Posted by Eileen on February 10th, 2010
I don’t know how many times I’ve read comments like, ‘How does he [Brendan / Virgilius] keep doing it? I’m always afraid I’m going to miss the theme in a Brendan puzzle but today there was no danger: every single clue and / or solution referred to it and I think this was probably the best of his puzzles so far – and that’s saying something. The surfaces were stunningly witty and pertinent and so many of them produced an ‘aha’ [and a couple proved too clever for me]. Sheer brilliance! Thank you, Brendan.
9 NOBEL [Alfred]; ‘explosives expert and arms manufacturer’ but I’ve fallen at the first hurdle and can’t see the wordplay! The letters of NOBEL are in ‘responsible’ but not ‘oddly’.
10 AFFRONTED: FRONT [political group] in A FED [one FBI operative]
11 WHITEWASH: superb anagram of W[ar] + WHAT HE IS
12 OBAMA: cryptic definition, ref to NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
13 MAGICAL: MAGI [wise men] + CAL[ifornia]
15 NEAREST: ARES [Greek deity supporting war] in NET [clear – as in profit]
17,20 WAR IS PEACE: one of the political slogans in George Orwell’s 1984. Ref. to Tolstoy’s novel, ‘War and Peace’.
19 YES: reference to the brilliant satirical TV comedy series, ‘Yes, Minister’ [1980-84] and ‘Yes, Prime Minister’ [1986-88]. [I was quite amazed, when I looked them up, to see what short runs they had.]
22 DOSSIER: anagram of IE DROSS, with the wonderfully witty anagram indicator ‘dodgy’, the epithet applied to the 2003 Iraq Dossier: a real laugh out loud clue.
25 RANKLED: RANK [offensive] + LED [commanded]
26 BLAIR: George Orwell’s real name was Eric Arthur Blair. Tony Blair was first elected MP in June, 1983.
27 IGNORANCE: anagram of A NIGER CON: a reference to the legal principle ‘ignorantia juris non excusat’ [ignorance of the law does not excuse]
30 STRINGENT: T[orture] + R[esults] + IN + GEN [information] in ST [way]
31 PRIZE: homophone of ‘prise’ [force]: one of those where it’s not entirely clear from the wordplay which word is the solution but here it’s obvious, from the link to 12ac.
1 KNOW: reversal of WONK: this was a new word for me – not in Collins but Chambers has ‘a serious or studious person, esp. one with an interest in a trivial or unfashionable subject’.
2 ABRIDGER: A + BRIDGE [link] + R[ing]
3 BLUE: triple definition: another wonderful surface.
4 MACAULAY: Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay [1800-1859] historian and essayist, who wrote,
“We have always thought it strange that, while the history of the Spanish empire in America is familiarly known to all the nations of Europe, the great actions of our countrymen in the East should, even among ourselves, excite little interest. Every schoolboy knows who imprisoned Montezuma, and who strangled Atahualpa.” [I think he’d be shocked today.]
5 AFGHAN: double definition
6 GO FOR A SPIN: witty double definition
7 STRAFE: anagram of RAF SET
8 IDEA: hidden in miIDEAst
13 MOWED: anagram of O [nothing] + E[nglish] + WMD
14 CASHIERING: anagram of REACH GIS IN
16 TREND: TR [extremes of ‘terror’] + END [aim]
19 STRENGTH: ‘Ignorance is strength’ is another of the 1984 slogans
21 ATLANTIC: cryptic definition
23 STAIRS: hidden in worST AIR Strikes: my only tiny quibble : why ‘lots of’ flights [apart from the surface]?
24 REINED: hidden in disclosuRE IN EDitorials
26 BUSH: cryptic definition, which I can’t quite explain.
28 ROPY: nor this one, I’m afraid!
29 EDEN: centre of belatED ENquiry: Sir Anthony Eden, Prime Minister 1955-57 – not the former prime Minister at the centre of the belated Chilcott Enquiry! Another brilliant surface to end on.