Posted by bridgesong on March 24th, 2012
An enjoyable challenge this week, with much of Paul’s characteristic wit on display. I had expected something of an Irish theme, for a puzzle published on St Patrick’s Day, but apart from a couple of references to horse racing, there was no discernible theme at all, Irish or otherwise. 22,26 across was my personal favourite but there was much else to admire.
Who might dress Tom Cruise? (9)
* Tom Cruise. I don’t remember seeing this anagram before, and Paul turns it into a very nice & lit.
Panda, perhaps, I smothered in lard (4)
I in FAT.
All these letters used, treble score primarily basic requirement to bag fifty? (8,5)
*(TREBLE, BASIC) with S(core) and L (fifty) included. I guessed this almost immediately from the Scrabble references in the clue (you score an additional 50 points if you use all seven letters in your rack), but it took me much longer to work out the wordplay.
Want to see Tom Hanks’ initialled letter-opener? (6)
DEAR (as in the opening phrase of a letter), T(om) H(anks). “Want” is the definition here.
Block question that’s material (6)
Did you say there are no West London gardens better ___ for cheers? (5,3)
Sounds like “Than Kew”. Well, to be pedantic, it doesn’t: the “th” in “than” is voiced, but not in “thank”. But it’s close enough, and the clue is of a kind we don’t often see nowadays. Kew Gardens, in Richmond, are well worth a visit at any time of year but are particularly lovely just now.
A piano recording in balletic movement that’s fruity (5,3)
P, EP in A PLIE.
Left — red, if unstated? (8)
MAINE in RED. Very subtle, this: I hadn’t come across “unstated” before.
King Edward, say, squeezing first of lovelies, an upper-class issue (6)
L(ovelies) in TATER. The Tatler is a magazine targeted at the upper classes.
Fixed rate treatment, primarily, for medical condition (4,4)
FLAT FEE, T(reatment).
State novel by contrary author — men seem unable to put it down! (6,4)
(T.S.) ELIOT (rev), *TASTE. A real laugh-out-loud moment, when the penny dropped (sorry about that) on this one. Made more difficult by the reversal of the two elements of the wordplay.
Saxon folly evidently inferior to this funny little chap (6,6)
As some heaters are possibly my reference, I left wood in it (3-5)
I, L(eft), FIR in OED.
Pickler in row requiring more liquid (9)
(Damien) HIRST in TIER. Damien Hirst is famous (among other things) for his pickled shark.
Poisoner doubles up over a drink (5)
CO = carbon monoxide.
Off to the main Home Counties settlement? (7)
Native of central Asia, the last character to live in Britain (5)
Z BE in UK.
Lack of movement in time holds it up (7)
T in IN ERA (rev). IT(rev) in IN ERA. Thanks, Neil.
Racecourse favourite, the Queen seen on it? (3,6)
REDCAR, PET. I thought at first that Red Rum was going to feature again, especially as this puzzle appeared on St Patrick’s Day and just after the Cheltenham festival.
Jockey taken for ride, it deviating (7,7)
*(TAKEN FOR RIDE, IT). This proved to be the only other clue with a horse-racing reference.
A god I placed in employment, proving OK (9)
THOR, I in A USE. I’m not entirely happy with the definition “proving OK”.
Perfect place to have made hole, I suspect (5,4)
*(MADE HOLE, I). Took me far too long to see that “suspect” was an anagram indicator.
Seed taking on essential nitrogen in stomach upset (6,3)
ON KEY N(itrogen) in TUM(rev).
Shot a couple of times, then cut free (7)
A TT(imes), EMPT(y). The last one in for me; I kept wondering how AUTOMAT could be derived from the clue.
Georgian city, one place to host party, travelling north (7)
LIB in I SIT (all rev).
Islamic ruler always protecting me (5)
ME in EER. A more usual spelling is “emir”.