This entry was posted on Sunday, December 1, 2013 but has been backdated to place it in the proper sequence in the Blog Archive.
Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday TimesST 4561
Date of Publication in The Sunday TimesSunday, October 27, 2013
Link to Full ReviewTimes for the Times [ST 4561]
Times for the Times Review Written ByDave Perry
Dave Perry's Solving Time★★★
Date of Publication in the Toronto StarSaturday, November 16, 2013
Date of Publication in The Vancouver SunSaturday, November 23, 2013[Note 2]
█ - solved without assistance
█ - incorrect prior to use of puzzle solving tools
█ - solved with assistance from puzzle solving tools
█ - solved with aid of checking letters provided by puzzle solving tools
█ - unsolved or incorrect prior to visiting Times for the Times
█ - solved with aid of checking letters provided by solutions from Times for the Times
 This puzzle appears on the Sunday puzzles pages in the Saturday, November 23, 2013 edition of The Ottawa Citizen.
 Due to the paywall that has been erected on its web site, I am no longer able to verify the puzzle that is published in the Vancouver Sun.
IntroductionAs I worked off and on at this puzzle over the course of the past week — interspersed with several other puzzles — it is somewhat difficult to formulate a proper assessment of it. While I did find it fairly difficult, my lack of sustained concentration on the puzzle may have contributed to that feeling.
Notes on Today's Puzzle
This commentary should be read in conjunction with the full review at Times for the Times, to which a link is provided in the table above. The underlined portion of the clue is the definition.
1a Concerned with the Borders, stays in Peebles (7)
Borders refers to the boundary and adjoining districts between Scotland and England. Peebles is a burgh in Peeblesshire in the Local Government area of Scottish Borders, lying on the River Tweed.
In the Scottish dialect (as well as South African dialect), stay means to live permanently ⇒
where do you stay?. Thus, in Peebles (a town in the Scottish lowlands), "stays" would be a synonym for "resides", whereas in most places it would merely indicate a sojourn.
5a Reading players disheartened about holding United (7)
Reading Football Club is an English professional football [soccer] club, based in Reading (pronounced RED-ing), that plays in The Championship (properly called the Football League Championship) which is the second level of league football in England.
Manchester United Football Club (often referred to as Man U or simply United) is an English professional football [soccer] club, based at Old Trafford [football stadium] in Old Trafford [district of Manchester], Greater Manchester, that plays in the Premier League (the top level in the English football league system).
Reading and United currently play at different levels of the English football league system — and therefore presumably would not face each other. However, Reading did compete in the 2012–13 Premier League season, having gained promotion at the end of the 2011–12 season, after winning The Championship. Alas, for them, their good fortune did not last. Reading is competing in The Championship again this season, having been relegated after one year back in the top flight.
9a What in music could be represented as sliding? (9)
While I realized that it was not the first time that I had encountered this musical term in a puzzle, it was stored away so deeply in my mind that I could not force it to the surface. It certainly would have helped immensely had I recognized that the clue contains an anagram.
In music, a glissando (plural glissandi or glissandos) is a continuous slide upwards or downwards between two notes.
10a Letter showing first from Oxford? Excellent! (5)
Mega is a [seemingly British] informal term meaning excellent ⇒
it will be a mega film. In North America, the term seems to be seen only in the alternate sense of very large or huge ⇒
he has signed a mega deal to make five movies.
Omega is the last letter of the Greek alphabet (Ω, ω).
11a Toy gun seen behind bandit's back (6)
12a Vocal pieces fare well together in headphones (8)
In a neat piece of wordplay, "fare well together" indicates 'farewell'.
In Britain, ta-ta is an informal way to say goodbye ⇒
well, I’ll say ta-ta, love.
Cans is a [possibly British] informal term for headphones.
14a New pay cut with Post Office work is loony (10)
In music, Op. (also op.) is an abbreviation meaning opus (work). It is used before a number given to each work of a particular composer, usually indicating the order of publication.
16a Shock comes from having rear-end chopped off in daring display (4)
18a Former Prime Minister's in a hole, according to reports (4)
Pitt is the name of two British Tory statesmen:
- William, 1st Earl of Chatham (1708–78); known as Pitt the Elder. As Secretary of State (effectively Prime Minister), he headed coalition governments 1756–61 and 1766-8. He brought the Seven Years War to an end in 1763 and also masterminded the conquest of French possessions overseas, particularly in Canada and India.
- William (1759–1806), Prime Minister 1783–1801 and 1804-6, the son of Pitt the Elder; known as Pitt the Younger. The youngest-ever Prime Minister, he introduced reforms to reduce the national debt.
19a A consumer out to lunch eats one? (4,6)
22a Youngster gets sporting start on horse in front of Her Majesty (8)
A tee is a cleared space on a golf course, from which the ball is struck at the beginning of play for each hole ⇒
he smashes the ball off the 15th tee.
The regnal ciphers (monograms) of British monarchs are initials formed from the Latin version of their first name followed by either Rex or Regina (Latin for king or queen, respectively). Thus, the regnal cipher of Queen Elizabeth is ER — from the Latin Elizabetha Regina.
