Toughie No 1458 by Notabilis
Other Fish to Fry
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BD Rating – Difficulty **** – Enjoyment ****
A warm welcome to Notabilis for his surprise visit to the midweek slot. Perhaps this one is not as tough as some of his Friday puzzles but it is very enjoyable indeed with lots of penny drop moments. When I submitted my completed grid to the online site’s scrutiny I was surprised to find that my answer to 11a was rejected – I’d caught the wrong fish (although I believe that my original answer is justifiable).
Notabilis very often incorporates a Nina in his puzzles. I can’t find one here, although a couple of 4-letter words (not that sort) do appear – if your search has been more successful than mine do please let us know.
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1a Grammatically analysed, keeping Mrs Behn’s name in other words (11)
PARAPHRASED – a verb meaning grammatically analysed contains the forename of Mrs Behn, the Restoration playwright. I hadn’t heard of Mrs Behn.
7a From period of education one drops horse initially and backs motor transport (7)
SCOOTER – start with a period of education that typically lasts about 14 weeks (6,4) and drop the initial letter of horse and the last letter (backs) of both words.
8a Boarding house where there’s a small charge added to writers (7)
PENSION – append a small charge to writing implements. I’m not sure that the last bit of the answer strictly means a small charge but I’ll leave it to those of a more scientific bent to confirm or deny this.
10a Facilitator of talks with receivers investing flight capital ultimately, mostly in bonds (8)
CHATLINE – insert the ultimate letters of flight and capital into a past participle meaning in bonds or in shackles without the last letter (mostly).
11a One has scaled back etc, having difficulty withdrawing autonomous software (6)
BURBOT – reverse a difficulty (as experienced by Hamlet) and add a computer program designed to carry out routine tasks with some autonomy. As I wrote in the prologue I originally had a different fish – well a rut’s a difficulty isn’t it? It certainly is in the roads round here.
13a Mischievous character that’s dropped in a face-off (4)
PUCK – double definition, the second being what’s dropped on the ice at the start of a game of ice-hockey.
14a The ancient peer’s land, lacking British attention, showing annual differences (4-2-4)
YEAR-ON-YEAR – string together an old word for ‘the’, the estates of a lower-ranked peer without the B(ritish) and a word for attention or willingness to listen.
16a Coach limps off to manage (10)
ACCOMPLISH – an anagram (off) of COACH LIMPS.
18a Saving the overture till last, an informal concert is a light-hearted outing (4)
ROMP – start with an informal concert and move the first letter (the overture) to the end.
21a Bullring occupant has raced and run round (6)
TORERO – bring together a verb meaning has raced or rushed, the cricket abbreviation for run and the round letter.
22a Singer stifled giggle, choking a note back (5,3)
GREAT TIT – a half-suppressed or stifled giggle contains (choking) A and that’s followed by a musical note. Finally reverse it all (back).
24a Send up seconds after convenience food for party (7)
CANAPÉS – a verb to send up or parody and the abbreviation for seconds follow a slang, mainly North American, term for a convenience.
25a Virgin Trains carrying youth past Oxford University (3,4)
OUR LADY – an abbreviation for trains or rail transport contains a youth and that all follows the abbreviation for Oxford University.
26a Return too badly hurt to accept explanations for one-sided battle (6-5)
TURKEY-SHOOT – string together TOO and an anagram (badly) of HURT, then reverse (return) it and finally insert a word for explanations (e.g. of symbols used on a map). The answer is a US slang term for a battle involving the large-scale killing or destruction of easy targets.
1d Workaday career people turned spies (7)
PROSAIC – the short form of a word meaning people who make their living from a specific job or activity (as opposed to others who do the same thing as a hobby) is followed by the reversal of the US spying agency.
2d Remember Attlee’s part in flap (6)
RATTLE – hidden (part) in the clue is a transitive verb meaning to flap or fluster.
3d Italian writer polled unexpectedly about part of Middle East (10)
PIRANDELLO – an anagram (unexpectedly) of POLLED contains a Middle Eastern country.
4d Slightly unwell with disorder when hospital department’s unavailable (4)
ROPY – drop the usual hospital department from a word meaning a measure of disorder.
5d ‘Red‘ name in Red October, say, vessel at end of hunt (8)
SUNBURNT – insert N(ame) into the type of vessel that Red October is in the Tom Clancy novel and subsequent feature film. Then add a small vessel or container and the end letter of hunt.
6d Suppressing painful cry, jostle winger going up to move with ball (7)
DRIBBLE – a verb to jostle or nudge without the short cry of pain is followed by what can cryptically be called a winger. Now reverse it all (going up).
7d Doctor in cosy patch tending to fawn (11)
SYCOPHANTIC – an anagram (doctor) of IN COSY PATCH.
9d Up to beat United, Rovers’ man crosses road for alternative medicine (11)
NATUROPATHY – reverse (up) a verb to beat or thrash and add U(nited) and the forename of the comic-book footballer who played for Melchester Rovers containing (crosses) a road or track.
12d Singer cheers ordinary people (5-5)
GRASS-ROOTS – charade of a singer (to the police, say) and a verb meaning cheers or supports.
15d Spontaneous performance cut short, for each is indecent (8)
IMPROPER – the abbreviation for a spontaneous and unrehearsed performance loses its last letter and is followed by a preposition meaning ‘for each’.
17d Fancy individual item on head of tsarina? (7)
CORONET – this is an all-in-one clue. Start with an exclamation of surprise (fancy!) and follow that with an individual item and the top letter of tsarina.
19d Endure more than former seaman’s sword, over time replacing edges (7)
OUTLAST – a type of sword used by seamen in times past with its outer letters replaced respectively by the abbreviations for over and time.
20d Tough love in which one is cut? (6)
HAIRDO – an adjective meaning tough and the letter resembling zero or love inside which is found the Roman numeral for one.
23d US court star in the role of ambassador? (4)
ASHE – a preposition meaning ‘in the role of’ is followed by the abbreviation for the title awarded to an ambassador.
Top clues for me were 11a, 24a, 12d and 17d. Which one(s) appear in your list?