1. Retroussé noses in funny panto mask a lost party game. POSTMAN’S KNOCK (conks (rev.) in anag. less a) Let us begin with a fun and easy clue to solve. Those who might ‘sniff’ at ‘retroussé’ (q.v.) being used to indicate reversal in an across clue will have failed to notice Azed’s gentle tease. The phrase ‘noses out of joint’ comes to mind.
13. Spicy sandwich? Beginning one gets parts wrong way round. ROTI (Ti/ro, parts rev.) Much simpler than Dr Watson at first thought, ‘beginning one’, meaning a novice (TIRO), is key to the correct reading of this clue. His first attempt involved OR3 and IT, i.e. ‘before it’, with each half separately reversed, so literally getting his ‘parts wrong way round’.
16. What’ll follow porridge of grey lumps (serving of regulars)? FRY-UP (alternate (even?) letters) Chambers is not at all helpful in confirming the equivalence, intuitively understood, of ‘even’ and ‘regular’, although that precise interpretation is not strictly necessary, since, at all events, the required letters appear at regular intervals.
18. Telling of wandering days one’s at sea. ODYSSEAN (anag. & lit.) At the entry for ‘Odyssey’, after a description of Homer’s epic, Chambers adds the definition: ‘(also without cap) a long wandering, or a tale of wandering.’ Compilers of dictionaries and crosswords may have their poetic moments, too.
20. Choice of (short) times in lower baseball leagues. MINORS (i.e. min(utes) or s(econds)) New solvers may find clues such as this somewhat perplexing. Their correct parsing – and hence their true understanding – is found, not in the clues themselves, but in their solutions. This begs the question ‘How is it possible to solve them without cross-checking letters in place?’ For his part Dr Watson would not be without them as they bring refreshing variety and delight. Moreover, they do not appear too often, although in this puzzle, 25 down (ALARM) requires a similar approach . At all events they may be solved readily towards the end of completing a puzzle. Solvers should be aware of this possibility, particularly in the case of seemingly impossible clues.
31. Copy old Trueman’s bowling. TRANSUME (anag.) Those who query the use of ‘bowling’ to indicate an anagram should consider the use of the verb in the sense of disturbing a batsman’s wicket so as to dismiss him, and, particularly, as in those glorious instances when all the stumps are indecorously splayed. Perhaps, even then, one remains unconvinced.
32. Starting-point for crusade Britain’s not on? ALBI (Albi(on)) This clue refers to the Albigensian Crusade ordered by Pope Innocent III against the heretical Cathars in 1208. Dr Watson leaves the questions whether Albi was the starting-point, or whether Britain was involved in it, to those prepared to browse the links shown.
33. A musical monk’s song, new, about English greens. ARETINIAN (E + tin, all in aria + n) The apostrophe is used here to indicate that an adjective is sought which means ‘of, or relating to’ (in this case) ‘a musical monk’, Guido of Arezzo, otherwise known as Aretinus. ‘Tin’ and ‘greens’ (green-backs) are informal terms for ‘money’.
1. Fabric from Australia arrived, one with rough surface packed by aide. PARRAMATTA (arr. + a + matt, all in PA) This cloth was first made at Parramatta in New South Wales by female convicts and used for prisoners’ and soldiers’ clothing, etc. Rough, indeed.
3. Bit of old gold I had, pocketed by devious Romeo. MOIDORE (I’d in anag.) Our solution means literally ‘money of gold’, and is a former gold coin from Portugal.
4. A love note penned in indisposition – it makes one blue. ANIL (2 subsidiaries: a + nil; n in ail) Offerings from Azed formed as two or more definitions together with a cryptic indication appear from time to time. Much rarer are clues like this having two subsidiaries (cryptic parts) and a definition. Invariably one finds, as here, that the device adds to the solver’s pleasure when contemplating the whole. A brilliant and very sweet clue.
7. This gunpowder component a lamp lit might have accounted for Parliament. NITRE (compound anagram) The allusion in this clue is to The Gunpowder Plot. The solution, when added to ‘a lamp’, then ‘lit’ (the word indicating the anagram), may be found to form ‘Parliament’. Some American solvers may have erred at this clue by entering NITER, the US spelling, which, if so, is regrettable, and perhaps an oversight on Azed’s part.
8. Year in foreign capital (not the first) reading up language. ORIYA (y in (C)airo (rev.)) A clue with a very apt surface reading, perhaps evoking fond memories for many solvers. The reversal indicator for a down clue is subtly integrated, a nice feature. Our solution is the language of Orissa.
9. One in pursuit formerly lost fortune. CHAUNCE (un in chace) Dr Watson found this clue the least convincing, especially in its surface reading. It is otherwise notable for two indicators for an old word placed together, ‘formerly’ referring back to ‘pursuit’ (CHACE), and ‘lost’ qualifying ‘fortune’ (CHAUNCE).
17. Old military hat carried round in charge. BICORNE (i/c in borne) The fun for solvers in this clue is to be found in choosing whether to untangle ‘round’ from ‘carried’ or else ‘in’ from ‘charge’. Eventually the former approach is found to be more appropriate, ‘round’ being the placement indicator, although wearing a bicorne is definitely the mark of a soldier in charge. A near & lit, perhaps the nearest of several near misses in this puzzle.
23. Dog tailing mine-worker. COLLIE (collie(r)) Even charming and witty clues such as this one may have a ‘sting in its tail’. Dr Watson has a great fondness for collies. The thought that any might have its tail docked appals him.
25. It summoned men to fight, marine-style? ALARM (i.e. à la RM(Royal Marines)) This is the second of two clues (with 20 Across, MINORS) in which the solution is needed before its parsing can be found. Dr Watson’s comments there apply here also.
26. Short time in opposition? It was worthwhile. TANTI (t + anti) Our solution is an old term meaning ‘worthwhile’ and derived from Latin. That root survives in the Italian word, with various meanings including ‘so much’. It seems an appropriate point on which to finish and one might well say ‘So much for that, It. was great while it lasted’.
Across: 10. AMAZONITE (am + a + it in zone) 14. INERTIAL (anag.) 15. ROUND (2 defs. of round1) 21. STUCCO (O + c-cuts (all rev.)) 24. CATENATE (The competition word) 27. TOLAR (a lot (all rev.) + R) 30 ALLIS (hidden, s.v. allice) 34. DEMICARACTÈRE (anag. less a).
Down: 2. SATURN (sat + urn; ref. alchemy) 5. NINNYHAMMER (inn in NY + hammer) 6. STEY (e in sty3) 11. ZINCO (hidden) 12. ALPHONSINE (anag.) 19. STEARIC (anag. + ric(h); s.v stear-) 22. UHLAN (h + la2, all in un) 28. DURA (dura(men); s.v. durra) 29. ZETA (i.e. at Ez(ra) (rev.)).