Here’s a puzzle with a Nina – a hidden thematic reference to something or other. I think this was the first Nina I ever included in the Independent – but this was back when they weren’t called Ninas. It was just a way to get some words into a blank grid – it can be quite daunting sometimes to wonder where to start! As it happened, the item I wanted to incorporate into this grid pretty well determined two of the four entries involved, and strongly curtailed a third – so I was away on the grid fill. The fourth entry involved was…well, I’ll say something about another crossword convention in connection with the fourth entry, but only with the solution notes.
Meanwhile I have made four small changes from the version that appeared back in 1990 – one corrects a typo, two modify word lengths to reflect current practice in Chambers Dictionary, and one clue has been very slightly tweaked to accommodate a change that has occurred in the real world in the intervening decades.
As for the Nina, try another page on the website for a hint.
As always, my thanks to The Independent for permission to reuse the puzzle – there’s a link in the blogroll to the current puzzle.
1 Spoil preserve putting in bits of old rotten herb (8)
5 East’s alternative – that’s No Trumps (6)
10 I may saw in half my assistant, awkwardly prostrate (I understand it is involved) (15)
11 Call to court man in Ayr surrounded by amounts of money? (7)
12 English deserve to return, having captured king in old boat (7)
13 Supported trap for fish caught in a group (5,3)
15 Letter smothered in muck – appalling! (5)
18 Pin-cushion, partly made of bone (5)
20 A danger, bedevilled swine ultimately being this? (8)
23 Flapper is enthralled by old time communist (7)
25 Fixes one with tasks – no end of trouble (7)
26 Fellow sinners? See some awful sinner edge into church (8,2,5)
27 Day covered in shade – until light ______? (6)
28 American composer’s form of hedonism (8)
1 Masculine work is hard and dull (6)
2 He’s into liquor – a nervous affliction – walking with difficulty? (9)
3 Style becoming unfashionable in the future? (7)
4 One former government department’s range (5)
6 Wretch fit to be destroyed in row (7)
7 We hear the first person to restrict crude slang for foreigner (5)
8 Initially the ancient Romans practised executions on one – one styled thus? (8)
9 Excited one punished for retaining sex-appeal (8)
14 A hired killer held up politician? That’s unimportant (8)
16 Puss: ‘I’m appearing in light Christmas entertainment’ (9)
17 Badly lettered blurred exercises discarded finally (8)
19 Small capitals in EEC disturbed by knowledge (7)
21 Shock with hoax sea-creature (4-3)
22 Admire English power, by the sound of it (6)
24 Improbably worth a toss (5)
25 In the morning I depart, friend! (5)
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