Toughie 153

Toughie No 153 by Firefly

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

This is a very enjoyable Toughie with some excellent and amusing clues. Some of the wordplay is tricky and it’s a good idea to claw your way into it by picking off an easy clue (like 24d) or an obvious anagram (like 27a) first, in order to get as many checking letters as possible before you start on the harder clues.

Across Clues

1a  Woman boss to question Tim’s being involved with lock-out (12)
{TASKMISTRESS} – we need to put ASK (question) and an anagram (being involved) of “Tim’s” inside TRESS (lock, which is outside) to get a woman boss.

9a  Hugely fatigued Society writer appears in public … (9)
{OVERSPENT} –  S(ociety) and PEN (writer) appear inside OVERT (public) to form an adjective meaning excessively fatigued.

10a  … saying: “Notice the time” (5)
{ADAGE} – a charade of AD (advertisement, notice) and AGE (a period of time) form a synonym for a saying.

11a  Cricketer giving you what’s on the tin? (6)
{OPENER} – double definition – a cricketer who is number one or two in the batting order, and what is attached to the outside of a tin of corned beef.

12a  We instil variation into menu … (4,4)
{WINE LIST} – an anagram (variation) of “We instil” gives us a drinks menu.

13a  … dish needs dash – lime, for example? (6)
{ENTRÉE} – a word for a course (dish) at dinner (exactly which course depends on which country you live in!) is made up from EN (a dash in punctuation which is roughly the width of the letter n – I am indebted to libellule for this explanation) followed by TREE (lime, for example).

15a  Downer’s Home Counties case? (8 )
{SEDATIVE} – Home Counties is SE (South-East) – follow this with a grammatical case expressing an indirect object to produce a drug taken to make you sleep or calm you down, hence a downer.

18a  Girl with a dire impairment being paid regularly (8 )
{SALARIED} – the girl we want is SAL – follow her with an anagram (impairment) of “a dire” to get a term for being paid a regular amount at regular intervals, normally monthly.

19a  Port was Mary’s problem (6)
{CALAIS} – This port was the last English possession on continental Europe and when it was lost, Queen Mary (Tudor) is said to have remarked that when she died its name would be found written on her heart.

21a  Piece from Verdi’s a sterile washout (8 )
{DISASTER} – a word meaning washout is hidden (signalled by ‘piece from’) inside “VerDI’S A STERile”.

23a  Seat arranged near start of The Open (6)
{SETTEE} – a type of seat is made from SET (arranged) and TEE (from where The Open Golf Championship starts).

26a  Frost’s on the trail of constant delinquency (5)
{CRIME} – put RIME (frost) after (on the trail of) C (constant standing for the speed of light) to get a synonym for delinquency. The surface reading is excellent, making you think of the TV detective.

27a  Daniel ran differently with hormone (9)
{ADRENALIN} – an anagram (differently) of “Daniel ran” produces a hormone which is secreted by the adrenal gland.

28a  Can Christopher’s pad get noisy? Put your foot down! (4,2,6)
{MAKE IT SNAPPY} – “get noisy” indicates that we want a phrase which is a sound-alike of “May Kit’s Nappy?” (can Christopher’s pad?), and which is an exhortation to get a move on! My clue of the day without question!

Down Clues

1d  “Red and purple” describing hooter? (3-4)
{TWO-TONE} – the required phrase means having two colours and it also describes a horn (hooter) which emits two different sounds alternately and is beloved by boy racers.

2d  Eriksson perhaps married in Kent (5)
{SWEDE} – the nationality of Sven Goran Eriksson (I presume that he is the Eriksson being referred to!) is constructed by putting WED (married) inside the part of the country where Kent lies (the same region which featured in 15a).

3d  Fantastic UK esteem at resistance of soldier (9)
{MUSKETEER} – an anagram (fantastic) of “UK esteem” is followed by R (resistance) to form a soldier carrying an old-fashioned smooth-bore firearm.

4d  Shuck shack? (4)
{SHED} – an amusing double definition – a verb meaning to discard and the sort of shack where you might keep your gardening tools.

