Jumbo 666/Oct 28 – Diabolical

Or at least, that’s what I was expecting from the crossword’s number. In fact, other than APOCALYPTIC (and perhaps MAFIA and SWASTIKA), there seemed to be no particularly devilish entries, so I suspect the setter didn’t know this was going to be #666.

Solving time : 23:40, with a slow finish on the starred clues and one mistake (52ac)

<th><td valign=”top” align=”left” colspan=”2″>Across</td></th>

1 JAR + ROW – Home of the Jarrow Marchers who marched the 280.5 miles (apparently) to Parliament during the Great Depression in 1936.
15 MO(MEN + TOFTR)UTH – MEN (= ‘pieces’) + anag. of OF TART without A inside MOUTH (i.e. ingested – but this cryptic reference is stretched for me as ‘ingest’ seems closer to ‘put in stomach’ than ‘put in mouth’)
16* DI + STAFF – a distaff is the stick that holds the flax or wool in spinning, hence according to Chambers can mean ‘women’s work’ (literary), though here it is defined as an adjective. Chambers gives distaff side as meaning ‘the female … branch of a family’, as opposed to the male spear side
17 SLO[g] + WEST – held up by trying the more usual ‘point’ = ‘S’
18 FRO(G)M + AN – excellent clue in which ‘from an’ looks completely innocent but is in fact crucial. Tempted briefly by ‘footman’ here which fits all 4 checking letters.
26* BAY + R(E)UTH – The town in Bavaria where Richard Wagner spent his last decade. He was behind the construction of the Festspielhaus, the opera house that hosts the Bayreuth Festival each year, and which opened in 1876 with the Première of the Ring cycle, hence ‘Rings witnessed here’ – but I’m not sure the pluralisation is fair.
37 (JAN I) reversed + IFFY – not wholly convinced that ‘First day’ is the same as ‘First day of the year’
40* DUKAS – UK in SAD (= ‘moving’) reversed. Paul Dukas was a French Composer, probably best known for writing The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
51 MATER DOLOROSA – literally ‘sorrowful mother’, apparently used to mean the Virgin Mary when depicted in art. Unlike some recent Times answers, the checking letters M-T-R -O-O-O-A make this a very guessable anagram (DOLOROSO/A is from the same root as ‘doleful’, the Latin ‘dolere’ meaning to grieve, as well as being a musical term).
52* K + A + LAMA + ZOO – a city in Michigan between Detroit and Chicago. Its most significant claim to fame seems to be that it was the original home of the Gibson Guitar Corporation, makers of the Les Paul model. LAMA ZOO is guessable from the clue (‘confine for priests?’), though I didn’t manage it, transfixed by the likely -ZZO ending by some strange analogy with ‘mezzanine’ possibly meaning ‘confined space’.

<th><td valign=”top” align=”left” colspan=”2″>Down</td></th>

6 COM(POUND)E + YE – the visual organ of the cricket.
13* PUFFING + BILLY – The first commercial steam train.
20 PLY + MOUTH – nothing to do with Plymouth Yarn as I originally supposed
22 FIN(A)N + CE – a rare case of ‘back’ not indicating a reversal. A more devious setter might have tried harder to make the solver think that the definition is at the beginning of this clue.
23 RE(WO(R)KE)D – on first reading, looks like an anagram of R and CRIMSON; again, ‘scarlet’ might have been more devious still because of the more anagram-friendly letters.
28 S(WAS)T + I + KA – in ancient Egypt, ka (no capital) meant ‘the spirit or soul within a person, god or a statue of a dead person’
31 TREMENDOUSLY – anag. of MONEY RESULTS with D replacing S
34 C(LUST + E + R + B)OMB – A cluster bomb is a big shell containing many smaller ‘bomblets’, first developed in the Second World War. A recent example is the Hunting JP-233 Airfield Denial weapon which contained a mixture of runway cratering and anti-personnel mines, introduced by the British following the Falklands War of 1982 and used extensively during the First Gulf War. Like many cluster bombs, this weapon is now illegal following British entry into the Ottawa Treaty and the weapon has been withdrawn from service.
38 FOOLPROOF – which is the same backwards if the L and R are swapped
41* SP(L)END + OUR
42 OKLAHOMA – numbers as in songs from the musical Oklahoma!
49* LIKEN – homophone for ‘lichen’

2 comments on “Jumbo 666/Oct 28 – Diabolical”

  1. Good time, talbinho, and thanks for the write-up effort. For some reason, I fell for the surface at 6d and filled in the bizarre COMPTON’S EYE, which was extremely unhelpful! Took about 15m overall I think but have lost the paper, which is annoying for 2 reasons!
  2. You’ve set a high standard for Jumbo reports – 667 is waiting for me to type up tomorrow. Too late to star the last few clues solved, but I like the idea when there’s a significant slow-down at the end.

    If anyone else fancies a go, we could do with one or two more volunteers to write about these. Pretty please …

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