Times 28195 – Along the shores of Mephistoland

Time: 40 minutes
Music: Mahler Symphony 6, Solti/CSO.

I have to say, this is the first time ever in a Monday puzzle where I had to construct unknown words from the cryptics.   In the real Mephisto, of course, you are allowed to look them up in Chambers to see if  they really exist, but the daily puzzle offers no such privileges.   So I did the best I could under the circumstances, and was rewarded with an all-correct grid after a little hard thinking.   All things considered, I am pretty well pleased with my time.    I also suspect that the SNITCH will be a bit off today, as some of the usual punters will be unable to finish, or decide to submit without leaderboard.   Or maybe I am wrong, and everyone else found this one a walk in the park.

1 Singer initially helping worker in Anglican Church ritual (9)
CHANTEUSE –  C(H[elping],ANT)E + USE, with a specialized sense of use.
6 Upbeat aircraftman in borders of Paraguay (5)
9 A northern girl at university in old French province (5)
ANJOU – A + N + JO + U.   A region of France I have heard of.
10 Dandy inspiring neatness in business statement (9)
BORDEREAU – B(ORDER)EAU.    OK, it probably exists, at least the cryptic is fairly simple.
11 Being dull, I celebrate converting road to precinct (15)
13 Aggressive salesperson? Spooner’s fixed her (8)
HUCKSTER –  Spooner’s version is STUCK HER, where lift and separate is required.
14 Milk supplier crossing river leaves container, perhaps (6)
TEAPOT – TEA(PO)T.   You should not actual leave your tea in the teapot after the two-minute brewing period, or bitter oils will emerge.  I have ruined pots of expensive single-estate teas through carelessness.
16 Comeback concerning civil wrong (6)
RETORT – RE TORT, a starter clue.
18 One hangs about French department, ready at first to pen note (8)
LOITERER – LOI(TE)RE + R[eady] – another French department I have heard of!  I was confused thinking re was the note, but then I saw it.
21 Phlegmatic master in Devon, extremely upset when disturbed (15)
23 Girl with capacity to contain anger about such mischief (9)
DIABLERIE – DI ABL(IRE backwards)E.  I would have thought deviltry or diabolerie, but apparently this is a thing.
25 Family strife involving Republican psychoanalyst (5)
FREUD – F(R)EUD, another starter clue.
26 17’s brother originally rearing flightless birds (5)
REMUS – R[earing] + EMUS, and you won’t even read the cryptic if you solve 17 first.
27 Motel site sporting evergreen shrub (9)
MISTLETOE – Anagram of MOTEL SITE, for once not an obscure bush.
1 Church member keeping a prize boxer, perhaps (5)
CHAMP – CH (A) MP, either a world heavyweight champion or the best in show at Crufts, take your choice.
2 Poster girls (two, we hear) ultimately tried and judged (11)
ADJUDICATED –  AD + sounds like JUDY and KATE + [trie]D.
3 Supporters mostly rely on directions (7)
TRUSSES – TRUS[t] + S + E + S.
4 Remove load from hanger-on in a Parisian retreat (8)
UNBURDEN –  UN (BUR) DEN, where the alternate spelling of burr is required.
5 Listener’s problem demanding attention with chopper, briefly (6)
EARWAX –  EAR + W/AX[e].   It would not be brief in the US.
6 Exact force, capturing City area (7)
7 Twisted-sounding grass (3)
RYE – Sounds like WRY, another starter clue.
8 Kid’s toy guns distributed with hesitation (9)
12 Cheeky brat in hospital department, inspiring regret regularly (11)
13 Drover outside Brussels taking last of oxen beneath this (9)
15 Unavailing product of Merseyside port’s Society (8)
BOOTLESS –  BOOTLE’S + S.   I was stuck a bit, until I remembered we’ve had this one before.   Experience is useful!
17 Legendary twin’s memory, extremely useful over in America (7)
ROMULUS – ROM + U[sefu]L + US.
19 Weeping after end of strict dressing-down (7)
TEARFUL – [stric]T + EARFUL.
20 A new dock in part of Northern Ireland (6)
22 Last financier finally leaving to invest (5)
ENDUE – ENDU[r]E.   Invest in its root sense, not in the specialized meaning implied by the surface.
24 Initially achieving this writer’s goal (3)
AIM –  A[chieving] + I’M.

