Azed No 2373 Plain (3 Dec 2017)

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

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LTHOUGH Dr Watson worked through this puzzle fairly rapidly, it is notable for the substantial number of clues that are & lit. or semi-& lit. (clues such as 24 across and 26 down, where the definition refers to an element of the wordplay). German literature, Oxfordshire fine dining, figure-skating, the French revolution, and polygamy all feature in the required general knowledge.

Notes to the clues:


12.     Oh-so-good football team, Roman, nets ball, being slightly crazy  PIXILATION (pi2 XI + O in Latin)  This is pi in the ironic sense of ‘sanctimonious’. The solution is an old US portmanteau slang word, quite distinct from the term used in digital photography.

14.     Comprehends page penned by German writer  GRASPS  (p in Grass)  The author in question is Günter Grass, of The Tin Drum fame, who died in 2015.

17.     Have trouble breathing when doctor comes round  GASP (as in GP)  An exemplary clue that would grace any standard of puzzle.

19.     Fine old blade, fad rarer arena’s displayed with a flourish  ANDREA FERRARA (anag.)  The solution is to be found under ‘Andrew Ferrara’ in Chambers, the Scottish blade being variously attributed to an Italian and a local craftsman.

27.     Loathe being taken in by backward personality? Acts as ringleader  FUGLES (ug in self, rev.)  ‘Ug’ is not a back-formation, but the archaic root of ‘ugly’, surviving only in dialects. The verb ‘fugle’, however, is a back-formation from fugleman, a soldier who sets the example in a drill.

30.     E.g. raspberry feature some Manoir eaters knocked back  ETAERIO (hidden rev.)  Azed’s Oxford base is within striking distance of Raymond Blanc’s Michelin starred Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, and he may or may not be familiar enough with it to simply call it Manoir.

32.     Dubious reading of Will’s English in subject of inquiry  CAESE (E in case)  Nothing to do with caesium, the solution is an alternative printing of the Bard’s ‘sessa’, of disputed meaning.


5.       Guitar before start of liturgy, Dean’s speciality?  AXEL  (axe + l)  We must turn back the clock to 1984’s Winter Olympics to find Christopher Dean’s greatest moment on ice with Jayne Torvill, though his professional career lasted many years beyond that. An axel is a skater’s spinning leap from one foot to the other

6.       Transfer to adjust balance giving the old man energy  VIRE (vir + e)  Chambers won’t help to explain the solution even after the long trawl starting at ‘air/aire’. ‘Vir’ may indicate ‘old man’ as the Latin for man, or alternatively as a legal term meaning husband. The verb ‘vire’ is probably another back-formation, from ‘virement’, a type of financial transfer.

8.       —— hobo’s out of place in a bathroom – he met his end in one MARAT (comp anag.)  The reference is to Jean-Paul Marat, the French revolutionary murdered in his bath by Charlotte Corday in 1793 and immortalised by artist Jacques-Louis David. Dr Watson feels the clue strains rather too hard for its semi-& lit. finish, and adding ‘Marat’ before ‘hobo’ makes no apparent surface sense.

10.     Isis orants might have rattled these with endless noise  SISTRA (comp. anag. & lit.)  A much tidier comp. anag. than 8 down, with all its elements relevant to the definition of the ancient Egyptian ritual rattles.

21.     What’s displaying form of rut with age?  RUGATE (anag. & lit.)  Azed finds a good & lit. treatment for rugate, meaning creased. The word was set in competition no 1615, and produced some fine clues (though not this one), including D. Harrison’s ‘Possibly wicket is after a game!’ (RU gate, & lit.).

23.     Bead fastener old James attached to one of netsuke’s pair  OJIME (o Jim + e)  It doesn’t come immediately to mind that ‘netsuke’s pair’ refers to the word’s two e’s.

26.     Deserts, or nameless features thereof  DUES (du(n)es)  A lovely double-take on ‘deserts’.

28.     Uxorious husbands abound there, principally, abroad!  UTAH (anag. of initial letters, & lit.)  Chambers gives ‘uxorious’ as ‘excessively or submissively fond of a wife’, interpreted here perhaps in the same sense as ‘fond’ of a drink (“I think I could manage another one of those”). The practice of polygamy in Utah doesn’t exactly abound, but is still venerated in some branches of the Mormon Church.


Other solutions:

Across:  1. COWAL (w in coal);  8. MASAI (a in anag.);  13. CONSTER (conster(nation));  15. POTTLE (TT in pole);  18. GUTTURAL (gut + anag.);  22. SARCOMAS (arco in anag.);  24. CHAT (H in cat);  29. REDUIT (anag. with t for n);  31. INGEMINATE (anag.);  33. ERNES (RN in see, rev.).

Down:  1. CACOGASTRIC;  2. OPOPANAX (pop in o/a + n + a X);  3. WINOS (win + so, rev.);  4. LITTLE (lit + anag.);  7. ALGATES (a L + (Bill) Gates);  9. ATAP (a tap);  11. INSULATIONS (anag.);  16. PARASITE (ras I in pate);  18. GAMETIC (cite mag, rev.);  20. DRUDGE (d in anag.);  25. HERON (anag. & lit.);  27. FENI (‘fenny’).


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