Posted by Eileen on February 14th, 2009
In the absence of the scheduled blogger, I’m offering this as a late substitute, so apologies for any typos, etc. I didn’t expect to be blogging this puzzle, so made no notes as I solved it but I remember well that it took me longer than usual and was, along the way, extremely frustrating but ultimately very satisfying to have finished. A worthy prize puzzle, I reckon.
7 CHINLESS: IN + L inside CHESS; I couldn’t believe it when I saw this first clue: I’d sent Paul [Cryptica] a clue for ‘chinless wonder’ the day before!
9 AIRGUN: A + IRGUN: [ thanks to Google] IRGUN was a militant Zionist group which operated in Palestine between 1931 and 1948.
10, 24 BRANDISH: BRAN + DISH: this is the third time in a few months that Araucaria has used ‘refuse’ for BRAN. The first time, it caused great controversy!
11, 23 HAD CASSIUS BEEN OBESER, WOULD HE HAVE MURDERED CAESAR? Usually, these long answers are the ones that get you started but this one was one of the last to go in. The  at the beginning misled me. Stupidly, I thought it indicated an extra two-letter word to be inserted. Having missed that it referred to 2dn [ANON] I thought the answer must be a quotation from ‘Julius Caesar’ and practically re-read the play trying to find it. I was also convinced for ages that the last word must be ‘abuser’ or ‘abaser’. I’m afraid that I haven’t been able to trace any reference to the quotation [sorry, Mr Beaver - perhaps someone else can help!] and suspect that Anon might be Araucaria himself. It is, of course, a reference to Julius Caesar’s remark:
‘Let me have men around me that are fat…
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much; such men are dangerous.’
12 SLICER: LICE inside S[ome] R[espectable]
14 CELERITY: CELER[IT]Y
15 GROUSE: ref to the sign seen on low beams in pubs: ‘Duck or Grouse’
17 RELICS: [SLICER]*
20 MURDERED: [DRUM] < + [REED]*
22 CAESAR: I shall make no comment on this ‘homophone’ of ‘seize a’!
25 ASHTON: ASH + [NOT] < ‘with stress’ = ‘underline’, homophone of ‘under Lyne’
26 NOSE CONE: SECON[d] inside [ONE]*
1 SHORT LEG: fielding position in cricket
2 ANON: [c]ANON
3 ZEPHYR: the last one to go in – and then only with a word check. Zephyr, of course, is the west wind but, apparently, it can also be ‘a shawl, coat, shirt, etc of light gauzy material’. Araucaria is stretching it here, even for me!
4 CANAILLE: ‘the mob’: homophone of ‘Can I’
5 PROSERPINE: PROSER + PINE: Proserpine [or Proserpina] was the Roman goddess of the Underworld, equivalent to the Greek Persephone
6 AUGUST: I’m not exactly sure how this works – obviously a ref to Caesar Augustus and AUGUST = ‘imposing’
8 SEDUCE: SE[DUCE]E
13 COORDINATE: CO + OR[DIN]ATE
16 SARABAND: ARAB in SAND [his element]: a saraband is a Spanish dance
18 SWANSONG: SWANSON G. : Gloria Swanson was a star of silent films but best known for ‘Sunset Boulevard’ 1950. ‘Byrd’, homophone of ‘bird’, a reference to the ancient belief that the mute swan sang only once, just before it died.
19 EDISON: NO SIDE <: ‘No side’ is the end of a rugby match: painfully topical!
21 UNEASY: [ANY USE]*: ‘Unneasy lies the head that wears a crown’: Henry IV Part II
22 CORPSE: COR[PS]E
24 DUCK: cd. we seem to have had a few duck / down / feathers clues lately