Azed No 2386 Plain (4 Mar 2018)

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

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UITE a few references adorn the clues in this month’s competition puzzle. Solvers need to be on the lookout for a couple of tourist destinations, some French terminology, a tenor singing Schubert and another well-known Voice. Together with some devious wordplay, it adds up to a slightly harder than usual, but very enjoyable, challenge.

Notes to the clues:


13.     Port-dweller, one writing off hard-wearing garments  ADENI (a deni(MS))  The subtraction of MS, indicated by ‘writing off’ is an inspired piece of wordplay. An Adeni is a citizen of Aden.

15.     Being sullen, pair row, in a muddle  MOODINESS (oo din in mess)  OO is clearly a pair of O’s, but simply indicating it as ‘pair’ seems imprecise by Azed’s normal standards. (Correction: A reader points out that in cricket a duck in both innings is called a ‘pair’, shown on the scorecard as 0 0).

20.     What’s on in Paris? It’s big in California  SUR (2 mngs.)  Two meanings you won’t find in Chambers. ‘Sur’ is French for ‘on’ and the rugged coastline of Big Sur is a popular scenic attraction on the Pacific Highway near Monterey.

26.     I’ve got the Queen behind on tow? I’m only joking  LEG-PULLER (leg pull + ER)  Azed finds a concise and misleading way to indicate ‘leg pull’ with ‘on (the cricket term) tow’.

31.     PC operating system: wife follows nothing, being backward  LINUX (nil, rev. + ux)  Dr Watson hopes that the surface reading isn’t intended as a generalisation about women and technology.

32.     Among fauna (unusual) one’s slightly better off than the Pobble  UNAU (hidden)  The first three words would make a passable & lit. clue to ‘unau’, but Azed adds a further hint. An unau is a sloth with two toes (per foot), while the Pobble in Edward Lear’s poem is toeless.

34.     We ride into the ring about Tom the Voice, and love being included  REJONEADORES (re + adore in Jones)  ‘Tom the Voice’ could only be Sir Tom Jones, who is of course also a judge on The Voice. A rejoneador is a bullfighter who challenges the bull on horseback armed with a réjon, a type of wooden lance.


2.       Very good boom time for developer  SOUP (so up)  And a very good working of a short solution. ‘Soup’ is a photographer’s slang term for developing fluid. ‘So’ and ‘very good’ are read as affirmative expressions, and an up may be an economic boom. The alternative meaning of ‘soup’ as nitro-glycerine appears to be coincidence.

4.       Accompanist maybe Bostridge used in track for Winterreise?  PIANISTE (Ian in piste)  A couple of musical references. Ian Bostridge is an acclaimed English tenor. Schubert’s Winterreise (winter journey) is a song cycle he may well have performed, though downhill skiing probably never came into it.

5.       Greedily devourin’ what ’ost offers in the main  OGGIN ((h)oggin(g))  A double elision is a fairly unusual wordplay, but works well here. The solution is a naval slang term for the sea. There are no doubt many others.

16.     S-set going up, cast in the wings had a bit of nooky  SHTUPPED (p-put, rev., in shed)  Azed evokes an entertaining scene straight from Michael Frayn’s Noises Off. Solvers using the iOS version of the Chambers app may have found that ‘shtup’, although listed, doesn’t appear in search results.

19.     French drivers keep this road badly with it going over earth  À DROITE  (anag. + it + E)  French drivers, and all other drivers in France, are required to ‘tenir à droite’, and also to observe the baffling ‘priorité à droite’.

27.     Wrap for Julia, say, soft one enveloping everything  PALLA (all in p a)  Dr Watson’s working assumption was that this must be Herrick’s Julia, going in her silks, and that may have been an intentional tease, but it turns out Julia represents Roman womanhood in a mantle of unspecified fabric.

28.     Slight hint of ‘blot’ wiped from run-down outskirt  SLUR (slur(b))  The term ‘slurb’ was new to Dr Watson. OED’s citations indicate it’s a contraction of ‘sloppy, sleazy, etc.’ and ‘suburb’, rather than ‘slum’, and it describes a messy suburban sprawl, not necessarily a run-down area.

30.     Mum gets special bit of electronics to improve microwave  MASE (ma + s + e)  Hopefully Dad agrees that Mum understood this better than she did Linux.


Other solutions:

Across:  1. ESCAPOLOGIST (apolog(y) in anag.);  10. PORTIGUE (anag. inc. go(ld));  12. LUAU (a for l in lulu);  14. SNIPPINGS (pin g in spins, rev.);  18. CAVY (v(isit) in cay);  22. HAYLE (ha + Ely, rev.);  23. ODIST (hidden);  24. PST (p(o)st);  25. BATT (batt(y));  28. SONOGRAPH (0 in song + anag.);  33. IDLENESS (anag. in is).

Down:  3. CRACOVIENNE (anag. + n, all in CE);  6. LUMPERS (lum pers(on));  7. GADI (hidden);  8. SINGULT (anag. in silt);  9. TAIS (a. in sit, rev.);  10. PLUMCOT (anag. in pot);  11. PENNY-A-LINER;  17. PETROUS (p + anag.);  21. UPGRADE (comp. anag.);  29. OUZO (U in (G)ozo).


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