Toughie No 1362 by Firefly
Hints and tips by Gazza
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BD Rating – Difficulty *** – Enjoyment ***
I was helped considerably by getting the four long answers round the periphery pretty quickly and this one didn’t pose too many problems until I got to my final couple of clues in the SE corner, where some head-scratching was required. I thought that it was a bit of a curate’s egg with a few good clues but also some (e.g. 8a and 16d) which I didn’t like.
Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.
1a In a tizz after dance, maiden has to curtsy, getting united with former date (15)
DISCOMBOBULATED – there are a lot of bits to assemble here. Start with a dance, then add M(aiden), a verb to curtsy, U(nited), an adjective meaning former or previous and D(ate).
8a Bit of assistance with how to kick? (3-2)
LEG-UP – as 3,2 this could be what’s needed before you can kick. Hmm.
9a Austerity, possibly — for now (8)
MEANTIME – split the answer 4,4 for what could possibly be a period of austerity. This reminds me of the, probably apocryphal, announcement made by a trainee at a radio station – “It’s six o’clock, green witch. ******** here is the news.”
11a Steel ignored girl (7)
CUTLASS – charade of a past participle meaning ignored or cold-shouldered and a girl.
12a Cut song-and-dance in ‘The Tempest’ (7)
TORNADO – charade of a past participle meaning cut or ripped and a song-and-dance or fuss.
13a Painting’s returned to southern state — hooray! (3-2)
TRA-LA – reverse some painting and add the abbreviation for a southern US state.
15a Taking off when introduced is rude — not right (9)
DEDUCTION – an anagram (is rude) of INT(r)ODUCED without the R(ight).
17a Leftover winds up as barbecue bites (5,4)
SPARE RIBS – charade of an adjective meaning leftover or surplus and a verb meaning winds up or teases.
20a Joint top? (5)
MITRE – double definition, the second a top or headdress worn by bishops.
21a Protect plants with parachute, spread to keep out first hint of Arctic cold (5,2)
EARTH UP – I know nothing about gardening but apparently this phrasal verb means to cover the lower parts of a plant with soil to protect it against something or other (frost?, slugs?, marauding cats? – I’ve no idea). It’s an anagram (spread) of PAR(ac)HUTE, keeping out the first letter of A(rctic) and the abbreviation for cold.
23a Fixed deposit (7)
EARNEST – double definition, the first an adjective meaning fixed or determined and the second a deposit (an instalment paid to confirm a contract).
25a Require two-thirds of 15 to go back into city (8)
ABERDEEN – string together a verb to require and two-thirds (4 of 6 letters) of a 15a or discount, then reverse it all.
26a Dawn’s announced as ‘Miss‘ (5)
MOURN – this verb sounds like a word for dawn or the early part of the day.
27a Cast net — Holmes scorns a chimera? (4,4,7)
LOCH NESS MONSTER – an anagram (cast) of NET HOLMES SCORNS gives us the creature that can be relied on to make an appearance when tourism is getting a bit slack.
1d With CIA-led involvement, leaderless parliament has upturn in store (12)
DELICATESSEN – start with an anagram (with … involvement) of CIA-LED then reverse (has upturn) the name of the Israeli parliament without its leading letter.
2d Asking what regular elements feature in vision (5)
SIGHT – regular letters from the first two words.
3d Sounding off among the aristos, taking a long time to get home (9)
ORPHANAGE – how the royals and other posh types pronounce ‘off’ is followed by a long time (2,3).
4d Floored base protects birds (7)
BEMUSED – the base (of a river, for example) contains (protects) very large birds.
5d Briefs initially survived being darned (7)
BLASTED – the initial letter of briefs followed by a verb meaning survived or endured.
6d More recent slate roof needs your attention (5)
LATER – ‘needs your attention’ is a novel way of telling you that close examination of the preceding words will reveal a hidden word.
7d Making mints? A tip — I beat and roll (9)
TIMPANIST – an anagram (making) of MINTS A TIP.
10d Voice conveying token meaning (12)
COUNTERTENOR – charade of a token (the sort used in a board game) and a word for general meaning or drift.
14d Vespucci bore a nautical upbringing, somewhat lacking in inspiration? (9)
ANAEROBIC – hidden (somewhat) and reversed (upbringing) in the clue.
16d Snappy judge? (9)
CAMERAMAN – cryptic definition. This was my last answer because, even when it became obvious from the checking letters, I couldn’t see how it related to judge. Unless I’m missing something the clue just means that this person is a judge of how and when to take a snap. It seems very weak – on the same basis any worker could be a judge (e.g. a doctor decides which drugs to prescribe, so could cryptically be a druggy judge). [Thanks to dutch and others for pointing out that a judge’s private office is called a camera, so cryptically a judge could be a ‘camera man’ in the same way that a farmer could be a fieldsman. That makes the clue a bit better but I still don’t like it.]
18d Thus reporter may get in print (7)
IMPRESS – a reporter may gain entry by announcing thus (1’1,5).
19d Rum sent off somewhere in chest (7)
STERNUM – an anagram (off) of RUM SENT.
22d Start to nose below lead flier (5)
HERON – the starting letter of nose follows the lead or star in a film or play.
24d Crow‘s feet on face? Relax, you still attract! (5)
EXULT – the bottom letters (feet) on the last five words of the clue.
The two clues I liked best were 17a (for the smooth surface) and 3d (for the laugh). Let us know which one(s) did it for you.