90 comments on “Times 28195 – Along the shores of Mephistoland”

  1. This felt difficult at the time, but my time was OK. Lucky to remember ERK, and BOOTLE. I DNK that BORDEREAU was used in English; I only knew ‘bordereau d’envoi’ from getting a lot of them where I used to work. Biffed ENDUE and UNDEMONSTRATIVE, parsed post-sub. 26ac was rather a wimpy clue.
  2. Also felt difficult (and vaguely annoying) at the time but a reasonably quick solve. Needed memory to come good for some of the clue elements – erk, Bootle seen before but unknown in real life. Anjou rang a vague bell, bordereau didn’t. Loire seemed feasible after also thinking the note would be RE.
    No real standout for COD.
  3. I’m glad I quit early when I realised that there were no good choices for 7d if you enter the perfectly reasonable, and perhaps more apt, P ACE Y for 6a.
    See you tomorrow.

    Edited at 2022-01-24 03:54 am (UTC)

  4. Didn’t follow the instructions and reverse the IRE in 23a so a DNF in 44 minutes. NHO BORDEREAU or the ‘Unavailing’ sense of BOOTLESS so it could have been worse.

    Even with the obscurities there were some good clues and I was ‘Upbeat’ about this although PEDESTRIANISING is a pretty ordinary word.

    Thanks to Vinyl and setter

    1. Ditto on BOOTLESS. Only know it as poor, J.P. Donleavy in The Unexpurgated Code gives instructions for dealing with the ‘bootless and unhorsed’.
        1. “and trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries” from sonnet starting”When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes”-Shakespeare
          1. I assume you are acquainted with the mellifluous strains of the band Deafheaven? Worth checking out*!

            *may not be worth checking out if you don’t like a big racket

  5. happy to finish this without error, despite DIABLERIE & BORDEREAU being unknowns. As Vinyl did, I constructed them from the instructions until a satisfactory parsing appeared.
    Unfortunately the checkers I had in 11a fitted INDUSTRIALISING and I persisted with this for some time thinking there wouldn’t be other words of this length fitting 8 checkers. It made LOI 1d impenetrable, demanding a rethink and the dawning realisation that PEDESTRIANISING also fitted and parsed to boot.
  6. Didn’t find it very hard. The only answer previously unknown to me was PEDESTRIANISING, where I had INDUSTRIALISING until I was trying to get CHAMP. However, I did not know ERK, in the clue for 6—took it on faith and even forgot to look it up before coming here… So I will now, and save anyone else the trouble: In RAF slang, Aircraftmen are sometimes called “erks”. The word “erk” is perhaps a phonetic spelling of an East Londoner’s pronunciation of the abbreviation, “airc”. Hmm… “perhaps”? Another site has: Aircraftmen were nicknamed “Erks” (a corruption of the word ‘Aircraft’) by the senior ranks, which was preferred to ‘other ranks’ or ‘troops’. Whatevah…

    I was eating a lot of d’ANJOU pears a while back but switched to Bartletts.

    Edited at 2022-01-24 05:34 am (UTC)

    1. The full OED is unhelpful, saying merely “Of obscure origin” .. but the first meaning it gives is “Erk, a rating. (Navy). Lower deck colloquialism for any ‘rank’ not that of an officer.”
      This is dated to the early years of the C20th, so it may be that etymologies based on aircraft terminology are fanciful.

      Edited at 2022-01-24 10:15 am (UTC)

    2. …So it had to be erk. NHO it, so thanks for explanation. Thanks blogger and setter, for an interesting puzzle, albeit a little arcane.
  7. An uphill struggle but with a reasonable time, for me. 42 minutes which felt like an hour.
    The 15 letter jobbies were PEDESTRIANI(ISING) and somewhat UNDEMONSTRATIVE!
    And ROMULUS & REMUS were hardly up to muster. FREUD was a bit too bleedin’ obvious too.


    LOI 19dn TEARFUL

    COD 14ac TEAPOT

    WOD 13ac HUCKSTER & Shyster no doubt a Kansas City law firm in the Marxist tradition!

    The ERK In 6ac was entirely new to me. PINKY & PERKY finally get a mention. Oink-Oink!

