A toughie this week and, barring a couple of scrappy clues, a really good one with lots of well crafted clues to chew on and slow but steady progress throughout.
You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them helpful. If a recent Jumbo has trampled your toes then you might find some relief in my Just For Fun page, where you’ll find links to solutions for the last 150+ of these things. Elsewhere there are the usual ancient book reviews and a story of mine.
Thanks once more for the kind words and help. It’s always interesting to hear the thoughts of other solvers once they’ve put down their pens. Till next time, stay safe, mask up, get vaccinated and keep supporting the NHS and key workers everywhere.
- Broadcaster cut unserviceable operating area (6)
Answer: RADIUS (i.e. “operating area” – a fairly loose take on an already loose definition of the word: “a distance from a centre, conceived as limiting an area or range” (Chambers). Hmm. Not keen.) Solution is RADIO (i.e. “broadcaster”) with its last letter removed (indicated by “cut”) and the remainder followed by US (a recognised abbreviation of “unserviceable”), like so: RADI-US.
- Head across pond east – better fish all round (4,3)
Answer: CAPE COD (i.e. “head across pond”, a head or cape is a geographical feature, and Cape Cod is found in the US, often referred to as being “across the pond”). Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation of “east”) with CAP (i.e. to “better” something) and COD (i.e. “fish”) placed “all round” it, like so: CAP-(E)-COD.
- Tools this waster fecklessly holds the wrong way (8)
Answer: FRETSAWS (i.e. “tools”). “Holds” indicates the solution has been hidden in the clue, while “the wrong way” indicates the solution has been reversed, like so: THI(S WASTER F)ECKLESSLY.
- Be widely involved with filling in index? The reverse? (4,1,6,2,5,3)
Answer: HAVE A FINGER IN EVERY PIE (i.e. “be widely involved with”). Clue plays on index fingers and pie fillings. Not a classic.
- Man’s setting off as he pursues girl (5,3)
Answer: IRISH SEA (i.e. Isle of “Man’s setting”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “off”) of AS HE placed after or “pursuing” IRIS (i.e. a “girl’s” name), like so: IRIS-HSEA.
- Philosopher to talk up article carrying little weight (7)
Answer: Baruch SPINOZA (i.e. “philosopher”). Solution is SPIN (i.e. “to talk up”) and A (i.e. “article”, i.e. a word like a, an or the) wrapped around or “carrying” OZ (i.e. “little weight”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of an “ounce”), like so: SPIN-(OZ)-A. Straight to Bradford’s for this one, it won’t surprise you to learn. There have been as many philosophers throughout history as those who have read them.
- Discontinued your following something corny and crude (6)
Answer: EARTHY (i.e. “crude”). Solution is THY (i.e. “discontinued your”, i.e. a ye olde form of “your”) placed after or “following” EAR (i.e. “something corny”, as in an ear of corn), like so: EAR-THY.
- Feature otherwise put out endlessly? Not true! (10)
Answer: TRAITOROUS (i.e. “not true”, presumably to a cause. Another loose one, for me). Solution is TRAIT (i.e. “feature”) followed by OR (i.e. “otherwise”) and OUST (i.e. “put out”) once its last letter has been removed (indicated by “endlessly”), like so: TRAIT-OR-OUS.
- Compulsion’s growing ultimately to broadcast celebrity feature (6,6)
Answer: GOSSIP COLUMN (i.e. “celebrity feature”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “to broadcast”) of COMPULSION’S and G (i.e. “growing ultimately”, i.e. the last letter of “growing”).
- Six go for the French test (4)
Answer: VIVA (i.e. an oral “test”). Solution is VI (i.e. Roman numerals for “six”) followed by VA (i.e. “go for the French”, i.e. the French for “go”).
- Refuse to handle – leading to trouble for dumps (5,3)
Answer: BLACK DOG (i.e. “dumps”, both descriptive of low spirits). Solution is BLACK (i.e. to boycott, ban or “refuse to handle”) followed by DOG (i.e. “to trouble” someone).
