Toughie No 105

Toughie No 105 by Giovanni

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ****

This is my first attempt at doing a write-up for a Toughie and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s got some challenging clues, as well as some easy ones, and doesn’t have too many obscure words.

Across Clues

1a  Holy vessel accounting for Scotsman’s hypnotic state? (10)
{MONSTRANCE} – Put together (accounting for) the word used for man in Scotland, then S (because of the  ‘s in the clue) and then what a hypnotist might put you into (hypnotic state) to form a vessel used in Roman Catholic churches.

6a  Bird one meets twice (4)
{IBIS} – I (one) is followed by (meets) a word for twice (a word used by the French in theatres where we would say “encore” – strange that!) to produce a wading bird once worshipped by the ancient Egyptians.

9a  Legislation we at last developed to restrict union (7,3)
{STATUTE LAW} – an anagram (developed)  of WE AT LAST including (restrict) TU (Trades Union) to produce a term for written legislation – nice clue!

10a  A river and a lake east of old city (4)
{URAL} – old city in cryptic crosswords is nearly always the biblical city of UR. This has A and L(ake) east of it (to the right of it in an across clue) to form the name of an Eastern European river.

13a  Jews and Arabs having little kids in Kent maybe? (7)
{SEMITES} – Jews and Arabs are examples of peoples who speak Semitic languages. The answer is formed from SE (a synonym (maybe) for the part of the country where Kent is to be found) followed by a word meaning small children (little kids).

15a  Thunder makes one complain but it’s no good (6)
{RUMBLE} – one who complains has a grumble – take off the G (no good) to leave a word for the sound of thunder.

16a  Reason for visiting pub in Berkshire village (6)
{THEALE} – the reason for visiting a pub might be the atmosphere, the company, the entertainment, etc. but in this case it’s simply the beer! This produces the name of a village in West Berkshire.

17a  What was seen in cinema redeveloped in one-time slum site (4,2,2,2,5)
{MEET ME IN ST LOUIS} – an anagram (redeveloped) of ONE-TIME SLUM SITE produces the name of a 1944 film (what was seen in cinema) starring Judy Garland.

18a  Senior author each time getting 50% cut – exceptional author! (6)
{AUSTEN} – the wordplay here is somewhat convoluted. Both (each time) of the words “senior author” are reduced by half (50% cut) to leave SEN and AUT. Then an anagram (exceptional) is made of these to produce the surname of the author who created Mr D’Arcy.

20a  Observed, heard, performed? That’s sleazy (6)
{SORDID} – first a syllable that sounds like (heard) “saw” (observed), then another word for performed. Put together, these form an adjective meaning sleazy or shameful.

21a  I’m taken out of army unit, having injected a chemical (7)
{REAGENT} – we start off with REGIMENT (army unit). From this we remove the IM (I’m taken out), then into what’s left we put an A (having injected a). What we end up with is a word meaning a substance used in chemical analysis.

22a  Turn in bunk (4)
{WIND} – double meaning here. The answer is both a verb meaning to twist or turn and a noun that means a current of air but also empty insignificant words (bunk – here a synonym for bunkum).

25a  Possibly a future spin-off (10)
{DERIVATIVE} – a word meaning both a spin-off (for example as “Frasier” was from “Cheers” if you’re into American sit-coms) and a type (possibly) of financial future. A few years ago few of us had heard of these, and those that had thought that they were only understood by highly-paid bankers – now we know that the latter did not understand them either!!

26a  Little flower in restaurant with head dropping off (4)
{RILL} – the restaurant is a grill – take off the G (with head dropping off) to make a word meaning a small stream (little flower).

27a  Mahler ‘cosy’? Wrong – sorrowful (10)
{LACHRYMOSE} – an anagram (wrong) of MAHLER COSY to form an adjective meaning sorrowful or given to weeping.

Down Clues

1d  Face a journey through the snow? (4)
{MUSH} – double meaning. I’d heard of this word meaning a gee-up command to husky dogs pulling a sledge through the snow, but I didn’t know (before today) that it’s also a noun meaning that type of journey itself. It’s also a slang word for face (much used by the late Tony Hancock!).

2d  Bread put down and served up (4)
{NAAN} – a type of bread (the sort you’d have with some tandoori chicken) which is a palindrome. So it’s “put down and served up”, i.e. reads the same down and up (which only works here because this is a down clue).

