4102 Something’s Brewing by Poat
This week Poat gave us a puzzle with a number of wordplay-only Across answers which had to be enciphered before being entered in the grid, and one Letters Latent Down answer in each column. The latent letters, in column order, had to spell out BABINGTON PLOT, and this resolved some ambiguities. The Babington Plot was a scheme intended to remove Queen Elizabeth the First from the throne. It was devised by Sir Anthony Babington with the assistance of other supporters of Mary, Queen of Scots. Messages to and from the imprisoned Mary were enciphered and hidden inside the stopper of a beer barrel. Gregson, taking on the role of Sir Francis Walsingham, discovered that the enciphered answers were all synonyms of “message”. These were enciphered using a scheme in which the letters A through to Z had to be replaced by the thematic BUNGHOLEACDFIJKMPQRSTVWXYZ. Not having a cask of beer available, Gregson had to make do with a bottle to raise a toast to Poat and complete a pleasant evening’s entertainment.

Modified grid entries are indicated by [].

1 Affected character must leave men-only gathering (5)
STAGY STAG PARTY (men-only gathering) less PART (character)
5 Town officials requiring no blossom around vegetable gardens (8)
ORCHARDS MAYORS (Town officials) less MAY (blossom), containing CHARD (vegetable)
10 Manipulation when first of examinees replaces answer (7)
MESSAGE [IHRRBLH] MASSAGE (Manipulation) with E (first latter of EXAMINEES) for A (answer) (Wordplay only)
11 Pushing out astronaut, but without forward acceleration (6)
ASTRUT ASTRONAUT less [ON (forward) + A (acceleration)]
12 Car thief forgetting measure of engine capacity, which counts double (5)
TWOER TWOCCER (Car thief) less CC (measure of engine capacity)
13 You’ll see me beheaded after conclusion of trial (6)
LETTER [FHSSHQ] SETTER (me, ie Poat) less first letter, following L (last letter of TRIAL) (Wordplay only)
15 Fly a kite? McCartney, they say, no longer with us (9, two words)
BEETLE OFF Homophone of BEATLE (ie Paul McCartney) + OFF (no longer with us)
17 Rent returns showing zero inflation as a courtesy (6)
DEVOIR RIVED (Rent, past tense of “rend”) “inflated by” ie containing O (zero)
20 Boiled oats going west, not good porridge (4)
STIR GRITS (Boiled oats) less G (good), reversed
22 Tell scorer to cover cross in international? The reverse (7)
ROSSINI Hidden in cROSS IN International
Tell referring to the opera William Tell
23 Potato as cooked in East End, mashed in pie (11, four words)
AT A LOOSE END ALOO (Potato) in ATSEEND (Anagram of East End)
Gregson was unsure what “as cooked” was doing, other than perhaps to indicate a cookery term. The definition here is relying on pie(2)
25 Spilt tears in Morag’s eye (7)
EPISTLE [HMARSFH] PISTL (Anagram of SPILT) inside EE (Scottish word for “eye”) (Wordplay only)
27 Hole in the ground not showing compliance with safety standards? (4)
NOTE [JKSH] CENOTE (Hole in the ground) less CE (mark showing compliance with safety standards) (Wordplay only)
29 Epoch-making ball game viewed on air (6)
EOCENE E O (Ball game) + CENE (homophone of SEEN ie “viewed”)
“cene” is not a word in its own right, but Chambers has an entry for it as a suffix, and gives its pronunciation
32 On and off, top-notch label failing to be in touch (9, three words)
ON THE BALL ONTH (Alternate letters in tOp NoTcH) + EBALL (anagram of LABEL)
34 Bound Bible in plant bark (omitting Exodus) (6)
CAVORT AV (Authorised Version ie Bible) in CORTEX (plant bark) less EX (Exodus)
35 “Widow-maker”, perhaps hard-hearted dramatic hero (5)
LEHAR LEAR (Dramatic hero) containing H (hard)
The second operatic reference, this time to The Merry Widow
36 Complex issue dogging a Victorian, for one (6)
Victoria being the Australian state
AUSSIE USSIE (Anagram of ISSUE) following A
37 Power reflected in payment to new monarch (7)
MISSIVE [IARRAVH] VIS (power), reversed inside MISE (payment to new monarch) (Wordplay only)
38 An area regularly patrolled by senior policemen (8)
DISPATCH [GARMBSNE] (Wordplay only) PATCH (An area regularly patrolled) following DIS (plural of DI ie senior policeman)
39 Question changes of direction for Perth Highland cattle (5)
QUEYS Q (Question) + UEYS (Australian word for “changes of direction)
Perth being Perth, Australia

1 Put one in another’s position no more (5)
SITED I (one) inside STED (obsolete word for “another’s position”)
2 What’s brewing? Last of barley set to release liquid (4)
THAWY [THWY] THAW (Anagram of WHAT) + Y (last letter of BARLEY)
3 American boat founders with river branching (9, two words)
4 Headbanger: loveless monster, apparently needing deodorant (5)
GREBO OGRE (monster) less O (love, as in tennis), “with BO” (apparently needing deodorant)
5 Find us at Carnoustie, left foot stuck in rough gorse (6)
GOLFERS [OLFERS] L (left) + F (foot) inside GOERS (anagram of GORSE)
6 Fur hat that was excellent down under (5)
CASTOR [CASTR] Two meanings
7 Do as Dawkins: reject as spurious when you can’t see it (7)
ATHEISE ATHETISE (reject as spurious) less ‘T (it)
The alternative ATHE(T)IZE can only be rejected by considering the intersection with ROSSINI
8 Tip of finger plugging Dutch dykes causes amazement (8)
DUMFOUNDS [DUMFUMDS] F (first letter of FINGER) inside DU (Dutch) + MOUNDS (dykes)
9 Antique dress displayed in special issue is quite hard to cut (8)
STIFFISH TIFF (old word for “dress”) inside S (special) + ISH (issue)
14 Candid discussion that, to hearer, may appear misguided (9)
16 Unexpectedly met this geneticist in Milton Keynes? It could be (6)
LYSENKO [LYSEKO] Together with MET IN, the answer makes an anagram of MILTON KEYNES
18 Nervous nellies having minimal skill (6, two words)
19 Warm coat we turned up to fit endangered creature (9, two words)
MINKE WHALE [MINKEWHAE] MINK (warm coat) + EW (WE reversed) + HALE (fit)
20 Freshly from hols, go with ABC in this? (8)
SCHOOLBAG [SCHOOLAG] Anagram of (HOLS + GO + ABC), &lit
21 Animal in uniform arrested by lawyer after soldiers provide personnel (8)
TAMANDUA U (uniform) inside DA (lawyer), following TA (soldiers) + MAN (provide personnel)
24 Old-fashioned tendency held, in part, by unconventional pharmacist (7)
26 Hide with Scots one under small shields (6)
PELTAE PELT (Hide) + AE (Scottish word for “one”)
28 Stops Oscar featuring among the awards (5)
OBOES OBES (Plural of OBE, ie an award) containing O (Oscar)
30 Get clucky? Short plump child needs a pee (5)
CHERUP [CHERU] CHERU(B) (ie plump child, less last letter), + P (pee)
31 Suit having its front taken in to make connections (5)
EARTHS [EARHS] HEARTS (Suit) with first letter moved inside
33 Goose describing a series of curves (4)
WAVY Two meanings