For the most part this was a relatively easy one save for the top-left corner. Thankfully, once my holiday-brain cranked into gear, the pieces eventually fell into place. The big let-down, however, was the number of recent repeats peppering the grid. Again. I appreciate there are umpteen setters for these things and that they aren’t psychic, but it can’t take much to communicate a moratorium on certain solutions to prevent their overuse. Otherwise it all feeds into my conspiracy theory that the grids are being algorithmically set for setters to clue up later, that the algorithm is the genesis of Skynet, and that pretty soon we’re all going to be overrun by Terminators with curiously large vocabularies.
Anyway, back in the here and now, 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 done for you then you might find enlightenment in my Just For Fun page, where you’ll find links to solutions to the last 160+ of the things. Elsewhere there are the usual ancient book reviews and a story of mine.
Thanks once again for the kind comments and help. It’s always interesting to hear how other solvers got on, or if there’s something I’ve missed.
Stay safe out there, kids. I’ll be along shortly with the next one.
- Lamb tender second-rate old butcher’s taken secretly (2,4)
Answer: BO PEEP (i.e. “lamb tender”, albeit one prone to losing them). Solution is B (i.e. “second-rate”, i.e. B grade) followed by O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) and PEEP (i.e. “butcher’s taken secretly”, “butcher’s” being cockney rhyming slang for “look”, i.e. butchers hook).
- Daughter abandoning plans to adopt new standards (7)
Answer: ENSIGNS (i.e. “standards” or flags). Solution is DESIGNS (i.e. “plans”) with the D removed (indicated by “daughter abandoning” – D being a recognised abbreviation of “daughter”) and the remainder wrapped around or “adopting” N (a recognised abbreviation of “new”), like so: E(N)SIGNS.
- Cars here needing to be broken in systematic investigation (8)
Answer: RESEARCH (i.e. “systematic investigation”). “Needing to be broken” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CARS HERE.
- Cash for confidences: not an offer Simple Simon could have made? (1,5,3,4,8)
Answer: A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS (i.e. “cash for confidences”). The remainder of the clue plays on the nursery rhyme Simple Simon, in which he asks a pieman for a taste of his wares but hasn’t the money to buy any.
- Revolutionary husband taking place in long assignment (8)
Answer: MARATHON (i.e. “long assignment”). Solution is Jean-Paul MARAT (i.e. “revolutionary”, specifically a key player in the French Revolution) followed by H (a recognised abbreviation of “husband”) and ON (i.e. “taking place”). Sigh… Regular readers will know I often have a bee in my bonnet when setters repeatedly slot the same solutions into their grids, but this one’s starting to take the piss. This is the fourth time MARATHON has appeared in these things in the last year or so, and on three occasions Jean-Paul Marat is inferenced in the clue. Come on, setters, you can do better than this. Does the office encyclopaedia fall open at the same page or something?
- Inuit occasionally corrected legal woman (7)
Answer: NIGELLA (i.e. “woman”, basically a woman’s name). Solution is NI (i.e. “Inuit occasionally”, i.e. every other letter of INUIT) followed by an anagram (indicated by “corrected”) of LEGAL, like so: NI-GELLA. Another bugbear of mine is when setters slot forenames into their grids. This one’s going well, then.
- Try to catch start of hockey or bit of cricket? (6)
Answer: THORAX (the bit of the body between the head and the abdomen, i.e. “bit of cricket” and, I guess, about a squillion other species besides). Solution is TAX (i.e. to “try” or challenge) wrapped around or “catching” H (i.e. “start [letter] of hockey”) and OR, like so: T(H-OR)AX.
- Violent criminal blocks way with extremely scary axe (10)
Answer: PSYCHOPATH (i.e. “violent criminal”). Solution is PATH (i.e. “way”) wrapped around or “blocked” by SY (i.e. “extremely scary”, i.e. the first and last letters of “scary”) and CHOP (i.e. to “axe” something), like so: P(SY-CHOP)ATH.
- Tight from booze in northeast having wine brought round (4-8)
Answer: MEAN-SPIRITED (i.e. “tight”). Solution is SPIRIT (i.e. “booze”) placed “in” NE (a recognised abbreviation of “northeast”) which itself is placed in or having “round” it MEAD (i.e. “wine”), like so: MEA(N(SPIRIT)E)D.
- Julie’s content to consume grammes in fruit (4)
Answer: UGLI (i.e. “fruit”). Solution is ULI (i.e. “Julie’s content”, i.e. the middle letters of “Julie”) wrapped around or “consuming” G (a recognised abbreviation of “grammes”), like so: U(G)LI.
