A toughie to round off the festive period, and a pangram to boot. (A nod to Ong’ara for pointing this out in the past.) I’m not usually keen when setters lean on general knowledge solutions to help toughen up the puzzle, but, come on, who didn’t like ZAPHOD BEEBLEBROX? This nerd approves.
Anyway, you can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them helpful. My Just For Fun page has links to solutions for the last 100+ of these things, should a recent Jumbo have you stumped. There’s also the usual dusty old book reviews and a story of mine.
Till next time, keep safe, mask up and keep supporting the NHS and key workers everywhere. This second wave of Covid just keeps powering on, sadly. Just stay in, if you can. It’s overrated out there anyway.
- Old Greek image that’s sacred, commonly including Mass (7)
Answer: OLYMPIC (i.e. “old Greek”). Solution is ‘OLY PIC (i.e. “image that’s sacred, commonly”, i.e. playing on how the aitch has been dropped from HOLY) wrapped around or “including” M (a recognised abbreviation of “mass” – ignore the misleading capitalisation), like so: ‘OLY-(M)-PIC.
- School flag is appropriate (8)
Answer: HIGHJACK, a recognised variant of hijack (i.e. to steal or “appropriate”). Solution is HIGH (i.e. “school”) followed by JACK (i.e. “flag”).
- Features, something Greek might write, connected with old Balkan ruler (6)
Answer: PHIZOG (i.e. “features”, after physiognomy). Solution is PHI (i.e. “something Greek might write”, being the twenty-first letter of the Greek alphabet) followed by ZOG (i.e. “old Balkan ruler”).
- Thing troubling babe, soon nineteen (1,3,2,4,6)
Answer: A BEE IN ONE’S BONNET (i.e. “thing troubling”). “Troubling” also indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of BABE SOON NINETEEN.
- Glass that’s filled behind agent’s back (6)
Answer: BUMPER (i.e. “glass that’s filled [to the brim, for a toast]” – chalk one to by Bradford’s here: a phrase you’ll see a lot in this post). Solution is BUM (i.e. “behind”) followed by REP (i.e. “agent”) once reversed (indicated by “back”), like so: BUM-PER.
- Most bold in corporation – the rest falling short (8)
Answer: GUTSIEST (i.e. “most bold”). Solution is GUT (i.e. “corporation”, an archaic word for a belly, often a large one. A pet play for setters, so if you see this in a clue, think TUM or GUT) followed by SIESTA (i.e. “rest”) once the last letter has been removed (indicated by “falling short”), like so: GUT-SIEST. Nicely worked.
- Flier, held, fall out of cases (2,2)
Answer: EL AL (i.e. “flier”, specifically “the Israeli airline” (Chambers)). Solution is derived from HELD and FALL once the first and last letters of each word have been removed, indicated by “out of cases”. Probably not the setter’s first entry in the grid…
- Boasts of returning, returning to the fold (5-4)
Answer: CROWS-FOOT (i.e. “fold” in the skin around the eyes). Solution is CROWS (i.e. “boasts”) followed by OF once reversed (indicated by “returning”) and TO also reversed (also indicated by “returning”), like so: CROWS-FO-OT.
- Performers once cut grass on pitch in front of one (8)
Answer: CASTRATI (i.e. “performers once cut”, the like of which you shouldn’t see again given they were routinely castrated as children in order to help preserve their voices. Brian Hodge wrote an excellent story about a modern-era castrato and his patron, reprinted in Best New Horror 6, called The Alchemy of the Throat). Solution is RAT (i.e. “grass”) placed “on” or after CAST (i.e. to throw or “pitch”), both of which are then placed “in front of” I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”), like so: CAST-RAT-I.
- Job involved keeping ointment by for particular case (8,3)
Answer: JUNCTION BOX (i.e. “case” housing electrical wires and such – there may be something clever to justify “particular”, but I’m not seeing it). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “involved”) of JOB wrapped around or “keeping” UNCTION (i.e. “ointment”) and then followed by X (i.e. “by”, i.e. the multiplication symbol), like so: J(UNCTION)BO-X.
