Notes for Azed 2,524

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 2,524 Plain

Difficulty rating: 2 out of 10 stars (2 / 10)

This one seemed to have taken me slightly longer than last week’s, so initially I awarded it an extra half-blob for difficulty, putting it right in the middle of the spectrum for plain puzzles. On reflection, this seemed an overstatement of its toughness, so I have reduced its rating to be the same as last week’s. My ‘clue of the week’ is 11a.

11a Polish, like one of my lovers, might one suppose? (4)
A neat clue that has Azed written all over it. George Sand (Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin) had many liaisons, one of them a protracted and often troubled relationship with the Polish-born composer Fryderyk Franciszek (aka Frédéric François) Chopin.

29a Shakespearean heroine surrendering most of plume for hempen plant (4)
The Shakespearean heroine (though one who receives comparatively little stage time) is CRESSIDA, and the plume which she is largely surrendering is a CREST. Troilus is briefly mentioned by Virgil in Book I of the Aeneid (I only read Books II and XII at school – they were considerably more fun than our Greek set book, Xenophon’s Anabasis, which spent far too long describing the minutiae of a military expedition, such as precisely how many jars of oil they took with them, for my liking), but his story was subsequently built up in mediaeval times and Cressida (or Criseyde) introduced. The tale goes something like this: during the Trojan War Troilus, son of the Trojan King Priam, takes a shine to Cressida, a young Trojan woman. Things go swimmingly between them until Cressida’s dad makes a sudden switch to the Greek ranks, taking Cressida with him. Although Cressida has vowed loyalty to Troilus, she two-times him with a  Greek soldier named Diomedes. To put the tin hat on it, Troilus is murdered by Achilles for allegedly calling him a ‘heel’. In the words of Viv Stanshall, “Sometimes you just can’t win.”

30a Scraping away seed stops weed coming back (9)
‘Stops’ here is being used in the sense of ‘plugs’, so this is a five-letter word for seed ‘plugging’ a four-letter word for a biblical weed (or a vetch of various kinds) which has been reversed (‘coming back’).

31a Significant number in the country, not English (4)
The country is the STATE, from which E (English) has been removed, producing an informal term for the sort of significant number with which those watching the Sky coverage of this year’s Indian Premier League have been relentlessly bombarded (one from today: Aaron Finch has advanced down the pitch to seam bowlers 28 times during this year’s IPL as against 23 times in all previous tournaments…that’s, er,  absolutely fascinating).

1d Mixed bevvies, only half taken up? What’s the point? (4)
CUPS are mixed beverages, and when just the second half of the word is reversed (‘taken up’) a word meaning ‘point’ is produced.

3d Chaps I left about to fasten up proposed piece of US legislation (8, two words)
A reversal (‘up’ once more) of MEN I L (‘Chaps I left’) around TIE (‘to fasten’); I’m not sure that the solution is a ‘piece’ of legislation in the accepted sense, rather an element of a piece of legislation, but I suppose a piece of a piece is still a piece, yes?

5d Pharmacists are contemptuous of allowing poet in (10)
A three-letter slang term meaning ‘treat with disrespect’ containing the seven-letter surname of an Elizabethan poet beloved of setters of barred puzzles and thus well known to solvers of same.

18d Bracts, not those mostly seen after spring (7)
That handy three-letter word which can be succinctly indicated by ‘spring’ or ‘well’, followed by THESE (‘not those’) missing the last letter (‘mostly’).

23d Unruly kids, pair latterly misdirected, broke out up north (5)
A similar construction to 1d, in this instance it is the last pair of letters in BRATS that is to be reversed (‘misdirected’). When Matt Groening gave names to the members of the Simpson family, he used those of his own family members (his parents, Homer and Margaret [née Wiggum], and two of his sisters, Lisa and Maggie) for all except Bart, on whom he conferred an anagram of ‘brat’ rather than Matt. The character is supposedly based (loosely) on Matt and his older brother, Mark. The name of his other, older, sister? Patty.

27d Head sounds like an ass to audience? (4)
Thankfully Azed does not frequently use homophones, and when he does they are always supported by the pronunciations given in Chambers. I’m no expert on animal sounds, but I tend to think of an ass hee-hawing or braying, with neighing being more the domain of the horse.

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