3d  Spurious growth in publishing house admitted by Mark (6)
{TOUPEE} – the publishing house is the Oxford University Press and this is inside (admitted) a word meaning the mark aimed at in the games of quoits and curling (the word is used more often to describe what a golf ball sits on). The whole word means something that looks like it’s growing on your head but isn’t actually (spurious growth).

4d  Cryptically use language (8,7)
{AMERICAN ENGLISH} – a clever clue whereby the word “use” is split into US and E to generate a language used across the pond (a language which some Brits might think of as an oxymoron!).

5d  Wine delivered by woman on time (6)
{CLARET} – this clue, with some minor variations, is one of the most common found in cryptic crosswords. A woman’s name (also the name of an Irish county and a Cambridge college) precedes (on) T(ime) to deliver the name of a dark-red Bordeaux wine (also sometimes used as a euphemism for blood).

7d  Fish south of Scottish island is moving in mud (10)
{BARRAMUNDI} The Scottish island is BARRA and after this (south, in a down clue) there is an anagram (moving) of “in mud” to produce the name of an Australian river fish.

8d  Cut second-best Olympic team up? (10)
{SILVERSIDE} – double meaning. The answer is both a cut of beef and a cryptic description of the team getting second place at an Olympic event. I’m not totally sure of the significance of “up” at the end. Having consulted the Brains Trust (Big Dave and Libellule), the best that we can come up with is that it means “up on the podium” – if you can do better please leave a comment!

11d  Old conflict giving offence to Sadat (7,3)
{CRIMEAN WAR} – the answer is a European war (old conflict) of the mid-nineteenth century (where Florence Nightingale first lit her lamp). It’s made up of a word for offence followed by the first name of the assassinated Egyptian president referred to.

12d  Unfriendly male prison in need of reform (10)
{IMPERSONAL} – this is an anagram of  MALE PRISON. It’s a clever clue because the anagram indicator could be either “unfriendly” or “in need of reform”. In fact it’s the latter and the answer means unfriendly or remote.

13d  Start to shift furniture, something you’ve had in the bedroom (7)
{SLUMBER} –  The answer is something you do in bed (I’m trying to avoid innuendo here but obviously not succeeding very well!). It’s made up of S (start of shift) followed by a word for furniture (normally the sort you no longer have need of, which is why the setter has used “you’ve had” rather than “you have”).

14d  Plant someone who’s drunk outside the room (7)
{SHALLOT} – someone who is a drunk is a SOT and this surrounds (outside) a room in a house (normally next to the front door) to form a word meaning a type of onion (plant).

19d  Geordie puss maybe will want a catmint (6)
{NEPETA} – just as Kent is very often SE (see 13a) so Geordie or Geordieland is often NE. This is followed by a generic term for an animal that you look after, of which puss is an example (maybe), then A (will want a) to form the name of types of plant which include catmint.

20d  Get short answer deviously with key? That’s underhand (6)
{SNEAKY} – an anagram (deviously) of ANSwer (short answer) and KEY to give an adjective meaning underhand or furtive.

23d  Look around home – what’s on the floor? (4)
{LINO} – Two well-worn cryptic standards (LO for look around IN for home) combine to form a word meaning a type of floor covering.

24d  What may account for homosexuality in gay bishop? (4)
{GENE} – the “gay bishop” is not a devious cryptic construct. It’s a reference to the gay American bishop Gene Robinson, and his forename also means an inherited characteristic “which may account for homosexuality”.

All comments are welcome, whether on the clues themselves or on my hints.

The Toughies are usually harder than the standard daily cryptic but, as you can tell from Gazza’s opening comments, they can be so much more satisfying to solve.  BD



  1. libellule
    Posted March 4, 2009 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Gazza, I think the word for twice used in 6a, although a french word, that crops up as encore or in a food item that is “twice cooked”, is actually a latin word originally.

  2. gazza
    Posted March 4, 2009 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Libellule. It is ironic that we use a French word “encore” for something for which the French themselves use a totally different word.

  3. libellule
    Posted March 4, 2009 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    That are plenty more like that. Equally there are words in the french language which are spelt like and sound like english words we use regularly, but mean something completely different. They are known as “faux amis” (false friends) to those of us who are trying to learn the language. e.g. you would think that the english word piece and the french word piece are the same. Nope. An example would be Demand in English and demande in French. Both mean entirely different things.

  4. Posted March 4, 2009 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    In Scotland a piece can mean a sandwich – what would the French make of that?