- Some smelt tar derivative back in plant (3,6)
Answer: RED RATTLE (i.e. “plant”). “Some” indicates the solution has been hidden in the clue, while “back” indicates the solution has been reversed, like so: SM(ELT TAR DER)IVATIVE.
- Special purpose yellow packs pursued (8)
Answer: TAILORED (i.e. “special purpose”). Solution is OR (i.e. “yellow” or gold in heraldry) placed in or “packing” TAILED (i.e. “pursued”), like so: TAIL(OR)ED.
- Ultimately, they conclude agenda with informal agreement (4)
Answer: YEAH (i.e. “informal [word of] agreement”). “Ultimately” indicates the solution is derived from the final letters of “theY concludE agendA witH“.
- A travel writer holding talk at house, fearing to leave it? (11)
Answer: AGORAPHOBIC (i.e. “house, fearing to leave it”). Solution is A, GO (i.e. “travel”) and BIC (i.e. “writer”, as in a Bic biro) wrapped around or “holding” RAP (i.e. “talk”) and HO (a recognised abbreviation of “house”), like so: A-GO-(RAP-HO)-BIC.
- Footwear sellers paid to diversify (11)
Answer: ESPADRILLES (i.e. “footwear”). “To diversify” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SELLERS PAID.
- One putting down a grand on a flat? On the contrary (5,6)
Answer: PIANO PLAYER. “On the contrary” asks you to swap words in the first half of the clue, i.e. “one putting down ‘A flat’ on a grand”, which gets you the solution. Clue also plays on PIANO LAYER (i.e. “one putting down a grand”), and probably something else I’m not twigging to net you the P in between the words, but you get the idea.
- Allowed only famous poem – and one leading up to it (11)
Answer: JUSTIFIABLE (i.e. “allowed”). Solution is JUST (i.e. “only”) followed by IF (i.e. “famous poem” by Rudyard Kipling), then I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) and ABLE (i.e. “up to it”).
- House that had a rose bowl (4)
Answer: YORK. Solution satisfies “house that had a rose” – referring to the House of York, one half of the War of the Roses – and “bowl”, as in to bowl a yorker in cricket – a delivery aimed at the crease.
- Old chief investigator hesitates: he’s backtracking (8)
Answer: TECUMSEH (i.e. “old chief”, specifically a Native American leader from the nineteenth century). Solution is TEC (i.e. “investigator”, shortened form of “detective”) followed by UMS (i.e. “hesitates”) and HE once reversed (indicated by “backtracking”), like so: TEC-UMS-EH. One gotten from the wordplay if I’m honest.
- Needing a cut of beef to be picked up after deliveries (9)
Answer: OVERGROWN (i.e. “needing a cut”, a bit like my lockdown barnet). Solution is a homophone (indicated by “picked up”) of GROAN (i.e. “beef” or complaint) placed “after” OVER (i.e. a series of six regulation “deliveries” in cricket), like so: OVER-GROWN.
- Small section of block crossed by a gaoler waving a bunch of keys? (11)
Answer: ARCHIPELAGO (i.e. “keys” or group of islands). Solution is CHIP (i.e. “small section of block”) placed in or “crossed by” an anagram (indicated by “waving”) of A GAOLER, like so: AR(CHIP)ELAGO. A recent repeat, but this one is very nicely done.
- Recalling who the sunglasses belong to…? (6,2)
Answer: SHADES OF. Solution satisfies “recalling” and “who the sunglasses belong to”.
- Watchful dog with no tail you once had (5-4)
Answer: SHARP-EYED (i.e. “watchful”). Solution is SHAR-PEI (i.e. breed of “dog” – score another to my Bradford’s here) with it’s last letter removed (indicated by “with no tail”) and the remainder followed by YE’D (i.e. “you once had” – a contraction of ye-olde “you” (indicated by “once”) and “had”), like so: SHAR-PE-(YE’D).
