Mephisto 2879 – Paul McKenna

It was pointed out last week that there had been three rather straightforward Mephistos in a row. I think this one breaks the run, and I can see two reasons why.

– the grid construction is intriguing, effectively breaking the puzzle up into four quadrants without a great deal of overlap. I found myself working on one quadrant before moving on to the next. The unching, as you would expect from the Mephisto setters, is impeccable, but you really need to get some answers other than the four twelve-letter entries to get helpful checking letters

– the definitions are more crafty than they have been in recent weeks, with a number of the better buried definitions in Chambers seeing some use. I had to look up far more of the answers to confirm definitions and wordplay than I had in the previous few weeks.

Paul McKenna has treated us to another clue in French, oddly enough for a Latin word with wordplay being military slang from a French phrase. It seems I like these flourishes more than my colleagues here, maybe because it gives me a chance to trot out the Australian Schoolboy French I learned in the 80s that has made me the laughing stock of Francophones and Quebecois alike.

Away we go…

1 BRIDLE: IDLE(mothballed) after BR
6 SWEETS: STEWS reversed with E inside
10 LOVE(no score),CH,ARM(projection)
13 RETRO: hidden reversed in fOR TERrific
14 TETH: N out of TETH (which makes the 9th letter, according to Chambers)
16 PEE(go),OY(grandchild)
17 NISEIS: IN reversed then SEIS(finback whales)
18 DECONSECRATE: anagram of (ART,DECO,SCENE) – I was rather taken with this clue and its extended defitnition
20 ON AND ON AND ON: Three ON’s containing two AND’s. I wonder if Paul McKenna was listening to ABBA at the time
24 E(spain),’N’,DURO
25 ELDER: WELDER missing the first letter of W(alnut)
28 C(hairs),ANY(to some extent): I didn’t know the technique of wrapping thin paper around wire was called Lloyd Loom, so you learn something every month. On their website they call it “neither cane nor wicker” so I guess a companion clue to this could have the answer WICKERY
29 ERICA: ERIC is the fine and there are duplicate A’s in HAYWARD
30 TSETSES: SET(regular),SES(h) after T
31 MISCREEDS: sounds like READS after MISC
32 AWHEEN: A, then WHEE(l) – 19th definition of WHEEL In chambers is a refrain, then N
33 SORELY: SLY surrounding ORE(seaweed)
1 BUSTED: double definition, one chesty
3 IRATE: PIRATE(appropriate) missing the P
4 LOTION: LOON(rascal) containing IT reversed – chambers has LOTION as a washing (obsolete)
5 EVERY SO OFTEN: EEN(evening) containing VERY SOFT containing O(round)
6 SERENENESSES: RES reversed then (SEE,SENSE) surrounding N. That’s a lot of N’s, S’s and E’s in a word
7 EHED: HE in ED
8 EAT LEAD: EAT(mess, a verb) then LEAD(van) – GO WEST in this case means to die
9 SMOUSE: ‘S, MOUSE(seventh definition in Chambers, a handle of beef). But does he slap his elbow?
11 C,RAI,C: RAI is pop music from Africa
19 CADDISH: DISH(looker) underneath R(take) removed from CARD
20 OEDEMA: AME reversed after OED
21 DR,EAR(till, plough)
22 ALBEDO: L(IVR code for Luxembourg) covered in A, BED, O
23 NAYSAY: anagram of ANY, then SAY – a fabric like serge
26 EASLE: L in EASE – the bard in this case is Robert Burns
27 ECCE: RECCE(reconnaissance) minus R pour la fin

3 comments on “Mephisto 2879 – Paul McKenna”

  1. Well I haven’t found all of the easy ones particularly easy, and I didn’t find this one hard at all, particularly for a PMcK puzzle (I generally find his the toughest).
    Make of that what you will!
  2. I thought this a bit harder than of late without ever being testing. I agree about the grid.
  3. This was about the right level for me, not too easy but not so hard that one starts to think that life’s too short. Is there a message to bloggers at 1dn and 20ac?

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