Posted by rightback on October 26th, 2008
Solving time: 12:56
I probably found this a little easier than usual for Araucaria, until I came to the last three clues (EMBRYO, MULCT and STEEL [BLUE]) which took a fair chunk of the time.
There is a hair-cutting theme to this puzzle: Samson & Delilah, Vidal Sassoon and Figaro all make an appearance, and there are several other related words.
This should have appeared yesterday – I’m afraid I forgot to ‘pre-post’ it before leaving for the Lake District on Friday, and have been stuck in a hurricane over the weekend!
* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.
|1||TEST-TUBE BABIES; (BEST BIT BUT EASE)* – nice anagram but ungainly wording with a superfluous ‘the': ‘…that’s the [fodder] off’.|
|9||EASTER + N + ER|
|10||AD + AIR – the ‘Red’ is Red Adair, the firefighter (nothing to do with Johnny “Mad Dog” Adair, which went through my mind when solving) and I think ‘Robin’ is a reference to this folk song, of which I’d never heard.|
|11||IRONS (2 defs) – the actor Jeremy Irons. This word caused me extraordinary difficulty in the final of the recent Times Crossword Championship, for no good reason.|
|12||ANECDOTIC; O in (ACCIDENT)* – I’d only ever seen ‘anecdotal’.|
|13||TEN + ORS + A + X – with ‘X’ also indicating ‘ten’. Not keen on this one: apart from the incomplete definition, I’m not sure ‘or’ (meaning ‘gold’) can be pluraralised.|
|14||EMBRYO; EMB[e]R + YO[u] – I really struggled with this, and eventually spotted it from the checking letters and definition. Having worked out the wordplay, I see why I struggled! The superfluous ‘for’ is probably the worst crime in this one.|
|17||FIGARO; “FIGURE O” – this feels like it must be an “old chestnut” but I hadn’t seen it before and really liked it.|
|22/19||SHORT BACK AND SIDES; SHORT (= ‘Clare’) + BACK (= ‘returned’), + SID in ANDES (= ‘range’)|
|24||MUL[e] + CT – tricky word.|
|25||DIG IT – a misleading apparent clue number in the clue (’20’) – classic Araucaria.|
|26||STEEL BLUE – the ‘steel’ part of this was a guess, by analogy with the Blue Steel missile. The Lib Dem peer turns out to be David Steel, whom I am just too young to remember.|
|27||NATIONAL ANTHEM; (NA in IOLANTHE) inside (NA + TM) – diehard Araucaria fans will probably rave about what a marvellous spot the G&S comic opera Iolanthe is (and I couldn’t disagree); others might question what on earth the surface reading is supposed to mean. The song, of course, is The National Anthem by Radiohead, which
I must confess (despite being a huge fan) I’m not all that keen on.
|1||THE DISTAFF SIDE; (HIDE)* + STAFFS, all in TIDE (= ‘flower’) – a good job I knew this phrase or I’d never have worked it out. A bizarre clue.|
|2||S(ASS)OON – not the poet but the hairdresser. Nice use of ‘shortly’ to mean something other than ‘with the last letter missing’.|
|3||T + REA(SURE)R|
|5||BARBER – ‘Top’ as in ‘head’ (nice clueing), and shop as in barbershop.|
|6||BEAR + D|
|7||EX + ACTOR – 10 points to anyone who wrote in ‘Shearer’ or ‘Lineker’ here.|
|8||PRECIOUS STREAM; (SOUR SPERMACETI)* – this appears to be an anagram, but I have no idea what the rest of the clue is about and would be grateful for elucidation.|
|15||MUSK MELON; (KUMMEL’S NO)* – good clue. I only knew this phrase because of an excellent puzzle by Mango in last year’s Magpie.|
|16||SNAKE EEL; NAKE[d] in (SEE + L)|
|20||DELILAH; (HEAD ILL)* – a nice semi-&lit.|
|21||SAMSON – which becomes DAMSON with S (shilling) changed to D (one old penny).|