- Take in cable, with height not constant (4)
Answer: HOAX (i.e. “take in”). Solution is COAX (shortened form of “coaxial cable”) with the C swapped for an H (indicated by “height not constant” – H being a recognised abbreviation of “height”, ditto C “constant”), like so: (C)OAX => (H)OAX.
- Long running drama, Farewell Monsieur, is back (8)
Answer: MARATHON (i.e. “long running”). Solution is NOH (i.e. Japanese “drama”), followed by TARA (i.e. “farewell”) and M (a recognised abbreviation of “Monsieur”). The whole is then reversed (indicated by “is back”), like so: M-ARAT-HON.
- Stateswoman we’d understand an important member of the opposition? (6)
Answer: Maria Corazon Cojuangco AQUINO, former president of the Philippines (i.e. “stateswoman”). “We understand” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of A KEY NO (i.e. “an important member of the opposition”).
- Dedication ends with shoe-leather being badly worn (16)
Answer: WHOLEHEARTEDNESS (i.e. “dedication”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “being badly worn”) of ENDS, W (a recognised abbreviation of “with”) and SHOE-LEATHER.
- On return, prepared bread and port (6)
Answer: NANTES (i.e. “port”). Solution is SET (i.e. “prepared”) and NAN (i.e. “bread” – a variant spelling of naan) all reversed (indicated by “on return”), like so: NAN-TES.
- Cannon once essential, note, for securing back of line (8)
Answer: AMUSETTE (i.e. “cannon once”, a light field gun used in the 18th century – another win for the Bradford’s). Solution is A MUST (i.e. “essential”) and TE (i.e. “note” in the doh-ray-me way) wrapped around or “securing” E (i.e. “back of line”, i.e. the last letter of “line”), like so: A-MUS(E)T-TE.
- Story about a doctor turned railway worker (7)
Answer: YARDMAN (i.e. “railway worker”). Solution is YARN (i.e. “story”) wrapped “about” A and MD (i.e. “doctor”, specifically a Doctor of Medicine or Medicinae Doctor) once reversed (indicated by “turned”), like so: YAR(DM-A)N.
- Zero scope for movement – and hence a squash? (6)
Answer: ORANGE (i.e. “a squash”). Solution is O (i.e. “zero”) followed by RANGE (i.e. “scope for movement”).
- Possibly miss last part of comedy screened? Not the last (6)
Answer: YVETTE (i.e. “possibly miss”, basically a woman’s name). Solution is Y (i.e. “last part of comedy”) followed by VETTED (i.e. “screened”) once its last letter has been removed (indicated by “not the last”), like so: Y-VETTE.
- Particular sort of beer, right to give to a new mum (9)
Answer: PRIMIPARA (i.e. “new mum”). Solution is PRIM (i.e. “particular”) followed by IPA (i.e. “sort of beer”, specifically Indian Pale Ale), then R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”) and A. Another nod to Bradford’s here. Cool word. I like it.
- Embroidery done a certain way, given the needle’s very small one (5-6)
Answer: CROSS-STITCH (i.e. “embroidery done a certain way”). Solution is CROSS (i.e. “given the needle”), followed by ‘S (the contraction of “is” after “needle”) and TITCH (i.e. “very small one”), like so: CROSS-‘S-TITCH.
- Humble clerk has energy, bursting with it (4)
Answer: Uriah HEEP, “humble clerk” from Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield. Solution is HEP (i.e. cool or “with it”) wrapped around or being “burst” by E (a recognised abbreviation of “energy”), like so: HE(E)P.
- Trap the lot with one’s sudden movement – then lose it (2,9)
Answer: GO BALLISTIC (i.e. “lose it”). Solution is GOB (i.e. “trap”, both slang words for mouth) followed by ALL (i.e. “the lot”), then I’S (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one’s”) and TIC (i.e. “sudden movement”).
- Nice jug Jules smashed, spilling son’s liquor (6,5)
Answer: JUNGLE JUICE (i.e. slang for strong, poor-quality “liquor”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “smashed”) of NICE JUG JULES once the S has been removed (indicated by “spilling son” – S being a recognised abbreviation of “son”).
