Posted by shuchi on December 9th, 2011
“Twelve clues lack a common definition”, said the opening line to the puzzle, but even after I was 50% through I hadn’t figured out what the definition was. Some clues (23a, 26d) did look more definition-less than others, which was some help. 3d, with all its checking letters, gave the first break into the themed answers, thereafter the others came one by one. A challenging and very enjoyable workout.
The themed answers – all names of rivers – are marked with an asterisk.
1 ANCHOR A N (new) CHOR[e] (job falling short)
4 DIVAGATE DIVA (singer) -GATE (common suffix for a public scandal, such as Watergate). Enjoyed this clue.
9 STRESS MISTRESS (the other woman) – (I’M)<
10 OCHREOUS (SCOUR HOE)*. Ochreous soil is of the colour of ochre, containing ferric oxide, silica, and alumina. I was briefly stuck with 4a and 6d as I had filled in the alternate spelling of the word OCHEROUS at first.
12 *RENO ONER (exceptional person), reversed. Reno is a river in Italy.
13 *SEINE SEIZE (grab) with ‘Z’ doing a 90-degree turn. A river in France.
14 *URAL [r]URAL (country, without leader). A river flowing through Russia and Kazakhstan.
17 COSMOPOLITAN (CO-PILOT MOANS)*. Great choice of anagram indicator, ‘having to travel’.
20 BRAIN-TEASERS (NASTIER BEARS)*
23 *AVON NOVA (star) reversed. The name of many rivers – check out this long list.
24 *MARNE MARINE (gullible type) – I. A new find for me is this phrase ‘tell it to the marines’, said in response to an unbelievable story. Marne is a river in France.
25 *NILE NIPPLE (small projection) – PP (very soft)
28 DESPOTIC DES (little man, short for Desmond) POT (big belly) IC (in charge)
29 LAVABO LAVA (hot black stuff maybe) BO (nasty stink). One of my last answers in – I didn’t know this word, plus I was expecting this to be a river name. Lavabo is a basin for washing the hands.
30 MISPRINT MI (motorway) SPRINT (run)
31 STUPID PUT (placed) in DIS (hell), all reversed
1 ABSTRACT A B’S (bishop’s) TRACT (religious leaflet). A new meaning of ‘tract’ for me – a component of Roman Catholic liturgy, it is an anthem consisting of verses of Scripture.
2 CURTNESS CURS (despicable men), around SENT (stimulated i.e. elated) reversed
3 *OUSE DORMOUSE (slow mover) without the first half. A rodent made famous as the sleepy character in Alice in Wonderland. The word ‘dormouse’ comes possibly from ‘dormir’ (to sleep), which is also the root for ‘dormant’. Ouse is a river in Britain – or make that ‘rivers’ – more than one river has that name. // Update: Eileen has an alternate answer [tort]OISE which Bradman confirms is the right one.
5 INCONSISTENT INSISTENT (determined) around CON (fraud)
6 *AIRE AIR (look) E (east). A river in Yorkshire.
7 ABOARD A BOD (fellow) around A R (river)
8 ENSILE SENILE (decrepit) with the ‘roof’ i.e. letter ‘S’ moved inside
11 DENOMINATION dd
15 *LOIRE LO (see) FIRE (passion) – F (female). Loire is the longest river in France.
16 *TAMAR TAMARIN (small monkey) – IN (at home). River Tamar flows through south western England.
18 PERICARP (RIPE)* CARP (complain). The pericarp is the edible tissue around the seeds in fruits like berries.
19 ASTEROID (ADORE ITS)*
21 RANDOM RAND (money – African currency) OM (Order [of Merit])
22 POSSES POSSES[s] (have, reduced). Very nice clue.
26 *SOAR sounds like ‘sore’ (painful). Soar is a tributary of the River Trent.
27 *DART dd. Dart is to be found on a (dart)board, and is the name of a river in Devon.