23a US is unwanted in troubled Austrian capital (6)
Obviously the solution has to be Vienna. Not!
Tirana is the capital of Albania, on the Ishm River in central Albania; population 407,000 (est. 2009). Founded by the Turks in the 17th century, it became capital of Albania in 1920.
26a Caught try by forward in the end (5)
I believe that the surface reading is meant to evoke the sport of rugby, in which a try is an act of touching the ball down behind the opposing goal line, scoring points and entitling the scoring side to a kick at goal.
27a After one disembarked, coaches left in entrance (9)
In the cryptic reading, entrance is used as a verb meaning to fill (someone) with wonder and delight, holding their entire attention ⇒
I was entranced by the city’s beauty.
28a It's rumoured tango dance has authority (4,3)
Tango is a code word representing the letter T, used in radio communication.
Hey (or hay) is (1) a circular figure in country dancing or (2) a former country dance in which the dancers wove in and out of a circle.
The wordplay is T (tango) + HEY (dance) + (has) SAY (authority).
29a Like the main cocaine supply (7)
The main is an archaic or literary term referring to the open ocean.
It always seems to slip my mind that, in situations such as this, supply must be interpreted as an adverb meaning in a supple way.
1d Trendy and socially aware resort's needing no introduction (5-2)
The term right-on is used in the sense of modern, trendy, and socially aware or relevant ⇒
the young, right-on student crowdrather than [what may be a North American usage] absolutely right or perfectly true.
Brighton is a resort on the south coast of England, in East Sussex; population 127,700 (est. 2009).
2d Literary genre returns in terrific scenes (3-2)
3d Girl's an unhealthy colour in bar (8)
Di is surely the most popular girl's name in Crosswordland.
4d Siemens staff, but not the number one, all there (4)
The surface reading refers to Siemens AG, a German multinational engineering and electronics conglomerate headquartered in Munich and Berlin. It is the largest Europe-based electronics and electrical engineering company.
In physics, the siemens (abbreviation S) is the SI unit of conductance, equal to one reciprocal ohm.
5d One comes between Prince and pop singer, a temperamental lady (5,5)
In the surface reading, Prince (mononym of Prince Rogers Nelson) is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and actor.
Madonna (mononym of Madonna Louise Ciccone) is an American singer-songwriter, actress, author, director, entrepreneur and philanthropist.
6d Son to share cultural heritage in rests (6)
7d Boxing ace Prescott hit onlooker (9)
John Prescott, Baron Prescott is a British Labour politician who was the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007. During the 2001 election campaign, Prescott was campaigning in Rhyl, Denbighshire when farmer Craig Evans threw an egg at him, which struck him in the neck. Prescott, a former amateur boxer, responded immediately with a straight left to the jaw. The incident, overshadowing the launch of the Labour Party manifesto on that day, was captured by numerous television crews. Tony Blair [at the time, British Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party] responded succinctly, stating, "John is John". A National Opinion Polls (NOP) survey found that the incident appeared to do no public harm to Prescott, and may even have benefited his standing amongst male voters.
8d How unruly dogs need to be taken for tricks (5,2)
In Britain, a lead is a strap or cord for restraining and guiding a dog or other domestic animal ⇒
the dog is our constant walking companion and is always kept on a lead. The word leash (which would be more commonly used in North America) also seems to be used in the UK.
13d New play about pop, it seems (10)
15d Decrepit and remote cathedral church (5,4)
Notre Dame is a Gothic cathedral church in Paris, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, on the Île de la Cité (an island in the Seine). It was built between 1163 and 1250 and is especially noted for its innovatory flying buttresses and sculptured facade.
17d House paper offers stock in great demand (3,5)
18d Large sum of money recently stolen gets random criticism (7)
Pots of money is an informal expression meaning a very large amount of money ⇒
people who’ve got pots of money in the bank.
20d No end of alarm, climate's changing? That can be stretched (7)
21d Criticise the German patrol cars (6)
In German, das is one of the forms taken by the definite article.
In Britain, a panda car (or, presumably, just panda) is an informal name for a small police patrol car (originally black and white or blue and white).
24d Trouble on navy deck (5)
The Royal Navy (abbreviation RN) is the British navy.
25d One's heard order for starter is a pudding (4)
Sago is an edible starch which is obtained primarily from the sago palm [Metroxylon sagu, family Palmae] as well as from any of a number of other palms or cycads. The pith inside the trunk is scraped out, washed, and dried to produce a flour or processed to produce the granular sago (sago 'pearls') used in the West. Sago pudding (which may also be called simply sago) is a sweet dish [i.e., dessert] made from sago and milk. While I am personally not familiar with sago, I am certainly well acquainted with tapioca which apparently is a very similar product.
Key to Reference Sources:Signing off for this week — Falcon
 - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
 - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
 - TheFreeDictionary.com (American Heritage Dictionary)
 - TheFreeDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
 - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Dictionary of English)
 - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford American Dictionary)
 - Wikipedia
 - Reverso Online Dictionary (Collins French-English Dictionary)
 - Infoplease (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
 - CollinsDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
 - TheFreeDictionary.com (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)