Perhaps I should abandon these little commentaries. Parsing the clues some weeks after writing them, as I do, reveals failings that I would rather not dwell upon, yet I often feel compelled to mention them here.
This puzzle seems to have an excess of hidden-word clues. I should not beat myself up about these things, I suppose. I can offer the excuse that at least hidden words are pretty easy and make up for some of the trickier clues here, some of which are on reflection perhaps not entirely fair.
There I go again. I am never surprised at complaints. Indeed I am surprised I don’t get more, but then if I do I am naturally more inclined to defend than apologise.
The Times, I understand, imposes some excellent rules on its setters: no more than two plurals per puzzle (and those not to share a final S), for example, and I should really do the same sort of thing to myself. No more than two hidden words per puzzle (and an average over multiple puzzles of less than one) would be a good start.
I fear however that these suspicions of regret are too late since the next two or three puzzles have probably broken the self-imposed and only-supposed rule and have already been committed to print.
|Across||Answers and Clues||Explanations|
|Pen one’s cruel letters in disguise (9)||Anagram of ONES CRUEL|
|Catch beast with rope also knotted around front of scooter (5)||Anagram of ALSO containing front of scooter = S|
|It’s briefly fashionable to put more into seafood (7)||put more = ADD, seafood = FISH|
|In some of the harvest I get a trace (7)||Hidden word, harVEST I GE t|
|Coaches here but one could go on foot (8)||Double definition|
|An Indian city said by some to be like another (5)||Homophone|
|Create a demand in the market for a bad speller (7)||Anagram of SPELLER|
|You will often find this where there is smoke (7)||Cryptic definition|
|Clergyman doesn’t begin criminal activity (5)||Deletion, p/ARSON|
|I decay at 101 when back in Virginia, a state of Australia (8)||I decay = IROT, at 101 = CI, when back = ICTOR, contained by Virginia = VA|
|Instructed to grab broken hoe, making small purchase (7)||Instructed = TOLD, to grab = containment indicator, broken = anagram indicator, anagram of HOE|
|Force central firm to make a place for fruitful enterprise (7)||Force central = ORC, firm = HARD|
|A fluid connection used in linguistic analysis (5)||Hidden word, linguisti CANAL ysis|
|As scenery is ruined it becomes essential (9)||Anagram of AS SCENERY.|
|Down||Answers and Clues||Explanations|
|Worker that flies noisily for the meat (4)||Worker that flies = BEE + noisily = F|
|Chilled out in police detention (4)||Hidden word, pol ICE Detention|
|Meek and mild when I’m back in a home (8)||Meek and mild = DOCILE including I’m back = MI|
|Her cue has to be rewritten. Get cards for this (6)||Anagram of HER CUE|
|They save, strangely enough, from being quite stout (8)||Anagram of THEY SAVE|
|Clips shown quietly in tutorial (6)||quietly = P, tutorial = CLASS|
|Earthmoving is of some use. Is Michelangelo? (7)||Hidden word, u SE IS MIChelangeno|
|A herb much used in the food of Naples or Genoa perhaps (7)||Anagram of OR GENOA|
|Change later (5)||Anagram|
|Flexible A-list characters, somehow politically correct on the outside (7)||Anagram of ALIST contained by politically correct = PC|
|Oriental has English leader behind (7)||English leader = E, behind = ASTERN|
|Duck cooked dear (5,3)||Duck = LOVE, cooked = DONE|
|Volume storage solution is in reserve, a task for the judge (8)||reserve = BOOK, a task for the judge = CASE|
|The professor’s seat of learning (5)||double definition|
|Pasta can make one old (6)||Anagram of ONE OLD|
|Credit a cry of pain for a lowered posture (6)||Credit = CR, a cry of pain = OUCH|
|Domestic help for a mother and husband (4)||a mother = A MA + husband = H|
|Time passed in a stupefied state for the Listener (4)||Homophone, stupefied state = DAZE.|