Notes for Azed 2,527

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 2,527 Plain

Difficulty rating: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

I give each puzzle a difficulty rating based on a combination of my own solving experience and the number of clues which I identified as being likely to turn up on one of the help forums. A rating of 0 would be given to the very easiest puzzle (if I were able to write in all the answers in clue order, which isn’t going to happen), and the most difficult plain Azed that I could imagine would be given a 5  so in practice my ratings are likely to range between 0.5 and 4.5, with 2.5 being average. Difficulty ratings above 5 are reserved for special puzzles. It’s a very subjective thing, though, and I would be very interested to hear how other solvers rate individual puzzles in terms of relative difficulty.

By recent standards, this was a tough plain Azed. Only a couple of ‘gimmes’, not many simple anagrams, several hyphenated solutions, and some complex wordplays to unravel. Not as many quibbles as last week, but one or things that I wasn’t entirely comfortable with. Again, no clue stood out for me as being particularly fine, but my ‘clue of the week’ is probably 32a.

10a A page publisher inserted on one side in the main, spread with various printing inks (9, 3 words)
Golly, not so much a clue, more an essay. It works out as A P OUP (‘A page publisher’) inside ALEE (‘on one side in the main’, ie at sea), producing a French phrase meaning ‘of the printing of an engraving or etching, with inks of different colours being spread on the plate with paper or cloth pads (poupées) before the impression is taken‘. So there.

13a What shows black unit at last being given pride of place? (4)
This one fell at the first fence in the race to be ‘clue of the week’: an &lit of sorts, B (‘black’) plus a three-letter word meaning ‘unit (or indeed ‘unity’), the E at the end being moved right to the start (‘at last being given pride of place’).

15a Boy holding light from behind archaeologist (6)
A fairly straightforward wordplay, RAY (‘light’) being reversed (‘from behind’) in a common crossword synonym for ‘boy’. The archaeologist in question is Austen Henry of that ilk; between 1845 and 1851 he excavated at Nimrud in Iraq, (incorrectly) identifying the site as the ancient city of Nineveh. He discovered the remains of four palaces dating to the 7th-9th centuries BC, and brought back several large sculptures to London. He published a lengthy account of his travels in Iraq, Nineveh and its Remains, after being encouraged by his friend Charles Alison to “Write a whopper with lots of plates… Fish up old legends and anecdotes, and if you can by any means humbug people into the belief that you have established any points in the Bible, you are a made man.” He subsequently turned his attention to politics, and in 1852 was elected Liberal member for Aylesbury; he served in a number of roles, including Ambassador to Constantinople, before withdrawing from public life and moving to Venice.

26a Traditional pancake, with beaten egg initially, distinctively glazed (6)
I didn’t take issue last week with ‘traditional’ being used to indicate an archaism given that I’d done more than enough nit-picking, but I’m not going to let it pass two weeks in succession. I don’t think that FLAM is in any way a ‘traditional’ word for a pancake; the word ‘traditional’ has a very specific meaning which surely can’t simply be applied to an old spelling not even recognized by the OED.

29a Parrot heading off for mountainous region, in retreat (4)
The name of an Alpine region losing its first letter (‘heading off’) and being reversed (‘in retreat’) to produce a type of parrot.

31a Me and you put in thrust with foot forming country dance figure (9)
Oh Azed, where’s your grammar? “She’s gone out to play bingo”. This is US (‘Me and you’) SET (‘put’) all contained by (‘in’) POTE (‘thrust with foot’), but the subject of the main clause must be nominative, ie ‘You and I’ (or ‘I and you’, if you prefer). 

33a Hot? Not very, with day ending (4)
Quite a neat clue, LEW (lukewarm, ie ‘not very [hot]’) with D (day) drawing up the rear (‘ending’), the definition being ‘Hot?’.

1d Brewery vessel, bottom up, with wood over half of it, inside (7)
The wordplay here involves an informal three-letter word for the bottom being reversed (‘bottom up’) around (‘with…inside’) a three-letter name for a type of wood (‘wood’) on top of (‘over’) half of the word ‘it’ (‘half of it’).

2d It’s a famous dame, sprightly character but not lead in panto (4)
A five-letter word for a sprightly character (almost invariably associated with the adjective ‘bright’) missing the letter P (‘not lead in panto’). The definition needs to be read as ‘It has a famous dame’ (or, more accurately, ‘had‘), Sibyl Hathaway being Dame of Sark between 1927 and 1974. She once said of her feudal rule over Sark’s 600 or so inhabitants: “If I am a dictator, I’m certainly a benevolent one. I prefer to regard myself as head of one big happy family with the Queen, whom we still regard as the Duke of Normandy, as my overlord.”

During her time as seigneur, there were no divorces or serious crimes on Sark – or cars; when Princess Elizabeth visited the island in 1949, she refused permission for a car to be brought over for the visit. The Princess and the Duke of Edinburgh were obliged to ride to the seigneur’s official residence in an open cart drawn by a white horse and driven by a farmer. In later years the Dame acquired a motorized wheelchair for herself and allowed some local farmers to bring in tractors, but was outraged to find that they were being used on the roads, sometimes as taxis for tourists. When criticized for standing in the way of progress, she would reply “What was good enough for William the Conqueror is good enough for us.” 

4d Rustic pair of lads holding post in festival excitement (12)
One of those tricky hyphenated answers (6-6), which sees a HOB (‘Rustic’) and a repeated three-letter word for ‘lad’ (‘pair of lads’) being put around (‘holding’) a three-letter word for a post, in the employment sense.

5d Idle fellow, once with line on river (4)
I didn’t know this word, and the wordplay could equally well have given LESK or LUSK; Chambers confirmed my suspicion that the latter was correct.

9d Head up old copper completes beat as of old(4)
Not the easiest clue to parse, the word ‘completes’ being something of a distraction. The wordplay involves reversing a three-letter word informally applied to the head (‘head up’) and adding the abbreviation for a copper coin in the times before Decimal Day (15th February 1971).

14d Dyestuff to feel as due, treat from Scots as payment once (9)
Very tricky if you’re not familiar with ARCHIL (or ‘orchil’), a dye obtained from lichen. It is followed by a three-letter verb meaning ‘to feel as due’, producing an obsolete Scots term for a treat given in return.

20d Like telly (monstrous!) somebody was watching (7)
The wordplay for this hyphenated (3-4) solution is a simple charade, the first part being indicated by ‘somebody’ and the second by ‘was watching’, but to understand the definition you need to be familiar with the use of the decidedly outdated term ‘the one eyed monster’ to describe the television, which belongs to a time when a 16″ TV screen was something special. Given the more common meaning of the term in modern usage, should you own an 86″ Panasonic it is probably best not to boast about the size of your one-eyed monster, as this may be open to misinterpretation.

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