    Edited at 2022-01-24 06:06 am (UTC)

  8. 27 minutes for all but three in the SW corner, and then I was stuck for 10 minutes without progress until I decided to use aids to arrive at the unknown DIABLERIE. I was missing the first checker but had all the others and had worked out the reversed IRE, and that was enough to make me realise it would be a word I didn’t know and another foreign one to boot so I might as well resort to aids. The D should have helped me with my missing answer at 13dn (where I was also missing the first letter) but failed to bring anything to mind so I looked that up too. Then finally I saw HUCKSTER at 13ac, a word I knew but without having the faintest idea what it meant. Some people here have an aversion to cryptic clues, but the ones I detest involve the Rev Spooner.

    Another blind-spot for me are the subdivisions of France so I found it somewhat cruel that having successfully negotiated the mental barrier thrown up by seeing ‘French province’ in 9ac I should subsequently be faced with ‘French department’ at 18ac.

    Edited at 2022-01-24 07:11 am (UTC)

    1. We’ve had a few French departments recently. Will we be expected to know the Russian oblasts next? How about the administrative regions of Australia to give us antipodeans an advantage over the francophiles?
        1. I was thinking of something a bit more challenging than the states of Oz. How about Pilbara, Murchison, Gascoyne or Kimberley? (They are each of a similar size to the whole of metropolitan France).
          1. They include the odd small English village. How about WA ones? Back in the old days before they rebuilt the road down to Busselton there was a turnoff to ?Ooligogulup? near Capel. Can’t even find it on google, but in the 1980s pre-internet it was my second-favourite place name. After the capital of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou.
  9. No real problems except with DIABLERIE. that took a while.
    A very Gallic feel to this. Fortunately I already knew the term BORDEREAU de livraison meant delivery note. Saturday before last we had GARD in the cryptic so maybe we’re working our way through the départements.
    I had an Auntie Queenie in Bootle once….
    PS….I see no problem in using a dictionary to check if a word exists.

    Edited at 2022-01-24 07:35 am (UTC)

    1. It is a personal thing.. some of us like to do the daily cryptic as we would have to in competition. Each to their own.

      I never look up a word until after I’ve finished, except on Sats and Sun I might check a word before submission to make sure I can still win the prize 🙂

      1. My rule of thumb is that dictionaries and thesauruses are OK as they don’t give you the solution directly. I regard “using aids” as meaning using something like Chambers Word Wizard. If I use that, I declare it here and TRY to remember to submit w/o leaderboard.
        I’m never likely to qualify for The Times competition.
        If asked about my level I use a footballing analogy and say that I’m somewhere below National League (South) level while Champions’ League contenders complete the puzzle in under 10 minutes.
      1. Yes! We used to live in 53 -Mayenne. I remember it came as a surprise to find that there are overseas departments and they have the same status as those in mainland France. Friends once went on holiday to Martinique and came back laden with bottles of rum. When I asked how they had got those past customs that’s when I learned that places like Martinique and Guadeloupe are an integral part of France.
        The downside to that was we used to get the British winter fuel payment. That stopped when the calculation of the average temperature was changed to include departments like Martinique!
  10. As vinyl said some pretty Mephistoish answers in DIABLERIE and BORDEREAU, both of which my spell checker has just underlined. However I thought they were both quite generously clued. I was interested to see vinyl’s “rule” on Mephisto solving. Personally I try to finish without a dictionary then check at the end before submitting, like vinyl something I wouldn’t do here. I wonder how similar or different our many personal rules are!
    1. I make very liberal use of Chambers when solving Mephisto. I usually look up unknown words even when I’m sure the answer is right, just out of curiosity.
        1. Having the Chambers app helps — I’m not sure I’d look everything up if I had to search through the big red book!
      1. I always look up in the OED a word I haven’t met before, after submission. Helps to lodge it among my few remaining grey cells, ready for the next time ..
          1. If there’s one thing you learn from coming here, it’s to be very careful when you say “I’d never seen this word before today”, because (at least if you’re me) it usually turns out that’s exactly what you said last time it appeared in a puzzle.
            1. Yes we need an acronym along the lines of ‘Possibly seen before but forgotten’, but PSBBF would never catch on. Can somebody come up with something more suitable?
    2. Someone asked on the Club site the other day if people did the Monthly Club Special without aids, and I thought to myself “not the sane ones, mate, not the sane ones”. Checking up that SUMY was an actual legitimate rendering of the Uzbek currency this month, for instance (see recently posted Dec MCS blog)…
  11. When first he planned his home,
    What City should arise and bear
    The weight and state of Rome.

