Toughie No 1345 by Messinae
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BD Rating - Difficulty *** - Enjoyment ***
Blue skies over Rutland and a note of springlike warmth in the air. I made altogether heavier weather of the top half of this nice Messinae puzzle that gets another Toughie week underway. There is something of a rustic thread running through some of the clues and solutions, possibly fortuitous.
Do let us know how you got on and what you thought. First-time commenters especially welcome!
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1a It caters for visits re octane (7,7)
SERVICE STATION An anagram (caters for) of VISITS RE OCTANE. The clue is self-defining.
9a Source of authority -- a royal one with bite (7)
ARBITER The A from the clue plus the abbreviation for Royal and something that bites.
10a Spirited item at tea dance needs bachelor (3,4)
RUM BABA A type of dance plus the letters of a bachelor's degree.
11a Investigator doesn't finish college (3)
TEC A type of college in the UK minus its last letter (doesn't finish).
12a Cheers about one charged following provincial university's punishment (11)
RUSTICATION A colloquial word for thank you or cheers, reversed (about), plus an electrically charged particle, all of which is preceded by a word for provincial or rural.
14a Argue about a boy (6)
REASON About or referring to, A from the clue, and a word for boy.
15a China to provide crew for old chopper (8)
PALSTAFF ... A Bronze Age axe, it turns out. A colloquial word for friend or mate (china plate in Cockney rhyming slang) plus a verb meaning to supply personnel for.
17a Sybil about to sing chorus knocking back traditional drinks (4,4)
REAL ALES A clairvoyant or oracle (like the Sybils of Ancient Greece) goes round (about) an onomatopoeic verb meaning to sing along, all of which is then reversed (knocking back).
19a Birds heading off for Scottish islands (6)
INCHES ... a word for island (here in the plural) deriving from Gaelic and found in Scottish place names. A type of bird (in the plural) minus its initial letter (heading off).
22a Fashionable hero vetoing changes (2,3,6)
IN THE GROOVE An anagram (changes) of HERO VETOING.
23a Sounds like greeting current in Somerset (3)
YEO A river name that sounds like a word used in greeting, mainly in recent American English.
24a Fiddlesticks made of Oriental woods (7)
EYEWASH The compass direction of the Orient, followed by two types of wood.
26a Fixing pole, not very well (7)
NAILING One of the two geographical poles, then a word meaning unwell.
27a Boorish type in noble line to do damage to family (7,7)
COUNTRY BUMPKIN ... in the original sense of boor meaning peasant. A four-part charade of a foreign noble, the abbreviation for railway (line), to do damage to (e.g. a car), and family.
1d Not all there is can deter brat being troublesome (14)
SCATTERBRAINED An anagram (being troublesome) of IS CAN DETER BRAT.
2d Old instrument accountant used in novel (7)
REBECCA A mediaeval fiddle plus the abbreviation for a chartered accountant.
3d Law enforcers worried to act as go-between? (11)
INTERPOLATE An international police body plus a word meaning worried or bugged. (The cryptic definition is not fair since the solution means to create a kind of "go-between", not to act as one.)
4d Small Frenchman gets up, leaving (6)
EGRESS The abbreviation for small plus a male name in French, all reversed (gets up).
5d Pupil after school time in a work station (8)
TERMINAL A single-letter abbreviation for a pupil or trainee goes after a period of the school calendar and IN A from the clue.
6d Queen's mate closed motorway (3)
TOM Closed (like a door, but not tight shut) plus the abbreviation for Motorway.
7d Instrument in Volvo car I navigated (7)
OCARINA The solution is hidden inside VOLVOCARINAVIGATED
8d Gangster's weapon with last of ammunition in defeated warlord -- about time (4-3,7)
SAWN-OFF SHOTGUN The last letter of ammunition inside a phrase meaning defeated or put to flight, then an Asian warlord around the symbol for time in maths and science.
13d Lousy batsmen I see being out a lot (11)
ABSENTEEISM An anagram (lousy) of BATSMEN I SEE.
16d One may be Googling 'Brand, entertainer' (8)
SEARCHER To brand or scorch, plus a singer consisting largely of plastic.
18d Redcoat's dashing style (3,4)
ART DECO An anagram (dashing) of REDCOAT.
20d Outside Scottish town is rustic farmyard feature (7)
HAYRICK A town in south-west Scotland goes inside a US word for a rustic or 27a.
21d Mischievous fellow and posh one make light conversation (6)
HOBNOB A word for a puckish creature or person (which can also mean a rustic, according to Chambers), and one for a person of wealth or importance.
25d Lapwing's regularly taken bit of cereal (3)
AWN Alternate letters (regularly taken) of LAPWING.
12a, 27a, 20d and (much more tenuously) 21d were what suggested the rustic thread. We had 24 last week, I think.
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