Mephisto 3228 – Born on the 4th of July!

Posted on Categories Mephisto

I didn’t find this one too bad, and finished in a single sitting.   Since the setter has used many common words as answers, he evidently felt the need to add some obscurity to the clues in order to come up to Mephisto standards.    So about half the literals are taken from the among the last meanings to be found in Chambers, resulting in a puzzle where the solver is baffled even after solving the clue.   At least a word like cremor or dhobi only means one thing!

Again, I understood the cryptics at the time of solving, but a week later I had completely forgotten how many of the clues worked and had to laboriously reconstruct them.    Maybe I should take notes?

1 Having kittens means losing heart for home day (5)
WINDY – W[-a,+IN,D)Y, as in ways and means.   The literal is the very last definition of windy, of course.
5 Mostly allegorical poet on writing companion poem, say (7)
PENDANT – PEN + DANT[e], where pen probably has the adjectival sense, as in a pen-pal.
10 Salty slang in old message forwarded by solicitor (10, two words)
CHAIN CABLE – Cryptic hint, a 19th-century chain letter.   Yes, slang is slang for slang – you could look it up in Chambers.
11 Procurin’ again being short of high-class medicinal compound (8)
RESORCIN – RE-SO[u]RCIN’, of course.
13 Retro world with appropriate rock (6)
GABBRO –  ORG + BAG backwards.
14 Oomph explicit in Pavese’s trochaics (5)
ESTRO – Hidden in [Paves]E’S TRO[chaics].
16 Crown minimally processed more thick juice (6)
CREMOR – CR + anagram of MORE.
17 Cattish report is returned without intention (5)
MIAOW – W/O AIM backwards.
18 Fellow quitting game wanting souse (7)
EARLESS – [f]EARLESS, yes, souse is an obscure dialect term for ear.
21 Mark of key caricature with depth being avoided (7)
23 Shakespeare’s tipple full of favoured vino (5)
24 Stable snow (6)
STATIC – Doubled definition, the second on a TV screen.
27 Pliable Semtex or similar that’s on fire (5)
28 Old beast that sniffs out spinach substitute (6)
29 Square-bashing, say, gripped boring head (8, two words)
DRILL BIT – DRILL + BIT, where square-bashing is a DBE properly indicated by say.
30 Agreeable old mews housing grandbairn that’s poised for the off (10, three words)
ON  ONES TOES  – ON + O NEST(OE)S.   Oe as a derivative form of ogha is a new one for me.
31 Siren being put near a driver’s spot (7)
MANATEE – MAN + A TEE, where man is clued by being as a noun.
32 Ottoman subject close to her attendant (5)
RAYAH – [he]R + AYAH.
1 Town on River Lea hosting school’s tactical training (7, two words)
2 Like Quixote, possibly italicised (10)
3 Gods of Rome retaining rustic washerman (5)
DHOBI – D(HOB)I, washing a dhoti, presumably.
4 Acting in torment about bloomer (6)
YARROW – WORR(A)Y backwards.   Fortunately, I planted some in my rock garden this year.
5 Carnation’s still on finial (7)
PICOTEE – PIC + O + TEE, which can be a finial.
6 Rising star of film evokes an early summer? (5)
ENIAC –  CAINE rising in this down clue.
7 Restraint rarely letting domestic loose — one’s often in distress (6)
DAMSEL – DAM + SEL[dom].
8 Architect’s resting place? So let it be time crowding bar (8)
9 Trustee holding up the same legal transcript (5)
TENOR – T(ONE upside-down)R, where we once again find the most obscure meaning of a common word.
12 Fly or ship load freely (10)
DROSOPHILA – Anagram of OR SHIP LOAD, eminently biffable.
15 Positive gesture embracing absolute willingness to forgive (8)
19 Le Pen’s to the right — there’s nowt in daft tirade (7, two words)
A DROITE – Anagram of TIRADE around O.
20 Is term for overstatement gag’s exaggeration? (7)
STRETCH –  ‘S + [overstatemen]T + RETCH.
22 Answer again before tutelary deity (6)
23 Little fish holding half of masses where Canadian nuns natter (6)
PARLOR – PAR(LO[ts])R.   If they were English nuns, it would be a parlour.
24 Northern kip becomes visible with rising of sun (5)
SLOOM –  LOOMS with the S brought to the top.
25 Profanity dogs what’s most often seen in non-believers (5)
CURSE – CURS + E, the most common vowel in NON-BELIEVERS.
26 Reckoning no longer accepted medieval rhythmic riff (5)
TALEA –  TALE + A, a write-in for crumhorn players.

4 comments on “Mephisto 3228 – Born on the 4th of July!”

  1. Many thanks to both setter and commentator.
    10 ac. – having read the comments, I looked up slang and saw that the third meaning of slang is “a watch chain; any chain”. So perhaps the interpretation of the clue could be “salty slang” as the cryptic (cable being a nautical term applied to chain) and the rest is the definition? Although I couldn’t find the commentator’s 19C reference in my Chambers. Mine is, however, only the 12th edition with the latest one arriving in September.

  2. I still don’t quite get 10ac. A slang is a chain, and although Chambers doesn’t indicate that either it or CHAIN CABLE are nautical terms, OED does define the latter as a ‘ship’s cable’, so that’s what ‘salty’ is doing. But the concept of a CHAIN CABLE as an alternative to a chain letter doesn’t seem to be a thing. It makes logical sense but it’s not in Chambers or indeed any other dictionary as far as I can tell.
    I found this quite tricky and couldn’t explain that one or DAMSEL, so thanks for that.

    1. I did wonder if this was simply a whimsical analogy with a chain letter, but I would have thought a question mark or similar was necessary in that case.

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