5d  Rigging improvised latrines (8 )
{RATLINES} – an anagram (improvised) of “latrines” produces the word for a series of ropes arranged like the rungs of a ladder in the rigging of a sailing ship.

6d  Unattached male with energy to go into theatre (5)
{STAGE} – the word for a man who attends a social gathering unaccompanied by a female partner is followed by E (energy) to make a verb meaning to organise a theatrical production.

7d  Church built from quartz to a degree (8 )
{BASILICA} – SILICA (or silicon dioxide) occurs naturally as quartz, and this is preceded by a degree to form a large church. A degree in crossword solutions is nearly always either BA or MA, or, in the case of the current U.S. President’s name, both!

8d  Boil 23 vigorously, getting hot for a time (6)
{SEETHE} – You need to have got the answer to 23a first, then you replace one of its Ts with an H (getting hot for a time), then you find an anagram (vigorously) for it, to end up with a verb meaning to be filled with unexpressed anger (boil).

14d  Salt lake damaged joint in square-rigger (4,4)
{TALL SHIP} – this name given to a square-rigged ocean-going sailing vessel is constructed from an anagram (damaged) of “salt” and L (lake) which is followed by HIP (joint).

16d  Sport in the morning not for Parisian or legendary Grecian (9)
{AGAMEMNON} – put GAME (sport) inside AM (morning) and add the French word for “no” to get the name of the king who commanded the Greek expedition against Troy.

17d  Idle cove! Get a temporary situation! (8 )
{VEGETATE} – a verb meaning to idle is well disguised (signalled by situation) inside “coVE GET A TEmporary”.

18d  Brief intercourse with Mussolini is corrupt (6)
{SEDUCE} – a verb meaning to corrupt is made up of SEx (intercourse) which is cut short (brief – I suppose this could be termed coitus interruptus!!) and il DUCE (the title assumed by Benito Mussolini).

20d  Fancy puppies, maybe, raised in the East End? (7)
{STEPNEY} – fancy is YEN and puppies are types (maybe) of PETS. Reverse the whole lot (raised in a down clue) to reveal the name of a place in the East End of London.

22d  No good leaving business for old Yemenis (5)
{SHEBA} –  an informal word for a business is SHEBAng – take off the last two letters (No Good leaving) and what remains is the name of several characters in the Old Testament (one a queen) who came from Saba in South-West Arabia, roughly where Yemen is situated today hence their description as old Yemenis.

24d  You French on brink of bloomer (5)
{TULIP} – you in French is TU – follow this (on in a down clue) with LIP (brink) to get the name of a flower.

25d  Corrode ornamentation (4)
{FRET} – double definition – a verb meaning to wear away or corrode is also a noun meaning a repeating ornamental design of vertical and horizontal lines.

I liked lots of the clues today (such as 19a, 26a and 1d) but my nomination for outstanding clue of the day is 28a. What do you think? – leave a comment!


  1. Posted May 27, 2009 at 10:57 pm | Permalink | Reply


    I was a bit late starting this one, but couldn’t miss a Firefly puzzle.

    I liked all of the clues you mentioned, but the sheer audacity of 4 down was the one that made me smile the most.

  2. Jackie L
    Posted May 28, 2009 at 9:35 am | Permalink | Reply

    I’m new to the Toughie. I agree that 28a is very clever but I don’t think that ‘make it snappy’ means the same thing as ‘put your foot down’. ‘Get a move on’ , as you said in your comment, would have been better.

    • gazza
      Posted May 28, 2009 at 10:08 am | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Jackie and welcome to the blog.
      I agree with you. I had the same thought when writing the review. Whereas “get a move on” can mean both “make it snappy” and “put your foot down”, the last two are not really synonymous.

  3. Firefly
    Posted May 28, 2009 at 12:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks, Gazza, for your splendid blog and kind comments. Loved your annotation at 18dn – wish I’d thought of it!

    Odd that neither Chambers nor Collins acknowledges the informal usage of “put your foot down” = accelerate = hurry up, which I thought was fair. [Wictionary does, for what it’s worth!]

    Kind regards

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