Azed No 2074 ‘Forty Years On’ (4 Mar 2012)

reviewed by Dr Watson for & lit. – The Azed Slip Archive

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HE FIRST Azed was published in The Observer on March 5th, 1972 and so it is fitting to mark the fortieth anniversary of that event and the unbroken series of puzzles to date with a very special ‘special’. Azed has chosen a theme (for solvers to deduce) and variations on it in the form of twelve unclued lights in four groups of three. The constraints of this feature has had the effect of changing the grid structure of a usual plain Azed puzzle from the familiar well-balanced mixture of long and shorter words to one of mostly shorter words and just one solution of thirteen letters dividing the two lateral halves. Progress in solving by benefit of intersecting letters is slowed as a result, and further delayed by the need to deduce unclued lights.

Dr Watson guessed the connections between the principal theme words from the emergence of COOK at 16 Across, and MOORE at 31 Down. However, he was surprised to find these names linked with those of MILLER and BENNET, the complement of the Beyond the Fringe review, rather old hat in 1972. He felt obliged to check whether Azed had not, in fact, begun his series in 1962. Perhaps there is some other connection between the four contemporary with the 1972 event we celebrate today, but Dr Watson cannot think of it. In any event, there are no prizes for guessing the correct theme if it is not BEYOND THE FRINGE (which Dr Watson fancies is quite apt), only for deducing the correct word to clue in the competition. On that matter, he has no doubt whatever that it is BENNET, being BENNETT with the last letter removed, as instructed. Alan Bennett is the author of the stage play: Forty Years On.

The competition word: BENNET (whilst being preferable to MILLE, MOOR, and, certainly, to COO) seems to offer competitors limited possibilities for inventive clueing. Dr Watson looks forward to reading the successful entries and to applauding those authors, if any, whose names had graced the very first Azed slip.

The theme words and their variations:-

A (16A).    Peter COOK

leading to two verbs meaning ‘to cook’:-



B (42A).     Jonathan MILLER

leading to these fish species:-

8A.    DOG  (Miller’s Dog, s.v mill1 & tope3)

32D.  THUMB (Miller’s Thumb, the bullhead, s.v. mill1)

C (12D).     Alan BENNETT

leading to other Bennetts:-

10A.  ARNOLD Bennett, the novelist.

13A.  GORDON Bennett. One of these, perhaps, or this – see also the entry in Chambers. In view of Azed’s extraordinary achievement marked in this puzzle, the latter seems more apt.

D(31D).     Dudley MOORE

leading via reference to the sculptor Henry Moore to sculptors:-

11D.  Auguste RODIN

24D.  Sir Edwin LANDSEER

Notes to the clues:


15.     Women in service giving wife rare kidneys I dismissed. WRENS (w + re(i)ns; s.v. reins (sic))  We begin with a clue to remind solvers that many of their fellows, and the grander sort of setter, may yet employ dailies or even live-in staff. Some may even enjoy the attentions of Wrens at their weekend retreats. Those of a rare kidney, indeed.

17.     Part of famous coaster’s cargo damaged in water. TINWARE (anag.)  This clue alludes to the John Masefield poem: ‘Cargoes’, which refers to ‘iron-ware’ and ‘cheap tin trays’ amongst other items, but not to ‘tinware’ directly. As with many of Azed’s most entertaining clues, the ‘definition’ is really a more direct form of indication.

19.     New potato not far off. NEARLY (n + early)  Azed may have been inspired by the maiden effort of a new competitor in this clue. At the opposite extreme, a few careless solvers may have guessed at ‘nearby’ for their solution here. Well and truly pronged, if so.

20.     Working as a diplomat maybe, producing propaganda.  INFO (i.e. in F.O.)  The Foreign & Commonwealth Office is the United Kingdom’s ministry of external affairs. Stay on message? Cable talk, perhaps.

25.     Dark gee ridden by tyrant.  NEGRO (G in Nero)  It may seem odd to parse ‘ridden by’ as ‘in’. Watson understands this as meaning that ‘Nero’ is astride ‘G’.