- Fish face being devoured by rats in east End (8)
Answer: EELPOUTS (i.e. “fish”). Solution is POUT (i.e. a “face” or facial expression) placed in or “devoured by” HEELS (i.e. “rats”, cads, bounders and other such Terry Thomas characters) once the H has been removed (indicated by “east End”, as in ‘ow all ‘em cockneys are forever droppin’ their bleedin’ aitches, inney, grubby urchins the lot of ‘em, gawblessem, guvnah and so forth), like so: EEL(POUT)S.
- Leaves unresolved job for decorator (12)
Answer: PAPERHANGING (i.e. “job for decorator”). Solution is PAPER (i.e. “leaves” of a book, for example) followed by HANGING (i.e. “unresolved”). Nicely worked.
- Bloomer when at least three detectives prematurely ended ambush? (10)
Answer: ASPIDISTRA (i.e. “bloomer”). Solution is AS (i.e. “when”) followed by PI and DIS (i.e. “at least three detectives”, specifically a Private Investigator and some Detective Inspectors), then TRAP (i.e. “ambush”) once its last letter has been removed (indicated by “prematurely ended”), like so: AS-PI-DIS-TRA. Another nicely worked clue.
- Motor part that needs wound daily (4,6)
Answer: WING MIRROR (i.e. “motor [car] part”). Solution is WING (i.e. to “wound”) followed by MIRROR (i.e. “daily” newspaper). Another good ‘un!
- Blood group O? (6,6)
Answer: FAMILY CIRCLE. Clue plays on a few things, such as “blood” being another word for FAMILY (as in the phrase “blood is thicker than water”) and “group” being another word for a CIRCLE of people. The character O also represents a CIRCLE. You get the idea. Another one I rather liked once I twigged it.
- Obsessed with old goal – a form of torture (3-5)
Answer: ONE-TRACK (i.e. “obsessed”). Solution is O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) followed by NET (i.e. “goal” in a number of ball games) and RACK (i.e. “a form of torture”).
- What’s at the heart of propaganda, Leninist, he composed (8)
Answer: Niccolò PAGANINI (i.e. “he composed”). “What’s at the heart of” indicates the solution has been hidden in the middle letters of proPAGAnda and LeNINIst. One I got without running to Bradford’s, though the wordplay was fairly obvious.
- Cold joint and a little potato (4)
Answer: CHIP (i.e. “a little potato”). Solution is C (a recognised abbreviation of “cold”) followed by HIP (i.e. “joint”). This took way longer to nail than it ought to have done. Sometimes I just don’t see ‘em.
- Excitedly greet learned old author’s salutation (6,6)
Answer: GENTLE READER (i.e. a general “old author’s salutation” found in assorted prefaces). “Excitedly” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of GREED LEARNED.
- Suffer soreness, having caught illness: good thing you can drive (5,5)
Answer: BEACH BUGGY (i.e. “thing you can drive”). Solution is BE ACHY (i.e. “suffer soreness”) wrapped around or “catching” BUG (i.e. “illness”) and G (a recognised abbreviation of “good”), like so: BE-ACH(BUG-G)Y.
- Wine requirement has not exactly sunk in (6)
Answer: MUSCAT (i.e. “wine”). Solution is MUST (i.e. a “requirement”) wrapped around or “having” CA (i.e. “not exactly”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “circa”), like so: MUS(CA)T.
- Secretly backing America, others on the fringes in support (3,4)
Answer: SUB ROSA (i.e. “secretly” – the rose was once a symbol of secrecy, it says here; the Latin SUB ROSA translates as “under the rose”, hence “secretly”). Solution is US (i.e. “America”) reversed (indicated by “backing”) and followed by OS (i.e. “others on the fringes”, i.e. the first and last letters of “others”) once placed “in” BRA (i.e. “support”), like so: SU-BR(OS)A.
