Posted by rightback on October 31st, 2009
Solving time: 20 mins plus another couple of days mulling over 13dn and 25ac.
I’m afraid I thought this was a poor puzzle. There is a strange theme with the phrase ‘dead-end’ (or, in one case, ‘dead end’) appearing in ten clues, but in five of these it just indicates ‘D’, and the clues lack rigour, even for The Guardian.
Difficulty-wise it was certainly harder than average and as well as 25ac and 13dn I found the bottom left corner difficult to crack. I still don’t get 13dn and may not have the correct answer; explanations welcome.
* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.
|1||MUSK DUSK; odd letters of MOUSSAKA + DUCK (= ‘nothing’) – Boatman is very much of the ‘punctuation may mislead’ school; the question mark here, for example, disrupts the cryptic reading.|
|5||DIVEST; I’VE (= ‘Boatman’s) in D + ST – the first of several uses of ‘dead-end’ for D.|
|9||FOOTLING; FOOT (= ‘Part of verse’) + LIN[e] + G – ‘with something missing’ is an unusual indication to remove the last letter; ‘gravity’ for G is classic Guardian inaccuracy.|
|10||SPOOKS; [kid]S + (OUTSPOKEN – TUNE)* – here you have to split ‘dead-end’ into ‘dead’, which forms part of the definition (‘Spirits of dead’), and ‘end’, which forms ‘end kids’ meaning ‘end letter of kids’. This is, to say the least, stretching things, even before we get to ‘tuneless’ which is used to mean ‘remove the letters of tune in an arbitrary order’. Hmm.|
|12||INDUSTRIALS; (LTD IN RUSSIA)* – ‘industrials’ means ‘stocks and shares in industrial concerns’. I think the use of ‘Lada’ is arbitrary, but at least there’s a ‘perhaps’. A better clue.|
|15||LATER; LATE (= ‘dead’) + R (= ‘end career’) – another splitting of ‘dead-end’ required…|
|17||PESTICIDE; P + (IT’S DE-ICE) – …and another misleading hyphen, this time in ‘Pressure-formed’.|
|18||D + ALLIANCE|
|19||EMEND (hidden centrally) – very good clue.|
|20||GRASSHOPPER; GRAS[ps] + SHOPPER|
|24||DRUM UP; RUM (= ‘drink’) after D[ay], + UP (= ‘done’) – the word ‘is’ spoils the cryptic reading here. This was one of several I struggled with in the bottom left.|
|25||HUIS CLOS; (SOUL-SEARCHING – ANGER)* – this looked very unlikely but after much effort I decided I couldn’t see anything better. It turns out to have been a play by Sartre, translated into English as ‘No Exit’, hence ‘Drama of dead-end’.|
|26||NIECES; (SCENE I)* – a reference to the Chekhov play.|
|27||RESTATED; (A + D + STREET)* – the third use of ‘dead-end’ for D.|
|1||MY FAIR LADY; “MAYFAIR” (as pronounced by a Cockney, apparently) + LADY (= ‘woman’) – would a Cockney really pronounce ‘Mayfair’ as “Myfair”? It sounds more like a Birmingham accent to me.|
|2||STOOD STILL; S + TOO + D’S (= ‘pennies’, since D = old pence) + TILL (= ‘checkout’) – the same phrase, ‘dead-end kids’, as in 10ac.|
|3||D + ALES (= ‘pub serves these’).|
|4||CONTRAPUNTAL; PUNT in (CANAL ROT)* – a musical term.|
|6||IMPASS(IV)E – this is a good one, I saw the structure and the likely -IVE ending but struggled to see a 7-letter word ending S-E. ‘Dead end’ is correctly non-hyphenated in this clue.|
|7||EROS; rev. of SORE (= ‘aching’) – nice surface reading, with ‘Head over heels’ a perfectly fair reversal indicator for a down clue.|
|8||TEST; rev. of SET, + T[ime]|
|11||PARSLEY SAUCE; (A CLASSY PUREE)* – horrible definition (‘with bream, etc’).|
|13||RIVER PILOT? – ‘good’ is PI and ‘deal’ is LOT, so ‘good deal’ gives PILOT. I can’t see where ‘river’ comes from, though, and it may be wrong. The clue is ‘Boatman at helm of tug gets a good deal (after inflation) (5,5)’.|
|14||TENDERISED; (IN DESERTED)* – when solving I thought this might be American slang for attacking a person with a hammer, but actually I think it just refers to the practice of bashing meat to make it tenderer.|
|16||RAIN GAUGE; RAIN around (ING + AU) – referring to the Dutch bank ING.|
|21||ONSET; (NON-RESIDENT’S – DINNERS)*|
|22||ADEN (hidden in ‘dead-end’)|
|23||RUDE; RUE (= ‘street in Paris’) around D (= ‘dead-end’)|