Toughie 174

Toughie No 174 by Firefly

Teacher…. Mother…….Secret Lover

+ – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment **

As the warm-up man for Big Dave and his battle with Excalibur tomorrow, I am usually full of praise for the Thursday setters.  I am also a big fan of Firefly in his other setting alias, but for some reason, this is just not my cup of coffee (I can’t stand tea!!).  I was quite looking forward to it, but just found that some of the clues lacked the invention and  difficulty that we normally get from him.

For some reason I am reminded of the end of an epsiode of The Simpsons, where they do a send-up of Stephen King’s The Shining.  I had a tough night last night with the heat and lack of air, despite having all the windows open and running the risk of bats flying in. However, I was looking forward to logging in and having a good battle today, but like Homer I was disappointed and the urge to kill rises…..(actually the urge to go and have a snooze rises!)

Anyway, enough whimsy, let’s go.  My basic feeling that this was probably no tougher than a normal daily puzzle.  I was quite convinced for some time that there was a mistake in the grid, but then my recent stays as a guest of the NHS came to the rescue.  Should Toughie puzzles have four letter anagrams?


8a Struggle with Derek about university entrance … (4)
{DUEL}  DEL is short for Derek with U (entrance + first letter of University) inside.  I personally are not overkeen on clues that just use names on their own, unless it has a definition of its own  eg  Irene = Peace.

9a … and not Norman (3)
{NOR} I presume that NOR is an abbreviation for NORMAN as in William the Conqueror

10a Comes clean during home-grown supper … (4,2)
{OWNS UP}  Hidden answer.

11a … itself chaotically put an end to (6)
{STIFLE}  An anagram of ITSELF.   The first two pairs of clues are designed almost to be read together, but here neither really do.  Would you ever see 10/11 as a coherent sentence?

12a Stimulating stuff from former reporters and leader in Observer (8)
{EXPRESSO}  Is this coffee still called Expresso, apart from in Chambers Dictionary.  When I go to the coffee shops (NOT the Dutch ones!), all I ever see is ESPRESSO.  The clue itself is fine.  EX = former  PRESS = reporters  O = leader in Observer.

13a Disorderly temp arrested – not in Harrods, maybe (10,5)
{DEPARTMENT STORE} Anagram of TEMP ARRESTED NOT leads to Mr Al Fayed’s emporium, though I suspect if you tell him it’s that, he’ll get a bit cross.

15a Licensee debarring Radiohead musician (7)
{TAVENER} Crossword purists split into two camps over several issues, but one of  the issues that causes more debate than others is whether  R = Radiohead, B = Birkenhead, M= Maidenhead, etc?  Those who follow Ximenean Principles and compile their puzzles strictly according to his guidelines (Friday’s daily setter, for example) say no, while those who follow Araucaria and are seen as more libertarian say that it is OK.  Where do you sit?  Here’s some relaxing music while you think it over.

Oh, the clue?   It is TAVERNER (a landlord/licensee) minus R (for Radiohead) to give one of our leading living composers of religious music.

17a Round the borders of Tiree, tartan’s woven (7)
{PLAITED}  TE = The borders (edges) of TIREE inside PLAID (tartan)

20a Svelte fop led men designing personal enhancement (4-11)
{SELF-DEVELOPMENT} Not the most subtle of anagrams. I’ll leave it at that.

23a See you at about ten, prepared to go into “Life Story” (1,7)
{À BIENTÔT}  There was a ferocious debate some years ago, IIRC, over  the difference between à bientôt and au revoir.  I think à bientôt was used on the phone to say goodbye, and au revoir was in person.  Anyway, it’s more interesting than this clue, I’m afraid.
You have to read it as AT surrounding the whole of “an anagram of ten” inside BIO (life story).  Now is that clear?

25a Sergeant regularly enjoins cook to get married (3-3)
{NON-COM}  Regularly here means “take alternate letters of ENJOINS COOK” – hence NON CO and add M for married.  Sergeant = NON COMMISSIONED OFFICER.

26a Tennis-player Andrew showing how to move on baseline (6)
{CASTLE }  Breakfast TV’s “Mr. Personality”, banal quiz host, Wimbledon commentator; and occasional player, once ranked 80th in the world and British number one for one season.  His surname also is a move on the back row of a chess board.  My dislike of Mr Castle probably clouds my judgement on this clue.  If baseline was also the name for the back row of a chess board, it would be one of the best clues I have recently seen.  Nice surface reading.