    30 mins pre-brekker. LOI the guessed Bordereau.
    I too dabbled with Pacey rather than the NHO Erk.
    My eyebrow flickered a little at the hemiparasitic Mistletoe being a ‘shrub’. But only a flicker.
    Thanks setter and Vinyl.

  12. Initially (x2), at first, extremely (x2), originally, ultimately, last of, end of and finally. Coupled with a few obscurities did not make this my type of crossword.
    For a PERKY CHANTEUSE that I know
    My PRECISE AIM a kiss
    That IMPERTINENT miss
    Did RETORT HEREUNDER, “Oh no!”
  14. 41 minutes with LOI HUCKSTER. The unknown BORDEREAU needed all crossers, as did DIABLERIE, but fortunately they were forthcoming. It didn’t take long to reach Bootle on my trip up the Mersey north out of Liverpool, so BOOTLESS was easily seen and did suggest ‘unavailing’.The EARWAX advert that appears here from time to time must have left its impression on me. ANJOU was known from the rosé wine I last drank fifty years ago when they were out of Tizer. COD to TEAPOT. A mixed bag. Thank you V and setter
  15. Apparently I had an advantage on this one. Being a management information developer for a law firm, I can report that BORDEREAx are (a) widely-used, and (b) exactly as thrilling as they sound. I’ll be working on several this week, and expect to lose my will to live by Wednesday.

    Despite that advantage I still took 55 minutes on this one, with a few in the NW corner along with DIABLERIE adding to my problems, but not as much as did bunging in PACEY at 6a, which made it my LOI by a long stretch, after I’d eventually realised that 7d must be RYE and corrected things.

    1. Isn’t Bordereaux a cartoon mouse with really big ears? I must be thinking of something else.
  16. 13:23. This was quite tricky, even with the distinct advantage of being an honorary Frenchman, which meant I knew all the words and places.
    I hesitated for a couple of minutes at the end over HUCKSTER, and never understood it. Spoonerisms are normally about the initial sounds of words (the Rev Spooner wasn’t famous for writing things down wrong) and you can’t get ‘stuck her’ like that. ‘Tucks her’ perhaps: certainly something with the middle ‘ux’ sound intact. In the end I just bunged it in and crossed my fingers.
  17. 51:18. I spent a long time assembling the unknowns BORDEREAU and DIABLERIE and making the switch from ACE to the unknown ERK in PERKY. Surprised and relieved to be all green. LOI HEREUNDER
  18. I also wondered about the Spoonerism – it didn’t quite feel right. NHO BORDEREAU and DAIBLERIE but the cryptics were helpful.

    FOI PERKY – I think ERK has appeared several times before, at lest I can’t think where else I know it from.

    LTI ENDUE and MISTLETOE for a rapid 12 minute solve.

    Thanks setter and Vinyl

  19. 11:21 Held up at the end by the unknown DIABLERIE and BORDEREAU, both contructed from the wordplay with a shrug. DNK that meaning of BOOTLESS either. Otherwise quite Mondayish. Thanks vinyl and setter.
  20. LOI brainfade HICKSTER, after doing the hard work. Liked ADJUDICATED.

    Thanks vinyl and setter.

  21. 50+ mins and pretty tricky I thought. Held up by HUCKSTER, HEREUNDER and DIABLERIE. The other French terms did not pose a problem and I remember as a child my Father drinking Rosé d’ANJOU. I was allowed the occasional (watered-down) glass! DNK that meaning of BOOTLESS either.

    As Sawbill points out, too many add this, take away that etc. I did like the long anag.

    Thanks v and setter.