- Faith, involving short display of emotion, getting stronger (9)
Answer: CRESCENDO (i.e. “getting stronger” in musical lingo). Solution is CREDO (i.e. “faith”) wrapped around or “involving” SCENE (i.e. “display of emotion”) once its last letter has been removed (indicated by “short”), like so: CRE(SCEN)DO.
- London area head office not dragging its feet? (8)
Answer: HOUNSLOW (i.e. “London area”). Solution is HO (a recognised abbreviation of “head office”) followed by UNSLOW (i.e. “not dragging its feet” – the riddly question mark acknowledges this isn’t exactly a word you’re going to find in the dictionary).
- Unknown, he boxed probable criminal in double-header on radio show (6,10)
Answer: ZAPHOD BEEBLEBROX (i.e. “double-header on radio show”, referring to a character in Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy who had two heads). Solution is Z (i.e. “unknown” – setters love referring to X, Y or Z as “unknowns” in their clues) followed by an anagram (indicated by “criminal”) of HE BOXED PROBABLE. Proof positive that any puzzle can be immediately improved with a spot of Douglas Adams. Except for Sudoku, perhaps. They have enough 42s already.
- Fabric made of net: good strong thing all round (4-3)
Answer: GORE-TEX (i.e. “fabric”). Solution is RETE (i.e. “net”, often a network of blood vessels or nerves) with G (a recognised abbreviation of “good”) and OX (i.e. “strong thing”) placed “all round” it, like so: G-O(RETE)X.
- Nanny’s tender way under attack by chap (8)
Answer: GOATHERD (i.e. “nanny’s tender”, as in one who tends goats). Solution is RD (a recognised abbreviation of “road”) placed at the end of or “under” – this being a down clue – GO AT (i.e. “attack”) and HE (i.e. “chap”), like so: (GO-AT-HE)-RD.
- Job where each apparently has his own assistant? (8)
Answer: PAPERBOY (i.e. “job”). When written as PA PER BOY the remainder of the clue satisfies “where each apparently has his own assistant”, as in each paperboy having his own Personal Assistant. I rather liked this one.
- Put on early pressure to work at gathering harvest (8)
Answer: PREAPPLY (i.e. “put on early”, like an undercoat of paint). Solution is P (a recognised abbreviation of “pressure”) and PLY (i.e. “to work at”) wrapped around or “gathering” REAP (i.e. to “harvest”), like so: P-(REAP)-PLY.
- Lines of John’s, eg, radio announcer fluffed (3,2,1,7,3)
Answer: ODE ON A GRECIAN URN (i.e. “lines of John” Keats. Romantic poets would write odes to their big toes given half a chance. O vital member of flesh and bone; giver of balance, prey of bedposts, the unholed socks doth fear you; So wiggle on, my porcine general! Hold firm thine aegis of keratin, thine hangnail lance, and let not the market take you… I’ll accept my laureateship now, thanks). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “fluffed”) of EG RADIO ANNOUNCER.
- Is like Jack early in fairytale, on hearing people out (3-5)
Answer: HAS-BEENS (i.e. “people out”). Solution is a homophone (indicated by “on hearing”) of HAS BEANS, rather “like Jack early in fairytale”, specifically Jack and the Beanstalk.
- Website inviting knowledgeable improvements, primarily? (4)
Answer: WIKI. “Primarily” indicates the solution is derived from the initial letters of Website Inviting Knowledgeable Improvements. Wikis are community-editable knowledgebases, which the clue sums up rather well. Very nicely done.
- Headless giant is very curious (4)
Answer: AGOG (i.e. “very curious” – not sure this equates to “excited eagerness” (Chambers), so I might not have this right). My solution for what it’s worth is MAGOG (i.e. “giant” who, with Gog, were “the last two survivors of a mythical race of giants inhabiting ancient Britain” (Chambers)) with its initial letter removed (indicated by “headless”).
