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16th January 2021, 01:25
Phew! After last week's painless affair this week's puzzle was a real beast! t's by Paul and contains a "capital" theme.

I groaned when I first saw all the 'capital' references as geography is really not my strong point but, in all honesty, there's not much geography required and the little bit that is can be got from Google.

I recommend going all out to solve 14a as this contains an instruction as to how to treat several other clues. It's not that difficult as you know that, if the answer contains the "capital of Lebanon (twice) bombed", and is 7 letters long then you need just one more letter to fit the definition of "returned to ............".

Oh, and I actually spotted a "Pauline" clue, perhaps two with the excellent 21a. and "cheeky" 13a:-)

My FOI was the obvious anagram at 5d although I couldn't find the answer in the usual online anagram solvers.

There's still one clue I'm not sure about and that's 22d even though I have all the crossers but hopefully I'll have a PDM before too long.

COD - Lots to choose from with the aforementioned 21a and 13a plus the witty 16d but I'm going with well constructed 22a.

If you do get stuck you only have to post your query on here - we have posters in several different time-zones so there are always people around willing to help.

Stay safe:-)
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16th January 2021, 01:29
Hi Brendan,

I had just composed a thread-opening post when I double-checked and found you'd gotten there first!
Thanks to Paul, I enjoyed this one. A theme that's difficult to describe; I couldn't make much progress until figuring it out. FOI was 2, then things slowed down until I deciphered the thematic 28, steady progress thereafter. Co-LOI were the short 27 and 19A. Co-COD 12 and 19D, 26 also deserves mention. And I noticed at least one trademark "Pauline" clue.
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16th January 2021, 01:35
Hi Geeker,

I know what you mean about the theme being difficult to describe.

Have you got 22d? I'm still staring at the six or seven words with this letter pattern but none seem to bear any relation to the clue!
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16th January 2021, 01:43
22D: definition "capital", combination of a fairly obscure word for "repeat" plus anagram of 2 short words (1 and 2 letters) in the clue.
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16th January 2021, 01:49
Thanks Geeker,

I predict that clue will cause some problems - talk about obscure!

PS. Due to my head spinning and frazzled state I forgot to thank Paul.
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16th January 2021, 05:55
Well this followed on nicely from this week’s Peer Review (head over there to see what I mean). Also my favourite grid pattern again, first outing this year.
Thinking this is Paul, I rather thought the sign in 19a was a v-sign, but no. Getting 14a early on and deciphering ’twice’ does help.
Enjoyed 12, 21, 22 and 29a. Still a couple I can’t fully parse, but I’ll ponder some more. All in all I thought this was good fun. Perhaps add 27d to your list of ‘Paulinesque’ clues Brendan, making three?
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16th January 2021, 07:28
Yes, 22d involves an obscure three letter word for twice or repeat. Took a while to get it.
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16th January 2021, 09:43
Geography was my favourite subject at school so this was fun, although I needed help with 22d.

COD 12ac, beautifully constructed.
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16th January 2021, 09:48
Once you've cracked 14a, this puzzle is a real cracker – I'm shaking my head in admiration at Paul's ingenuity. Highly enjoyable.
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16th January 2021, 09:55
Hi Richard, Hi Judy,

Agree 12a is a lovely clue, although I didn't know the author - shame 🥵

I think most solvers will really enjoy this one - Paul delivers yet again 😃
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