1. What each clue below represents if botched would be clumsy of me DOUBLE WHAMMY (anag. + ham + my) This clue was readily solved with the convenient aid of the 1down pairing, and appears to have been rendered unusually simple (for a bridging clue of this type) by the overall surface. Dr Watson is not satisfied that a correct definition has been achieved here, since a right/left clue would be botched also by a single ‘whammy’. An & lit. reading would not resolve this objection. Some consolation for regular solvers who share this view is the revelation that Azed appears to believe that his occasional blunders in clueing are caused by either malevolent spirits or crushing blows of fate, if Chambers is correct.
6. University in tripping verse shows / legendary resting place for former teenage idol REVUES / AVALON (U in anag.; 2 defs) One for the oldies. Surely nobody under the age of forty has heard of Frankie Avalon, a one-hit wonder of the early sixties. The fabled burial site of King Arthur may be better known.
7. Fine yarn miner spun briefly on / an elf in opponent of authority in days past MERINO / ANARCH (anag + o’; an + arch) Dr Watson was troubled to search for a connection between ‘elf’ and ‘arch’. Both are listed as meaning ‘mischievous’.
8. Useless pilots messed RN up with bits of eccentric steering / force I see splitting compass point? PRUNES / POLICE (anag. + e, s; I, c in pole) An amusing pairing, but easily solved in both parts. The cryptic elements are well below Azed’s customary standard, and the surface, particularly the final clause, does not convince.
15. Sturdy Scots strainer? It’s found in that / store cupboard (bowl to strain) STIEVE / PANTRY (‘t in sieve; pan + try) Here, Azed has disguised the split and the role of ‘it’ in the word-play by the device of referring back to the word ‘strainer’ with ‘that’. ‘Pantry’ is indicated by a simple conjuction of synonyms, greatly to Dr Watson’s taste.
17. Resident head having quit abbey / summon returning oriental, hired INTERN / ACCITE ((T)intern; E + ticca (all rev.)) Dr Watson was surprised to see snappy business-style prose in the context of this clue. The split and clue structure are easily discerned here. The reference of note is to Tintern Abbey in Wales.
18. Very small printing measures dividing hitherto retrograde / introduction, vertical space separatin’ lines of type? TEENSY / LEAD-IN (ens in yet (rev.); leadin’ (lead2) ) This is an amusing clue, skillfully disguised and with a satisfying overall reading. The reference is to the use of leading (lead2) in making up type in traditional printing, now largely obsolete.
1. Women’s part at work engrossed / parliamentarian in time, slightly ‘wet’ in old parlance WRAPT / DAMPY (W + anag; MP in day) Always an important clue in a standard ‘Right & Left’ puzzle, this particular instance proved to be easily solvable and led quickly to the true reading of the anagram in 1 across. ‘Parliamentarian in time’ could hardly be anything other than ‘dampy’, and ‘wrapt’ must surely follow swiftly. A generous offering to get things started.
3. Poet holds torch for short-sighted old fellow / right in amid turbulent Actium briny BLINKARD / MURIATIC (link2 in bard; r, i’ in anag.) The conjunction of ‘in’ and ‘amid’ is the main weakness in this clue and renders the whole unconvincing.
5. Female entering Asian land of yore: disgrace historically / is compounded with one’s foreign union YSHEND / ENOSIS (she in Ynd; anag. (is + one’s)) A very fine clue recalling countless romances, real and literary. Lovers of the music of Rameau (q.v.) may doubt the definition of ‘Ynd’ as given in Chambers - ((Spenser) same as Ind.) (sic) i.e as a Spenserian abbreviation - but all older solvers will remember ‘enosis’ from the time of the troubles in Cyprus leading up to partition.
9. Old soldier ran off holding flighty girl, liberal and enlightened girl disguised in a cover VERLIGTE / VERONICA (anag. in vete(ran); anag.) More echoes of Eastern romance here, but no place to be beguiled. Long downward lights are often used to introduce words having common-placed letters, as in this instance. A left/right mistake here could cause confusion and delay in the lower half of the puzzle. Both parts are most subtly indicated, especially the final anagram. Very fine.
11. Middle-Eastener, Arab in period taken up with international / amours installing universal shutters EMIRATI / LOUVERS (Ar in time (all rev.) + I; U in lovers) Two devices of note here: ‘taken up’ to indicate reversal in a down clue, skilfully disguised in the surface, and the two noun meanings of ‘amours’ employed in the surface and word-play. ‘Emirati’ means a national of the UAE.
13. Rock-hard Scots food served up around noon, / food that includes cold stuff STANE / FARCE (n in eats (rev.); c in fare) Dr Watson could find no authority for ‘rock-hard’ as a definition of the Scots word ‘stane’. He is content, however, to trust in the judgement of our great tormentor.
Across: 10. SWEALS / DIETED (hidden; été in did) 12. SCRIMP / PERRON (M in scrip; p + err + on) 16. TAGEE / TRICAR (anag; hidden). Down: 2. HENOTIC / OVERAWE (The competition pairing) 4. MECCA / LONER (Mecca(no); L + oner) 12. POST-IT / SEPTAL (t in posit; anag.) 14. SYREN / WEENY (hidden; 2 defs).