Mephisto 3242 – Tall tails

While there were some typical Mephisto clues here, quite a few of them were deceptively simple.     Whenever the solver was expecting something complex, the setter offered something ridiculously simple.    We’re sudden in a world where honey is babe,  spots are rashes, and cereal sounds like serial.   But the clues have enough words in them to have many possibilities, and a Mephisto solver is more likely to be looking for both esoteric wordplay and obscure answers.

There were a number of genuine Mephisto clues mixed in.  Answers like pignorate, trierarch, talpas, Arnaut, and alegge had me plying my Chambers looking for enlightenment.   But in general, a lot of this was pretty mild for a Tim Moorey.


1 One regularly getting more than tipsy cake (6)
SPONGE – Double definition, a rather easy one.
5 False story long ago tails off for moles (6)
TALPASTAL[l] TAL[e] PAS[t], for real moles, not spies.
10 African Union in rant about Albanian (6)
ARNAUT – A.U in anagram of RANT.
11 A little money on Hebridean islands for local powder (5)
MUIST – M + UIST, an island not very amenable to use in wordplay until now.
12 Bird given measure of feed for test in laboratory (9)
15 Stokes on strike showing force in Perth (4)
16 Calm on cracking a century (6)
ALEGGE – A(LEG)GE.   I didn’t care for the indefinite article in the clue, but that typical of Mephisto clues.
17 Put about on train? (6)
RETAIL – RE + TAIL, retail in the sense of tell in detailEi.
18 Quietly, I try to capture knight getting value for pawn (9)
21 Foolish strike gets anonymous backing in plant (9)
AMARYLLIS – SILLY RAM + A backwards, giving the only likely plant to fit.
25 Spots opening for Root to get trophy at Lord’s (6)
RASHES – R[oot] + ASHES, a trophy even US solvers know.
26 Grass in a row overheard (6)
CEREAL – Sounds like SERIAL.
28 Short book given by northerner, originally Finnish (4)
ESTH – Double definition – an Estonian, and the book of Esther.
30 Nurse surrounded by rolls of bark in South American trees (9)
QUILLAIAS – QUILL(AIA)S, where aia is a variant spelling of our old friend ayah.
31 Area with hides for grouse-shooters in Borders (5)
ABUTS – A + BUTS, an alternate spelling of butt in various senses.
32 Society girl quiet about old Jag (6)
DEBOSH –  DEB(O)SH, an alternate spelling of debauch.
33 Repeated damage in northern steelyard (6)
34 Extremely clever minor bagging first spot in Reading (6)
PRETTY –  P(R[eading])ETTY.   Raise your hand if you thought this started with CR-
1 Some air staff turned up for rich governor (6)
SATRAP – PART A.S. upside down.
2 Pellet mill price for head of mining (5)
PRILL –  (+PR,-m)ILL, a simple letter substitution clue where the word to operate on is given en clair – what will they think of next?
3 Vote against retaining primacy of rifles? Not in America (4)
NARY –  NA(R[ifles]Y.
4 Putting fertilizer around good for the rain tree (6)
GUANGO –  GUAN(G)O – a cryptic cannot get more direct than this – just do what the setter says!
5 Test taken by chief Greek commander (9)
TRIERARCH – TRIER + ARCH to give you the captain of a trireme.
6 Former lover is dejected as before, injection of energy needed (6)
AMORET – AMOR(E)T, where former points to an obsolete word.
7 Plain diet neglected, like some duck? (9)
8 Set about festive occasion with no end of homebrew (6)
9 Basic piano installed in flat (6)
STAPLE –  STA(P)LE.   Anyone biff simple?  Well, it does have a P in it.
13 Fabled male who murdered needing protection accordingly (9)
AEGISTHUS –  AEGIS THUS, for the Latinate version of Αἴγισθος, who figured in the Oresteia.  
14 Minister’s sermon a big hit (9)
SERASKIER –  SER + A SKIER, another Ottoman bigwig.
19 Fear working in lead for unsophisticated house (6)
PREFAB –  P(anagram of FEAR)B.   No necessarily unsophisticated.
20 Mountain hollyhock used to be slightly docked (6)
22 Jellyfish from sea north of the States? (6)
MEDUSA – MED + USA, a rather easy one for a Mephisto.
23 One crying out like a coward, some would say (6)
YELLER –  Sounds like yellow in some dialects, where both both -er and -ow would be assimilated to schwa.  Or, in some  rustic parts of the US, yeller pronounced as spelt is a dialect form of yellow.
24 Scottish noble in Sicily on vacation that’s wet and sticky (6)
27 One fuel tariff initially staggered, not used currently (5)
AGAST – A + GAS + T, whereas nowadays we would use aghast.
29 Old tower mostly providing honey (4)
BABE – BABE[l], in the slang sense.

4 comments on “Mephisto 3242 – Tall tails”

  1. 11A: Geographical detail: Uist is a chain of islands (five at high tide, eight at low tide, if I’m reading the Wikipedia article correctly), connected by causeways, just south of Lewis and Harris (which is one island). So “islands” in the clue.

  2. Moderate puzzle. A few minor nits:
    In 5ac it’s TALE, minus E. TALL is an adjective so doesn’t mean ‘false story’, which is however one of the exact definitions of TALE in Chambers.
    In 34ac ‘extremely’ and ‘clever’ are separate definitions.
    In 13ac the definition is ‘fabled male who murdered’. He seems to have killed more than one person but Agamemnon is presumably the victim the setter has in mind.

Comments are closed.