Toughie No 1342 by Firefly
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BD Rating – Difficulty ** – Enjoyment **
I found this a mixture of some very easy clues (most of the twelve 4-letter ones) and others where I had to do some research to understand the answer fully. There’s a theme based on 15d (which I solved by the back-door having got 3d first). Kennel Club members may object that the examples are not really a 15d but I think the term is being used in the informal rather than the specific sense. I enjoyed selecting the pictures.
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1a Group of lags report a deficient meal (11)
CONSTELLATE – string together an informal word for lags or convicts, a verb to report or relate, A and a meal deficient in the final letter. The answer is a literary verb meaning to group or cluster together.
8a Reps rang re a change in schedules (11)
PREARRANGES – anagram (change) of REPS RANG RE A.
11a Affirmations, or just one? (4)
AYES – split 1,3 for just one affirmation.
12a List the setter’s name and alma mater (4)
MENU – what the setter may call himself followed by N(ame) and the abbreviation of a typical alma mater.
13a 150 thrown out of arcade after opening run riot (7)
ROISTER – remove the Roman numeral for 150 from an arcade or covered passage and place what remains after the opening letter of R(un).
15a A spasm fading precedes rheumatical distorting of a bone (7)
HUMERAL – remove (fading) a spasm (1,3) from rheumatical before making an anagram (distorting) of what you have left.
16a Tone upset by soprano, melodramatically (5)
LEMON – this tone or shade is reversed in (upset by) the clue. Upset works better as a reversal indicator in a down clue.
17a Wood trade (4)
DEAL – double definition.
18a St Thomas seen off and on in Zeno’s place? (4)
STOA – just the odd letters of St Thomas. The answer is a covered colonnade and the most famous one was the **** Poikile in ancient Athens from which the philosopher Zeno lectured on stoicism. Since we’re selecting the odd letters shouldn’t it be ‘on and off’ rather than ‘off and on’?
19a Son’s not a paragon! (5)
SAINT – S(on) is followed by an informal way of saying ‘S NOT.
21a Cover sweetheart front to back with ‘erbage (7)
OVERLAY – a sweetheart with its first letter moved to the back is followed by dried grass without its aspirated letter.
22a Short signal about flipping engineers finding fault (7)
DEMERIT – an alternative word for the short signal used in Morse code contains the reversal (flipping) of the army’s electrical and mechanical engineers.
23a Behold — in the flesh! (4)
LOIN – an exclamation meaning behold followed by IN.
26a Young Conservative has a long face initially (4)
CALF – C(onservative) followed by the initial letters of three words in the clue.
27a Capital familiarly represented as Gothic, fitly (4,2,5)
CITY OF LIGHT – an anagram (re-presented as) of GOTHIC FITLY. The phrase usually refers to Paris, possibly because it was the first European city to have street lighting in the 1860s. JB has suggested a rival city (Lisbon) as the city of light – this may well go to a penalty shoot-out!
28a Insect takes sweet drink, going to heart of flower — hazel maybe? (6-5)
MEADOW-BROWN – charade of a sweet drink made with honey, the middle letters of flower and what hazel is a shade of.
2d Sweeps maybe get a bit of hoarseness (4)
OARS – hidden (a bit of) in the clue. Sweeps are long varieties of these.
3d Lies spread about Peter’s 15 Down (7)
SPANIEL – an anagram (spread) of LIES containing Barrie’s Peter.
4d Rear light’s not right, hence peer? (4)
EARL – remove right (the whole word, not an abbreviation) from rear light.
5d Extended period in Marathon? (4,3)
LONG RUN – double definition.
6d Bear to join up (4)
TEEM – reverse (up) a verb to join or come together. The BRB confirms that one of the meanings of the answer is to bear or be fruitful.
7d Comedy scientist fails to finish drawing 15 Down (11)
LABRADOODLE – there was apparently a BBC sitcom about scientists called *** **** (it can’t have been very successful because it only lasted one series). Anyway, we have to drop the last letter from one of these scientists (fails to finish) and follow up with a drawing made absent-mindedly.
8d Wandering fairy’s wretched without husband (11)
PERIPATETIC – charade of a fairy from Persian mythology and an adjective meaning wretched or woeful without the H(usband).
9d Admin area in Tate’s racier after refurbishment (11)
SECRETARIAT – an anagram (after refurbishment) of TATE’S RACIER.
10d Clean Mum’s pet — a 15 Down? (4,7)
BULL MASTIFF – a slang verb meaning to clean and polish one’s military kit to within an inch of its life is followed by an affectionate term for mum plus the ‘S and a pet or fit of the sulks. I was not aware, prior to consulting the BRB, that the first word could be a verb as well as a noun and I don’t understand why Mum is capitalised.
14d Broadcast nearly ruined when intro’s lost (5)
RELAY – an anagram (ruined) of (n)EARLY.
15d Harry gets house north of stadium with 50 per cent off (5)
HOUND – the abbreviation for house is followed by (north of) the second half of a sports stadium.
19d Supposing Miliband embraces twinkling 15 Down? (7)
SAMOYED – put together a word meaning supposing or ‘as a hypothesis’ and Mr Miliband’s forename, then insert a twinkling or short period of time.
20d Note second layer’s more crusty (7)
TESTIER – a note from tonic sol-fa is followed by S(econd) and a layer or row.
24d Flower of love, opening in Egypt (4)
NILE – love (in tennis scoring) followed by the opening letter of Egypt.
25d Sundry acres — that’s a relief, we hear! (1,3)
A FEW – the abbreviation for acres followed by what sounds like an expression of relief. The abbreviation for acres (as a plural rather than singular) is not in my edition of the BRB but it is in Chambers XWD Dictionary of Crossword Abbreviations.
26d Carbon method employed in 15 Down (4)
CHOW – the chemical symbol for carbon is followed by a noun meaning the method employed.
The clue I liked best was 8d. Let us know which one(s) delighted you.
If you’re not yet completely puzzled-out and you haven’t found her yet, Arachne is in sparkling form in the Guardian.