Misprints and clashes … there was a bit of Numpty humming and harumphing until we read that there was a misprint in every across clue of Aedites’ Shrub. That is so much more generous than having misprints in some of the clues.
Then I skimmed through the clues, not suspecting that we were involved in an almighty drinking binge in this crossword. However, the evidence was there. Aedites retains his membership of the Listener oenophile club with a couple of tipsy clues “Fertile buck keeps a quantity of liquid (5)” gave us one of our misprints as LITRE was bAck in the clue.
Only two clues lower down came “Belief injecting energy to wane in Spain (5)” That was clearly going to be wIne in Spain. We were in Spain for this solve (well, actually in the wild and beautiful remote north of the island of Eivissa) and our Spanish friends assured us that they drink TINTO but not TENT. Still, we were stubborn and inserted TENET.
More alcohol one clue lower; “African ruffian drunks interrupting votes (6)” No problem. TSOTSI is one of those convenient old chestnuts for setters isn’t it? We worked backwards from the solution to the SOTS hiding in TI or a Note.
Then surely not a beheaded Numpty in “Idiot has no head for indefinitely large numbers (5)” (n)UMPTY. We have a numerical puzzle coming up very soon, haven’t we, and here is one Numpty more than ready to admit to that inadequacy.
Still, this puzzle must be what the editors were proselytising in their comment in the Tibea crossword (that undoubtedly eliminated a vast swathe of solvers) that they hoped for “More like this”. The clues were fair and transparent and the penny dropped with a lovely resounding ping when CAMELLIA SIN…” appeared in the message produced by corrected misprints. SINENSIS THEACEAE, completed the other Numpty and all became clear. That was why our clashes had been producing so many strings of Ts, Es and As.
Of course completion was now made easier and the Numpty red herring corrected (we had guessed at TRIANGULATION early in our solve when obviously the clue l following threefold delayed allowance led us directly to a less common word TRILATERATION “Surveying technique delayed + TRI + LATE + RATION).
One cell was left empty and we still had to find a 6,6 thematic character in the grid. EEMP? had to give us our 21st misprint and Sir Thomas Lipton generously appeared, reassuring us that TEMPO must be half “Lay peers”, and thus we learned a new word and happily sent a vote of thanks for a most sober crossword from Aedites.