- House police hold in native settlement (8)
Answer: HOMETOWN (i.e. “native settlement”). Solution is HO (a recognised abbreviation of “house”) followed by MET (i.e. “police”, short for the London Metropolitan Police) and OWN (i.e. “hold”)
- A moment of extreme agitation in Leicester? (3,6,2,1,5,4)
Answer: TWO SHAKES OF A LAMB’S TAIL (i.e. “a moment”). Clue plays on SHAKING being a form of “extreme agitation”, and “Leicester” being a breed of sheep. That’s about it, unless I’ve missed something clever.
- Headless corpse has finally cut down children’s writer’s hero (8)
Answer: ODYSSEUS (i.e. “hero” of Homer’s epic poem, the Odyssey). Solution is BODY (i.e. “corpse”) with its first letter removed (indicated by “headless”) and the remainder followed by S (i.e. “has finally”, i.e. the last letter of “has”) and Dr SEUSS (i.e. “children’s writer”) once its last letter has been removed (indicated by “cut down”), like so: ODY-S-SEUS.
- Jack in Tyne and Wear metro, perhaps, arriving at factory (7)
Answer: CANNERY (i.e. a kind of “factory”). Solution is CAN (i.e. to “jack in”) followed by NE (i.e. “Tyne and Wear”, located in the North East of England) and RY (i.e. “metro, perhaps”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of a railway). Another nicely worked clue.
- Steal what player booked for dissent gave back? (6)
Answer: PILFER (i.e. “steal”). When the solution is reversed (indicated by “back”) and written as REF LIP, it also satisfies “what player booked for dissent gave”.
- With minor injuries, men are unable to stand (5)
Answer: ABHOR (i.e. “unable to stand”). Solution is ABH (i.e. “with minor injuries” or Actual Bodily Harm) followed by OR (i.e. “men”, specifically the Other Ranks of the British Army).
- Wearing top I keep in school study (11)
Answer: INVESTIGATE (i.e. “study”). Solution is IN VEST (i.e. “wearing top”) followed by I and GATE (i.e. to “keep in school” as a punishment).
- It’s the same vaccination method, still (8)
Answer: SNAPSHOT (i.e. a “still” or photograph). Solution is SNAP (i.e. “it’s the same”) followed by SHOT (i.e. “vaccination method” – three days till my 5G implant is complete, all being well!)
- Friend’s twentieth anniversary (5)
Answer: CHINA. Solution satisfies “friend”, i.e. the cockney rhyming slang “china plate” for “mate”, and a traditional “twentieth [wedding] anniversary” gift. Apparently the modern-day equivalent for a twentieth anniversary is platinum. “Piss” and “off” spring to mind!
- Stars stick with a controversial old law (7)
Answer: PEGASUS (i.e. a constellation or “stars”). Solution is PEG (i.e. “stick”) followed by A and SUS (i.e. “controversial old law” – over to Chambers: sus or suss laws were “laws allowing a person to be arrested on suspicion of having committed a crime”. A new one on me. Interesting.)
- Herbie for one was furious about one blunder a best friend spotted (8,3)
Answer: CARRIAGE DOG, another name for a Dalmatian or “best friend spotted”. Another new one on me. Solution is CAR (i.e. “Herbie for one” – other sentient motor vehicles are available) followed by RAGED (i.e. “was furious”) once wrapped “about” I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”), then OG (i.e. “blunder”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of an “own goal”), like so: CAR-R(I)AGED-OG.
- Casually pass dark horse with raised leg (5)
Answer: DUNNO (i.e. “casually pass”, i.e. a casual form of saying “I don’t know”). Solution is DUN (i.e. a “dark horse”, or horse of dun colour) followed by ON (i.e. “leg” side in cricket) once reversed (indicated by “raised” – this being a down clue) like so: DUN-NO.