  22. 35m but not an enjoyable solve for me — too many random French words and departments. I wonder how they create the grid these days? Software and ‘that’s all that will fit’, perhaps. I recall vaguely the late Dorset Jimbo telling us all about ‘erks’ in a blog some years back, so it obviously stuck with me at least. Thank you, DJ, and Vinyl for today’s blog.
  23. No trouble with the Franglais. I tried for “peppy” in 6a but “epp” didn’t sound quite right and the “erk” hove into view. A sprinkling of wolves in this one – Margaret of Anjou was the formidable wife of Henry VI and I think Shakespeare calls her the she-wolf of France. And then there’s R&R. 14.03
  24. Liked the unfamiliar words, all of them quite gettable.
    Surprised by how many didn’t know erk, a regular although not in recent months. I thought it was in fairly general use to mean a gopher or menial.
    Not keen on the Spoonerism, which like Keriothe I thought a bit of a liberty. I find Spoonerisms hard enough as it is, without mangling them like that
        1. Agreed. Sarcastic digs at other posters are tiresome. I’ve deleted another from the same source further down the thread.
          1. Awwww I thought that comment was cheeky but not ill-meant. But I guess it’s not up to me.
  25. Julius Caesar, shortly before playing the role of pincushion.
    20 minutes and 21 for this, feeling slightly desperate at times what with the French bits, especially the waterside statement.
    But where I panicked was with the shrub at the bottom, firmly believing that the anagram produced -LETTE and hoping it wasn’t the hitherto unsuspected MOISLETTE (more French, “short month” because it grows in February?). Or perhaps OMISLETTE, an omelette without eggs, or even more beguiling once all the checkers were in MISOLETTE with the scent of Japanese soup. Much relief when light dawned, even if Chambers amends shrub to shrubby.
    Cheers V, for taking the time to properly sort out the anagram at 21, I’m sure I once had a car with phlegmatic suspension…

    Edited at 2022-01-24 10:49 am (UTC)

    1. Someone else considered MOISLETTE? Shame I can’t say great minds think alike and all that as when the obvious plant hove into view I up buggered the spelling of it. Back to primary school pour moi
  26. Found this bit irksome, if not erksome.

    At least TEARFUL showed me that I hadn’t spelt MISTLETOE properly. DIABLERIE and BORDEREAU both new to me and I can’t see me dropping either into the conversation any time soon. I liked HEREUNDER…ROMULUS and REMUS not so much.

    Thanks to vinyl and the setter.

  27. Same doubts about bordereau as many others, entered with a shrug. Easy enough wordplay though, so OK. One or two others entered a bit uncomfortably, but got there in the end in 33 minutes. I don’t like clues like 3dn, which just refer to directions without telling you how to get them. On the other hand I do rather enjoy Spoonerism clues, but agree with keriothe in this case. The trouble with them is that they are seldom solvable (by me, at any rate) until you have a lot of checkers.
  28. I felt this was pretty straightforward on the whole, given that it included two quite obscure words which I couldn’t remember encountering before. I was going to say “definitely haven’t encountered before”, but sadly, as per my comment above, a quick site search reveals that both have appeared in the blog before, and I made no comment at all about DIABLERIE when it last appeared, so I clearly didn’t think it worth mentioning. Looking forward to never having seen it before again in about 2025.
  29. 27 minutes. A bit trickier than I expected after a few easy solves. BORDEREAU a complete unknown, though the wordplay was helpful. Stuck for some time on 23, but assumed the girl must be DI, and got DIABLERIE from that. At least it was familiar. The two long answers at 11 and 21 held me up for some time, as well.
    I hate Spooner clues. The Reverend made very few of the linguistic quirks that pepper the Times crossword. I swore ages ago that I wouldn’t set a Spooner clue in one of my own puzzles.
  30. I got off to a flying start in the NW with CHAMP and ANJOU leading quickly to ADJUDICATED and CHANTEUSE, and soon supported by TRUSSES. RYE gave me a flying entry to PERKY, the ERK remembered from previous puzzles. The totally unknown BORDEREAU was assembled per instructions. UNDEMONSTRATIVE went in from definition and the crossers from ROMULUS, ANTRIM and 2d. The SW held out longest, with DIABLERIE constructed eventually, once IRE was reversed in the appropriate place. A postulated UNDER at the bottom of 13d yielded the DI and Cain’s dyslexic brother did the rest. Fortunately a guess at HUCKSTER for aggressive salesperson seemed to fit the bill, although I baulked at the Spoonerism. The H allowed me to get LOI, HEREUNDER. 23:15. Thanks setter and Vinyl.
  31. 17:26. NHO BORDEREAU — and neither has my iphone apparently — but generously clued. DIABLERIE and the French departments were all there somewhere. All very Gallic
  32. Hadn’t heard of ERK so I’m another who had PACEY for 6a. That made 7d difficult and I came up with CUE as some sort of rare abbreviation for Fescue. It all seemed to make sense at the time.
  33. 19.20. An enjoyable workout with delays to derive bordereau, to remember the Liverpudlian port and to fail to crack the spoonerism but bung in huckster anyway as I couldn’t see what else it would be.
  34. …come and take a ride with me! Special greetings to Radio Gnome Invisible fans on this board.

