Notes for Azed 2,587

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 2,587 Plain

Difficulty rating: 2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

There were some entertaining clues in this puzzle which struck me as being a little below the mid-point of the difficulty spectrum.

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to take a look at clue 19a, “Ambassador maybe providing enclosure for sandarach in African capital (6)”. The clue is parsed below, but the point of interest here is the way in which Azed has indicated the letters HE, ie with “Ambassador maybe”. It is not uncommon to see ‘ambassador’ on its own in puzzles indicating HE, but I have a problem with this – HE is, according to Chambers, an abbreviation for ‘His Excellency’. I don’t doubt that the person so addressed could be an ambassador, but ‘ambassador’ and ‘HE’ are neither synonymous nor interchangeable. The same issue applies to ‘way’ being used for ST (or RD), and ‘novice’ for L. St is an abbreviation specifically of ‘Street’, and L of ‘learner (driver)’. One would not say “I was walking along the St” or “I was held up behind an L”. Abbreviations like VC or LP are very different – these have a life of their own in today’s language (“He won the VC”, “She has a large LP collection”), so I’m entirely comfortable with ‘decoration’ being used to indicate VC and ‘record’ to indicate ‘LP’. Here Azed has done the decent thing and added a ‘maybe’, thus making it a little clearer that the link between the indication and the abbreviation indicated thereby is somewhat loose in nature.

1a Soup recipe ingested by artist (6)
The usual abbreviation for ‘recipe’ is ‘ingested’ by the surname of the artist famous for the triptych commonly known as The Garden of Earthy Delights, and for designing the majority of the power tools in my collection. My first encounter with the soup in question came many years ago at a place called George’s Armenian Restaurant, somewhere near Manchester; it was also the scene of my first dalliance with Turkish coffee.

6a Everything within that kiss stirred divine femininity (6)
An anagram (‘stirred’) of THAT KISS apart from the initial T and the closing S, ie ‘everything within’.

16a Announced month left once given judgement (8)
A charade of a three-letter abbreviation for one month of the year, the usual abbreviation for ‘left’, and the past tense of the obsolete verb ‘aread’, meaning ‘to adjudge’.

19a Ambassador maybe providing enclosure for sandarach in African capital (6)
The two-letter abbreviation of the title of honour given to an ambassador containing (‘providing enclosure for’) a four-letter word for the sandarach tree.

20a Cocktail of Pepsi and Lilt? This is primarily ‘lite’ possibly (6)
I applaud Azed’s commitment to come up with new treatments of words that he has clued many times before, although this one didn’t do a lot for me. It’s a composite anagram &lit, where a rearrangement (‘cocktail’) of PEPSI and LILT could produce (‘possibly’) the solution (‘this’) IS L (the first letter of ‘lite’, ie “primarily ‘lite'”). The whole clue stands as the definition of the solution. For the benefit of solvers outside the UK (and Ireland, Gibraltar and the Seychelles), Lilt is a carbonated soft drink flavoured with grapefruit (not orange as I originally wrote) and pineapple, sold by the Coca-Cola company – to those like myself who find that advertising jingles once absorbed can never be exuded, it will forever be associated with a ‘totally tropical taste’.

23a Child dropped subject more ready to learn (5)
Another example of the ‘missing comma’ that was discussed a couple of weeks ago. The wordplay here equates to “Child dropped, subject”, so a seven-letter word for a subject (or a main division of a book) has the standard two-letter abbreviation for ‘child’ removed from it. ‘Ready to learn’ is not the most obvious meaning of the adjective from which the solution is derived, but it is given by Chambers, and Robinson Crusoe, when relating his experience of teaching Friday to speak English, describes him as being “the aptest scholar there ever was”.

26a Literary bits and pieces smart chap penned in column (8)
The name which is preceded by ‘smart’ and given to someone who thinks they’re pretty clever (‘smart chap’) is contained by (‘penned in’) a four-letter word for “a square pilaster at either side of a doorway or the corner of a flank wall”. It seems almost certain that the inspiration for the nineteenth century term for a smart*rse was Alec Hoag, a celebrated New York City thief of the 1840s who, along with wife Melinda and accomplice French Jack, specialized in the ‘panel game’; this involved the use of a secret panel in order to rob ‘clients’ that Melinda had brought back to her room. At first Hoag bribed the police to turn a blind eye, but then, realizing that their victims would not report the thefts, he decided to stop paying; this was not a good move, as he quickly found himself arrested and put in prison. Supposedly one of the arresting officers called him ‘Smart Alec(k)’ on account of him being too smart for his own good, after which other officers started to apply the term to other prisoners who thought they were cleverer than the police. Within twenty years the expression appears to have been in common use in the US, and by the 1930s it had reached the UK and Australia.

30a Coffee dish, edges split (5)
A seven-letter word for a dish with the first and last letters removed (‘edges split’)  produces a popular type of coffee. I think that I would have favoured ‘edges splitting’, but the clue is probably ok as it stands.

