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Toughie 230

Toughie No 230 by Giovanni

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

An interesting challenge today which I found quite tough in parts and blindingly easy in others.  I particularly struggled with the bottom left corner.  As I solve the puzzle on line, I usually play guess the setter until I can contact a chum who takes the paper.  I have to say I wouldn’t have guessed today’s was Giovanni, it didn’t feel like one of his puzzles.  However, it was the usual enjoyable mix of witty but scrupulously fair clues.  Aspiring setters should always take time to study Giovanni’s clues as they are an absolutel model of perfection.

Recently it was announced that ITV are to be allowed to infest their already dreary programmes with product placement, and I thought this had arrived early in Crossword-land today as 6 across required you to know the name of a leading motor-oil brand (other leading brands of motor oil are available) to help you solve the clue.  Some curious answers today including the name of a Cultural Colossus (see yesterday’s Crossword blog).

Off we go, and remember your home is at risk if you put a tin containing petrol in your microwave and turn it on….


1a           Confectionery selections, cold inside (4,4)
{CHOC ICES} A nice clue to start with today.  This is almost what you can call an all-in-one or “& lit” clue where the whole clue also provides a definition as well, although there is a specific definition “Confectionery”.  Selections =  CHOICES with a C for cold inside.

6a           Head of state wasting litre of oil? (6)
{CASTRO}  The oil is of course CASTROL, and if you waste a litre, you get the ailing head of state of Cuba.

9a           Fate of OT character comprehended by church circle (6)
{CLOTHO}  One other trait of Giovanni’s puzzles is that you can usually find a religious reference in almost all of his puzzles (he is also the editor of the Church Times Crossword!), and here’s today’s.  Think of a Biblical character whose wife looked back and instantly signed a sponsorship deal with Saxa.

10a         Drug makes old prelate start to appear almost dead (8)
{LAUDANUM}  One for the quiz buffs.  The old prelate is William Laud, appropriately named Archbishop of Canterbury during Charles I’s reign.  Add to his name an A (start to appear) and  word meaning dead minus its last letter (shown by almost).  This gives you the 19th century equivalent of ecstasy or cannabis, although it is still used today.  I hadn’t realised it is given to babies of heroin addicts to help the baby withdraw.

11a         What the computer suite does — function in the absence of normal occupants (5-3)
{HOUSE-SIT)  This is similar to the clue in yesterday’s Daily Puzzle for THOUGHT OUT.  There are two definitions, but one leads to an answer of (6-2), rather than the (5-3) required for the puzzle.  The computer suite HOUSES IT, and if you reschedule that to have (5-3), you get a phrase meaning to look after a property while the owner is away by living in it.

12a         Israelis support invading troops with special training (6)
{SABRAS}  Come on, confess, how many of you had heard of this word?  I hadn’t  It comprises BRA(support) inside SAS (troops with special training).  It’s the name for a native of Israel, prickly on the outside and soft on the inside.  Oh sorry, that last bit refers to a type of pear, which it also is.  Mind you, come to think about it……

13a         Medical suppliers giving a drug to the man facing decay (12)
{APOTHECARIES}   A straightforward word sum for this long word.  A POT (a drug) + HE (the man) + CARIES ([tooth] decay).  The whole thing is the name for a chemist of yore.

16a Leaves after each drinker has been given their allocation (3,3,3,3)
{ONE FOR THE POT} As a tea-totaller, yes I despise and hate tea with a vengeance, I was lucky to work this out as being a cryptic definition, in fact one of the best CD clues I have seen in a while.  This relates to the practice of adding an extra spoonful of tea when making it in a pot for a number of people.

19a         Top lady about to open meat show (6)
{REVEAL)  This threw me for a while.  Top lady = The queen = ER reversed (“about”) + VEAL (meat) =  a word meaning to show.

21a         The drops specially prescribed for crock (8)
{POTSHERD}  An anagram of THE DROPS produces a bit of old broken pottery.

23a         Wind mechanical device that’s insect-trapper (8)
{LEVANTER}  A mechanical device is a LEVER and this holds a word for an insect (ANT) and you will have word meaning a warm wind that blows around Gibraltar.

24a         Around five I call Berlin (6)
{IRVING)  I call = I RING around V for five and this gives us the composer of our musical interlude for today.

25a         One lost from voyage possessing nothing? (6)
{CRUSOE}  Here’s another “& lit” clue, and quite a nice one.  A voyage is a cruise, so take away I (for one) and add O (possessing nothing).  The result is defined by the whole clue.

26a         The Loire is fantastic — I can offer you accommodation (8)
{HOTELIER}  An anagram (fantastic) of THE LOIRE gives the name of someone who would provide you with a room for the night there!


2d        Greeting with reverence (6)
{HALLOW}  A simple word-sum.  HALLO (greeting) + W (with) = a word meaning reverence.

3d        Stars? We demand somewhere to sit in the auditorium (5)
{CETUS}  It’s the dreaded homophone clue!  This is what you would cry if you wanted a seat, and to show it’s a homophone our setter cleverly uses “auditorium” to indicate it.  Cetus is the constellation known as “the whale” or sea-monster.

