Stinker alert! I suppose we were due one, and for the most part it was pretty good, though the setter did seem a little too hell-bent on shaking off as many solvers as possible. You can find my completed solution below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. Expect red bits! If you receive these posts via email, you might want to check back in to see if a kind commenter has saved the day.
In other news, it seems WordPress is equally hell-bent on forcing its new blog editor on me. I no longer get the option when creating new posts, and I’m sorry to say the new editor makes producing these crossword posts a right old slog. I’ve found a workaround that lets me use the classic editor for the time being but I don’t know how long that’ll last. (Shakes angry fist toward WordPress.)
Anyway, such things pale into insignificance given the state of the world. Till next time, stay safe, mask up and keep supporting NHS and key workers everywhere. It sadly feels like we have a dark few months ahead.
1a. Atmosphere in the centre fairly lively (9)
Answer: SPRIGHTLY (i.e. “lively”). Solution is SP (i.e. “atmosphere in the middle”, i.e. the middle letters of “atmoSPhere”) followed by RIGHTLY (i.e. “fairly”).
6a. Secretary’s dogs must cross the high road (2,7,4)
Answer: ST BERNARD PASS, a “high road” over in Switzerland. Solution is PA’S (i.e. “secretary’s”, specifically Personal Assistant made possessive) placed in or “crossing” ST BERNARDS (i.e. “dogs”), like so: ST-BERNARD(PA’S)S. One I remembered from a previous puzzle, if I’m honest.
13a. Note twelve old pennies could make one wealthy! (5)
Answer: NABOB (i.e. “one [who is] wealthy”). Solution is N (a recognised abbreviation of “note”) followed by A BOB (an informal name for a shilling or “twelve old pennies”).
14a. As key policy expert, perhaps, recalled for wisdom (9)
Answer: KNOWLEDGE (i.e. “wisdom”). This took some twigging, but the solution is EG (i.e. “as”, as in “for example”) followed by DEL (i.e. “key”, as in the Delete key on a keyboard) and WONK (i.e. “policy expert, perhaps” – other wonks are available). The whole is then reversed (indicated by “recalled”), like so: KNOW-LED-GE.
15a. Roundabout, or what looks like one, desolate, we understand (7)
Answer: OBLIQUE (i.e. “roundabout”, both taken to mean indirect). Solution is O (i.e. “what looks like one”, referring to “roundabout”) followed by a homophone (indicated by “we understand” – a bit too loose for my liking) of BLEAK (i.e. “desolate”), like so: O-BLIQUE.
16a. Bothered by “intervertebral”, I, with a loaf that’s poor? (1,4,2,4,6,5)
Answer: A BEAR OF VERY LITTLE BRAIN. The solution is an anagram of BY INTERVERTEBRAL I and A LOAF. The anagram indicator could be “bothered” or “that’s poor”. The solution is a reference to Winnie The Pooh which makes me wonder whether “poor” in the clue was supposed to be “pooh”. I was never much of a fan of Winnie the Pooh, so I can’t say whether the setter is being clever here. As it stands, the clue resembles what happens when you shake your dictionary so hard the words fall out.
[EDIT: Thanks to Sue in the comments for clarifying this one. The quote continues thus: “…and long words bother me”. The anagram indicator is therefore “that’s poor”. Cheers, Sue! – LP]
18a. Rake nearly ready a month before start of autumn (8)
Answer: CASANOVA (i.e. “rake”, as in a debauched or immoral person. Chalk one to my Bradford’s here. I couldn’t see past seeking a definition of rake to actually name one). Solution is CASH (i.e. “ready”, as in ready money or readies) with its last letter removed (indicated by “nearly”) followed by A, then NOV (i.e. “month”, specifically a shortened form of November) and A (i.e. “start of autumn”, i.e. the first letter of “autumn”), like so: CAS-A-NOV-A.
20a. Happen to regret following space traveller (4,4)
Answer: COME TRUE (i.e. “happen”). Solution is RUE (i.e. “to regret”) placed after or “following” COMET (i.e. “space traveller”), like so: COMET-RUE.
21a. Take the 4×4 across the channel (5)
Answer: SEIZE. Solution satisfies “take” and “4×4 across the channel”, i.e. the French for sixteen, or 4×4. Nicely worked.