27a Bearing with voluble beneficiary (3)
( AIR)  AIR = Homophone of HEIR.  Yes or No?

28a Lois’s dressing chamber (4)
{SILO}  An anagram of LOIS.  A silo is an airtight chamber for storing grasses, grains etc.


1d One’s helpless when upset, in cruel truth (6)
{TURTLE}  Good clue.  Hidden reversed inside  cruEL TRUTh.

2d Sweetheart once seen in Pudding Lane? (3,5)
{OLD FLAME} Surely if you were looking in Pudding Lane, source of the Great Fire of London, you’d see a FLAME?  Perhaps the heat is making me too grumpy.

3d Below par – where we all are most of the time! (5,3,7)
{UNDER THE WEATHER}    Aaaargh!  Another one like 2 down.  Are we under the weather most of the time or is it around us all the time?

4d With more leaves, replanted beer garden’s not bad (7)
{GREENER}  Ah, this is more like it!  A clue worthy of Toughie status.  An anagram of BEER GARDEN minus BAD.

5d Where one turns for treatment and neat sheets? (8,7)
{HOSPITAL CORNERS}  For quite some time I was convinced the second word had to be LAUNDRY, thinking of washing machines and tumble dryers. Of course, this caused a clash with 20 across.  Then I remembered the lovely nurses who cared for me used to have to fold their bedsheets in a particular way:-  called HOSPITAL  CORNERS.  Clever cryptic definition.

6d Put shirt on but lost it, apparently? (6)
{INVEST}  One of those clues that has two definitions, one straight, the other cryptic.  If you wear a shirt, you are IN VEST.  Then the remainder shows the consequences of INVESTing.

7d Execrate tailless dogs (4)

14d Eggs are rank, by the sound of it (3)
(ROE} A homophone of ROW

16d Proxima Centauri – central star (3)
{ACE}  Clever clue.  The exact centre of the name of the heavenly body is ACE.

18d “Protect from sun”? Me, I’m off on to island (8)
{IMMUNISE}  An anagram of  SUN ME I’M attached to I (island).

19d Battens down (28s, etc?) with this agreement (4,3)
{TEST BAN}  The TB Treaty was an anti nuclear missile agreement (hence missile silos), first put forward in 1963.  An anagram of  BATTENS but can DOWN be an anagram indicator?

21d Betrothed, half-cut, is in France entering carnival (6)
{FIESTA}  EST = is in France, inside FIA(NCE)

22d Head swaps a penny for nothing – simpleton! (6)
{NOODLE}  Trying to make sense of this is not easy.  I assumed it was NOODLE/POODLE or NOODLE / DOODLE – but eventually with Chambers it was NOODLE / DODDLE.  Doddle is another word for the Head.  This reminds me of a song:-

24d Pitt’s fixer? (4)
{BRAD} A Brad is a type of nail or tack, and of course the first name of Pitt the Actor.

Not a good Toughie week for me.  Tuesday’s was too easy and yesterday’s was not to my liking either.  (I am most definitely not a MynoT fan), so with Excalibur to come tomorrow in all probability, it is not a good week as far as I am concerned.

You may disagree, and I’d love to read your thoughts.  Do remember that new posters do not automatically go on the site.  First posts are always aproved by the Boss to check for spammers, and they do try!

I think I need a lie-down in a darkened room.


  1. Posted July 2, 2009 at 3:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

    On 22 down I had NODDLE => NOODLE, as only one penny is mentioned!

  2. tilsit
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 4:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

    My fault. It was a typo. I meant to say NODDLE NOODLE with NODDLE as the word for the head.

    Blame Mesdames Williams and Dementieva.

    Which of the Williams sisters’ turn is it to win this year?

  3. gazza
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 4:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

    6d. I don’t think that the explanation is quite right. If you no longer have a shirt, having lost it, you are IN VEST.

    • tilsit
      Posted July 2, 2009 at 4:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Yes Gazza, my bad. I couldn’t see it as such.

  4. bigboab
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 7:09 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I did not like this crossword at all, most of it was ridiculously simple and then there was 15a. and 19d both of which were bordering on the sublime. I did however like 23a.

  5. Anna Gramme
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 7:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

    At least I could finish it today!

Leave a Reply, but please read the Comment Etiquette (under Comment on the menu) first. If you are asking a question, please check if it is already answered in the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions).

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *