Notes for Azed 2,519

There are usually one or two points of interest in an Azed puzzle, and here we pick them out for comment. Please feel free to add your own questions or observations on any aspect of the puzzle (including clues not listed below) either by using the comment form at the bottom of the page or, if would prefer that your question/comment is not publicly visible , by email.

Azed 2,519 Plain

Difficulty rating: 3.5 out of 10 stars (3.5 / 10)

Some nice clues here, and the complete absence of ‘freebies’ (hiddens, initial letters of words in clue etc) served to make this a reasonably tricky puzzle. There is an issue with 29a (see below).

12a Part of buckle, e.g. Sam Browne’s end piece? (5)
“Browne’s end piece” is fine for E, but ‘e.g. Sam’ for CHAP only just passes the fairness test, not least because Sam could equally well be a chapess.

15a Vehicle on end of tail – waits may give you this (5)
The (rather inelegant, truth be told) phrasing of the clue makes it fairly obvious that the ‘waits’ are not those experienced in traffic jams; they are those folk who welcome in Christmas by having a good old alfresco sing-song, and would almost certainly give you a CAR (‘vehicle’) O (‘on’) L (‘end of tail’) or three.

16a What may be shown by fancier fa-la isn’t tremolo (8)
A well-disguised division between the definition and the wordplay, and an unusual anagram indicator. ‘Tremolo’ means ‘vibrating’ or ‘quavering’ in Italian, but I’m not sure that as an adjective it conveys that meaning in English – a ‘tremolo stop’ doesn’t itself quaver, rather it produces a quavering effect. But I’m nit-picking – we all understand what Azed wants us to do here.

17a What’s sacred to Hindus leaving its source in the Himalayas etc?(6)
Another minor quibble here: what’s sacred is R (River) GANGES, and I think you could argue that the ‘source’ of this which is leaving should be the R and not the first G.

23a Natural amphitheatres created by state of affairs, we hear (7)
I’m no fan of homophones, but Azed’s are invariably as sound as they come*. I like this one, the word which sounds like the solution being an abbreviation for ‘circumstances’. 

*I believe there is a clue in today’s Everyman “Reportedly scratched a Monet (6)”. If the setter really believes that Camille Monet pronounced her husband’s name as I would pronounce ‘clawed’, then I despair. I guess this reflects the idea that if someone from overseas has a name that is spelt the same as a familiar English name, then its correct pronunciation must be ‘the English way’.

26a Decorated with distinction that’s overdue when it’s about waste conveyor (8)
You may be starting to think that there’s scarcely a clue in this puzzle that I’m happy with! Here LATE (‘overdue’) contains (“when it’s about”) UREA (‘waste conveyor’), but urea is waste, not a waste conveyor – perhaps Azed was thinking of urine, which would better fit that description.

29a I look masculine in unit of light or dull brown (8)
There’s a real issue here. If you solved this one before 25d, then there’s every reason why you would have entered PHILAMOT, being (I LA M) in PHOT, rather than PHILOMOT (where ‘look’ is LO rather than LA). The wordplay can deliver either solution (a bit of a problem in itself), but the former is an accepted variant spelling of ‘filemot’ whilst the latter has not to the best of my knowledge been seen for three hundred years. Since the spelling PHILOMOT is attributed by Chambers to Joseph Addison, the only way to remove the ambiguity would have been to refer to him in the clue…or to re-write it.

6d It was a time of idleness, accepted behaviour with ten relaxing inside (7)
NORM (‘accepted behaviour’) has an anagram (‘relaxing’) of TEN inside, to produce a hyphenated solution that last appeared in AZ 2,458, where the clue was “Ten freely breaking rule in vacation formerly” – more succinct, but less satisfying in the way that it indicates the obsoleteness of the solution.

9d What makes the eccentric fret, artless? No crank, certainly (11)
A simple anagram (‘eccentric’) of FRET ARTLESS, but a lovely definition of the type which Azed is extremely adept at producing.

13d Mail carrier landed up for it in place (9)
LIT (‘landed’) reversed (‘up’) replaces (‘for’) IT in POSITION (‘place’).

18d Rag-and-bone man, last to get central position, plunging straight down (7)
STEPTOE (‘Rag-and-bone man’) with the last letter moved into the centre of the other six, producing a hyphenated solution. For the benefit of younger readers, the reference is to the BBC sitcom Steptoe and Son (1962-74) which featured rag-and-bone man Albert Steptoe and his son Harold. Fascinating factoid #1: Wilfrid Brambell (Albert) was only 13 years older than Harry H Corbett (Harold). Fascinating factoid #2: The ‘Son’ in the title is not Harold but Albert, and relates to the time when Albert and his mother operated the business.

27d In love, X scratched, mark in red (4)
Not the easiest clue to make sense of. The wordplay is SMITTEN (‘In love’) with TEN (‘X’) removed (‘scratched’).

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