23a. Oily stuff’s running to the left of me (6)
Answer: SMARMY (i.e. “oily”). Solution is RAM’S (i.e. “stuff’s”) reversed (indicated by “running to the left” – this being an across clue) and then followed by MY (i.e. “of me”), like so: S’MAR-MY.
24a. Not moving theatre’s two shows (2,4)
Answer: AT REST (i.e. “not moving”). “Shows” indicates the solution has been hidden in the clue, like so: THE(ATRE’S T)WO.
25a. An element of love, quiet reflecting, is a must, somehow (9)
Answer: POTASSIUM (i.e. “element”). Solution is O (i.e. “love”, as in a zero score in tennis) and P (a recognised abbreviation of “piano”, which is “quiet” in musical lingo) both reversed (indicated by “reflecting”) and then followed by an anagram (indicated by “somehow”) of IS A MUST, like so: (P-O)-TASSIUM.
28a. Speeding impressively thus, for all to see, and being arrested (10)
Answer: SUPERSONIC (i.e. “speeding”). Given the trickery the setter demonstrates in 19d, I think the solution to this is SUPERB (i.e. “impressively”), SO (i.e. “thus”) and [put] ON ICE (i.e. “being arrested”) once the last letter has been removed from each, like so: SUPER-S-ONIC. I can’t immediately see an indicator for this, though, so I could be wrong – “for all to see” doesn’t quite fit the bill. If anyone swings by with a better solution then I’ll update the post.
[EDIT: Hats off to mjcs in the comments for nailing this one. Basically ignore everything I said! The solution is U (i.e. “for all to see”, as in film certification) and PERSON (i.e. “being”) both placed in or “arrested” by SIC (i.e. “thus”), like so: S(U-PERSON)IC. Awesome sauce, M! Thanks for that. – LP]
29a. Killer is nonracial, which is oddly overlooked (4)
Answer: ORCA (i.e. “killer”). “Oddly overlooked” indicates the solution is derived by taking every other letter of NONRACIAL.
30a. Spaniard possibly to win nothing when chasing gold (7)
Answer: ORLANDO (i.e. “Spaniard possibly” – not the greatest clue, is it?) Solution is LAND (i.e. “to win”) and O (i.e. “nothing”) both placed after or “chasing” OR (i.e. “gold” in heraldry), like so: OR-LAND-O.
32a. The idiot that is His Majesty the King touring capitals (7)
Answer: SCHMUCK (i.e. “the idiot”). Solution is SC (i.e. namely or “that is”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of the Latin scilicet, a wordplay you don’t often see in these Jumbos) followed by HM (a recognised abbreviation of “His Majesty”) and K (ditto “King”) once these have been wrapped around or “touring” UC (i.e. “capitals”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “uppercase”), like so: SC-HM-(UC)-K.
34a. Grand welcome for Lent (4)
Answer: GAVE (i.e. “lent” – ignore the misleading capitalisation). Solution is G (a recognised abbreviation of “grand”) followed by AVE (i.e. “welcome”).
35a. Teams go off for each leg next to the other (4-6)
Answer: SIDE-SADDLE (i.e. to ride a horse with “each leg next to the other”). Solution is SIDES (i.e. “teams”) followed by ADDLE (i.e. “go off”).
38a. Supporter going on about a previously successful team (3-6)
Answer: CUP-HOLDER (i.e. “previously successful team”). Solution is UPHOLDER (i.e. “supporter”) placed after or “going on” C (i.e. “about”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “circa”), like so: C-UPHOLDER.
39a. Came down in a red convertible (6)
Answer: RAINED (i.e. “came down”). “Convertible” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of IN A RED.
40a. Piping tune – or just words? (3,3)
Answer: HOT AIR (i.e. “words”). Solution is HOT (i.e. “piping”) followed by AIR (i.e. “tune”).
43a. Norwegian lake you can evidently cross by car? (5)
Answer: ROALD (i.e. “Norwegian” – basically a Norwegian name). Solution is ROAD (i.e. “by car”) wrapped around or “crossing” L (i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “lake”), like so: ROA(L)D. And, yes, I too had originally pencilled in FJORD for this.
45a. Sailors putting their heads together plot something very different (8)
Answer: OPPOSITE (i.e. “something very different”). Solution is PO (i.e. “sailor”, specifically a Petty Officer). Two of these with “their heads together” gets you OP-PO. This is then followed by SITE (i.e. “plot”), like so: OP-PO-SITE.