- Smaller sport fund initially one has in reserve (4-1-4)
Answer: FIVE-A-SIDE (i.e. “smaller sport”, relative to a full-size football team of eleven). Solution is F (i.e. “fund initially”, i.e. the first letter of “fund”) followed by I’VE (a contraction of I have, or “one has”) and ASIDE (i.e. “in reserve”).
- Remote spot Yankee’s found in going to N Ireland (5)
Answer: EYRIE (i.e. “remote spot”). Solution is Y (i.e. “Yankee” in the phonetic alphabet) placed “in” EIRE (i.e. “Ireland”) once reversed (indicated by “N”, a recognised abbreviation of “northern” – this being a down clue), like so: E(Y)RIE.
- Disparate bits in use – plus four to spare (11)
Answer: SUPERFLUOUS (i.e. “spare”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “disparate bits in”) of USE PLUS FOUR.
- Welsh borough’s auditor’s being their… (7)
Answer: WREXHAM (i.e. “Welsh borough”). “Auditor” indicates homophone. Solution comprises homophone’s of WRECKS ‘EM (i.e. “being their…undoing” from 18d).
- …undoing, going with mounting resistance (9)
Answer: RUINATION (i.e. “undoing”). Solution is URINATION (i.e. “going”) with the R shifted along one (indicated by “mounting resistance” – R being a recognised abbreviation of “resistance” and this being a down clue), like so: U(R)INATION => (R)UINATION. This one took a sleep, a shower and a few meals besides before I finally twigged it. Very nicely played.
- Surfer enjoying a cruise? (7)
Answer: ONLINER (i.e. “surfer” – look, it’s in the dictionary, but I agree with you: who, outside of the 19th century, has ever referred to someone online as an “onliner”? Probably the same people who refer to mechanics as “garagists”). When written as ON LINER the solution also satisfies “enjoying a cruise”.
- Large gas main interfered with new naval transmitter (9)
Answer: SIGNALMAN (i.e. “naval transmitter”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “interfered with”) of L (a recognised abbreviation of “large”), GAS MAIN and N (a recognised abbreviation of “new”).
- Sparkling wine reserved to have with dip (4,4)
Answer: COLD DUCK (i.e. “sparkling wine”, specifically a half-n’-half drink of champagne and burgundy. Sounds like something I’d find in a P.G. Wodehouse novel). Solution is COLD (i.e. “reserved” in nature) followed by DUCK (i.e. “dip”).
- “Rebuked for holding bishop up” Echo tweeted (9)
Answer: CHIRRUPED (i.e. “tweeted”). Solution is CHID (i.e. “rebuked”) wrapped around or “holding” RR (i.e. “bishop”, specifically a Right Reverend), UP and E (“echo” in the phonetic alphabet – ignore the misleading capitalisation), like so: CHI(RR-UP-E)D.
- Object to nurse running water, getting you worked up (9)
Answer: THRILLING (i.e. “getting you worked up”). Solution is THING (i.e. “object”) wrapped around or “nursing” RILL (i.e. a small stream or “running water”), like so: TH(RILL)ING.
- Mushroom to eat: keep mum two as a starter (8)
Answer: SHIITAKE (i.e. “mushroom”). Solution is TAKE (i.e. “to eat”) with SH (i.e. shush or “keep mum”) and II (i.e. “two” in Roman numerals) placed before it or “as a starter”, like so: (SH-II)-TAKE.
- Milk needing Spanish approval for one’s porridge abroad (7)
Answer: POLENTA (i.e. “porridge abroad”). Solution is PINTA (i.e. an informal word for a pint of “milk”) with the I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) swapped “for” OLE (i.e. “Spanish [word of] approval”), like so: P(I)NTA => P(OLE)NTA.
- Make start on this puzzle? Without time to explain (3,2,6)
Answer: GET IT ACROSS (i.e. “to explain”). Solution is GET I ACROSS (i.e. “make start on this puzzle” – the I being 1 as a Roman numeral) wrapped around or placed “without” T (a recognised abbreviation of “time”), like so: GET-I(T)-ACROSS.
