Mephisto 3207 – Paul McKenna

Greetings barred-grid fans,

Fun puzzle from Paul McKenna that had me scratching my head quite a bit, but I think I have sorted everything out, except for the top row. Usually Paul puts a pun in the top row, but I can’t make anything of this one, unsual for a recent Paul McKenna puzzle in that the two entries in the top row are broken up by one letter from a down entry.

Speaking of the grid, Paul set himself some strict parameters here, with 90 degree symmetry and no entries shorter than 5 letters.

In Mephisto puzzles, definitions can be confirmed in Chambers, so I will focus on the wordplay here.

Away we go…

1 Nearly a couple of litres in a cask (6, two words)
ALL BUT – L and L (a couple of litres) in  A, BUT(cask)
7 Mug up on grammar — potty, potty (5)
TYPTO – anagram of POTTY
12 Score for Scots strangely sealed it, huh? League admitted (12, three words)
HAIL THE DULES – anagram of SEALED,IT,HUH containing L(league)
13 Sheep close to croft — close to hand for Highlanders? (5)
EWEST – EWES(sheep) and the last letter of crofT
14 One from the right thus entering border gets Milesian’s characteristic expression (7)
IRICISM – I(one) then SIC(thus) reversed inside RIM(border)
15 The enrichment of Tokay, say, is more fine over time (8, two words)
NOBLE ROT – NOBLER(more fine), O(over), T(time)
17 I’m with this love of fine arts freshly found in trivium (5)
VIRTU – anagram of TRIVIUM minus I’M. Rare clue with the definition in the middle
18 Twisting jest refined chap ripped off good lecturer at Yale, eg (6)
DOCENT – COD(just) reversed, then GENT(chap) minus G(good)
19 As for Hebrews feast starts from Pesah and having Seder (6)
ALEPHS – ALE(feast) and the first letters of Pesah, Having, Seder
21 With credit blown, biscuits and gravy (6)
ACKERS – remove CR(credit) from CRACKERS(biscuits)
23 Relieved because Roman gods returned (6)
COSIED – ‘COS(because), the DEI(Roman gods) reversed
24 Rab C’s aim is courage without any hint of manliness (5)
ETTLE – METTLE(courage) minus the first letter of Manliness
28 Asia’s evergreen press chap left article (8)
JAMBOLAN – JAM(press), BO(chap), L(left), AN(article)
29 Absent mentor back to whack the gimmes (7)
AVARICE – A(absent), then RAV(mentor) reverced and ICE(whack, kill)
30 What’s intrinsic to dramatic fiddle? (5)
AMATI – hidden inside drAMATIc
31 Grant returning floors housing crib for home office alternatives (12)
TELECOTTAGES – LET(grant) reversed, then ETAGES(floors) containing COT(crib)
32 County’s essence given the mark of choice? (5)
ESSEX – ESSE(essence) then X(mark a choice as in a vote)
33 Stern part that winds up audience (6)
SEVERE – SEVER(part) and the last letter of audiencE
1 Geordie’s behind a historical kidnap (5)
AHENT – A, HENT(kidnap)
2 For Macron the surges will stop during short month for basic rule (12, three words)
LAW OF OCTAVES – LA(the, in French), WAVES(surges) containing OF(during), OCT(short month)
3 Rest that is initially bred in need (7, two words)
LIE BACK – IE(that is) and the first letter of Bred in LACK(need)
4 Territory south of Utah is sound (5)
UTTER – TER(territory) after UT(Utah)
5 Craving? Take in what’s nearby, what’s most often in bottles (6)
THIRST – R(recipe, take) inide THIS(what’s nearby) and the most common letter in boTTles
6 Turn over a hard bit of safety film (6)
SEROSA – reversal of A, SORE(hard) and the first letter of Safety
8 As icky suet could be! (8)
9 Who’d bend press release involving press? (5)
PLIER – PR(press release) containing LIE(press)
10 Probe trustee about rank concealing moral quality (12, three words)
TEST THE WATER – TR(trustee) containing ESTATE(rank) containing THEW(moral quality)
11 Exceptionally large lead weight mostly comprising certain metal (6)
OSMOUS – OS(exceptionally large) and the MOUSE(weight on a curtain sash) missing the last letter
16 Go on lacking knack? (8, two words)
FEEL FREE – if you have no knack you are FREE from the FEEL for something
20 Sack servant laid up inside (7)
PILLAGE – PAGE(servant) containing ILL(laid up)
21 Put the wind up aged scold (6)
AERATE – AE(aged), RATE(scold)
22 Strange case of British bird (6, two words)
SEACOB – anagram of CASE, then O(of), B(British)
23 Company check up for space travellers? (6)
COMETS – CO (company) then STEM(check) reversed
25 Those dabbling in wetlands could be troubled least (5)
TEALS – anagram of LEAST. Dabbling is something ducks do.
26 Blunt American to flap impatiently (5)
ABATE – A(American) and BATE(flap impatiently)
27 Plant one in Scotland around isle (5)
ANISE – ANE(one in Scotland) surrounding IS(isle)

9 comments on “Mephisto 3207 – Paul McKenna”

    1. Ah OK – I think it played on TV in Australia in the 70s, but I can’t recall watchin it or knowing the names of the characters.
  1. Most grateful if someone would explain 14 ac in a bit more detail.
    I had itacism — to do with Modern Greek pronunciation; with Milesian referring to Miletus (Ionian Greek city); and mat actually means a type of border around a picture. Strained, I realise(d) but after all my “research” I thought maybe…….
    The rub being that I therefore didn’t get 6 d.

    Iricism isn’t in my Chambers but online Collins and Google told me “Irishism”. A well known Irishman, then?

    Many thanks to setter and blogger as ever.

    1. ‘Milesian’ here refers to a pseudo-hiatory of Ireland, with the Milesians being settlers from Galicia in Spain. Hence it loosely means ‘Irish.’

      ‘Iricism’ is listed in Chambers, under ‘Irish’ and ‘Irishism.’

  2. I found this one quite tricky, it took me nearly an hour over several sessions. I couldn’t figure out the pun either so thanks to dcrooks for that one.

    Edited at 2022-02-20 11:16 am (UTC)

  3. As ever I only looked for the pun after reading George’s customary excellent blog, and at first missed out the S and wondered whether all but tiptoe was an aspiring ballet dancer. And then the penny dropped with a pleasantly excruciating clang. Delicious.
    Otherwise this was tougher than average, and i squeezed in under the hour by a couple of minutes.
    Though a fairly obvious anagram, icky suet prompted a grin.

Comments are closed.