- Bad after short attack of sickness, regularly taking soup (8)
Answer: BOUILLON (i.e. a strong broth or “soup”). Solution is ILL (i.e. “bad”) placed “after” BOUT (i.e. “attack of sickness”) once its last letter has been removed (indicated by “short”), then followed by ON (i.e. “regularly taking” a medicine), like so: BOU-ILL-ON.
- Comprehensive action where detective makes entrance (8)
Answer: DETAILED (i.e. “comprehensive”). Solution is DEED (i.e. “action”) with TAIL (i.e. “detective”, as in someone who keeps tabs on a suspect) “making an entrance” like so: DE(TAIL)ED.
- Too eager to press for expulsion from chambers? (7-5)
Answer: TRIGGER-HAPPY (i.e. “too eager”). The remainder of the clue plays on how triggers are “pressed”, and how ammunition is fired or “expelled” from the “chamber” of a gun. You get the idea.
- Player paid news boss to keep brochure overlong (10)
Answer: PROTRACTED (i.e. “overlong”). Solution is PRO (i.e. “player paid”, short for a professional) and ED (i.e. “news boss”, this time short for an editor) wrapped around TRACT (i.e. “brochure”), like so: PRO-(TRACT)-ED.
- Reformed rat with monocle seen in casino town (5,5)
Answer: MONTE CARLO (i.e. “casino town” in Monaco). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “reformed”) of RAT and MONOCLE.
- Lord investing pound accepted monetary system (4,8)
Answer: GOLD STANDARD (i.e. former “monetary system”). Solution is GOD (i.e. “lord”) wrapped around or “investing” L (a recognised abbreviation of a “pound” weight, after the Latin libra) and followed by STANDARD (i.e. “accepted”), like so: GO(L)D-STANDARD.
- Slight criticism when each son gives way to female deception (4-4)
Answer: FLIM-FLAM (i.e. “deception”). Solution is SLIM (i.e. “slight”) and SLAM (i.e. “criticism”) with the S from both (indicated by “each son”, S being a recognised abbreviation of “son”) replaced with or “giving way to” F (ditto “female”), like so: (S)LIM-(S)LAM => (F)LIM-(F)LAM.
- Column only remaining in support for bridge (8)
Answer: PILASTER (i.e. “column”). Solution is LAST (i.e. “only remaining”) placed “in” PIER (i.e. “support for bridge”), like so: PI(LAST)ER.
- Wrong when coming west to entertain second-rate writers (4)
Answer: NIBS (i.e. “writers”). Solution is SIN (i.e. “wrong”) reversed (indicated by “when coming west” – this being an across clue) and wrapped round or “entertaining” B (i.e. “second-rate”, as seen in 1a), like so: NI(B)S.
- Nancy’s indefinable quality? (2,2,4,4)
Answer: JE NE SAIS QUOI (i.e. “indefinably quality”). “Nancy’s” refers to the French city, Nancy, and this being a French phrase. Another recent repeat, sadly.
- Issue lacking clear boundaries for intelligence (4,6)
Answer: GREY MATTER. Solution satisfies “issue lacking clear boundaries” and “intelligence”.
- Officer shot landowners (6)
Answer: GENTRY (i.e. “landowners”). Solution is GEN (i.e. “officer”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of a general) followed by TRY (i.e. an attempt or “shot” at something).
- Justify upright character being drawn into old scheme (7)
Answer: EXPLAIN (i.e. “justify”). Solution is I (i.e. the “upright character” of the alphabet) placed or “drawn into” EX-PLAN (i.e. “old scheme”), like so: EX-PLA(I)N.
- Refuse to become sad (4,4)
Answer: TURN DOWN (i.e. “refuse”). Solution is TURN (i.e. “to become”) followed by DOWN (i.e. “sad”).
- Wag from Portland twice as flash? (3,6,2,1,5,4)
Answer: TWO SHAKES OF A LAMB’S TAIL. Clue plays on Portland being a variety of sheep, and how “wag” can be a shake of a tail. Ho hum. Another repeat, this time from the not-exactly-ancient puzzle 1507. Even the clue is broadly the same, and the fact the solution is a big ‘un just amplifies the disappointment.
- Call for help involving black politician in pathetic tale (3,5)
Answer: SOB STORY (i.e. “pathetic tale”). Solution is SOS (i.e. “call for help”) wrapped around or “involving” B (a recognised abbreviation of “black” used in chess) and followed by TORY (i.e. “politician”), like so: SO(B)S-TORY.
- Fox pelt we hear of in Bow? (7)
Answer: REYNARD (i.e. “fox”). Solution is a homophone (indicated by “we hear”) of RAIN HARD (i.e. “pelt”) once the H of HARD has been removed (indicated by “in Bow”, as in ‘ow all ‘em cockneys are forever droppin’ their bleedin’ aitches, inney? That and selling stolen goods to one another). A new one on me. I like it.
