Mephisto 3312 – Blackbirds and Thrushes

I didn’t find this one terribly hard, and made good progress for a while.   I eventually got stuck and went to bed.    Returning the next day, I got a few more.    I was still stuck in the NE corner, but suddenly I saw how khoikhoi worked and was able to use those crossing letters to finish.

I thought the puzzle was pretty good, with some obscure words that were very fairly clued, and a couple of easy answers to get started.


1 Aptly running after a vintage jade wallpaper (9)
ANAGLYPTA – Anagram of APTLY after A NAG.
11 A mass with organ — my work of 2023? (7)
MAN-YEAR – MANY + EAR, with DBE for the literal.
12 Bring back hot principal girl (5)
NIAMH – H + MAIN backwards
13 A mostly sparse tree (4)
ARAR – A + RAR[e]
14 Repeatedly carp about hard African language (8)
KHOIKHOI – K(H)OI + K(H)OI.   The clue isn’t kidding – those South African tribal languages with clicking sounds are tough.
15 Check past distribution of beer around the country (6)
REBUKE – UK inside an anagram of  BEER.
16 Follower in church row between chapter and bishop (5)
COARB –  C(OAR)B.   The medieval Irish church, for instance.
18 Messenger pigeon, one used in combined operations (6)
NUNCIO – NUN + C(I)O, familiar to many from the Papal nuncio.
20 Grew old around father with late onset disease (8)
WATERPOX – W(ATER-P)OX.   The first letter of PATER is moved to the rear, and the historically correct preterite of wax  is used.    Weaxan was a Class VII strong verb, but quickly became weak everywhere except Northumbria.
23 What’s written about Persia in atlas is confused with Qatar (8)
NASTALIQ -Anagram of ATLAS IS plus Q, a one-letter country abbreviation.
25 Braid trim not edged mostly split (6)
RICRAC –  [t]RI[m] + CRAC]k].
28 Dumbledore bee seen among alliums regularly (5)
ALBUS –  A[l]L(B)[i]U[m]S.   You won’t get this from Chambers – what we have here is popular culture.
30 Dotted line included by calligrapher that’s not special (6)
31 Low standard award for beach (8, two words)
BLUE FLAG – BLUE + FLAG.   Here the cryptic is obvious,but many solvers will not know the literal.
32 Ready in Bangladesh, volunteers serve old (4)
TAKA – TA + KA.   Yes, ka is an old word meaning serve, origin unknown.
33 Boy emptied large collection-box for kirk (5)
LADLE – LAD + L[arg]E.    Solvers want to put L for large, but here you must follow the instructions.
34 Are those against current society feeling not understood? (7)
ANOESIS – A + NOES + I + S, a compendium of popular cryptic bits.
35 Fatty excess in US — hear robes must be altered (9)
SEBORRHEA – Anagram of HEAR ROBES.    It would be seberrhoea in the UK.
2 God after new ways to inspire? (5)
3 A catch at international caught moving upwards (8)
ANABATIC – A + NAB + AT + I + C.
4 Ridge captured by dodgy Russians (5)
GYRUS – Hidden in [dod]GY RUS[sians], among other things they might be hiding.
5 Pleasant African display ground supported by king and queen (6)
LEKKER – LEK + K +ER.   A lek is an area where male birds offer displays during the mating season.
6 Snooper small town’s put up before beak (8)
PRODNOSE – DORP upside-down + NOSE.
7 Answer phone? Just the reverse, no? (6)
AIKONA -A +NOKIA backwards, more African slang.
8 Work alone in Perth upset with Australian weaver (4)
TAHA – HAT  upside down (Australian slang) +  A.     I’m not sure where the A comes from, perhaps Australian?
9 Winged figures set up in one capital (7)
AMORINI – IN + I + ROMA upside-down.
10 Tobacco pipe order incomplete, small shop’s put out note (9)
15 Note deceit about pub coming up ready for new electrics? (9)
REWIRABLE – RE + WI(BAR upside-down)LE.
17 ESA facility bundle terminal parts to skyrocket (8)
SPACELAB – BALE + CAPS upside down, presumably electrical caps, although other interpretations may be possible.
19 Fruit starter of clafoutis as cooked in batter (8)
CALABASH – C[lafoutis] + ALA + BASH.
21 Take all nine with one running up — underarm (7)
AXILLAR – R + ALL + IX + A, all upside-down.
22 Severe second illness for Macbeth (6)
24 Full state overturned king during riot (6)
TURGOR –  RO(GR)UT, all upside-down.
26 Row about time which US uses for complete change of solution? (5)
TITER – TI(T)ER, the US spelling.
27 Drunkard — first of two ejected from film (5)
29 Begin to develop ordinary ethos for martial arts (4)

4 comments on “Mephisto 3312 – Blackbirds and Thrushes”

  1. The spelling SIBORRHEA and SPACELAB are also not in Chambers, but easily deduced. Managed to complete this in one sitting..

  2. 31A: Aside from “blue flag” having a Chambers entry, a search for it plus the name of a British newspaper should get you a fair number of hits. The C def is a bit old – the blue flag scheme is no longer just for EU becahes.

    8D: Yes, Australian is one of the 40+ things that A stands for in C.

  3. BLUE FLAG came up in another cryptic puzzle recently, so it was a write-in. Got through this with minimal fuss, fun puzzle.

  4. Very enjoyable puzzle from John Grimshaw

    It took me a while to sort out 20ac WATERPOX. But very satisfying when I did: discovering “wox” as an obsolete past tense of “wax” to grow. Thanks a lot for the extra information about this: that’s lovely.

    Also, I had trouble seeing the components in 17d SPACELAB. “Bale” for “bundle” eventually came first. Then Chambers has “cap” = “the uppermost or terminal part of anything”.

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