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Toughie 155

Toughie No 155 by Elgar

This one went off the top end of the difficulty scale!

+ – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

When you see Elgar’s name you know you are in for a difficult time.  This one is certainly no exception.  There were a mere handful of relatively easy clues, and some where, despite getting the answer, I have struggled to get all of the wordplay.  If you have seen anything that I missed, please add a comment.

Elgar was at the Sloggers and Betters evening last week, but he didn’t warn me that this one was in the pipeline.


1a Bobby out to slow down traffic? (5,4)
{SPEED BUMP} – these monstrosities that slow down traffic are sometimes called sleeping policemen

9a It paid Catalan electronic group to smash generator (6)
{PESETA} – the former Spanish currency (it paid Catalan) comes from E(lectronic) SET (group) inside (to smash) PA (how does this relate to generator?) – my problems have already begun! – see comments below for suggestion that PA = father = generator

10a Smuggling divers (4,5)
{FAIR TRADE} – an old term for smuggling, usually used these days in a different context, is an anagram (divers) of ARE ADRIFT

11a So Telegraph’s quoted verbatim, it’s agreed (6)
{ASSENT} – AS (so) SENT (Telegraph’s quoted verbatim?) gives a word meaning it’s agreed – I’m in trouble again; to telegraph is to send, but it doesn’t seem to fit – once again, see comments below for suggestion that AS SENT = sent verbatim

12a Squeak: ‘Time, gentlemen, please!’? (5,4)
{CLOSE CALL} – a double definition – a narrow escape and last orders in the pub

13a What might be put up for sale – of ales? (6)
{JUMBLE} – this might be for sale in your local village hall and if you take it as an anagram indicator of ALES you get SALE (or vice versa)

17a Pastoral song To a Skylark? (3)
{OAT} – an old name for a pastoral song is an anagram (skylark) TO A – a well concealed anagram of a three-letter word: what next?

19a Image in one piece, filmgoer’s lesson not? (8,2,5)
{SMELLING OF ROSES} – a phrase meaning to emerge from a series of events seemingly innocent, with image untainted or undamaged (image in one piece – where would I be without Chamber’s to help with the explanations?) is an anagram (not) of FILMGOER’S LESSON

20a In the end, Shakespeare’s flat (3)
{E’EN} – hidden (in) inside thE ENd is a Shakespearean word e’en (even / flat)

21a Tempt fate losing weight, see, losing round figure (6)
{ENTICE} – A word meaning to tempt is derived by …. can you finish the sentence?
Yes – Gazza can!
….  (FAT)E (fate losing fat / weight) combined with N(O)TICE (notice / see losing O / round)

25a Court summons William Bird (9)
{SPOONBILL} – to SPOON is to court and BILL is short for William – put them together and you get a bird – and this was one of the easy ones!

26a Form of rock music or Motown establishment? (6)
{GARAGE} – a part cryptic double definition of the kind of so-called music that I, for one, could cheerfully have managed a lifetime without hearing any of it

27a Gold glimpsed in tree is a flower (3-6)
{BEE-ORCHIS} – put OR (gold) inside BEECH IS (tree is) gives a flower – hands up all those who had orchid and couldn’t work out the wordplay!

28a Grub to put back in part (6)
{ROOTLE} – this word meaning to grub, or root around for food, is obtained by putting TO reversed (back) inside ROLE (part) – sometimes you may have to resolve the wordplay and then look up the result to see if it exists!

29a A covering letter’s enclosed for me? (9)
{ADDRESSEE} – this looks as if it ought to be more than a cryptic definition – I played with A DRESS around D, but couldn’t complete the wordplay
Gazza to the rescue again – A the DRESS (covering) inside (enclosed) DEE (letter) giving (the easy bit!) to whom the letter is addressed (for me)


2d Exercises aged uncle – like oysters? (6)
{PEARLY} – add PE (exercises) and My Aged Uncle ARLY by Edward Lear and you get a word that means, well, like oysters

3d In this sergeant takes up a way out (6)
{EGRESS} – hidden inside thiS SERGEant but reversed (takes up) is a way out – and my way in to this puzzle!

4d Artist drinking a little rich soup (6)
{BORSCH} – take the artist Hieronymus BOSCH and put him around R (a little Rich) and you get a Russian and Polish beetroot soup

5d 40-60 thickening, giving 400-1500? (6,3,6)
{MIDDLE AGE SPREAD} – the widening or thickening of someone who is 40-60 is called MIDDLE AGE SPREAD, and it could also describe the range of years from 400-1500 AD

6d Instrument of ready fit (3,6)
{SET SQUARE} – this drawing instrument is obtained by combining SET (ready – as in ready, get set, go) and to SQUARE (as in to fit or to suit)

7d Even great footballer can do no more than this (5,4)
{LEVEL BEST} – take LEVEL (even) and George BEST (great footballer) and you get something that can do no more than – this one really made me smile :-)