- Horror-struck scallywag has turned to bottle (6)
Answer: AGHAST (i.e. “horror-struck”). “To bottle” indicates the solution has been hidden in the clue, like so: SCALLYW(AG HAS T)URNED.
- City in South Africa in quite nice area (5)
Answer: OSAKA (i.e. “city” in Japan). Solution is SA (a recognised abbreviation of “South Africa”) placed “in” OK (i.e. “quite nice”) and followed by A (a recognised abbreviation of “area”), like so: O(SA)K-A. A clue that’s a little 20a, shall we say?
- Impressive – as grey eminence evidently is? (3-8)
Answer: EYE-CATCHING (i.e. “impressive”). Clue plays on how EYE has been hidden, or CAUGHT, within GR(EY E)MINENCE.
- God as necessary consequence guarding over temple (8)
Answer: PANTHEON (i.e. “temple”). Solution is PAN (i.e. Greek “god” of the forest and such) followed by THEN (i.e. “necessary consequence”) once wrapped around or “guarding” O (a recognised abbreviation of “over” used in cricket), like so: PAN-THE(O)N. Needed a push from my Bradford’s to get over the line. The top-left corner of the grid was a bit of a horror show.
- Small and delicate female rising river claims (5)
Answer: ELFIN (i.e. “small and delicate”). Solution is F (a recognised abbreviation of “female”) placed in or “claimed” by NILE (i.e. “river”) once reversed (indicated by “rising” – this being a down clue), like so: EL(F)IN.
- Screw up introduction to calculus course in school (7)
Answer: SCRUNCH (i.e. “screw up”). Solution is C (i.e. “introduction to calculus”, i.e. the first letter of “calculus”) and RUN (i.e. “course”) both placed “in” SCH (a recognised abbreviation of “school”), like so: S(C-RUN)CH.
- Handel for one humming needs no second singer (6,5)
Answer: GEORGE MELLY (i.e. “singer”). Solution is GEORGE (i.e. “Handel for one” – other Georges are available. George Melly, for example) followed by SMELLY (i.e. “humming”) once the S has been removed (indicated by “needs no second” – S being a recognised abbreviation of “second”).
- French philosopher enduring pain at length (5)
Answer: Georges SOREL (i.e. “French philosopher”). Solution is SORE (i.e. “enduring pain”) followed by L (a recognised abbreviation of “length”). Was straight to Bradford’s the moment I saw “philosopher”. They’re only ever slotted in these things to fill an awkward space, after all.
- Went through stop light circling vehicle used for late trip? (9)
Answer: REHEARSED (i.e. “went through”). Solution is RED (i.e. “stop light”) wrapped around or “circling” HEARSE (i.e. “vehicle used for late trip”, “late” being another word for “deceased”), like so: RE(HEARSE)D.
- Short and low building taken over (5)
Answer: SQUAT. Solution satisfies “short and low” and “building taken over” by squatters.
- Ace local bar is one with a constant stimulant (11)
Answer: APHRODISIAC (i.e. “stimulant”). Solution is A (a recognised abbreviation of “ace” used on playing cards) followed by PH (i.e. “local”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of Public House), then ROD (i.e. “bar”), then IS, then I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”), then A and C (a recognised abbreviation of “constant”).
- Lawsuit about rotter in dramatic fall (7)
Answer: CASCADE (i.e. “dramatic fall”). Solution is CASE (i.e. “lawsuit”) wrapped “about” CAD (i.e. “rotter”), like so: CAS(CAD)E.
- Dish needs sweetheart to send delivery (5,4)
Answer: SUGAR BOWL (i.e. a kind of “dish”). Solution is SUGAR (i.e. “sweetheart”, both terms of endearment) followed by BOWL (i.e. “send delivery” in a number of ball games).
- One more article with books leading lady sent round hotel (7)
Answer: ANOTHER (i.e. “one more”). Solution is AN (i.e. “article”, i.e. a word like a, an or the) followed by OT (i.e. “books”, specifically the Old Testament of The Bible) and ER (i.e. “leading lady”, specifically Elizabeth Regina) once wrapped “round” H (“hotel” in the phonetic alphabet) like so: AN-OT-(H)-ER.
- State capital level as on plain (9)
Answer: ANNAPOLIS (i.e. US “state capital” of Maryland). “Level” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of AS ON PLAIN.
- Domestic a learner following orderly sequence announced (8)
Answer: INTERNAL (i.e. “domestic”). Solution is A and L (a recognised abbreviation of “learner” used on L-plates) placed after or “following” a homophone (indicated by “announced”) of IN TURN (i.e. “orderly sequence”), like so: (IN-TERN)-A-L.