4d        Do river trip that’s hectic rather than thorough? (5,4)
{COOK’S TOUR} Another double definition where the indicator actually leads to the same letters, but (4,5), rather than the (5,4) required.  Do  =  COOK (as in “Cook the Books”) River = STOUR, which when read differently gives the name for a holiday that comprises short hops rather than detailed stays.

5d        Spot piece of ground inside school (7)
{SPLOTCH}  PLOT is a piece of ground and this goes inside SCH (school) and this gives a word for a spot or blob.

6d        Suit needed for the Garrick and suchlike (5)
{CLUBS}  Another nice surface reading.  The Garrick is a famous club and of course to go to such places you would be required to wear a suit.  Clubs is of course a suit in a pack of cards.

7d        It could be art’s pattern of radiating lines (9)
{STARBURST}  More clever stuff (and product placement for those who like Opal Fruits!). The setter here is giving you two definitions, with the first one being cryptic.  “It could be art’s” is saying STAR BURST = an anagram of ARTS.  The phrase also relates to artwork that comprises radiating lines.  Here’s an example:

Back to the product placement, this always makes me smile!

8d        Boy taken in by lecherous men and ‘dishes’ (8)
{ROULADES}  Rather a seedy image conjured up by this clue.   LAD = boy inside ROUES = seedy blokes.  This gives the name of a dish akin to a swiss roll, although it can be savoury as well.

Here’s a seriously OTT recipe for a chocolate roulade.

13d      A girl admitting lie about English actor (5,4)
{ALFIE BASS} I talked yesterday about Cultural Colossi and we have one here in today’s puzzle.  E for English inside FIB (lie) inside A LASS (a girl).  Alfie Bass (born Abraham Basalinsky) was a popular comedy actor in TV and film from the fifties until his death in 1982. His most famous role was probably in the 60’s TV comedy series The Army Game and its spin-off  Bootsie and Snudge featuring another late CC in Bill Fraser.

14d      Policeman using baton maybe to get fellow countryman (9)
{COPATRIOT}  Another clue where the indication leads to a different reading of the answer.  A policeman wielding a baton is a COP AT RIOT and stitch the words together and you’ll see a word for a fellow countryman.

15d      The heart a listener will have? (5,3)
{INNER EAR}  Cryptic definition for the middle of yer lugole!

17d      Cry of dismay about what’s left? It’s a small amount (7)
{HA’PORTH}  HAH is a cry of dismay and this goes round PORT (something you leave) (left, opposite of starboard) and you’ll get an amount we see no longer.

18d      Eleanor, the heartless one of the sisters? (6)
{BRONTE}  There aren’t many famous Eleanors, Roosevelt is one and the only other I could think of fits the bill here.  Eleanor Bron is a Cultural Colossus who is still with us, but has appeared in quite a few films and shows from the 60’s.  So take her surname and add to it TE (the heartless), and you’ll get a family of Cultural Colossi from just up the road from me in Haworth.

20d      Drink provided by hospital at ten (5)
{LATTE}  I am still kicking myself for missing this at first!  Naughty old Giovanni!!  I went off looking at HOOCH as it had an H (hospital in it) or thinking of a drink ending in X (ten).  It’s simply a hidden answer  “ at ten”

22d      Spade (not spades!) in shed (5)
{HOVEL} And a quality clue to finish.  Another word for a spade is SHOVEL.  Take off S (for spades in cards) and you get a word for a rickety shed.

Thanks to Giovanni for today’s challenge, and I leave you with something especially sensational and by Irving Berlin.

9 comments on “Toughie 230

  1. Wonderful stuff. I’m looking forward to Giovanni’s regular Friday cryptic more than ever after this workout. It took a little while to get into the clues on this one but they were delightful. Thanks for the hints Tilsit – I see now that I was barking up the wrong tree on 3d. You jest about product placement. My only thought is that maybe 6a is slightly unfair on the basis that “oil” of itself does not necessarily point to a brand name – perhaps “from an oil producer” might have flagged it more fairly. A minor quibble on an excellent puzzle. If the big G is reading the blog today – thank you for entertaining us so well.

  2. Apologies for the delay with the downs. I thought I had sent them over to Big Dave, but like the klutz I am sometimes, I hadn’t!

    1. Ah, but it was worth the wait and many thanks for the explanations, as also for the lovely version of “Let’s Face the Music and Dance”.

      This is one of the quietest blogs for a while. What has Giovanni done to everyone?

  3. Never heard of Roues for lechers!.

    Not bad apart from that – I missed 4d and strangely 7d.

    21a was a new one for me (particularly with the final ‘e’.

  4. Thoroughly enjoyable – never heard of 9a and 12a – totally baffled us and still don’t get 4d in spite of your explanation, Tilsit. Still, can’t have everything.

    1. I think that the answer is a reference to the whistle stop tours that used to run by “Thomas Cook” and were presumably referred to a Cooks Tour. Split a different way you get COOK / STOUR to which indicators point

  5. Many thanks for appreciative feedback. One small point : what’s left means something that signifies left, which is ‘port’ in the opposite to starboard sense( I wasn’t thinking of port as a place to be left).

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