Toughie No 1418 by Micawber
“You’re never more than 6 feet from a rat”
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BD Rating – Difficulty *** – Enjoyment ****
This puzzle from Micawber is as entertaining as always although I found it slightly trickier than usual. There are lots of d’oh moments to enjoy.
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1a Reliable PC program with volume and depth (6-8)
COPPER-BOTTOMED – string together an informal word for a PC (or PS, say), an automated program that runs over the internet, a large volume and D(epth). The adjective derives from an old practice of covering the underside of a ship with the relevant metal to make it safer.
8a Spinner‘s soft soap cut short (5)
LATHE – drop the last letter from soft soap in the form of foam.
9a Sounded clear as a bell after beginning of word mangled (5,3)
WRUNG OUT – the past participle of a phrasal verb meaning sounded clearly follows W(ord).
11a Tale many start to believe, incredibly, in travesty of truth without foundation (5,4)
URBAN MYTH – a superb semi-all-in-one. An anagram (incredibly) of MANY and B(elieve) goes inside another anagram (travesty) of (t)RUTH. Well, there’s the dead granny on the roof rack and the dead dog in the suitcase … What other ones would you like to share?
12a Confounded Arsenal endlessly comes close (5)
NEARS – an anagram (confounded) of (a)RSENA(l) without the end letters.
13a Was Observer editor, covering January-June? (4)
EYED – our usual editor contains just six-twelfths of a year.
14a Designer, born in Ireland, follows England (8)
ENGINEER – a word meaning born (used to indicate a woman’s maiden name) goes inside an abbreviation for Ireland and that all follows an abbreviation for England.
17a Try and try again — I’ll back you! (4,4)
HEAR HEAR – both tries take place in a court of law.
19a Fundamentally silly joke that’s done the rounds (4)
SPUN – the first letter of silly followed by a verbal joke.
23a Conservative wets perhaps split (5)
CLEFT – C(onservative) and the political leaning of those in that party who were called wets by Mrs Thatcher (i.e. anybody who had the temerity to disagree with her must be a wishy-washy pinko).
24a One’s keen as a river rat heading west (5-4)
KNIFE-EDGE – string together the abbreviation for ‘as’ or for instance, a river which rises in North Wales and visits Chester on its way to the Irish Sea and a slang term for a rat or informer. All that gets reversed (heading west).
25a Corrupt cop invested in fund that controls liquidity flow? (8)
STOPCOCK – an anagram (corrupt) of COP goes inside a fund or repertoire.
26a Paint job — start with the middle (5)
OCHRE – start with a routine, possibly boring, job and move the middle letter to the start.
27a In this poor bit, I displayed banner (14)
PROHIBITIONIST – an anagram (displayed) of IN THIS POOR BIT I.
1d Is using micro-organisms to produce wine a problem for exports? (7,5)
CULTURE SHOCK – split the answer 8,4 and you have a) a verb meaning uses micro-organisms to produce and b) a dry white wine.
2d Can get carried away — it’s not right to be drunk (7)
POTABLE – remove the R(ight) from an adjective meaning can be carried.
3d Instruction to leave European Union included in next broadcast (6)
EXEUNT – the abbreviation for the European union goes inside an anagram (broadcast) of NEXT.
4d Fork west among the trees, they’re off the beaten track (6)
BYWAYS – the letter that represents (from its shape as a capital) a fork and W(est) are inserted in evergreen trees.
5d Moving about (8)
TOUCHING – double definition, the first meaning moving or poignant.
6d Material from newspaper that impresses (8)
ORGANDIE – charade of a newspaper, especially one which promotes a particular point of view, and something used to impress a design on coins or medals.
7d Bird unable to fly’s dead parrot (7)
EMULATE – an Australian flightless bird and an adjective meaning deceased.
10d Eastern syndicate’s head smuggled precious item into camp for removal (12)
ESTRANGEMENT – start with E(astern) and the first letter of S(yndicate). Now insert a verb meaning smuggled and a precious stone into a verb meaning to camp.
15d Small building in Czech Republic — pub with area in front (8)
CHUTZPAH – insert a small crude building into the IVR for the Czech Republic, then add the abbreviation for a pub with A(rea) inside it. The definition (front) here means self-confidence or cockiness.
16d Black taxi pulled up with ape inside, to make one’s hair stand on end! (4-4)
BACK-COMB – the abbreviation for black and a taxi contain a verb meaning to ape or mimic scornfully and it all gets reversed (pulled up). I’m not very keen on the fact that the verb to ape also has to be reversed but comes after the ‘pulled up’ – I’d have preferred the clue to read ‘Black taxi with ape inside pulled up …’.
18d American’s superior assistant (7)
ABETTER – a single-letter abbreviation for American followed by a comparative meaning superior.
20d Stir-fried dish I had at pub’s starter, unusually (3,4)
PAD THAI – an anagram (unusually) of I HAD AT and P(ub). I’d never heard of this dish but it was easy enough to work out from the checking letters.
21d Kind of fence that’s assembled to keep workers out (6)
PICKET – double definition, the second what’s mounted by striking workers to try to keep non-striking colleagues from entering the workplace.
22d Oven ruined during party again (2,4)
DE NOVO – an anagram (ruined) of OVEN goes inside a festive party.
Amongst the clues I liked best were 17a, 25a and the very topical 3d but my runaway favourite is the superb 11a. Which ones floated your boat?