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Unless you’re very experienced you are unlikely to solve a Mephisto without using Chambers. The idea is that you use the precise wordplay to derive an answer that you then verify in the dictionary. 12A is a perfect example.

Some help needed please parsing 7A, 21A, and 27D.

Some diverse GK required from Edwardian postcards to Narnia via a Waggle-dagger apple.

In the clues, definitions are underlined. Wordplay explanation is followed by very helpful comments.


1 This is missing pocketbook for machine which screws up? (8)
7 Gent is full of it and can go forth (4)
STIR: S(‘T)IR; “can” doesn’t appear to serve any purpose?
10 Redolent of English case (9)
11 Stay for opening of Parliament (4)
PROP: PRO-P(arliament);
12 Charles and one Commonwealth economic association (7)
CARICOM: CAR-I-COM; Charles=CAR; Caribbean Common Market;
13 Discount place pictured by McGill? Time to enter (8, two words)
SET,ASIDE: SE(T)ASIDE; reference Donald McGill (1875 – 1962) an English graphic artist whose name has become synonymous with the genre of saucy seaside postcards. "Do you like Kipling? / "I don't know, you naughty boy, I've never kippled!"
15 Flourish of letter with frame circling (5)
18 Pleasure carrying about Mr Tumnus or his ilk (4)
FAUN: F(A)UN; Tumnus is a fictional character in the Narnia books
19 Potentially big lad or I should be shut up (8)
GAOLBIRD: (big lad or)*;
21 Troparion about parent who’s close? (8)
CATHISMA: CA-THIS-MA; not sure I understand cryptic;
22 This African language we hear in railway junction (4)
KROO: sounds like Crew – site of major rail junction;
24 Pilot is stumped continually being contracted (5)
STEER: ST-EER; stumped=ST (cricket);
26 No more chop chop, poppycock (8)
CLAPTRAP: CLAP,TRAP: chop=old word for CLAP; chop=mouth=TRAP;
29 Our town represented as a dead cliché, for example (7)
WORNOUT: (our town)*;
30 Black stuff left in barbie box (4)
31 Unusual ancestor so far wonderfully decent about note (9)
ASCENDENT: AS-(decent)* surrounds N=note;
32 One intake of undergrads ultimately pay attention (4)
YEAR: (pa)Y-EAR;
33 Deserted rescue vessel west of promontory poses a mystery (8)
DARKNESS: D-ARK-NESS; deserted=D (military)


1 Bugle-call at GI’s burial/ is piercing (4)
TAPS: two meanings
2 You say this on finding His Eminence outside before show (9, three words)
3 City understanding what constitutes warning (7, two words)
4 Birds gather moving south as far as poss (4)
AVES: gather=save then move “s” to the end;
5 Disco may pass drug test (8)
DOCIMASY: (disco may)*; pass=become=anagrind
6 Comparatively sparse portion of land fenced off by Bishop (5)
RARER: R(ARE(a))R; RR=Right Reverend;
7 Small pet cut item of tack (8, two words)
8 Moniker for the very tall (?) child who chases up centre-half (4)
TICH: IT reversed; CH; reference game of “It”; CH=centre-half
9 Prompt monarch’s up above PA (8)
14 Flipping pound reduced wealth and shilling stops in the past (9)
SURCEASES: CRUS(h) reversed-EASE-S; pound=crush; wealth=EASE; shilling=S
15 Save blade on plough — accepted and established routine (8, two words)
SOCK,AWAY: SOCK-A-WAY; blade on plough=SOCK;
16 Glass is more readily filled by Chaplain (8)
SCHOONER: S(CH)OONER; measure of sherry;
17 War poet troubled about bit of miracle fruit in LLL (8)
POMWATER: (war poet + m)*; m from m(iracle); an apple, presumably in Love's Labour's Lost;
20 Practice head-rhyme, say, with everybody going for repeat (7)
23 Yard accepted conclusion previously acknowledged (5)
25 Predator in the main features in “An Inspector Calls” (4)
ORCA: hidden (inspect)OR-CA(lls);
27 Peer / to give special edge to / exquisite huntswoman? (4)
PINK: three meanings, I think – not sure about “exquisite huntswoman”
28 Shop dished out soups favoured by Asians (4)
PHOS: (shop)*;


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
adrian cobb
Feb. 3rd, 2019 07:27 am (UTC)
Many thanks
For 7ac - I assumed it was a triple definition? And can=stir=prison.
21ac - is there some way that "who's" can be a synonym for "this"? Which is just stating the obvious, I realise.
27d - one of the definitions of "pink" is "intense or extreme, as of pain or pleasure" - which would find parallels with hunting, wouldn't it?

Many thanks to setter and blogger.
Feb. 3rd, 2019 07:42 am (UTC)
I'm not sure if you're saying what I thought, but I took TI in TICH to be 'child who chases'--'it' in tag--reversed. Do you call the game 'it' on that side of the pond?
Feb. 3rd, 2019 10:21 am (UTC)
70 years ago it was "IT" where I grew up but "TAG" is probably the correct designation Kevin
Feb. 3rd, 2019 09:03 am (UTC)
I presume 21 across is simply: about/ca and this ma (not that ma over there)...

Love the outrageous pun: Fred Astaire (Threader Stir)!

Many thanks for the blog (and a testing puzzle).

Feb. 3rd, 2019 09:51 am (UTC)
Re: Cathisma
I thought it was C = about and AT HIS MA to get a close parent..
Feb. 3rd, 2019 09:08 am (UTC)
Motley KROO
I needed aids for six unknown words, and struggled in the SE corner. About 70 minutes work in three sittings at a guess.

Thanks for parsing TICH Jim - I was convinced for ages that it was "tiny" but once I'd used Chambers for CARICOM it was obviously right - just couldn't see why.

At 21A, "THIS MA" would be close, but "that Ma" wouldn't.

I think "PINK" may actually be four separate definitions, but can't prove it !

Edited at 2019-02-03 09:09 am (UTC)
Feb. 3rd, 2019 04:23 pm (UTC)
Re: Motley KROO
I think you are right about PINK. Chambers has "an equisite (obs.) and "a scarlet huting-coat or its colour; the person wearing it"
Feb. 3rd, 2019 02:14 pm (UTC)
Thanks for explaining the McGill connection. I thought this one was rather fun.
Feb. 3rd, 2019 03:32 pm (UTC)
It doesn't involve area but simply are, 100 sq metrengs. And doesn't 27d refer to riding pink?
Feb. 3rd, 2019 04:34 pm (UTC)
I found this hard going getting only 4 answers on a first read through of the clues. In the end I needed more help than my paper Chambers for 5 clues - 7A,12A,26A,30A and 14D (my LOI)as I ran out of stamina after an hour and a half. NHO CAR for Charles and didn't see 'T for it, nor CLAP for chop - must take more care on checking in the dictionary! Thanks for explaining my mysteries, Jim.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )