Azed No 2165 Plain (1 Dec 2013)

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

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HE RIGOURS of the Christmas special lie ahead, and for now, solvers have been treated to a gentle and highly amusing puzzle.  Dr Watson was moved to wonder if Azed has recently acquired shares in distilleries, so marked were the references to reaching for the bottle, in the across clues in particular.  On the down side, well, yes, the mood seemed complementary. Great entertainment.

Notes to the clues:


6.       Gap-filler in (fleeting) fashion? Scotch preferred. FAURD (ur in fad; s.v. fa’ard)  The first of three Scottish words in this puzzle indicated with invention, here gently disguising it in a surface about a tipple of whisky, the first whiff of this puzzle’s boozy tone. The variant of ‘fa’ard’, meaning ‘favoured’, is fixed as our solution by reference to ‘ur’ (q.v.).

11.     Mull, according to the locals? Some nonsense about loch. BLUNK (L in bunk3; s.v. mull7)  This witty surface is obtained by the chance coincidence of a definition (mull7) for ‘to bungle’ with the name of a famous Scottish location, the Isle of Mull. Thus Azed combines the functions of defining our solution and of hinting that a Scottish word is needed.

12.     Topers’ll get drunk thus? PRESTO (anag. & lit.)  With some of that Italian at Mistress Quickly’s, perhaps.

19.     Platform’s humourless face. PODIAL (po, dial)  ‘Platform’s’ is the definition. See ‘podium’.

23.     Chap having to work with a head covering. MANTILLA (man, till3, a)  The surface is taken as meaning that our chap is obliged to work under close supervision. Whilst the solution is defined firstly as ‘a small cloak’ in Chambers, it is better known as the headgear depicted here.

28.     Early Catholic hymn, half cut but with melody included. MARIAN (aria in (hy)mn)  Even the hymns have been at the booze, seemingly. A Marian was a Catholic supporter of Queen Mary Tudor.

29.     Brendan’s fellow was such a conventional type, without front. QUARE ((s)quare)  A reference to Brendan Behan’s play: The Quare Fellow. Notably, in the context of this puzzle, Behan was a legendary drinker.

30.     Vocalize about about Group Four’s underwater activity. SKIN DIVING (kind, IV, all in sing) Group Four was one of the security companies now merged as G4S of happy renown.


1.       Junior teacher, might one suppose? Somewhat restrained formerly SUBMISS (i.e. sub-miss)  Our solution is listed as ‘archaic’ at the entry for ‘submit’.

3.       Male binding bird by way of thin cord. HOUSE-LINE (ousel, in, all in he) ‘By way of’ may be found amongst the many listed definitions of ‘in’.

5.       Part of shell structure - study feature primed with runny oil. CONCHIOLIN (con, anag. in chin) This clue provided Dr Watson with an early long light in the grid. The likelihood that ‘study’ would indicate ‘con’ led directly to a word likely to be listed under ‘conch’.

7.       Desert dunes? There’s a sense of sad loss with soak absent. AREG (i.e. a reg(ret); s.v. erg2 ) Azed may be hinting here that the boozers are drying out - in the ‘downs’, at least.

8.       Nothing in arręt moved court to apply to the past. RETROACT (0 in anag., ct)  Azed has provided an amusingly apt surface context here.

15.     Lassie’s to assume a married alias: Balm of Gilead? TAKAMAKA (tak, a, m, aka)  This clue contains the third of the Scottish hints, albeit confined to the cryptic part of the clue. Azed makes use of the ambiguity of “ ’s ” to disguise our lassie’s function of indicating that a Scottish word (tak) meaning ‘to assume’ is needed. Solvers, including Watson, may have struggled to verify Azed’s definition: ‘Balm of Gilead?’ Our prime reference source defines TAKAMAKA (via Tacamahac) as ‘a gum resin yielded by several tropical trees; the balsam poplar, or its resin’. The latter definition is defined in turn as ‘an American species of Poplar’, not very helpful. Our tormentor may have turned to Webster’s Dictionary to find this:

          Balsam Poplar: a North American poplar (Populus balsamifera) that is often cultivated as a shade tree and has buds thickly coated with an aromatic resin —called also balm of Gilead, tacamahac.

20.     Playing e.g. L. Hoad he wouldn’t have a clue. LOG-HEAD)  A reference to a tennis champion of yesteryear: Lew Hoad.

24.     Chow may end up in this batter. POUND (2 meanings) Our solution may mean batter for frying and savoury puddings, etc, or else (amongst others) a village lock-up for stray animals, including, possibly, her ladyship’s pet chow, along with the odd drunk.

25.     See Women in Love for this alcoholic. WINO (i.e. W in 0)  The hair of the dog. A reference to D. H. Lawrence’s Women in Love, but perhaps more aptly to the 1969 film version, starring, among others, the late Oliver Reed.


Other solutions:

Across:  1. SCHMOCK (Sch., mock) 10. OUT OF ORDER (The Competition Phrase) 13. MASTIC (m, a, stic(k)) 16. SHOT-CLOG (anag. in sog) 17. SALT (odd letters) 21. SKIDOO (kid in so, o’) 22. SECO (hidden) 26. SCOTCH ((ma)scot, ch., s.v. scotch1) 31. YABOO (0 in anag.) 32. DEAD-END (den in dead)

Down:  2. COLA (col, a) 4. MUNTU (hidden) 6. FORETOP (re., to, all in fop) 9. DROOG (r.o. in dog1) 12. PROPULSIVE (anag.) 14. CLIENTAGE (lien1, tag1, all in c, e) 18. POINADO (po., in, ado) 23. MUMSY (anag. in my!) 27. CRAN (cran(age))


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