Never knowingly undersolved.

Azed 1893: Taking the piss

Posted by jetdoc on September 14th, 2008


A pretty good Azed this week — it took a while to solve, because the surface reading in some clues was nicely deceptive. As for me, a seriously painful dental infection has hampered me a bit, and explains my disenchanted comments in a couple of places where it became relevant.

My favourite clue just has to be 1a (partly as I contemplate the neglected state of my garden; but at least the dandelions make the lawn a bit greener). A contributor to the Crossword Centre’s Message Board said (tongue-in-cheek, I’m sure) that he found it shocking. Hence my title for this blog.

1 PISS-A-BED AB = ‘beginnings of autumn blooms’, in PISSED = weed (past tense of ‘wee’). The dandelion, of the genus Taraxacum, is traditionally called ‘piss-a-bed’ (‘pissenlit’ in French) because of its diuretic properties, for which it is used in herbal medicine. It is also a pervasive weed, plentiful in my lawn.
7 SAWN S = square; AWN = beard (e.g. on barley).
10 CARRAGHEEN *(rare change). Carragheen, or Irish moss, is a species of red alga yielding the polysaccharide carrageenan, used as a thickener and stabiliser (setter) in various foods. Nicely deceptive surface reading.
11 SHOPE ‘Shop E’, fifth in a series beginning with Shop A. ‘Shope’ is an obsolete (and rather nice, I think) past tense of the verb ‘to shape’.
12 REACTS ACTS = Acts of the Apostles, a book of the New Testament which follows the four gospels. RE = Religious Education, a subject taught in school, previously often called ‘Scripture’.
14 TO THE NTH TOT = child; HENT = to grasp, take, snatch away, carry off; H = hearts.
15 PRIEST PRIES = ‘is nosy’; T = ‘end of tackle’. Chambers doesn’t offer an suggestion about why this can mean ‘a club or mallet for killing fish’.
17 SHULN SH = silence; ULN = ‘ulnaria’ (bones) minus ‘aria’.
18 HEY-GO-MAD HEAD; sacking (containing) YGO = ‘former past’ (a Spenserian spelling of ‘ago’), M = master. Hey-go-mad is, apparently, a dialect expression indicating a high degree of excitement.
20 RELAUNCH *(nuclear); H = bomb letter (as in H-bomb).
25 TOAST AS = when; TOT = drink, passed round.
27 ROEMER Hidden in ‘estro emerging’. A roemer, or rummer, is a large drinking-glass or the quantity contained in it.
28 STIBNITE ‘BITS’ reversed = ‘pieces turning’; NITE = a non-standard spelling of ‘night’. Stibnite, sometimes called antimonite, is a source of antimony.
30 MOTUCA MO = doctor; A CUT, reversed. A large Brazilian biting fly of the family Tabanidae.
32 EMALANGENI [Y]EMENI = Middle Eastern chap without his first letter; ALANG, also called ‘lalang’, is a coarse grass, Imperata arundinacea, of the Malay archipelago. Emalangeni is the plural of lilangeni, the standard monetary unit of Swaziland.
33 MEME ‘me-me’, an ultra-selfish mantra. Azed gives a relatively uncontroversial definition here; meme was coined by Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Gene. Overall, I admire Dawkins and align with his position on genetics and evolution (and religion, come to that; but let’s not go there); but I have always found his writings on memes a touch unconvincing.
34 STENGAHS S = southern; *(gent); *(has). ‘Tipsy’ and ‘drunk’ are the appropriate anagram indicators here. Stengah is a drink of whisky and soda.
1 POSTPARTUM *(op must); with PART (bit) inside. Should you wish to expand your knowledge of obstetrics, have a look here.
2 IMHO I = one; MHO = unit of conductance (reverse of Ohm). Used in online postings to mean ‘in my humble opinion’ (often by people who are far from humble).
3 SCOTIA Compound anagram — ‘Ionic coast’ minus ’coin’. ‘A concave moulding, esp at the base of an Ionic column’ — so there’s a bit of an &Lit here too.
4 SAPHENA A = one; on HEN = drip (faint-hearted person); after SAP = clot (fool). Saphena magna, either of two large superficial veins of the leg draining blood from the foot (it means ‘hidden’ originally).
5 BRONTE B = bishop; R = beginning to ‘ring’; ONE; about T = time. The Brontë family used the pseudonym ‘Bell’.
6 EARTHY To be clued by competitors.
7 SHASH HAS = keeps; interrupting SH = silence. Noisy interference to a sound or picture signal.
8 AECIUM MA = mum; holding [J]UICE = sap; all reversed.
9 WET PLATE W; *(palette). A photographic plate coated with collodion and sensitized with a salt of silver.
So Chambers has a ‘z’ spelling here (I pasted that definition from the electronic version), and Azed goes for the ‘s’ spelling! I generally favour ‘s’ (for reasons too complicated to discuss here) but I thought Oxford people tended to ‘z’.
13 SYNDERESIS SYN = “sin”; DERES = old (Spenserian) word for ’damages’; IS = lives. For more information about Synderesis
16 RHEOTOME *(hero); TOME = volume (usually a large and scholarly one).
19 OPENING *(O INN); PEG = a measure of brandy and soda. In the anagram, O = ‘round’.
21 LACTAM MAL reversed; involving ACT = pretence. In my current state of dental agony, I will not go into the structure and mode of action of the beta-lactam antibiotics; I just wish they were a bit more effective.
22 NATANT *(tan tan). Swimming.
23 CRINGE C = ‘beginning to collapse’; RINGE = almost ‘ringed’.
24 EMILIA The wife of Iago in Othello. I got a bit lost on the wordplay for this one.
26 SPULE UP reversed; in SLE reversed. A Scottish word for shoulder, which includes the scapula, or shoulderblade.
29 TUSH Double definition. Sorry, but teeth are a sore point in a very real sense this week!

