1. Pilot’s direction-finder or mascot adjusted before transfer. ASTROCOMPASS (anag., pass) A clue readily solved by Watson without his noticing the bizarre surface − what on earth does it mean? Can it be that our pilot navigates by twiddling a figurine? Hold on tight.
14. Bill’s other half cut it − silly. COOT (coo, ’t) There are delightful connotations to be savoured in this clue, those from the dovecote especially. Dr Watson doubts whether many (if any) solvers needed to resort to guessing the unchecked second letter.
16. Work extremes of hilarity into edited page − part at top or foot of column. APOPHYGE (op., h,y, all in anag.) Azed stays ahead of the curve. That’s ‘cluemanship’ − one could never have made it up.
17. Ugly expressions from sailors captured by foreign troops. GIRNS (RN in GI’s) Dr Watson’s wanderings at the clue for EGG GLASS were not helped by his initial failure to consider facial expressions here. Shanghai’d!
18. Bit of old military kit − this set gets miles put out. PILUM (composite anagram) This is the first of the clues affected by editorial errors. In the (now) authorised version (above) our solution plus ‘set’ is found to be an anagram of ‘miles put’. Internet solvers had a slightly mangled version of it with the definition given as ‘Bit of of soldier’s kit’ (sic). The interactive version is known not to render words in italics; the .pdf version had ‘miles’ italicised, most likely Azed’s intended refinement. Newspaper solvers were treated to an earlier draft: ‘Part of old soldier’s kit − order for one assigned to spud-bashing, we hear’ (i.e “Peel ’em!”). For his part, Watson enjoyed the additional puzzle as to why ‘gets miles put out’ should have been preferred to ‘gets put miles out’ or even ‘gets Miles put out’.
23. Personality one follows is wreathed in allure. CHARISMA (is in charm, a) Watson experienced difficulty here in equating ‘personality’ and ‘charisma’. Chambers is not helpful on the point.
34. Positions befit me (as editor might put it) SITUS (sit, us; s.v. we, us) This clue was printed in the newspaper as ‘Positions befit me (as editor might say)’ which would imply an incorrect pronunciation of ‘situs’ in its plural form (q.v.). In the revised clue ‘put it’ may be taken as meaning ‘put it in writing’, thus avoiding that objection.
35. Extremely weird lake in east of France. EERIEST (Eirie in est) This was published in the newspaper as ‘... east of Germany’, and would have been noted by most Azed solvers as a palpable error.
36. Perry maybe balancing on sideboard. CROSS-DRESSER (cross, dresser) The reference is to the ceramicist Grayson Perry.
2. What’ll make Scots keener? That is following old king. SAULIE (Saul, i.e.) Two Scots words are involved here. Our solution is an archaic term for a hired mourner. ‘Keener’ is in current employment, s.v. keen2.
4. Port wine’s bottled? Stow to mature thus. RIPEN (composite anagram) The newspaper had ‘thus’ printed as ‘this’. Our solution, meaning ‘to mature thus’, when taken with ‘stow’, is found to be an anagram of ‘port wine’s’.
5. Poet exchanging recipe for a legume. COWPEA (a for r in Cowper) The newspaper had ‘Poet giving away recipe for a legume’. The poetic reference is to William Cowper ...
6. Performing well, Ben maybe loses his first grand. ON SONG ((J)onson, G) ... and here it is to Ben Jonson.
8. Brewed cha coming in I drink up − while playing this? PACHISI (anag. in ‘I sip’ (rev.)) The cryptic definition in this clue is made by the reference to ‘cha’ in the subsidiary indication, suggesting an eastern setting.
15. Timer with which girl follows say gee-gee. EGG GLASS (e.g., g-g, lass) This clue was printed in the newspaper with offending commas, apparently fore and aft of ‘say’. Watson was more troubled by the persuasive ambiguity of its cryptic indication. He had LOG GLASS written in the grid for a while which caused extra trouble for our rude sailors at 17 across, seemingly clapped there in ‘oirns’. ‘Lo!’ and ‘Say!’ are both interjections which may be used on similar occasions, but they do not share the same meaning as do ‘say’ and ‘e.g.’ This was, perhaps, a case of Watson’s eye wandering from the compass. Nothing new.
26. Like the Carpenter, or his mate, swallowing first of oysters? MOROSE (o in morse1) An apt description of The Walrus and the Carpenter.
29. It includes Obama’s ‘Bo’, among Americanisms. CANIS (hidden) Another might be First Dog (Official).
Across: 10. PARISON (The Competition Word) 11. OATHS (H in oats) 13. QUAPAWS (pa in (s)quaws) 20. GEOPHAGY (anag. in anag.) 27. LAKIN (lakin(g) s.v. lake4) 28. ACTOR (AC, rot (rev.)) 30. ANTABUSE (an, tab, use &lit.) 32. STAP (hidden) 33. STINGOS (anag.)
Down: 3. TRAPROCK (pro in track; s.v. trap2) 7. MOOP (moo, p) 9. SHOGUN (’s, ho2, gun) 12. STEMWARE (anag.) 19. LASTAGES (i.e. last ages) 21. PRIAPUS (pair (rev.) in pus) 22. SANTIR (anag.) 24. HOUSED (use in hod1) 31. BUSS (2 defs.)