- History exam as teacher’s responsibility? (8)
Answer: PASTORAL (i.e. “teacher’s responsibility” – over to Chambers again, one definition of the solution is “relating to care and advice given by teachers to pupils beyond the basic teaching of the subject”). Solution is PAST (i.e. “history”) followed by ORAL (i.e. “exam”).
- Prince of Wales theatre’s latest, fittingly, coming up: playing regularly (8)
Answer: LLEWELYN ap Gruffudd or Llewelyn the Last (i.e. “Prince of Wales” during the 13th century). Solution is E (i.e. “theatre’s latest”, i.e. the last letter of “theatre”) and WELL (i.e. “fittingly”) both reversed (indicated by “coming up” – this being a down clue) and followed by LYN (i.e. “playing regularly”, i.e. every other letter of PLAYING), like so: (LLEW-E)-LYN.
- Spurs lose: I start to hear delirious Reds fans (11)
Answer: RUSSOPHILES (i.e. “Reds fans” or people who rather like Russia, its people, its culture etc). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “delirious”) of SPURS LOSE I and H (i.e. “start to hear”, i.e. the first letter of “hear”).
- What stops kid, a page, taking headpiece for old king (11)
Answer: JEHOSHAPHAT (i.e. “old king” fond of jumpin’, as some rootin’ tootin’ cartoon gunmen might claim). Solution is EH (i.e. “what” as in Eh? What? Pardon?) placed in or “stopping” JOSH (i.e. to joke or “kid”) and followed by A, then P (a recognised abbreviation of “page”), then HAT (i.e. “headpiece”), like so: J(EH)OSH-A-P-HAT. Another win for the Bradford’s!
- Popular lament about a new style, periodically so lacking grace (11)
Answer: INELEGANTLY (i.e. “lacking grace”). Solution is IN (i.e. “popular”) followed by ELEGY (i.e. “lament”) once wrapped “about” A, N (a recognised abbreviation of “new”) and TL (i.e. “style, periodically”, i.e. every other letter of STYLE), like so: IN-ELEG(A-N-TL)Y.
- Thousandth employee to come across opposition in the workplace? (2,3,4)
Answer: US AND THEM (i.e. “opposition in the workplace”). “To come across” indicates the solution has been hidden or wrapped into the clue, like so: THO(USANDTH EM)PLOYEE.
- Game with ring and rubber duck (9)
Answer: GOOSANDER (i.e. “duck” – another nod to my Bradford’s here). Solution is GO (i.e. “go”) followed by O (i.e. “ring”) and SANDER (i.e. “rubber” as in something that rubs).
- Ten exercises brought in for a small sum (8)
Answer: SIXPENCE (i.e. “small sum”). Solution is X (i.e. “[Roman numeral] ten”) and PE (i.e. “exercises”, specifically Physical Education) both placed “in” SINCE (i.e. “for”, as in for the last however-long), like so: SI(X-PE)NCE.
- Don’t put an X rating on the spot (7)
Answer: ABSTAIN (i.e. “don’t put an X”, i.e. refrain from voting). Solution is AB (i.e. “rating” given to Able-Bodied seamen) followed by STAIN (i.e. “spot”).
- Being collected from public house, left meeting (6)
Answer: PHLEGM (i.e. “being collected”, as opposed to a big grolly). Solution is PH (a recognised abbreviation of “public house”) followed by L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”) and EGM (i.e. “meeting”, specifically an Extraordinary General Meeting).
- Concert with possible Oxbridge dons – not outside (6)
Answer: UNISON (i.e. working in “concert”). Solution is UNIS (i.e. “possible Oxbridge”, in how the word is a contraction Oxford and Cambridge Universities) followed by ON (i.e. “dons – not outside”, i.e. the word “dons” with its first and last letters removed), like so: UNIS-ON.
- Fail to apply for audition, and flourish (4)
Answer: WAVE (i.e. “flourish” – another nod to Bradford’s as I couldn’t make the connection). “For audition” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of WAIVE (i.e. “fail to apply”, as in waiving one’s right to something).