- One mocked judge, no longer on world body (6,2,3)
Answer: FIGURE OF FUN (i.e. “one mocked”). Solution is FIGURE (i.e. to “judge”) followed by OFF (i.e. “no longer on”) and UN (i.e. “world body”, specifically the United Nations).
- Court proceedings in which race question all but resolved (11)
Answer: RACQUETBALL (i.e. “court proceedings”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “resolved”) of RACE, Q (a recognised abbreviation of “question”) and ALL BUT. Very nicely played. Probably my favourite clue of the puzzle.
- Board ship, clutching regular selection of tackier souvenirs (9)
Answer: KEEPSAKES (i.e. “souvenirs”). Solution is KEEP (i.e. “board” or rent money) followed by SS (i.e. “ship”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of a steamship) once wrapped around or “clutching” AKE (i.e. “regular selection of tackier”, i.e. every other letter of TACKIER), like so: KEEP-S(AKE)S. Another good ‘un.
- Matter raised after hitch gets approval (6,2)
Answer: THUMBS UP (i.e. “approval”). The remainder of the clue, and probably the whole clue in question, seem to play on the act of hitchhiking, in which one would stick out a thumb to oncoming drivers to flag them down for a lift. A bit of a guess, really, as I wouldn’t know. I’ve never really had the jaw muscles for hitchhiking.
[EDIT: Thanks to Louise in the comments for a better take on this one. Solution is PUS (i.e. biological “matter”) reversed (indicated by “raised” – this being a down clue) and placed “after” THUMB (i.e. to “hitch” a ride), like so: THUMB-SUP. Cheers, Louise! – LP]
- Deer, put in strange setting, broke out (7)
Answer: ERUPTED (i.e. “broke out”). “In strange setting” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of DEER PUT.
- Letters felt to be poorly received by Scottish bank (7)
Answer: BRAILLE (i.e. raised “letters” on a page or surface so that the blind may read them). Solution is ILL (i.e. “to be poorly”) placed in or “received by” BRAE (i.e. “Scottish bank”), like so: BRA(ILL)E. Another excellent clue.
[EDIT: A quick edit to mention the solution better satisfies “letters felt” than just “letters” – LP]
- Busy with pulling up weed in lake (5)
Answer: TAHOE (i.e. “lake” between California and Nevada). Solution is AT (i.e. “busy with”) reversed (indicated by “pulling up” – this being a down clue) and followed by HOE (i.e. to “weed”), like so: TA-HOE.
- Simple precis, abridged, shows up (5)
Answer: BASIC (i.e. “simple”). “Shows” indicates the solution has been hidden in the clue, while “up” indicates the solution has been reversed – this being a down clue, like so: PRE(CIS AB)RIDGED.
- Exaggerated negative impact when wife is absent (5)
Answer: HAMMY (i.e. “exaggerated”). Solution is WHAMMY (i.e. “negative impact”) with the W removed (indicated by “when wife is absent” – W being a recognised abbreviation of “wife”).
- Wit not contained in speech (5)
Answer: Oscar WILDE (i.e. “wit”). “In speech” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of WILD (i.e. “not contained”).
This week’s musical accompaniment saw an airing for my Electrochoonage playlist, where I’ve plonked a selection of the synthwave stuff I’ve liked over the last couple of years. After that I thought I’d explore some of Uppermost’s work, having recently come across his magnificent album closer, Uprising. The album itself, Perseverance, is a fine listen throughout with a chillout vibe I’ll definitely want to return to, but hot damn that closer! Imagine the kind of punishing beats you’d find in an old school Chemical Brothers track, fused with a soaring loop reminiscent of Daft Punk’s Da Funk and fleshed out with Rob Dougan’s Clubbed To Death. It’s an absolute monster. Check out the video below with one simple instruction: play it LOUD!
Also: come on England and all that! Laters, – LP