked that he had thought that I (of the long flowing locks) was a woman. I was indeed flattered, but I couldn’t resist replying, “You’re the one wearing the dress.”

15 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic 4971, by Robert Price — cheeky as ever”

  1. I biffed GLUTEUS MAX, parsed post-submission. As almost always, I failed to spot a hidden clue, making STOLE my LOI. Lots of nice surfaces in this one. Guy, you’ve got a typo at 15d (ScotsmEn); and at 18d the underline should include ‘by’.

    Edited at 2021-09-12 12:14 am (UTC)

    1. The second is also just a typo, of course. Thanks, as always.

      Edited at 2021-09-12 12:18 am (UTC)

  2. Thank you Guy, especially for STOLE. I failed to spot the hidden element.
    One of the very last flights operated by the American cargo airline I had worked for, before it went out of business in December 2013, was to carry an elephant from Auckland to L.A. The zoo in NZ had had to close but fortunately, a new home was found for the elephant.

  3. … as the song nearly has it. 19 minutes. COD to GLUTEUS MAXIMUS. LOI STOLE as it was that well hidden. Very enjoyable. Thank you Robert and Guy.

    Edited at 2021-09-12 06:44 am (UTC)

  4. Mostly straightforward but I was delayed at the end by the intersecting clues 25ac and 23dn. Felt really foolish to have the hidden STOLE as my LOI, although to be fair I can’t say I have ever associated it with the clergy. When I was taught the names of the various vestments etc it was called simply a ‘scarf’ – assuming I’m thinking about the same garment.

    Edited at 2021-09-12 06:35 am (UTC)

    1. Like several, I was embarrassed that STOLE was my LOI. My excuse is that it doesn’t seem much of an item worn by clergy.
  5. ….with a typo at 6D (“sitat”) which had me searching for a wine called “Ted” for far longer than it should have. Another excellent offering from Robert, and thanks for your blog Guy — perhaps you should try the Jumbo !

    LOI REARED (industrial language was uttered)
    COD GLUTEUS MAXIMUS (mine frequently aches)
    TIME 16:03 (without that typo around 13-14 minutes)

  6. Elegant crossword. Worth it for It’s some cheek, the elephants and STOLE. Guy, the album name referred to derailleur gears (on bikes).
    1. Apparently, on the way to a gig/studio, one of the crew was waxing lyrical about this new bike he’d bought, that had ‘Disraeli’ gears. The malapropism stuck. At fifteen, I, amongst thousands of others, thought that Clapton was God. Now, much older, and listening again to live recordings of songs like Crossroads and Spoonful, I recognise that the real genius was Jack Bruce, who took the band to places they would otherwise never have reached.
    2. …as I said. I looked it up and found the same story seen below. How the 19th century figure is supposed to relate to “Sunshine of Your Love,” “Tales of Brave Ukysses,” etc. I still don’t see.
  7. This was a long solve for me as I went up to Lancashire on Sunday for a Covid-delayed Monday wedding. Anyway LOI on Wednesday was SIZE. FOI on Sunday was ECHT. POI was GLUTEUS M.
    I kept going because it was enjoyable and, with time to concentrate, not too difficult.
  8. I found this trickier than usual taking 37:16 to complete. Not sure where I started, but SITAR was LOI and I also took my time spotting STOLE. Was pleased to remember AGORAS and ECHT. Thanks Bob and Guy.
  9. My printer-ink replacement failed, so this was a rare ‘Did Not Start’! (I do not enter ‘The Land ot the Pink Squares’, Cartlandia!) l soon became otherwise engaged, anyway. This will incur a ten point penalty on the starting grid — next time out in Monza.

    Edited at 2021-09-12 04:12 pm (UTC)

    1. Nice of you to check in anyway. Not a big attendance today. I have some puzzles to catch up on myself, as I had to get a new iMac.

      Had to think of former Labour leader Edward Miliband when I read the clue for PLEASANTRY. I knew Eddie when he was an intern with my employer, The Nation, in ‘90 or ‘91…

      Edited at 2021-09-12 10:51 pm (UTC)

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