13 Responses to “Azed 1893: Taking the piss”

  1. Geoff Moss says:

    24d I perceived this as, definition ‘I married a villain’, wordplay ‘me switching sides’.

    ‘me switching’ indicating ‘me’ reversed plus ‘ilia’ (the plural of ilium, a large bone associated with the hip or ‘side’)

  2. Richard Heald says:

    The wordplay for 24 Dn foxed me for a while too, but I think it’s simply ME (rev.) + ILIA (= sides, i.e. hips).

    In view of the “earthiness” of 1 Ac, I’m surprised Azed didn’t do a simple reversal clue for 34 Ac!

  3. bridgesong says:

    15 ac

    a subsidiary meaning of priest, according to Chambers (2003 edition), is ” a club or mallet for killing fish”.

    4 down

    This clue won the first prize in competition 1650 (January 2004).

    I agree that 1 ac was a particularly brilliant clue.

    Commiserations on the teeth!

  4. jetdoc says:

    Yes, I saw the subsidiary meaning in Chambers. I just wonder what the derivation is — why someone should name a killing instrument after a minister of religion.

  5. Colin Blackburn says:

    I think it is because the “priest” administers the last rites to a fish!

  6. bridgesong says:

    Colin may be right; this is what the OED has to say:

    7. Angling (chiefly Irish English). A mallet or other weapon used to kill a fish once it is caught and landed. Cf. to be (a person’s) priest at Phrases.

    1851 H. NEWLAND Erne 284 (note), Priest, a short wooden mallet, whose offices are required when the salmon is in extremis. 1891 F. W. CAREW No. 747 xxii, Micky Doolan’s ‘Whiroo-ho-hoo’ as he gave it plenary absolution with ‘the Praste’, might have been heard in Tralee. 1900 W. SENIOR Pike & Perch xi. 175 The baton, or short cudgel, used to perform the last offices for captured fish is still called the ‘priest’, the name lingering, perhaps, more in Ireland than in England or Scotland. 1906 Macmillan’s Mag. Nov. 28 Lydon..lifted an iron thole-pin for a ‘priest’, gave a couple of decisive taps, and then laid it on the boards of the boat. 1944 ‘N. SHUTE’ Pastoral (1950) 13 He had neither gaff nor landing-net nor priest. 1989 Times (Nexis) 2 Dec., When one nabs a trout, the next move is to whack it on the head with a cosh-like chunk of wood called a ‘priest’. Last rites, so to speak.

  7. Fruitbat says:

    I’m not 100% happy with 2D.

    The siemens (unit of electrical conductance) is the reciprocal (i.e. inverse with respect to multiplication) of the ohm. However, it seems a bit of a leap to go from multiplicative inverse to a physical (vertical) inversion. Non-Ximenian or me being unreasonably picky?

  8. jetdoc says:

    Chambers gives mho as ‘formerly a unit of electric conductance, that of a body with a resistance of one ohm (now siemens). [ohm spelt backwards]

    So I don’t think, from a cruciverbal point of view, it matters whether this is an across or down clue. Sorry if I have read your comment wrongly.

  9. Fruitbat says:

    You have read my comment correctly.
    I never thought to look up mho. It all makes perfect sense now.

  10. Mick H says:

    Loved the dual use of weed at 1ac, and Richard’s suggestion for 34ac made me laugh (you must explain some time how those shagnets of yours work!). But I was a bit confused by CARRAGHEEN, as the anagram inidcator seems to be ‘in cluing’. Or is the whole clue a self-referential post-modern announcement that Azed has thrown away the rulebook?

  11. Bob VanLangen says:

    13 dn is incorrectly spelled in Bradford..

  12. jetdoc says:

    Both spellings are valid, and Chambers gives ‘synteresis’ as the primary entry. I admit that I wrote that in first without properly checking the wordplay, and only corrected it when 18a wasn’t working.

  13. Peter Biddlecombe says:

    Chipping in late with trivia: EMALANGENI used to be one of the hardest words to find in Chambers – only listed under LILANGENI. I heard about this from an old Azed hand, and my 1988 Chambers has a note between emaciate and emanate.

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