The droghte of March hath perced to the roote.
and with it a major announcement from one of our distinguished bloggers. I read it on Tuesday the second, so perhaps my fake news filters had been disabled. Please say it isn’t so, ulaca!
Anyway, the crossword. This one must have been relatively easy, I think, since I finished it on a phone in under 20 minutes during breaks during a busy day. Indeed, many of the clues are quite easy to parse, as you’ll see. Are there any impressive times to report?
There were several clues where I was confident of the answer and guessed at the relevant general knowledge, which I have (of course) since confirmed for this blog. There were lots of nice clues. I particularly liked 27ac. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.
Clues are in blue, with definitions underlined. Answers are in BOLD CAPS, then wordplay. (ABC*) means ‘anagram of ABC’. Deletions are in [square brackets].
1 Weapon associated with Beckett’s last play? (6)
TRIFLE: [becket]T, RIFLE.
5 Epicurean academic involved in robbery (8)
HEDONIST: DON in HEIST.
9 Flying to new river, some migratory birds do it (10)
OVERWINTER: anagram (“flying”) of (TO NEW RIVER*).
10 Put to flight? Not quite the way (4)
ROUT: not quite ROUT[e].
11 Condescending aristocrat linked to Society by mistake (8)
SNOBBISH: S=society, NOB=aristocrat, BISH=mistake.
12 Shrewd king attached to fourth wife’s place briefly (6)
CLEVER: R (king) “attached to” CLEVE[s]. Anne of Cleves, fourth wife of Henry VIII.
13 Head of zoo worried about letter from abroad (4)
ZETA: Z[oo], then ATE (worried) reversed (“about”).
15 Record held by male ship’s officer’s wife? (8)
HELPMATE: LP (record) “held by” HE / MATE.
18 Very English woman engaging daughter in dingdong battle (8)
VENDETTA: V, E, NETTA “engaging” D. The definition seems a little astray to me: a vendetta is more a feud than just a battle, I’d have thought.
19 Possibly Lord North’s record, not his (4)
TORY: [his]TORY = record. Frederick North. Sounds like he was more or less one of the founders of the Tory Party?
21 Test, for example, set by duke in club (6)
DRIVER: D for duke, then the Test is a RIVER.
23 Claim of Queen overwhelmed by defeat in Irish county (8)
LIMERICK: Her Majesty might rightly claim, “I’M ER”. Let that be “overwhelmed” by LICK.
25 Graduate taken in about small Scottish port (4)
OBAN: BA “taken in” ON. Very tricky to have “small” as part of the definition, not wordplay!
26 Lying aircraftman promises to pay after repair (10)
MENDACIOUS: MEND, AC, IOUS.
27 American word for a boundary marker (8)
TERMINUS: an American word might be a TERM IN US.
28 Singer’s baggage initially left in plane, perhaps (6)
TREBLE: B[aggage] and L[eft] in TREE.
2 Flighty type given note after party (5)
RAVEN: RAVE, N.
3 Following start of improvement, update image of agitator (9)
FIREBRAND: F[ollowing], I[mprovement], REBRAND.
4 Draw out? It’s against the law, we hear (6)
ELICIT: sounds like ILLICIT.
5 Become prominent making banners? (3,3,9)
HIT THE HEADLINES: I think this just a cryptic definition, unless I am missing something (as I feel I may be).
6 Produce plays, casting odd characters without delay (8)
DIRECTLY:DIRECT (produce), LY (even characters of pLaYs).
7 Language used in Alsten or Senja (5)
NORSE: another cryptic definition, and also a hidden answer, altogether making an &lit. type clue. I assumed the places named were towns, but no, they are islands – in Norway of course.
8 It helps keep the salt dry in sweet-and-sour cooking (9)
SOU’WESTER: anagram (“cooking”) of (SWEET SOUR*).
14 Abhorrent mob half-heartedly supporting administrator (9)
EXECRABLE: EXEC, RAB[b]LE.
16 Vehicle a man used to carry books — or book? (9)
MOTORBIKE: OT (books) OR B (book), all in MIKE. Nice clue, I thought.
17 Warehouse employee, awfully mean sort (8)
STOREMAN: anagram (“awfully”) of (MEAN SORT*).
20 The writer’s role, to communicate (6)
IMPART: I’M (the writer is), PART (role).
22 Malice shown by highly honoured archdeacon? (5)
VENOM: VEN (archdeacon), OM (highly honoured).
24 Old peasant’s horse kept in by lock (5)
CHURL: H for horse in CURL.