- I’m to assist an erring actor, posh, lacking script? (9)
Answer: IMPROMPTU (i.e. spontaneous or “lacking script”). Solution is I’M followed by PROMPT (i.e. “to assist an erring actor” with their lines) and U (“posh” or indicating the upper class, what, old thing, tally-ho and such).
- Dreadful crustacean in river drained lake (9)
Answer: EXECRABLE (i.e. “dreadful”). Solution is CRAB (i.e. “crustacean”) placed “in” between EXE (i.e. a “river”) and LE (i.e. “drained lake”, i.e. the word “lake” with all its middle letters removed), like so: EXE-(CRAB)-LE.
- I’m sorry copper interrupting restaurant date with old man (3,5)
Answer: MEA CULPA (i.e. my bad, or “I’m sorry”). Solution is CU (chemical symbol of “copper”) placed in or “interrupting” MEAL (i.e. “restaurant date”) and PA (i.e. father or “old man”), like so: MEA(CU)L-PA.
- Dirty bones scattered round church (7)
Answer: OBSCENE (i.e. “dirty”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “scattered”) of BONES wrapped “round” CE (i.e. “church”, specifically the Church of England), like so: OBS(CE)NE.
- Seems put out, wildly passionate (11)
Answer: TEMPESTUOUS (i.e. “passionate”). “Wildly” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SEEMS PUT OUT.
- Mixture left by girl, one married to the French cook (11)
Answer: GALLIMAUFRY (i.e. “mixture”). Solution is L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”) placed after or “by” GAL (i.e. informal word for “girl”), then followed by I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”), then M (a recognised abbreviation of “married”), then AU (i.e. “to the French”, i.e. the French for “to the”) and FRY (i.e. “cook”), like so: GAL-(L)-I-M-AU-FRY. Cool word. Like it.
- Hackneyed rubbish to include poem Henry finished first (4,2,5)
Answer: DONE TO DEATH (i.e. “hackneyed” – a tacit admission of all these repeats, perhaps?) Solution is TAT (i.e. “rubbish”) wrapped around or “including” ODE (i.e. “poem”) and followed by H (a recognised abbreviation of “Henry”, a unit of measurement popular with setters these days). DONE (i.e. “finished”) is then placed “first” ahead of all this, like so: DONE-(T(ODE)AT-H).
- Superior clue might one readily admit? (6,3)
Answer: MASTER KEY (i.e. “might one readily admit” access). Solution is MASTER (i.e. “superior”) followed by KEY (i.e. “clue”, as in how they both unlock stuff in their own ways. Interestingly, a variant spelling of clue is “clew”, which is a thread that guides through a maze, which also kind of fits. Ish.)
- Before noon wild boar is heavenly food (8)
Answer: AMBROSIA (i.e. “heavenly food”). Solution is AM (i.e. “before noon”, short for the Latin ante meridiem) followed by an anagram (indicated by “wild”) of BOAR IS, like so: AM-BROSIA.
- Choose gold mounting for plate (7)
Answer: ELECTRO (i.e. “plate”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of electroplate, the process of applying a coat of metal to stuff using electrolysis). Solution is ELECT (i.e. “choose”) followed by OR (i.e. “gold” in heraldry) once this latter has been reversed (indicated by “mounting” – this being a down clue), like so: ELECT-RO.
- Concentrations of strength seen in good old England (7)
Answer: GANGLIA (i.e. “concentrations of strength”, the plural of ganglion. When they’re not scary looking tumours, ganglia can also describe nerve cells or centres of energy or activity. A bit of a leap to describe them as concentrations of strength, though). Solution is G (a recognised abbreviation of “good”) followed by ANGLIA (i.e. “old England”).
- Philistine always knocked over? Goliath finally ducks (5)
Answer: YAHOO (i.e. “philistine”, both taken to mean boorish or uncultured types). Solution is AY (i.e. “always”, both forms of assent) reversed (indicated by “knocked over” – this being a down clue) and followed by H (i.e. “Goliath finally”, i.e. the last letter of “Goliath”), then O and O (i.e. both “ducks”, i.e. zero scores in cricket), like so: YA-H-OO.
- One to sit with vexed question? (5)
Answer: POSER. Solution satisfies “one to sit” for an artist, and “vexed question”.
- Man with credentials retiring (5)
Answer: TIMID (i.e. “retiring”). Solution is TIM (i.e. a “man’s” name) followed by ID (i.e. “credentials” or identity).
- Falters under pressure in southern county (5)
Answer: WILTS. Solution satisfies “falters under pressure” and “southern county”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of Wiltshire.