June 7th, 2020

New RCA
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Mephisto 3118 - Chambers to the rescue!

Yes, the big red dictionary has made its way to a condo in a retirement village in Connecticut.   Amazon delivered as promised, price $52 plus tax, which I paid with credit card points.

However, I will probably still continue to solve without aids.   Theoretically, if you read and remembered every word and definition in Chambers, you would be able to do this quite easily.  So for this puzzle, I had a bash and filled the grid with likely suspects, based on my vocabulary and understanding of the crytpics.   Then, of course, I checked my work - nine answers wrong.   Four of them were just off by one letter, where I had misunderstood the cryptic or guessed the wrong word for the wordplay.   However, the entire southeast was a complete mess, a mixture of mombles and incorrect answers.   I had to erase everything, think hard, and check each word against the big dictionary.    Success did not come easily, but eventually I figured it out.

Across
4 Cried, being cut off, hiding desire (9)
SHRITCHED - SHR(ITCH)ED.   In my initial attempt, I had used 'ache' instead of 'itch'.  A word from Spenser, although interestingly Spenser apparently used 'shright' instead of 'shritched'.
11 One young creature hiding head and foot (4)
IAMB - I + [l]AMB
12 Flower that’s small and delicate, not strong, knocked over (4)
NILE - EL[f]IN backwards.
14 Lean going back to stop extremity falling over? (7)
PROPEND - PROP END.
15 Car used by Irish to get government revenues (5)
JAGIR -  JAG + IR, local revenues collected in India. 
16 Quick look from son facing set of questions (5)
SQUIZ - S + QUIZ, Australian slang.
17 Heal as before, given movement of air in violent flow (7)
GUARISH - GU(anagramof AIR)SH.  
18 Certain root vegetables may be coarse, I do suspect (9)
DIOSCOREA - Anagram of COARSE I DO, Named after Greek botanist and physician Pedanius Dioscorides.
19 Throat no longer functioning? We had to engage hospital (6)
WESAND - WE(SAN)D, more usually spelt 'weasand'.
25 Yesteryear’s escapade with helpful woman meeting Her Majesty (6)
AUNTER - AUNT + ER.   This one gave a lot of trouble, as I was sure the helpful woman would be either 'ayah' or 'amah'. 
28 Artist in a scheme to acquire drug (9)
ATARACTIC - A TA(RA)CTIC, a tranquilizer.  
29 Mixed message about former No 1 LibDem? (7)
MINGLED - MING LED.   Menzies Campbell, to be exact.   If you are an overseas Times subscriber, it pays to get your money's worth and read the articles as well as solving the puzzles.
31 Short commission to the west not so far away once (5)
NARRE - ERRAN[d] backwards, another Spenser-type word.
32 Old-fashioned supply to stop — you and I taken aback (5)
ENDEW - END + WE backwards, yes, more Spenserian language.  Don Manley must be a regular reader of The Faerie Queene. 
33 Trees in Oz start to wither, probed by two holes (7)
TOOARTS - Anagram of START around OO.   This was one I had wrong, but I finally remembered my proposed clue about Charles I being beheaded for the more common spelling 'tuarts', and biffed this tree.  
34 A bit of a laugh with spirit in aggressive dance? (4)
HAKA - HA + KA, The 'ka' is from Egyptian mythology.   I am reading a history of ancient Egypt right now, and there is a lot of good material in there for a really fiendish Mephisto constructor. Ptah, anyone? 
35 Quaint, first to last — and drippy maybe (4)
WEET - TWEE with the T moved forward - a Spenserian usage that is not hard to guess.  
36 Society languished, having shown indecision north of the border (9)
SWITHERED - S + WITHERED, a little Scots after all that Spenser.
Down
1 Insect surfacing under river, one that has gone through wood? (6)
RIPSAW - R + I + WASP upside-down.
2 Tarantino maybe in uncovered vessel (11)
BARQUENTINE - BAR(QUENTIN)E, a brilliant  clue.
3 Little kids disturbing us most (6)
SMOUTS -Anagram of US MOST, another Scots word, although not indicated as such.
5 The fellow with energy and vigour pushing up (7)
HEEZING - HE + E + ZING.
6 Once sounded immoral, ditching wife (4)
RONG - [w]RONG.  Not historically correct, as 'ringan' was a Class IIIe strong verb. 
7 Cases from America brought into Asian country (7)
INDUSIA - IND(US)IA, protective membranes of various sorts.
8 What’s left in vehicle — extra-large cigars (6)
CLAROS - C(L)AR + OS, i.e. over-sized. 
9 Soldier being grabbed by the female, a famous escape (6)
HEGIRA - HE(GI)R + A.
10 See mother outside biblical city with husband (6)
DURHAM - D(UR, H)AM.
13 Prudent fellow is easily being seen as such (11)
WISEHEARTED - since IS occurs in the 'heart' of WISE. 
20 Heretics with strange code cracked by Greek character (7)
DOCETAE - anagram of CODE around ETA, which I biffed and then checked.
21 With chemical lassie keeps performing (7)
QUINONE -  QUIN(ON)E.   This gave me the most trouble, but I finally followed to old rule of putting a Q if you see a U - bingo.   'Quine' is the Scots form of 'quean', as indicated by 'lassie'.   Fortunately, you can't very easily put 'quinine', which might have tempted some solvers.
22 Old offices for example being set up to accommodate soldiers (6)
YAMENS -  MEN inside SAY upside-down.  A Chinese office, just for variety.
23 Change of utterance from second Indian leader not good (6)
SANDHI - S + [g]ANDHI, another one I biffed and then figured out.   It is most often found in Sanskrit.  
24 Great excitement, not half — getting to eat and drink (6)
ORGEAT - ORG[asm] + EAT.  I had originally tried 'urgeat', a momble.
26 Ring when there’s something wrong, needing engineers in (6)
TORRET - TOR(RE)T, a variant spelling of 'terret', a ring on a saddle.
27 Liable to stop suddenly in freestyle (6)
REESTY - [f]REESTY[le].   A derivative of the third of three different words spelt 'reest', of which two out of three are Scots.
30 Beetle in window putting me off (4)
DORR - DOR[me]R, a dung-beetle, more usually spelt 'dor'.