36.     Lassie’s wee bittie book removed from dress.  HA’IT (ha(b)it; s.v. haet)  A reference to ‘lassie’ in an Azed puzzle is usually a sign that a Scots word is involved. Clues to solutions in Azed puzzles which involve an apostrophe usually have enumeration in this fashion: (4, apostrophe). For some reason this has been omitted here.

43.     How does some milk sound? I never touch a drop.  TEE-TEE (i.e. ‘TT’, meaning Tuberculin Tested)  That is, how it would be described if so tested, see this link for details.

44.     Improvise, lacking kit for well-loved car?  BUS (bus(k it); s.v. busk1)  Seasoned DIY mechanics will have appreciated this very witty and telling clue. Watson’s favourite in this puzzle.

45.     Confectioner is doubly busy with father around.  PATISSIER (anag. (of is, is) in pater)  A clue featuring an (admittedly mild) indirect anagram. Azed has often advised competitors that all letters of an anagram must be present in the text of the subsidiary indication. Some might argue that, well, they are!


1.       Gained entry in queer kind of embroidery. FAGOTING (‘got in’ in fag2)  A reminder of how much the world has changed since 1972, surely. Enthusiasts may leave their comments here.

4.       A humble bonfire should get going thus for Jock.  ALOW (a + low; s.v. alow2)  A second Scots solution meaning ‘alight2’ is suggested with the able assistance of our old friend, Jock.

5.       Riddle setting, deviously, one may identify widespread affection. SCREENING TEST (screen + anag.)  Azed began this year’s puzzles with a very fine clue to CHIYOGAMI in which its surface summarised his professional approach to clueing in the tradition set by his predecessor, Ximenes. He marks his fortieth anniversary in similar vein here with a surface expressing appreciation for the high regard of his loyal followers. Dr Watson trusts that those competitors who refrain from engaging in correspondence with their judge have not been screened out in the process.

9.       Get on well with such as Galloway, being obsessively enthusiastic. GEEKY (gee5 + ky)  A fabulously witty clue having a surface set in the world of political ambition. George Galloway’s name is understood to have been chosen to hint at that world for no reason other than that it happens also to be the name of a Scottish breed of cattle. Thus the phrase: ‘such as Galloway’ gives an accurate indication of the Scots word ‘ky’, meaning ‘cows’. Gorgeous!

21.     One in charge of e.g. palace provisions having power over crown (in part).  PANTLER (p + antler)  The subsidiary indication in this clue turns on the listed definition of crown1: ‘a stag’s surroyals’. Thus ‘antler’ is correctly indicated by ‘crown (in part)’.

39.     It’s limits of the icy waste for him, one imagines.  YETI (anag. of t(h)e + i(c)y)  This is a very fine clue, affording many experienced solvers exquisite delight, no doubt. .


Other solutions:

          Across: 14. REARMS (rear + MS; ref. lower panel);  22. APPAL (pa (rev.) + pal);  28. MAHWA (‘a wham’ (rev.); s.v. mahua);  29. GLADE (glad + E);  30. DAMN (dam3 + n);  32. THRUST (h in trust);  35. GOAT-GOD (anag. in goad);  37. ALTOS (salto, ‘s’ moved to rear);  40. BAILEE (ail in bee1; s.v. bail1);  41. PHEERE (he in père; s.v. fere1).

          Down: 2. IN RE (rein, pairs swapped);  3. CODEWORD (rowed (rev.) in cod);  6. ERASE (ras in (sp)ee(ch));  7. BARCA (bar4 + ca);  8. DIMORPH (dim + pro (rev.) + h);  18. ALOE (o in ale);  22. AMLA (alma1 (rev.));  23. PAD-TREES (anag.; s.v. pad1);  26. GARIALS (air (rev.) in gals; s.v. gharial);  33. UTILE ((f)utile);  34. SALEP (sale p(rice));  38. SHES (hidden).

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