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Mince Pie by Nutmeg

Posted by shirleycurran on 27 Dec 2019

It is always a pleasure to see Nutmeg’s name at the head of a crossword as we know the clues will be fair and enjoyable. However, there was a moment of consternation when we saw that she was dividing her forty clues into eight sets of five different types, omitted letters, misprints, extra words, thematic ‘wordplay only’ solutions and (sigh of relief) normal. Could she be making a sly comment on the ubiquitous ‘extra letters/ omitted letters/ misprints’ that seem to be regular diet in the current advanced thematic cryptic crosswords?

Of course Nutmeg retains her place among the Listener oenophiles and the evidence was there. A BREWER emerged as the solution of ‘Texan sibling entertains the two of us; I’ll make tea (6)’ We put WE into BRER. ‘Extremely brutal end (5)’ gave us B(ruta)L + END – there are some fine BLENDs around – and shortly we had ‘Nutmeg, full of spirit, beginning to go (7)’ We put GIN into ME + G, giving MELANGE, one of the thematic words. Probably a somewhat tipsy Nutmeg mixing the BLENDs with GIN. Cheers, anyway.

OLIO, MEDLEY, MINGLE, STEW, ASSORTMENT and MESS soon followed making sense of the Christmassy title Mince Pie and once we had decided that ‘bars’ in 9d was not one of the extra words (I wonder how many other solvers were sniffing at that red herring) we made the lucky guess that the letters at the start and finish of extra words (Delhi, gold, elderly, grasp, long, young, hole, and illegal) were going to anagram to HIGGLEDY-PIGGLEDY and that gave us an almost complete grid.

The ‘one letter of the answer is omitted wherever it occurs’ device was the one that we were left with. Luckily, we had spotted the HOT[C]POT[C]H early in our solve S[O]NANTS was clued generously, as was [C]REED but we were left with the two ‘type ii’ solutions in the south-west corner [K]INGED and A[L]IBIS to suss to give us COCKTAIL before we could complete this MIXED BAG of clues. Many thanks for the challenge, Nutmeg.


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