8d Recovered, say, no longer under stress (4,5)
{PAST TENSE} – recovered is an example (say) of using this; it comes from PAST (no longer) and TENSE (under stress) – clever misdirection because “under” makes you look initially for wordplay the other way around

14d Uncultured individual, being quite big and fit, turns in (5,4)
{ESSEX GIRL} – this apocryphally uncultured individual is built up from ESSE (being, actual existence) and XL (eXtra Large / quite big) around RIG (fit) reversed (turns)

15d More security provided for Spooner’s door, and feature of it? (9)
{LETTERBOX} – the Reverend William Archibald Spooner has long been a favourite of crossword setters – here you need to change the first letters of Better Locks (more security provided for …. door) and use a bit of homophonic licence to get this feature of many a front door

16d Here one’s putting the hours in? (5,4)
{CLOCK GOLF} – this cryptic definition seems to be lacking an indicator for the game involved
this is a cryptic definition of a game that involves a CLOCK (hours) and GOLF (putting) – thanks for that one, Gazza

17d & 18d The heavyweight of Chinese food, so I’ve heard (3,3)
{ONE TON} – a heavy wait that sounds like (so I’ve heard) won ton, a spicy dumpling containing minced pork (Chinese food)

22d Henry’s working with Telegraph’s integrity (6)
{HONOUR} – H (Henry, the SI unit of inductance – not a short form of the name Henry!) is combined with ON (working) and OUR (the Telegraph’s) to give a synonym for integrity

23d One amongst basics observed by you and me? You can count on it (6)
{ABACUS} – put A (one) inside (amongst) ABC (basics) and add (observed by) US (you and me) and you get something you can count on

24d Power to cross a range of mountains (6)
{ALPINE} – put P(ower) inside (to cross – that upside down logic that is only there for the surface reading) A LINE (a range) and you get a word meaning of The Alps (of mountains)

If you can help out with any of the explanations, please do.  Even some of those I did manage to get may need embellishment.  So far I’m awarding myself about 3 out of 10, and feeling generous at that!

Here are the answers. I thought that I recognised the grid and here, for comparison, is Toughie 144 which is only one square different.

26 comments on “Toughie 155

  1. You bet it’s a Toughie. I solved about a third of the clues but understanding many of the other answers eludes me. 14d sums it up – I’m from Essex!

  2. I finished this, but like Big Dave, I look forward to working through his explanations.

  3. 9a PA = father = to give life to = to generate ?
    21a. fate losing fat (weight) = E; notice (see) losing O (round) = NTICE

      1. Dave
        Chambers has generator = begetter or producer, and generatrix = a mother.

  4. 9a I agree generator is pa=father
    11a I took “So Telegraph’s quoted verbatim” to mean that a message (telegraph) is quoted word for word (verbatim) = as sent. But it would equally work without “so” and is thus weak

    1. 11a I thought “so” meant “this is the way”, giving “This is the way the telegraph (companies) used to describe ‘verbatim’ ” (i.e. “as sent”).

    1. Gill
      They’re both right. If you haven’t twigged, the answers are inside the curly brackets against each clue – just select the space inside to reveal,

  5. So please help me! What are the answers to 14d and 16d?
    All I can begin with for the latter is ‘clock’ something.

    1. Gill
      Anyone’s first comment has to be moderated before it appears. From now on, yours should appear straight away.

  6. Gill

    Please accept my apologies on two counts.

    Firstly, I entered the wrong answer for 1 across, now corrected.

    Secondly, I am currently relying on web mail for my email, and hadn’t checked for quite a while, due to struggling with the blog, for comment notifications.

  7. 29a. I think that the wordplay is:
    A, then DRESS (covering) which letter (DEE) has enclosed.

    1. Sorry, BD, babysitting yesterday but having looked at all the comments and attempting to do the puzzle,I doubt we would have been any help at all!! We started off very well, but had Tilsits’ trouble with the Won tun (so many different spellings anyway!!) then completed it more by luck than anything else. Have to confess I cheated a bit!

  8. This was a killer and I had WON TUN rather than ONE TON, which left me in a right mess for a couple of hours.

    I shall discuss this with Elgar next time I see him, when I shake him warmly by the throat!

  9. Gave up after about 25 minutes with most of SW and NE corners empty. Got BEE ORCHIS and ONE TON right though, and left the B/H of 1A blank after an unfortunate SPEED B/HUMP experience elsewhere, eventually seeing BORSCH. I think the combination of difficulty and a cornery grid made this too hard for more than a few to enjoy, esp. if you didn’t see that 19A was an anagram.

  10. Nothing personal, chaps! Thanks for feedback. I do read these comments – and all the others on the various sites. Cheers Dave, and all other contributors to the site – v informative. And hope you made it back ok from S&B!


    1. Welcome to the blog John.

      You didn’t say whether we finally got all the wordplay correct.


      P.S. For those who don’t know, John is aka Elgar & Enigmatist, and a few others!

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