Notes for Azed 2,543
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 2,543 Plain
Difficulty rating: (1.5 / 5)
A pretty straightforward puzzle with a good variety of clues that exuded a generous helping of joie de vivre.
ScotsWatch: not a single one today. Has Azed suffered a bout of Scotophobia? Was it something Nicola said?
13a The most important thing, half of what’s due (9, 2 words)
You wouldn’t need to check the name on its collar to know that this clue belonged to Azed. The wordplay requires solvers to be able to count in Italian, albeit not to a very high level.
15a Is Holding about the ultimate in fast bowlers maybe? (4)
Azed allows himself a deceptive capitalization of the first letter of ‘Holding’ here, suggesting the great West Indian fast bowler Michael Holding, while the wordplay requires a three-letter word meaning ‘is holding’ to be put outside (‘about’) the last letter of ‘fast’ (‘ultimate in fast’). Incidentally, there is no evidence that the comment ascribed to Brian Johnston when talking about Holding bowing to English batsman Peter Willey during the Oval test of 1976 – “The bowler’s Holding, the batsman’s Willey” – was actually made; it was certainly not broadcast.
19a Shrine: sanctified one erected by academy (5)
The wordplay here is a charade made up of a two-letter abbreviation for a ‘sanctified one’, a two-letter word meaning ‘erected’, and a single-letter abbreviation of ‘academy’. Given that the first element is an abbreviation which would never be used except when prefixed to a name, I think there ought to be an indication that a ‘two step translation’ is required, eg ‘short sanctified one’. There is a big difference for me between using, say, ‘disc’ for CD and ‘student’ for L – one might well speak of having bought a new CD, but surely not of having been run into by an L.
23a Melon when stuffed into shopping bag (6)
I have a feeling that regular commenter Orange will have known the four-letter word for the shopping bag which has had the usual two-letter word for ‘when’ stuffed into it, but I didn’t (or, more accurately, I’d forgotten it). It’s an American term for a lady’s work-basket, hand-bag or satchel, derived from the French word for a basket (which has an ‘s’ on the end, an alternative spelling of the US word).
29a Ristorante? You may get pickled roes in this one (4)
A neat little composite anagram &lit, where the the letters of ROES IN plus the solution (‘this one’, ie ‘this ristorante’) can be rearranged (‘pickled’) to produce RISTORANTE.
30a Azzurri’s forward one’s opposing twice? (6)
The ‘Azzuri’ in the definition indicates that the solution is an Italian loan-word; the wordplay involves A (‘one’) being followed by a one-letter abbreviation and a four-letter word both answering to ‘opposing’ (‘opposing twice’).
32a Like well-drilled pack, promptly (as before) getting name sewn into strip (9)
I suspect most solvers will work this hyphenated (5-4) entry out either from the definition or the last part of the wordplay, N (‘name’) inside (‘sewn into’) a three-letter noun meaning ‘strip’ (as in ‘football strip’). The five-letter bit at the start is an alternative spelling of ‘tite’, an obsolete word meaning ‘promptly’.
3d Cave dweller in ooze enveloping sea’s roar (7)
Like 32a, this one has a relatively obscure word in the wordplay, here ‘rote’, a term for ‘the roar of the surf’ – Chambers shows it as ‘now US’, although Azed has (quite reasonably, I think) chosen not to indicate this. It’s ‘enveloped’ (contained) by a three-letter word for a thick, yellowish ooze (my apologies to anyone with a particular fondness for shell-less, squidgy molluscs, but this word is the lexicographical equivalent of a slug, something that has no pleasant connotations whatsoever and which invokes a response best summed up as ‘yeeuchh’).
The resulting cave-dwelling amphibian takes its name from the Greek sea-god who, like the nymph in 10d, was a skilled shapeshifter. He was also a first-class soothsayer, but unlike most of the Greek seers he was none too free with his prophecies; those who required his forecasting services had to go down to the beach after midday, where he would be having a kip, and get a firm grip on him. Now, if you were having a nice post-lunch snooze on the beach and someone grabbed hold of you, what would you do? I imagine you’d assume every possible shape you could in an effort to escape and, when it proved impossible to shake off your assailant, you would reluctantly give them a prophecy. And probably not one they’re going to like, am I right?
5d Rover Matt’s turned up in (5)
‘Matt’ refers to an American actor, producer and screenwriter, whose surname must be reversed. Azed doesn’t flag the ‘indication by example’, and since there is no deception surrounding the use of ‘Matt’ I don’t see why he should. Azed could have chosen instead to name-check the 1993 Williams teammate of the ‘racing star’ in 10d, his surname lending itself well to a sneaky surface reading – not someone as well-known outside the UK, perhaps, but a world champ in his own right nonetheless.
10d Racing star embracing nymph – one providing aid to the legless? (11)
The nymph who is embraced by the surname of a French racing driver, four-time F1 world champion and fierce rival of Ayrton Senna, is a Greek sea goddess. It was prophesied that this leader of the Nereides would bear a son who would be greater than his father, and it didn’t take Zeus (who hated any sort of threat to his power) long to work out that the less great the father was the less impressive the son would need to be in order to fulfil the prophecy. He therefore fixed her up with a mortal husband, Peleus, who ambushed her on the beach; they had an unusual courtship, she turning into various shapes while he clung on to her for all he was worth. Anybody who was anybody on Olympus was at the wedding (where there was a bit of Discord over a Golden Apple), and their first-born son turned out pretty darned well for a mortal. The mother tried everything she could to protect Achilles after another seer had prophesied that he would die heroically in battle against the Trojans (why people kept going back to these seers I have no idea, they must have known they’d never hear stuff like “you’ll get a brand-new Aston Martin for your birthday” or “you’re not going to die heroically in battle”), but when all’s said and done despite a dunking in the Styx he was still a mortal, and the rather cowardly Paris (with a bit of help from Apollo) eventually got him with a lucky shot.
16d Fab performer in short song one released in twinkly style (7)
The (assumed) surname of the oldest member of the ‘Fab Four’ (‘Fab performer’) is followed by a contraction of the word ‘in’ (‘in short’) plus a three-letter word for a song (of the sort that Walter Scott’s minstrel might have sung) without the A (‘one released’). The solution is a bit of a horror to define succinctly, supporting the old setters’ maxim ‘Never work with children or adverbs’.
31d Weight nag shed creating bodily firmness (4)
A seven-letter word for ‘weight’ has the letters ‘nag’ removed (‘nag shed’) to produce a word meaning ‘bodily firmness’.