In the sample clues below, the links take you to explainers from our beginners’ series. The setter’s name often links to an interview with him or her, in case you feel like getting to know these people better.
The news in clues
Here’s the past fortnight summarised in two images. First, Felix in the Times’ quick cryptic …
… with a clue for HESITATE; second, Vlad in the Guardian …
15ac ‘Stuff it!’ — Queen unhappily entertaining Johnson (9)
[wordplay: anagram (“unhappily”) of QUEENIT, containing (“entertaining”) abbrev. for Johnson’s job title]
[EQUIENT containing PM]
… with a clue for EQUIPMENT. Onwards.
While solving Picaroon’s lurid clue …
… I remembered just in time that the FUCHSIA is named after German botanist Leonhard Fuchs, however it may be pronounced. I’ve been error-prone myself in the last 13 months, so I am not acting the know-all when I note that I can’t identify a single UK broadsheet that hasn’t published a “fuschia” (as I’ve just contributed one myself).
Words frequently misspelled according to the way they are often pronounced seemed a good idea for our next challenge, but a decent candidate was elusive … for a while. Reader, how would you clue PRONUNCIATION?
There’s a new Puzzled Pint. I’m not yet quite clear on what this is, and will return to the topic when that changes. Your recommendations of safe distractions remain welcome.
Thanks for your clues for ALFALFA. It would cheer me to see, more than occasionally, a clue in the manner of Lizard’s “Peasant woman may have shouted at careless king: “____, ____, __ fire!” (Fodder not fit for human consumption!)”
The audacity award, with avert-your-eyes-at-breakfast warning, goes to the definition in GeoScanner’s “Tomorrow’s bullshit headlines from Aftenposten, Le Figaro, Agon, Libération, Frankfurter Allgemeine?” and I was pleasingly startled by Phitonelly’s “50% of East London in car plant” and Albery’s “A falafel prepared out east is a foodstuff”.
The runners-up are PeterMooreFuller’s arch-ish “Anagram vowels all off, consonants confused – is this fodder?” and Montano’s precise “Originally agricultural livestock feed, AKA lucerne for animals”; the winner is Joey_Joe_Joe’s intriguing “Something on which to ruminate; is a half of half doubled one?”
Kludos to Joey. “Fantastic for keeping my brain from turning to sludge” is the best answer I so far have for when the question comes: “Granddaddy, what did you do in the great pandemic?”, so thanks to ScottDourque; the latest addition to our collaborative playlist Healing Music Recorded in 2020-21 to Accompany a Solve or Even Listen to is from a genre I don’t usually appreciate, but which is more poignant when distanced: barbershop.
Please leave entries for this fortnight’s competition – and your picks from the broadsheet cryptics – below.
Clue of the Fortnight
We’re all tired, which makes it easier to sympathise with the protagonist of Pasquale’s kicking-off clue …
1ac Father about heartless performance: “It’s supposed to be funny” (6)
[wordplay: synonym for “father”, containing (“about”) synonym for “performance” without middle letter (“heartless”)]
[SIRE containing ACT without C]
[definition: it’s supposed to be funny]
… for SATIRE. Stay safe.
The Shipping Forecast Puzzle Book by Alan Connor, which is partly but not predominantly cryptic, can be ordered from the Guardian Bookshop.