Under the circumstances, it went reasonably quickly – at least I finished before we landed. It was probably harder than the week before, but mercifully it was free from unknown answers clued by other unknowns. A plus for doing it later in the day was that I could use the iPad app for the Times newspaper, and avoid worrying about internet access.
I snaked my way around the grid, basically from left to right or bottom to top, so the last to yield was the NE corner, with 5ac and 7dn exposing gaps in my general knowledge. I was also reluctant to commit to 8dn – forgive the pun, but the clue seemed a bit thin. The clue of the day for me was definitely 1dn, with its imaginative “letterplay”! Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.
Clues are in blue, with definitions underlined. Answers are in BOLD CAPS, then wordplay. (ABC*) means ‘anagram of ABC’. Deletions are in [square brackets].
1 Fruit satisfied in fall (7)
PLUMMET: PLUM, MET.
5 Place to set free American skunk (7)
POLECAT: (PLACE TO*) is “set free”. Didn’t know a polecat is, or at least is called, a skunk. In my ignorance, I imagined it would be a cat! Still, with the anagram and the helpers, it was obvious enough.
9 Forgers concerned with one article in museum (11)
SMITHSONIAN: SMITHS=forgers (of metal), ON=concerned with, I=one, AN=article.
10 Letter recently ignored in stamp collecting (3)
11 Mass of eggs, but not the first year in bird sanctuary (6)
AVIARY: [c]AVIAR=mass of eggs, “not the first”; Y=year.
12 Comic show needs help over name (8)
COMEDIAN: COME=show, AID “over”, N=name.
14 Father rows with son about celebrity’s wicked cruelty (13)
DASTARDLINESS: DAD, LINES, S=son; all around STAR.
17 Making accusations about mostly unlawful politician (13)
RECRIMINATORY: RE=about, CRIMINA[l]=unlawful (mostly), TORY=politician.
21 I’m after gold that’s fake (8)
IMPOSTOR: IM, POST=after, OR=gold.
23 Only partially sanguine about money (6)
GUINEA: hidden answer.
25 There’s a point to this law needing reform (3)
AWL: (LAW*) “reformed”.
26 Popular — till people will show resentment (11)
INDIGNATION: IN=popular, DIG=till (the soil), NATION=people.
27 Completely or nearly closed account (7)
TOTALLY: TO=nearly closed, TALLY=account.
28 Note port light on front of German boat (7)
DREDGER: D=(musical) note, RED=port light, GER= “front of” GER[man].
1 Mischievous child cuts leg off its first unit (6)
PASCAL: “cut the (right) ‘leg’ off” the R of RASCAL, to produce PASCAL. An imaginative device … well done setter! (On edit, to explain further: it’s a visual clue. Write down a capital R, and erase the line that points down towards 4 o’clock on the watch dial. That leaves you with a capital P. Voila … you’ve changed RASCAL to PASCAL!)
2 One sacked after university abandons resistance (7)
UNIFIED: UNI, FI[r]ED. Dropping the R is “abandoning resistance”.
3 Graduate severe about one current leading teacher (9)
MAHARISHI: MA, HARSH around I=one, followed by I=current. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was a guru to the Beatles among others.
4 Pack’s expelled a communist (4)
TROT: take a T[a]ROT pack, and expel the A.
5 Original clock face has proper gold on it (10)
PRIMORDIAL: PRIM=proper, OR=gold, DIAL=clock face. All assembled as indicated.
6 Organ adds energy for fast movement (5)
LUNGE: LUNG, E=energy.
7 Cut wood, framing picture in deal successfully (7)
COPPICE: PIC[ture] inside COPE=deal successfully. Apparently a coppice is regularly trimmed, or “coppiced”. Another thing I didn’t know!
8 Most fine chicks could be at risk in this? (8)
THINNEST: could chicks really be in danger of falling out of a thin nest, or is this just whimsy?
13 Chap, though elderly, plays regularly in several ways (10)
MANIFOLDLY: MAN=chap, IF=though, OLD=elderly, LY=even letters of plays.
15 Inject copper into deformed toenail (9)
INOCULATE: CU=copper in (TOENAIL*) “deformed”.
16 Annoying train, it runs irregularly (8)
IRRITANT: (TAIN IT R*) “irregularly”, where R=runs is our cricket cameo of the day.
18 Company scheme limits one crew member (7)
COPILOT: CO=company, PLOT=scheme “limiting” I=one.
19 What a jerk’s doing never rising before monarch? (7)
YANKING: YAN=nay “rising”=never, KING=monarch.
20 One not allowing large headline (6)
BANNER: double definition.
22 Small bag for art (5)
SKILL: S=SMALL, KILL=bag.
24 Old were furious when right’s lost (4)