Mephisto 3294 – The Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph, etc, etc.

This was a rather moderate Mephisto from Paul McKenna, with very little in the way of esoteric vocabulary.     Hutia was the only word I absolutely did not know, and a lot of the wordplay was very straightforward.     I don’t imagine any of the regular solvers will have much difficulty, although there may be something they can’t parse.


1 Snare Pop’s heart in bouquet (5)
NOOSE – NO([p]O[p])SE.
5 Paladins must protect power and soft pelts (7)
PEPPERS – PE(P,P)ERS, the usual ways to indicate P.
10 Manoeuvring in secret as those led by Michelle Dubois? (10)
RESISTANCE – Anagram of IN SECRET AS.    Not the Massachusetts state legislator, although she seems to actually fit the literal!
11 Byway is going around area shrouded in obscurity (8)
SIDEPATH – IS backward + DEP(A)TH.
13 Shed with cigar in every second place for Cuban beast (5)
HUTIA – HUT + [c]I[g]A[r], a new rodent for you.
14 Fault is accepting good old promises (5)
16 With zebra held back pal pauses (7)
FERMATE – REF backwards + MATE.   An unexpected bit of US usage, which threw me at first.   UK football referees do not wear striped shirts.
17 Give details of townie mockingly needling totter endlessly (6)
RECITE – RE(CIT)E[l].    The slang word cit was common in the 18th century.
18 Those appearing to pray otherwise meant end of this (6)
MANTES – Anagram of MEANT + [thi]S.   The Greek word for priest.
21 Fret about restricting a plant which emits a stink (6)
YARROW – WORRY backwards around A.
23 Mostly high-pitched answer upset consort (6)
ALBERT – TREBL[e] A backwards, for the consort often found in the can.
24 What identifies Jeanne, eg, and minor attendant (7)
STEWARD – STE + WARD, referring to Joan of Arc.
27 Cross about each fag (5)
WEARY – W(EA)RY, where both fag and weary are verbs.
28 Yahoo earlier on to stop flipping cheer of expectant delight (5, two words)
OH BOY – YOB + HO backwards – no comments from the peanut gallery!
29 Inspiration is smart in love (8)
AGANIPPE –  AGA(NIP)PE.   Surprisingly, not in Chambers, but the famous poem of Sir Phillip Sidney might help here.
30 Carp about old credit? Au contraire — there’ll be no stink over it (10, two words)
STENCH TRAP – S(TENCH)TRAP.   Strap was evidently credit given for liquor purchases in Ireland – now you know.
31 True, his trilling is rough (7)
HIRSUTE – Anagram of TRUE, HIS.
32 Ending rounds with yen for dash of tequila (5)
YOURS –  (-t,+Y)OURS, a letter-substitution clue.
1 Snooping round that girl’s greasy spoon? (7)
2 Happily our pie packs figurative food for thought for addict? (10)
OPIUMEATER – Anagram of OUR PIE around MEAT.
3 Witness arrival of moral shortcoming about English eccentricity (5, two words)
SEE IN – S(E,E)IN, a common clue for E, and an uncommon one.
4 Grass’s especially cunning conduct close to mafioso (7)
ESPARTO –  ESP + ART + [mafios]O.   ESP is an abbreviation of especially, and does not refer to Extra Sensory Perception.
5 Trot on the spot is socially crass (not new) in cock-up (6)
PIAFFE – PI([n]AFF)E.   Pie as confusion or mess is the second full entry, origin uncertain.
6 European matches lifted honour (6)
ESTEEM – E + MEETS backwards.
7 God, one’s an old heathen (5)
PANIM – PAN + I’M, for a word more usually spelt paynim, at least in Spenser.
8 Backs of American wagons need altering to hold iron and steel initially (8)
ENDGATES – Anagram of NEED around GAT + S[teel].  A shooting iron, evidently.
9 Appreciate old domestic servants turning up (5)
SENSE – ESNES upside-down.
12 Gooseberry plant bound by gardener finally (10)
INTERLOPER – INTER + LOPE + [gardene]R, a gooseberry in the sense of an unwanted individual.
15 Shriek — special jug especially for Americans! (8)
SCREAMER – S + CREAMER.  One of several possible meanings of creamer.
19 Unusually normal hostel where handouts were once available (7)
ALMONRY –  Anagram of NORMAL + Y, i.e. the YMCA.
20 Guys keeping up are those with stamina? (7)
STAYERS –  Double definition.
22 Women vindicate Scots chippy (6)
WRIGHT – W + RIGHT, as in right wrongs.    A word that was stranded up north, and acquired a specialized meaning.
23 Joined anonymous escort around noon (6)
24 Sharp son discarded option (5)
SWISH – S + WISH.   Both the literal and the answer mean fashionally dressed, well-presented.
25 Former naval staff take in teeming metropolises (5)
WRENS – W(R)ENS, where R stands for recipe, take, as used on prescriptions.
26 This is spent by Chinese, one with a duck (5)
CHIAO – CHI + A + O.    One refers back to Chinese.