47a. Means, indeed, always to include five reservists at sea (4,4)
Answer: WAVY NAVY (i.e. “reservists at sea” – specifically an old name for “the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, so called from the undulating gold braid on officer’s sleeves” (Chambers)). Another I’ve not been able to fully decode, I’m afraid. I can see that AY satisfies “indeed” and “always” – all three being words expressing agreement – and that wrapping AY around V (i.e. “five” expressed as a Roman numeral) can get you A(V)Y and A(V)Y, but that’s about all from me.
[EDIT: Still not got this one, but I’m wondering whether “means” gets you WAY and AV in the solution, the latter being a recognised abbreviation of “average”. “Indeed” could merely be Y, being a shortened form of “yes”, giving us WAY-AV-Y. Slot in a singular V or “five” then gets you WA(V)Y-AV-Y. Not sure how the N would come in, though. – LP]
[FURTHER EDIT: Thanks to several commenters for their input on this one. The consensus view is WAY (i.e. a “means” of doing something) and NAY (i.e. “indeed”, both taken to mean “in point of fact”) both or “always” including V (i.e. “[Roman numeral] five”), like so: WA(V)Y-NA(V)Y. One to file under “Best Forgotten”, I think! – LP]
49a. Poem of old incorporated in poster for literary lass’s dance? (3,6,2,7,4)
Answer: THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL (i.e. “poem” by Oscar Wilde). Solution is O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) placed in (deep breath) THE BALL AD OF READING GAL (i.e. “poster for literary lass’s dance”).
52a. Sun’s now all we’re aware of in garden? (7)
Answer: WEEKEND (i.e. “Sun”, as in a shortened form of “Sunday”). Yet another I’m not 100% on. My solution for what it’s worth is KEN (i.e. “aware of”) placed “in” WEED (i.e. “[to] garden”), like so: WEE(KEN)D. “Now all we’re” doesn’t mean anything to me, though, so I’ve probably missed something.
[EDIT: Thanks to Steve in the comments for helping to clarify this one some more, in that KEN = “all we’re aware of”, rather than just “aware of”. It still leaves “now” unaccounted for, so I’ll leave this in red for the time being. – LP]
53a. One’s online business, something tiny, picked up (9)
Answer: DOTCOMMER (i.e. “online business”). Solution is DOT (i.e. “something tiny”) followed by a homophone (indicated by “picked up”) of “,”, like so: DOT-COMMER.
54a. Look for a bite in the end to eat: bagel (5)
Answer: TROLL (i.e. “look for a bite” – trolling is the act of saying stuff, usually on social media, with the intent of winding people up). Solution is T (i.e. “the end to eat”, i.e. the last letter of “eat”) followed by ROLL (i.e. “bagel”).
[EDIT: Thanks to Charlie in the comments for providing an excellent alternative to this one, pointing out that to TROLL is to fish using moving bait, often along behind a boat. Cheers, Charlie! – LP]
55a. Such as honey, and ducks? (5,8)
Answer: SWEET NOTHINGS. Clue plays on how “honey” and “ducks” can be words of affection, and also how “honey” is SWEET and “ducks” are NOTHINGS scored in a game of cricket. Nicely worked.
56a. Wind one’s papa up with hoax (9)
Answer: SAXOPHONE (i.e. “wind” instrument). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “wind…up”) of ONE’S, P (i.e. “papa” in the phonetic alphabet) and HOAX.
1d. Native American ceremonies can send US crazy (3,6)
Answer: SUN DANCES (i.e. “Native American ceremonies”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “crazy”) of CAN SEND US. Nicely worked.
2d. Pass pack down after bridge match? (6,5)
Answer: RUBBER STAMP (i.e. to approve or “pass”). Solution is STAMP (i.e. “pack down”) placed “after” RUBBER (i.e. “bridge match”). Another one that’s nicely done.
3d. Much-married actress a gift to the loquacious men (5)
Answer: Zsa Zsa GABOR (i.e. “much-married actress” – she did get through ‘em, no doubt). Solution is GAB (i.e. “gift to the loquacious”, as in having the gift of the gab – loquacious means being rather chatty) followed by OR (i.e. “men”, specifically the Other Ranks of the British Army).
4d. Break off – score fifteen subsequently? (4,4)
Answer: TAKE FIVE (i.e. “break off”). “Score fifteen subsequently” refers to how, when TAKING FIVE from a “score” or twenty gets you “fifteen”.
