Posted by PeterO on November 19th, 2010
The luck of the draw gives me an Araucaria for my first Cryptic blog. Not vintage Araucaria, perhaps, and nothing too difficult (thankfully). It is always satisfying when I can look at 1 Across and solve it cold. Curiously, before getting either of the referenced 19, 10 clues, I had solved more than half the puzzle, including some of those that referenced them.
There is a theme to the puzzle, of British political party leaders in opposition.
1 HOKKAIDO HO (house) + KK (thousands) + AID (help) + O (nothing). The northernmost of Japan’s large islands.
5 SQUAWK SQUAW (wife of brave) + K (king). That one tickled my fancy.
9 WOLFLING WOL – LOW (base) reversed – + FLING (brief spell of fun).
10 LEADER Homonym of lieder. A variation on an old theme.
12 REACH-ME-DOWN REACH (stretch of river) + ME(a)DOW (field, lost a) + N (new).
15 SYNCH Homonym of sink (go down).
17 FOOL ABOUT The first of the 19 10 references: FOOT (Michael Foot, the Labour Party leader in opposition 1980-1983) about LABOU(r) (his party cut).
18 NO COMMENT NO (number) + COMMENT (how, in French).
19 PARTY Double definition
20 MOTHERCRAFT Double definition.
24 ARABLE AR(e) ABLE (can).
25 SOMBRERO S (spades) + OMBRE (card game) + RO (or reversed).
26 GALOSH GASH (spare) around LO (look).
27 AS IT WERE A SIT (a rest) + WERE (we’re, the Guardian’s).
1 HOWARD’S END The reference to another party leader in opposition, another Michael, this time Conservative, 2003-2005.
2 KILMARNOCK KIN(n)OCK (Neil Kinnock, Labour, 1983-1992; losing heart) confining L (student) + MAR (Scots earldom).
3 ALLAH ALL (everyone) + AH (expressed satisfaction).
4 DANCE OF DEATH Anagram of AN ODD TEA CHEF. The medieval allegory, famous from Saint-Saens’ Danse Macabre, Liszt’s Totentanz, the ending of Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, and its parody in Woody Allen’s Love and Death.
6 QUEEN WASP Queen (mother) + WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant; no black Catholic).
7 AIDS A + IDS (George Iain Duncan Smith, often known by his initials IDS; Conservative, 2001-2003). Defining AIDS as a problem is somewhat loose.
8 KIRK Captain of the Enterprise in Star Trek; and a principally Scottish word for church.
11 TOP OF THE POPS A slightly derived anagram of PE (physical education) PHOTO SOFT P(orn).
13 JOURNALESE JOE (boy) containing URN (container) + ALES (drinks). Nicely misleading definition.
14 STAY-AT-HOME STAY (support) + (f)ATHOM (six feet) + E (ecstacy; evidently the drug of choice among crossword compilers, more addictive than C or H).
16 HAMAMELIS HAM (meat) + A MEL (homonym of a meal, lunch; I would have pronounced the witch hazel with a short e, but the correct long e makes the homonym closer) + IS (is to follow).
21 CUBIT CUB (the definition given in 9A) + IT (given here). The old measure from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger.
23,22 EARL HAIG EARL (peerage) + HAIG (homonym of Hague, William Jefferson; Conservative, 1997-2001). Field Marshal Douglas Haig.