    Late to the action today as I had some priority matters to deal with – and in the end very pleased to get a correct completion, given the unknown and uncertainties already discussed above. I found this a very enjoyable – and significantly stretching – start to the week. Thanks V and setter

  35. I somehow remembered ERK and knew or guessed the French words. My problem at the end was wanting 1d to be CHARM which meant I spent ages on LOI 11a where I struggled to see the definition. Once I revised to CHAMP, PEDESTRIANISING came immediately.
    About an hour over lunch.
  36. NHO that definition of BOOTLESS, and no idea about ERKs.

    BORDEREAU and DIABLERIE built from cryptic.

    Last two in — HUCKSTER and HEREUNDER

  37. 45 minutes, quite a few biffed, but very pleased to finish in under the hour. It’s all been said – thanks, V, bloggers and setter.
  38. As others have commented, so say I. DIABLERIE I managed; ERK I knew from my father, who once was one, but I note from the OED that it is ‘dated’, as, indeed, is my father; BORDEREAU beat me and I have to say that, after 45 years in the business world, I have only ever encountered the word once – i.e. today. So, a 45 minute DNF with about 10 minutes staring in vain at that one. Thanks to our blogger as usual.
  39. 28.54 with a lot of huffing and puffing. Diablerie LOI shortly preceded by bootless. Didn’t get the unavailing connotation and despite being reasonably local never considered Bootle a port in its own right- shows how much I know!

    Good puzzle so thanks setter and blogger for the illumination.

  40. Didn’t enjoy this, and had a DNF as needed aids for Huckster and Diablerie. I remember a bordereau was a paying in slip at the bank in France. Never seen it in English.
  41. Yes as above somewhere I also nearly put DIABLIREE, but somehow it didn’t seem right. We’ve had ERK here before, I think.
    Is Monday the new Friday?
  42. ….BORDERAUX were perfectly well known to me. They were much hated by our data entry staff because you had to deal with them in sections due to their extreme breadth making them too big to fit on the desk beside the key station.

    There was nothing totally beyond my knowledge, but some thought was needed for DIABLERIE, and I thought clueing HUCKSTER as a Spoonerism was rather pushing the envelope.

    TIME 8:28

  43. 6m 34s and it was nice to learn some new words – BORDEREAU in particular. The way I attacked the puzzle meant that it was ROMULUS that went in without looking at the clue, as REMUS was already safely entered.

    I’m afraid I echo others’ distaste for the Spoonerism – I dislike them at the best of times, and this was a real stretch. I’m also dead set against partial homophones in clues, and the JUDY/KATE pairing was a little too much for me to take.

    Grumble, grumble.

    TEAPOT was nice, and I was delighted with MISTLETOE being a shrub I’ve actually heard of.

  44. NHO erk or Bordereau – and Diablerie was hardly Monday fare/fair. But I scraped home in 19:27 mins. These were mixed-in with fairly anodyne clues. The long anagrams were the main culprits – as I had to wait for the crossers to arrive. Like Phil, I thought the Spoonerism was a fridge too bar. COD 15dn Bootless. WOD Earwax!
  45. I was incredibly happy with my time of 17:11, right up to the moment I realised that I’d lazily put in RETURN for RETORT, thinking it must be some legal definition of the word “turn”, instead of thinking for a few seconds more to come up with “tort”. vinyl1 described it as a starter clue as well (correctly)!
  46. Felt harder than the 92 or so snitch. Lots of good stuff for us Frechies. The Loire department confuses because it is several hundred kilometres from what most people think of as the Loire – ie the chateau-y bit — lying in fact way south in the Massif Central. Even further south (and higher) is the Haute Loire. The Spoonerism was annoying because it wasn’t based on sound but on the written letters. But Spooner presumably mixed things up sonically rather than looking at the words on paper. Also isn’t having ear as both listener and attention – one in the definition, one in the cryptic — a bit odd? Gripes aside, much enjoyed so thanks.
  47. Decent time if I’d reversed the IRE and spelled MISTLETOE correctly. Don’t ask. Also started with ANGOU (thinking of ANGOULEME) whilst LOITERER went in and out as I tried to shoehorn LOT into the answer. The correct Dept didn’t cross my mind.

    How do I ever solve these correctly I ask myself? 😀

    I rather like Spoonerisms as I find them easier than DDs and cryptics though this one was in bunged without being completely convinced

    Enjoyed the puzzle and blog, thanks

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