5d. Farmers once needing possible six-month forecast? (6)
Answer: YEOMEN (i.e. “farmers once”). Solution is YE (i.e. “six-month” – a sneaky one this, basically being half a YEAR) followed by OMEN (i.e. “forecast”).
6d. A bomb, but hardly a smart one? (5,5)
Answer: SILLY MONEY (i.e. “a bomb” – both taken to mean a large amount of cash). Clue plays on how SILLY is “hardly…smart”. You get the idea.
7d. What to tell children of plot by politician (7,5)
Answer: BEDTIME STORY (i.e. “what to tell children”). Solution is BED (i.e. “plot”) followed by TIMES (i.e. “by”, as in to multiply) and TORY (i.e. “politician”).
8d. One who’s sore maybe after kicking small log over (2-5)
Answer: RE-ENTER (i.e. to “log over”, or re-enter some information). Solution is RESENTER (i.e. “one who’s sore maybe”) with the S removed (indicated by “after kicking small” – S being a recognised abbreviation of “small”).
9d. Above supervisors, I note, revelling in promotion (14)
Answer: AFOREMENTIONED (i.e. “above” – again, a bit too loose for my liking). Solution is FOREMEN (i.e. “supervisors”) and an anagram (indicated by “revelling”) of I NOTE all placed “in” AD (i.e. “promotion”, i.e. a shortened form of “advertisement”), like so: A(FOREMEN-TIONE)D.
10d. Girl of 14’s seen at party (7)
Answer: DOLORES (i.e. “girl” – basically a girl’s name). Solution is LORE’S (i.e. “14’s” – the solution to 14a is KNOWLEDGE) following or “seen at” DO (i.e. “party”), like so: DO-LORES.
11d. What’s got Parisian who is roused into fighting? (11)
Answer: ACQUISITION (i.e. “what’s got”). Solution is QUI (i.e. “Parisian who”, i.e. the French for “who”) followed by IS reversed (indicated by “roused” – this being a down clue). These are then placed “into” ACTION (i.e. “fighting”), like so: AC(QUI-SI)TION.
12d. Police force has turned up to make arrest (4)
Answer: STEM (i.e. “arrest”). Solution is MET’S (i.e. “police force has”, i.e. London’s Metropolitan Police force made possessive) reversed (indicated by “turned up” – again, this being a down clue).
17d. Potter’s mate hire men, especially to hold wheel? (8)
Answer: HERMIONE (i.e. “[Harry] Potter’s mate”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “especially”) of HIRE MEN wrapped around or “holding” O (i.e. “wheel”), like so: HERMI(O)NE.
19d. Rome’s top nun men round on never-endingly (6,3)
Answer: NUMERO UNO (i.e. “Rome’s top” – i.e. the Italian for “number one”). “Never-endingly” indicates the solution can be derived by removing the final letter from each of NUN MEN ROUND ON.
22d. Journalist’s copy – way superior (8)
Answer: STRINGER (i.e. “journalist”, specifically one “employed part-time by a newspaper or news agency to cover a particular (especially remote) town or area” (Chambers). I’ve learned something). Solution is RINGER (i.e. “copy”) with ST (i.e. “way”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “street”) placed above or made “superior” to it – this being a down clue – like so: ST-RINGER.
25d. One’s hypocritical praise he rubbished (8)
Answer: PHARISEE (i.e. “one’s hypocritical”). “Rubbished” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of PRAISE HE. Another I remembered from a previous Jumbo, if I’m honest.
26d. Girl, thanks to your rearing, is naturally a bounder! (9)
Answer: SALTATORY (i.e. “naturally a bounder” – seemingly a biological term meaning “of or for leaping or jumping” (Chambers). Another I’ve not come across before, but I doubt this will live long in the memory). Solution is SAL (i.e. a “girl’s” name) followed by TA (i.e. “thanks”), then TO and YR (a recognised abbreviation of “your”) reversed (indicated by “rearing”), like so: SAL-TA-TO-RY. One I got from the wordplay and a check in the dictionary.
27d. Rubbish article, carelessly written over and over, is a wake-up call! (4-1-6-3)
Answer: COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO (i.e. “a wake-up call”). Solution is COCK (i.e. “rubbish” – I wholeheartedly approve this usage!), followed by A (i.e. “article”, as in a word like a, an or the), then DOODLED (i.e. “carelessly written”) and O and O (i.e. “over and over” – O being a recognised abbreviation of “over” used in cricket).
