We had a large grid here and a title that set us thinking. ‘Round’? Was Lavatch footing the bill for the first round at the bar at the Listener annual drinkie? I checked his right to his ticket and found evidence at once. ‘Glaswegian’s to gulp drink and cut jaw clumsily (6)’ We’re heading up to join the rest of the family for a Glaswegian Hogmanay tomorrow so WAUCHT is a familiar word and that gave us our first corrected misprint with CUT JAW having to become CUT HAW*.
That’s the trouble with the misprint device, isn’t it? Even in a competent set of clues like this lot, there are some rather glaring anomalies. ‘Surveyor’s red, by lake, showing colder period in glacier (7)’. No, Lavatch wasn’t talking of the surveyor’s Zinfandel or Merlot, it had to be the obvious rod and gave us STADIA + L. And who’s heard of a ‘satin bear’? ‘Satin bear’s fur sadly somewhat worn away (4)’ That had to be Latin, rather spoiling Lavatch’s empathetic picture of the poor worn out bear, so we opted for URSA (hidden).
There was red wine though: ‘Vineyards turning quiet start to sell vintage malts (9)’ CRUS< EASE + S. Sadly these were not vintage malts at all but the old word for HALTS – surceases. Then later in the clues things became lively: ‘A pair of ravers behind clubs offering revel (7)’ Slight disappointment again when the ravers turned out to be two Rivers (R and OUSE) but there was a CAROUSE anyway so I think Lavatch earns his admission. See you at the bar, Lavatch – Cheers!
This was a speedy and steady grid fill for us, that was moved forward and completed in one big p.d.m. when CATHERINE was the only word that would fit one of the unclued lights. FERRIS, MILL, GEAR, ESCAPE, DAISY, CART, STAR and PRAYER quickly followed and, of course, there was a familiar quotation from King Lear just where it clearly had to be, circling the centre. THE WHEEL IS COME FULL CIRCLE. That is fairly appropriate for a crossword that will appear in The Times tomorrow morning, the last day of the year.
I wonder how many solvers wondered about that intriguing phrase in the pre-ramble: ‘those of their unchecked letters that are inside a thematic area are all different’. Oh my, how careful the editors are being (obviously determined to avoid another HARE event – well, I had to mention that elusive hare, didn’t I?) I spent ages attempting to see what some solver, determined to be cussed, might have highlighted and of course there it was; you can have a GEAR WHEEL but your car might also have a REAR WHEEL. That is pre-empted since the unchecked R of CATHERINE is within the thematic area. Clever!
Thank you, Lavatch.