34a Hero’s father – matter involves dodgy ‘eel! (6)
A neat one this – an anagram (‘dodgy’) of EEL inside a three-letter word for the sort of matter that’s formed by suppuration results in the name of the father of Achilles. Although early stories make no mention of Achilles’ near-invulnerability (in fact in the Iliad, Homer describes him being wounded in the elbow), later stories have him being dipped in the Styx by his mother, Thetis. in an attempt to make him immortal. Unfortunately she was holding him by his left heel – a careless error, one can’t help feeling. The title of the Led Zeppelin track Achilles Last Stand is a reference to Robert Plant’s severe ankle injury sustained in a 1975 car accident, as a result of which he was unable to walk for a year. Much of the Presence album was recorded with Plant in a wheelchair, and the working title of the track was The Wheelchair Song.

1d Chancy investment wild eclat tucked up – owlish maybe? (12)
A four-letter contraction of a word for a chancy investment together with an anagram (‘wild’) of ECLAT are put into BED (‘tucked up’) to produce an adjective which would typically apply to individuals described as ‘owlish’.

2d A pistol cocked? Rule of order (6)
A reversal (‘cocked’) of A (from the clue) and the five-letter name for a type of semi-automatic pistol. Originally produced in 1898 as the Parabellum Automatic Pistol, it was adopted by the Swiss Military in 1901 and the German army in 1908, being produced in several forms up until 1948. The name ‘Parabellum’ derives from the Latin adage “Si vis pacem para bellum”, roughly translated as “If you want peace, prepare for war.”

3d Runner? Plenty turned up in advance (6)
This parses as a four-letter word for ‘plenty’ reversed (‘turned up’) plus a two-letter word meaning (among many other things) ‘in advance’.

4d Cheesy stuff given a whirl within? It’s revolting (4)
The four-letter ‘cheesy stuff’ has its second and third letters swapped around (‘given a whirl within’) to produce something altogether less appetizing.

5d Old time tart, head dropping somewhat (5)
Another name for a poule de luxe with the first letter moving down two places (‘head dropping somewhat’). The solution is an obsolete spelling of a familiar word for a time or occasion, hence the ‘old’.

7d Toxic latex, not for a tip of rubber (6)
A four-letter word meaning ‘not for’ (ie against), the letter A (from the clue), and the first letter (or possibly the last) of ‘rubber’. Conventionally, ‘tip’ is used to indicate the first letter of a word while ‘end’ indicates the last, but it seems to me that they are interchangeable – ‘the tip of my snooker clue’ is the bit furthest away from me, while ‘my end of the office’ is the bit closest.

9d Shipworm mostly found under matting in shreds (8)
A six-letter word for a shipworm has its last letter removed (‘mostly’) and follows a three-letter term for a type of Indian hempen matting (another word with the same spelling describes tawdry or shabby articles).

15d Coach circumventing what may be Indian gazelle (8)
A five-letter shortened form of a nine-letter word for the sort of coach that used to take people on outings, containing (‘circumventing’) the name of a type of fluid that could be prefixed by ‘Indian’ (or by ‘invisible’). ‘Indian’ describes the gazelle, but this word cannot be part of the definition as it would then be performing double duty in the clue, which is not allowed.

25d University shows this ivy’s disfigured…Trinity? (6)
A second composite anagram, this time not an &lit. UNIVERSITY is (‘shows’) an anagram of (‘disfigured’) the solution (‘this’) and IVYS; ‘Trinity’ is the definition.

(definitions are underlined)

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4 Responses

  1. Tim Coates says:

    You missed Australia out of the description of “Lilt” in 20 across, although here it’s a mixture of grapefruit and pineapple, apparently (I don’t drink the stuff).

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Thanks, Tim – I’ll blame Wikipedia for that one, but I have to take responsibility fair and square for the ‘orange’ bit – Lilt’s ‘totally tropical taste’ (which I don’t recall ever experiencing personally) is all down to a subtle blend of pineapple and grapefruit, with no orange being harmed during its production.

  2. Much Puzzled says:

    I have two problems with this puzzle:-
    10D – the solution is a plural which squares with “members”, but as there are, to my knowledge, only one of these in a “front line” I would have expected the clue to refer to “front lines” also as a plural.
    24D – I cannot disambiguate the sense of “what’s” in this clue. Unless a “what” is a form of crustacean, it would parse better as “what’s needed” surely?

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Much Puzzled, and welcome to the blog

      Your point regarding 10d is an interesting one. The abbreviated nature of crossword-speak means that there are two possible interpretations of the definition here: ‘Members of a front line’ or ‘Members of the front line’. In the former instance, I agree with you – a single front line can surely have only one inside right. However, ‘the front line’ can refer in to front lines in general. I think it would be reasonable to say “Inside rights are key members of the front line”, just as one might say “Hedgehogs are friends of the gardener”.

      Thanks for pointing out the error in 24d, which I hadn’t spotted. I’m sure that ‘needed’ has been misprinted as ‘need’, which doesn’t work in either the cryptic or the surface reading. Chambers is a little coy regarding the meaning of ‘palpal’, but OED confirms that it can be used in the sense of ‘serving as a palp or feeler’, so “showing what’s needed to deal with sensation?” would be a good definition.