Toughie No 112 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie No 112

Toughie No 112 by MynoT

Difficult in places, but overall very enjoyable

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

The more of these puzzles that you do, the more you begin to appreciate them.  This one had the handful of lesser-known words that seem to be  mandatory these days, and a UK-centric term just to fool Dr b and any other Americans that might venture into Toughie territory!

Thanks to one of the regular ScrewUps on a well known site my account was deactivated yesterday, despite having 10 months to run on my subscription.  I thought perhaps someone had been upset about the ScrewedUp News, but I was advised that this had happened to a number of people.  I was reinstated ealier today, but I am running further behind than usual.


1a Bull holding the Spanish record used to summon Betjeman, perhaps (8)
{BELLPULL} – EL (the, Spanish) and LP (record – for those of us that remember them!) inside BULL to give a reference to the blank verse autobiography by Sir John Betjeman

5a Fern-owls itch regularly in play (6)
{FROLIC} – the odd letters (regularly – this usually, but not always, refers to the even letters) from FeRn OwLs ItCh to give a synonym for play

9a Snake without tail used by old voodoo priestess (5)
{MAMBO} – a MAMBa (snake without tail) is followed by O(ld) to give a voodoo priestess

10a Before a meal the French judge dives into pack for brandy (5-4)
{APPLE JACK} – AP (ante prandium / before a meal – sometimes used on prescriptions) then LE (the, French) and J(udge) inside PACK to give a cider-like brandy popular in America

12a Finally, not altogether wealthy, I have small amount of money for caring for myself (10)
{EGOCENTRIC} – EGO (I) and a hundredth of a dollar (small amount of money) precede RICh (not altogether wealthy) to give a synonym for selfish (caring for myself)

13a First person’s expression of pain is to cry (4)
{MEOW} – ME (first person) and OW (expression of pain) combine to give an alternative spelling of the characteristic cry of a cat

15a & 18a Novel series of minute coaches made to fit in traffic (1,5,2,3,5,2,4)
{A DANCE TO THE MUSIC OF TIME} – did anyone get this answer via the anagram (in traffic) of MINUTE COACHES MADE TO FIT or did you get it, like I did, from the series of novels by Anthony Powell inspired by the painting by Poussin

16a Perch found occasionally in Gironde (3)
{ROD} – occasional letters from GiROnDe give a perch, also called a pole, which is a measure of 5½ yards – unless I’ve missed something, this is an unusual construct

17a Ken’s returning to col in South Africa (3)
{NEK} – KEN reversed (returning) for a South African word for a col or pass

18a See 15a

20a Supplant priceless French author (4)
{OUST} – (Pr)OUST – (Marcel Proust / French author without pr / price) gives a word meaning to supplant

21a Cloistered lama’s tonic to be shaken (10)
{MONASTICAL} – this anagram (to be shaken) of LAMA’S TONIC means cloistered

24a I relieve one aged family of flags (9)
{IRIDACEAE} – I RID (I relieve) ACE (one) AE (aetatis, Latin / aged) to give a name for the iris family of flowers (also called flags) – both the answer itself and AE meaning aged (as in he was aged 30) were new to me

26a Clothes horse’s demeanour in front of Queen (5)
{AIRER} – AIR (demeanour) then (in front of) the usual abbreviation for the Queen gives a frame on which clothes are dried (clothes horse)

27a Old Kentish river? (6)
{SENILE} – SE (South East / Kentish area) then a long African river gives another word for old

28a Flower found in depressed ring (8)
{BLUEBELL} – BLUE (depressed) and BELL (ring) to give a flower


1d Tramp with a full glass (6)
{BUMPER} – BUM (tramp) then PER (a) gives a glass filled to the brim for drinking a toast – I don’t like “per” as a replacement for “a”, but it’s in Chambers so I guess it’s here to stay

2d Nasty smell after military turns up in prison (5)
{LIMBO} – BO (body odour / nasty smell) follows (after) MIL(itary) reversed (turns up) to give the borderland of Hell, or a name for prison

3d Pharaoh not unknown to join excellent holy man, a believer in old planetary system (10)
{PTOLEMAIST} – PTOLEM(y) (Pharaoh without the “y” / not unknown) with AI (A1 / excellent) and ST (Saint / holy man) for a believer in an old planetary system

4d Circuit where service changes sides and volumes (3)
{LAP} – start with RAF (Royal Air Force / service): first change R(ight) into L(eft) (changes sides) and then change F(orte / loud) into P(iano / soft) (changes volumes) to get a circuit

6d Lady Bird left to stagger (4)
{REEL} – REE (or reeve, the female of the ruff / lady bird) then L(eft) to get a synonym for stagger

7d Thatcher’s description of broken reed in unproductive bit of enterprise (9)
{LEADERENE} – an anagram (broken) of REED inside LEAN (unproductive) and E (bit of Enterprise) to give a description that was once applied to Lady Thatcher

8d Seal round a garden is something easily accomplished (8)
{CAKEWALK} – CALK (caulk / seal / render watertight) around KEW (Gardens) gives something that is easily accomplished

10d Spiral outflow could be neatly conic (11)
{ANTICYCLONE} – an anagram (could be) of NEATLY CONIC gives a rotatory outflow of air from an area of high pressure (spiral outflow)

11d Where to buy a slice of orange and a squirt of soda to put in Englishman’s drink (5-2-4)
{POINT OF SALE) – O (a slice of Orange) and S (a squirt of Soda) inside A PINT OF ALE to give the place where a purchase is made (where to buy) – this has to be my favourite clue of the day!

14d Entertaining removal of decayed tapestries (10)
{STRIPTEASE} – an anagram (decayed) of TAPESTRIES  gives an entertaining way for a young lady to remove her clothes

15d Acknowledgement of violent sadism by Ionian? Not half (9)
{ADMISSION} – an anagram (violent) of SADISM then ION(ian) (not half) to give an acknowledgement

16d Branch of technology beginning to reduce and almost stop involuntary movements (8)
{ROBOTICS} – R(educe, beginning) then OBO(e / almost an organ stop) and TICS (involuntary movements) giving a branch of technology dealing with the design, construction and use of humanoids

19d Month in France once without ecstasy relating to goddess (6)
{FLORAL} –Floréal was the eighth month in the old French Republican Calendar; remove E(cstasy) and you have a word meaning relating to the goddess of flowers

22d Priests get special rise for oath (5)
{CURSE} – the (French) priests are cures; take the S(pecial) and make it move up one letter make (rise – very much a down-clue only construct) to give an oath

23d Putting everything on Black can make Round object (4)
{BALL} – B(lack) and ALL (everything) give you the round object

25d Garment’s about 454 grams (3)
{ALB} – A LB (a pound / about 454 grams) spells out a priest’s long white sleeved vestment

Documenting this was a really enjoyable task.  Just a few simple clues, and a lot that made you really think – an excellent example of what a Toughie should be.  If all you want is the answers then just click here.

3 comments on “Toughie No 112

  1. Found todays the hardest ever – without the hints (and your grid) I’d never have done it! How on earth am I going to manage in Spain for the next 5 days without you all!

  2. Enjoyable puzzle – also got the novel series without even looking at the wordplay (was in a hurry) – def, and word lengths were enough. Organ stops, Fr. revolutionary months and ree were hints of the barred grid puzzle – Mynot is a setter for the Listener and possibly others.

    a/an = per: I think you just need the right example: “miles an hour” = “miles per hour”.

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