Posted by rightback on August 15th, 2009
Solving time: 18:42, almost half of which on three clues.
I enjoyed this but got stuck on 16dn (ALFRESCO), 21dn (WHALE) and finally 8dn (FULMINATED). Other than the ‘bard’s friend’ in 21dn there weren’t too many literary obscurities in this puzzle. I think I liked the long answer at 5dn and 14ac (TRISTRAM) the most; not sure I’ve fully understood 9ac.
Music of the Day (14ac): Liebestod from Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde.
* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.
|1||THE GAP; T[he], + HEAP around G[ood] – as in the classic London Underground phrase “Mind the gap”. A somewhat bizarre answer phrase, and using ‘Top of the’ for ‘T’ is a bit weak when the first word of the answer is also ‘the’.|
|5||IDENTIFY (2 defs) – really two versions of the same definition, the second in the sense of identifying with, or having sympathy with, someone’s problem or situation.|
|9||AGRICOLA – not sure about this one. It could be RICO inside AG (= ‘silver’) + LA (= ‘note’), but the Italian for ‘rich’ seems to be ricco, not rico, though I’m no expert (and anyway expecting solvers to have a grasp of Italian is a bit harsh!). I’m fairly sure ‘rico’ has no Latin meaning either, so would welcome an explanation for this clue. The wordplay aside, Agricola is certainly famous enough to appear as an answer but to clue him as ‘farmer’ (the literal translation) is a little strange; perhaps it’s really two definitions (‘Roman’ and ‘farmer’).|
|10||PI(M.P.)LE – very topical.|
|11||GUARDIAN + SHIP|
|13,18||CARO + USER – the ‘sculptor’ Anthony Caro.|
|14||TR IS TRAM – this took me a while to see but it raised a smile when I did. Tristram is the same as Tristan, one of the Knights of the Round Table.|
|17||GIVE ALMS; G.I. + VEAL + M.S. – MS is an abbreviation for ‘manuscript’, hence ‘hand’.|
|20||OUTWARD BOUND – semi-cryptic definition to the Outward Bound organisation.|
|23||HARASS; RAS in HAS|
|24||GOVE + RN + OR – the leading Conservative is shadow schools’ minister Michael Gove. I wasn’t familiar, but this provides an introduction.|
|25||WEREWOLF; W,E + rev. of FLOWER – I actually thought of ‘bloom’ = ‘flower’ here but dismissed its chances of producing a sensible reversal – whoops.|
|3||GOING HOME (2 defs) – because if something someone says ‘goes home’ it makes an impression.|
|4||PROZAC; OZ in PRAC[tice] – a ‘hmm’ for the PRAC part but a nice cricketing surface; antidepressants may well be needed this week. Bopara and Bell out, Tresco and Ramps in might give us half a chance.|
|5||IF, AND IT IS A BIG IF; I FAN, + IT in DISABI[lity] + GIF[t] – this key answer took me ages but I finally got there via ‘disability’.|
|6||EMPHATIC; (I MET CHAP)* – good clue.|
|7||TIMES (2 defs) – ‘triple or quadruple, say’ because music can be in ‘triple time’ (e.g. a waltz) or ‘quadruple time’ (e.g. most pop music).|
|8||FULMINATED; (ULM IN) in FATED – my doubtful last entry, as I didn’t really know either what this meant or what the definition was getting at, or whether Ulm was a German city (they don’t have much of a football team, after all). I’m not sure what ‘association with’ is doing in the clue; perhaps ‘in association with’ gives IN (though that’s a bit odd) and the definition is just ’15’ (‘thundered’)?|
|12||MANIPULATE; M (= 1000, = ‘number’) + ANTE around (I PULA) – the pula is the currency of Botswana.|
|15||TH UNDER ED, i.e. ‘ed’ over ‘th’ – I tried to split this ‘dingbat’-style clue in a few ways (‘dover’? ‘overt’?) before seeing the answer.|
|16||ALFRESCO; ALFRE[d] + SCO[tland] – I foolishly assumed that ‘not at home’ meant ‘remove IN from something’ here and got stuck. Nonetheless, ‘part of Scotland’ = SCO is outrageous.|
|19||QUIVER (2 defs) – not ‘quaver’, which I nearly blundered into.|
|21||WHALE; WH + ALE – the third one I struggled with, eventually getting there via ‘Prophet’s friend’ which refers to Jonah and the whale. The phrase ‘bard’s friend’ meant nothing to me, but Google helped me discover that Shakespeare’s sonnets were dedicated to a mysterious ‘Mr W. H.’.|