28d. Has CD, so runs new feature of Windows operating system (4,4)
Answer: SASH CORD (i.e. “feature of windows operating system” – as in the glassy things that attract dirt approximately 2 minutes after every clean). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “new”) of HAS CD SO and R (a recognised abbreviation of “runs” used in a number of ball games).
31d. Occasionally, Oscar’s opening pianissimo, in English and in French (5,2,5)
Answer: EVERY SO OFTEN (i.e. “occasionally”). Solution is O (i.e. “Oscar” in the phonetic alphabet) placed in or “opening” VERY SOFT (i.e. “pianissimo”). This is then itself placed “in” between E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”) and EN (i.e. “in French”, i.e. the French for “in”), like so: E-(VERY-SO(O)FT)-EN.
33d. Sportswoman with husband permitted to visit trendy gallery (11)
Answer: HEPTATHLETE (i.e. “sportswoman”). Solution is H (a recognised abbreviation of “husband”) and LET (i.e. “permitted”) placed in or “visiting” HEP (i.e. “trendy”) and TATE (i.e. “gallery”), like so: HEP-TAT(H-LET)E.
36d. Being history of French girl: tragic suicide attempt maybe coming to nothing (4,2,1,4)
Answer: DEAD AS A DODO (i.e. “being history”). Solution is DE (i.e. “of French”, i.e. the French for “of”), followed by ADA (i.e. a “girl’s” name), then SAD (i.e. “tragic”), then OD (i.e. “suicide attempt maybe”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of a drug overdose – “maybe” recognises an OD might also come about through misadventure) and O (i.e. “nothing”), like so: DE-ADA-SAD-OD-O.
37d. Champion can be harsh without turning corrupt (10)
Answer: VICTORIOUS (i.e. “champion”). Solution is VICIOUS (i.e. “harsh”) placed around or “without” ROT (i.e. “corrupt”) once reversed (indicated by “turning”), like so: VIC(TOR)IOUS.
41d. Boys spent unwisely, we hear? A shade (5,4)
Answer: ROYAL BLUE (i.e. “a shade”). Solution is ROY and AL (i.e. “boys’” names) followed by a homophone (indicated by “we hear”) of BLEW (i.e. “spent unwisely”).
42d. Caretaker’s raised team right after New Year’s Day (8)
Answer: JANITRIX (i.e. a female janitor, or “caretaker”). Solution is XI (i.e. “team” – i.e. Roman numerals for eleven) and RT (a recognised abbreviation of “right”, as in the title Right Honourable) both reversed (indicated by “raised” – this being a down clue) and placed “after” JAN I (i.e. “New Year’s Day”), like so: JAN-I-(TR-IX).
44d. Noble reference that would appear had better be drastically reversed (7)
Answer: DEBRETT (i.e. “noble reference”, being the easily ridiculed code of etiquette the upper crust are often advised to observe, as if any of it bloody matters. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of saying things like “I wonder what Debrett’s has to say on fellatio” – be thankful you don’t know me). “That would appear” indicates the solution has been hidden in the clue, while “reversed” indicates the solution has been… um… reversed, like so: BE(TTER BE D)RASTICALLLY.
46d. Begin to go through scale model with this? (4-3)
Answer: PLAY-DOH. Solution satisfies “begin to play through scale” – as in PLAY DOH-RAY-ME etc – and “model with this”. Ugh. I’m rarely keen when trademarked products find their way into Jumbos. It is in the dictionary, though.
48d. Greek island’s conveniently laid on medics (6)
Answer: PATMOS (i.e. “Greek island”, albeit not a terribly populous one). Solution is PAT (i.e. “conveniently”) placed above or “laid on” – this being a down clue – MOS (i.e. “medics”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of Medical Officer made plural).
50d. Costume to show a leg? (3-2)
Answer: GET-UP. Solution satisfies “costume” and “show a leg” or to get a move on.
51d. Weight having gone up, needing very large braces (4)
Answer: TWOS (i.e. “braces”). Solution is WT (a recognised abbreviation of “weight”) reversed (indicated by “having gone up” – this being a down clue) and followed by OS (i.e. “very large”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “outsize”), like so: TW-OS.