Toughie No 1334 by Micawber
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BD Rating – Difficulty ** – Enjoyment *****
I always get a warm feeling from a Micawber crossword (very handy this morning when it’s blowing a gale outside) and, luckily for me, they very often appear on Wednesdays. This one is very much at the easier end of his spectrum but as enjoyable as ever.
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1a Play mental games on strange youth’s PC (5,3)
PSYCH OUT – an anagram (strange) of YOUTH’S PC.
6a Law officer reversed deployment to ease tension (6)
DEFUSE – reverse a slang term for an FBI agent and add another word for deployment.
9a At uni, tryst results in change of status (6)
UPDATE – charade of an adverb meaning at university and a romantic tryst.
10a Current threat — might that describe Boris? (8)
UNDERTOW – split this threat to swimmers (5,3) to get a cryptic description of the current mayor of London and parliamentary candidate, Mr Johnson. The second word means fibres of flax, hemp or jute prepared for spinning. These are light-coloured so a ***-head is someone with light-coloured or tousled hair.
11a A bit emotionless, getting flatter (8)
BLANDISH – double definition, the first an adjective and the second a verb.
12a Existence of vast temporary camp leaders denied (6)
ENTITY – we have to start with a phrase (4,4) meaning a large facility to house homeless or displaced people under canvas (the phrase is not in my edition of the BRB). Then we have to drop the first letter of each word (leaders denied) and squash together what’s left.
13a A US phone-in with PM derailed by petty point-scoring (3-9)
ONE-UPMANSHIP – an anagram (derailed) of A US PHONE-IN and PM. I do hope it’s not another hoax call for the PM.
16a Discovery, say, of room service making regular trips (5,7)
SPACE SHUTTLE – charade of a word meaning room or expanse and a transport service making regular trips between two points.
19a They’re heard in church giving outline of pleas on charity (6)
PSALMS – the outer letters of pleas are followed by charity.
21a What someone who’s been overfishing might do — the fool! (8)
DUMPLING – split the answer (4,4) to get what a fisherman who’s exceeded his quota might have to do.
23a Jumper’s place for louse, say (8)
PARASITE – charade of the informal short form of a military jumper and a place.
24a Instrument for Piper’s son? (3-3)
TOM-TOM – this could be the thieving piper’s son from the nursery rhyme. Apparently the ‘pig’ that he stole was not a porker but a small pastry with a fruit filling (blogging is great for the accumulation of trivia).
25a Dislike being deployed repeatedly (6)
RESENT – in the form 2-4 this means deployed or dispatched for a subsequent time.
26a Pattern of actions reportedly offended Catholic church (8)
SYNDROME – string together what sounds like offended or transgressed and the city that is a metonym for the Roman Catholic church.
2d/3d Means of delivery with flexibility and range (6,5)
SUPPLY CHAIN – an adverb meaning ‘with flexibility’ followed by another word for a range of mountains.
3d See 2d
4d Oddly, Lenin cracking old, mostly Irish jokes (3-6)
ONE-LINERS – an anagram (oddly) of LENIN comes between (cracking) O(ld) and most of a word for the Irish Gaelic language.
5d Restore ram that’s sore internally (5,2)
TOUCH UP – another word for a ram with an exclamation of pain (that’s sore) inside it.
6d Avoid female BBC head getting in (5)
DODGE – a female animal containing the abbreviation for the head honcho at the BBC.
7d Anticipation of a setter confounded (9)
FORETASTE – an anagram (confounded) of OF A SETTER.
8d Drink that’s produced by cow, blended is the top and bottom of it (8)
SMOOTHIE – a semi-all-in-one. What’s produced, vocally, by a cow is topped and tailed by an anagram (blended) of IS THE.
13d Swing singer featuring in bill — neither top nor bottom (9)
OSCILLATE – an old Scouse singer goes inside a bill or placard without its top and bottom letters. Here’s the very talented Sheridan Smith:
14d Robot packing fruit in metal can at base (9)
AUTOMATON – an item of fruit is packed between the chemical symbol for an expensive metal and the last letter (base) of can.
15d Attached to either side of stake, heart of blaze consumed heretic (8)
APOSTATE – a stake or pole is preceded by the central (heart) letter of blaze and followed by a verb meaning consumed.
17d Doctor in fantastic, timeless Sunset Strip (7)
UNDRESS – an abbreviation for doctor goes inside an anagram (fantastic) of SUNSE(t).
18d Spill the beans — being paranoid, I fear everyone’s got it except me, in the end! (6)
INFORM – if I’m paranoid I fear that everyone’s got it ** *** **. Drop the last letter of me and squash up what remains.
20d Extremely poor relations in street (5)
SKINT – insert a word for relations (familial, not sexual!) in the abbreviation for street.
22d Primate that might be found outside la vieille ville? (5)
LEMUR – split the answer (2,3) and you have (in the appropriate language) the defensive structure surrounding la vieille ville.
10a, 21a and 22d were all short-listed today but when I opened the envelope the winner was 18d. Let us know which clue(s) you liked.