This was a lovely puzzle from Joker – a good range of difficulty in the clues and some very inventive ones to boot. I particularly liked 17ac: not a double definition, not a triple, not a quadruple, but a quintuple! And all for a little three-letter word (although good luck devising a quintuple-definition clue for a long word). I don’t remember seeing such a clue. Ok, so the nature of the beast meant the surface reading wasn’t perhaps the smoothest in the crossword (I’d give that to 10ac) but the novelty and the post-solve parsing of it made it great fun: loved it! I would have finished within my target time had it not been for 2d and 18d, with 2d delaying me by a couple of minutes and then 18d delaying me by a few minutes more, until I gave up and looked up the answer, all of which is a rather longwinded way of saying this was a DNF. Definitions underlined, and many thanks to Joker.
|1||Reported piece of ship’s canvas in public auction
SALE: if said, or reported, sounds the same as SAIL (piece of ship’s canvas)
See sign of lameness in G&S before the end of Ruddigore
GLIMPSE: LIMP (sign of lameness) goes in G and S, before E (end of Ruddigore)
Mean girl resorting to theft
PENNY-PINCHING: or a girl (PENNY) resorting to theft (PINCHING).
Unit working with energy
ONE: ON (working) with E (energy)
|10||What leads everyone to higher individual conduct?
ETHIC: a very nice all-in-one clue, where the definition is the whole clue. “Ethic” might be what leads everyone to higher individual conduct, and Ethic is also the first letters (or the “leads”) of the final five words.
|12||I pester about a short rest period
RESPITE: Anagram (about) of I PESTER.
Deal with other ranks having beer outside
SORT OUT: O.R. (other ranks) has STOUT (beer) outside/around it.
Run into each other amidst cruise guests
SEGUE: hidden in (amidst) cruiSE GUEsts.
Group fixed stage scenery to mount sequence of songs
SET: a quintuple definition, with each separate underlined bit a different definition of the word “set”.
Realising redundant sign needs replacing
UNDERSTANDING: anagram (needs replacing) of redundant sign.
|21||Observe conflict with European software that is intrusive
SPYWARE: SPY (observe) WAR (conflict) E (European)
|22||Attend strike repeatedly
BEAT: To “attend” is to “be at”. Nice and neat little one, this.
Hush up drink with journalists
SUPPRESS: SUP (drink) PRESS (journalists)
|2||Left with real estate
LAND: L (left) AND (with). Another nice and neat little one. My delay was trying to think of a 3-letter word for “real” or a 4-letter one for “estate”.
|3||Fifty I had crammed into short German aircraft
GLIDER: L (50 in Roman numerals) I’D (i had) crammed into GER (short German).
|4||Emphatic about Conservative being self contradictory
INCONSISTENT: INSISTENT (emphatic) going about/outside CON(servative).
|5||Gasping about one work of art
PAINTING: PANTING (gasping) about I (one).
Border boundary of bushes needs top trimmed
EDGE: HEDGE (boundary of bushes) needs the top, or first letter, trimmed.
Feeling one’s not quite right moving a phony orchid
HYPOCHONDRIA: Anagram (moving) of A PHONY ORCHID
Armorial bearings hardly unusual around the Queen
HERALDRY: anagram (unusual) of HARDLY going around E.R. (the Queen).
Ability to see certainly is needed in larger rowing boat
EYESIGHT: YES (certainly) is needed inside EIGHT (larger rowing boat).
Troublesome fly is established and estimated on the rise
TSETSE: Est. and est. (established and estimated) going upwards (on the rise).
|18||Works for a couple lacking time as contribution to society perhaps
DUES: DUETS are works for a couple; lose the T for time. I had ?U?S and was assuming “works” was the definition, with the actual definition merely providing the “S”. I struggled for a bit but couldn’t get “runs” out of my head. I was miles away from the answer.
Small child needs me to hold it
MITE: ME holds IT. And yet another nice and neat little one.