15 comments on “Mephisto 3294 – The Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph, etc, etc.”

  1. One wrong: I didn’t fully understand 25, thought ‘take in teeming’ was a homophone for RAINS, hence WRANS a former women’s naval group (Australian). It was the metropolises bit I couldn’t make sense of, which of course becomes clear when you realise R is ‘take in’

    AGANIPPE is in my Chambers.


  2. Glad for an easy one with my hangover level pretty high on Sunday morning. All went in pretty readily and all parsed. For a change saw both parts of the pun on a first pass, usually at least one escapes me.

  3. AGANIPPE (29a), has a main entry in my 1998 Chambers. I often find it missing some of the newer/international vocabulary that comes up in Mephisto, but hadn’t realised they’d pruned the Classics to make room.
    It was 20d STAYERS “Guys keeping up” that gave me trouble. I understood Guy means guy rope, which means a “stay” in sailing or camping. But I couldn’t find “stayer” in that sense explicitly in any dictionary. I did a few online searches to see if I could see “stayer” used on any website (something like “5mm diameter stayers for extra strength”), but drew a blank. So, I thought I understood what the clue was getting at, but thanks for confirmation on the blog.

  4. Fairly straightforward.
    I was surprised to see CREAMER designated American: one of them is central to the plot of The Code of the Woosters. Wodehouse did live in the US for much of his life so perhaps he picked it up there.
    I had to check 16ac carefully: FERMATE being the plural of FERMATA looks the wrong way round!
    A few little nits v:
    – You have the wrong word underlined in 11ac
    – in 14ac the definition is ‘old promises’. ‘Sign’ is an obsolete verb meaning ‘to bode, promise’
    – in 26dn I think the wordplay is CH (Chinese), I (one), A, O. So the definition is technically just ‘this is spent’, although the presence of ‘Chinese’ in the clue obviously helps.

  5. I didn’t record this as easy, though as often happens I can’t see why: the vocab is not particularly laden with weirdness. I think I spent time on STEWARD, not splitting the minor and the steward and forgetting that Jeanne was both female and of Arc. FERMATE doesn’t look like a plural. and took some persuading. STENCH TRAP is an excellent epithet, much better than the prosaic u-bend. I shall use it whenever I can. CHIAO looked like misspelt Italian.

    1. Yes. It would be strange indeed if the literal and the answer did not mean the same thing. My question was how WISH means “discarded option.” I could almost see it. The first definition in one of the online Collins listings is “to want or desire (something, often that which cannot be or is not the case).”

      1. 24D. In Chambers, under “OPTION”, the final definition is: “wish (obs)”.

        So I took “discarded” to be a clever, more unusual way to signify obsolete use.

        (The latest example given in the OED is from 1730: “I shall conclude this epistle with a pathetick option, O that men were wise.”)

        1. Aha! Thanks.
          The final definition, of course. Last citation as recent as 1730. How soon we forget.

    2. For 24 across, “Ste.” is the abbreviation for “Sainte”, French feminine form of Saint.
      So Joan of Arc, is known as Sainte Jeanne d’Arc (or Ste. Jeanne d’Arc) in her native French.
      “Ward” means a minor (or other person) under a guardian.

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