In the sample clues below, the links take you to explainers from our beginners series. There is often a link via the setter’s name to an interview with him or her, in case you feel like getting to know these people better.
The news in clues
Bravo to Guy in the Financial Times for a timely, if regrettable, image …
1a Sorry end for Paul Pogba’s Italian course (4,3)
[ wordplay: anagram of (‘sorry’) last letter of (‘end for’) PAUL with POGBAS ]
[ anagram of LPOGBAS ]
[ definition: food from Italy (‘Italian course’) ]
… especially when the answer is as pleasing as SPAG BOL. Elsewhere in that paper, we have had a concentrated blast of topicality, naturally, in the latest news puzzle.
On the subject of spaghetti: during one of the pasta shortages of recent years, this paper offered a selection of alternatives to lasagne. My favourite was the pastitsio, a Greek macaroni pie. I thought of that pie while solving this Fed clue …
23a Mix for a Hamburger – I will be covered in mush (8)
[ wordplay: German (‘for a Hamburger’) for I, inside (‘covered in’) synonym for ‘mush’ ]
[ ICH in PASTE ]
[ definition: mix ]
… for PASTICHE, since that French word was once the Italian pasticcio, a pie made of meat and pasta. The subject of our next challenge is a related term that has denoted a kind of cloth, an alloy of copper and hand-to-hand fighting (à la mêlée), but is now generally a happier word.
Reader, how would you clue MEDLEY?
Many thanks for your clues for SCREWDRIVER. The audacity award goes to Smallboat01 for “Drink suggestion that may be unwise if the bus is late”, a clue which is both rude and in need of a footnote. The runners-up are HairApparent’s sly “Concoction that turns metal into wood” and Montano’s neat “Under Milk Wood: it’s intoxicating”; the winner could only be the maximally terse “Turner & Hooch”.
Kludos to Rakali. Please leave entries for the current competition – and especially non-print finds and picks that I may have missed from the broadsheet cryptics – in the comments.
Clue from elsewhere of the fortnight
The cockney soundalike is here combined by Atrica in the Independent with a spot of slang, enjoyably delaying the solver’s arrival …
18d What you might find on top of a mountain or under a rug in the East End? (4,3)
[ wordplay: what may be under a wig (‘rug’) missing an initial H (‘in the East End’) ]
[ definition: what may be on top of a mountain ]
… at THIN AIR. Onwards!
Find a collection of explainers, interviews and other helpful bits and bobs at alanconnor.com. The Shipping Forecast Puzzle Book by Alan Connor, which is partly but not predominantly cryptic, can be ordered from the Guardian Bookshop