Toughie 241

Toughie No 241 by Micawber

Wheear ‘ast ta bin sin’ ah saw thee?

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

We can rely on Micawber to provide a challenging and witty puzzle, and today’s is no exception. For me there are two elements, both enjoyable, to solving a puzzle such as this – firstly getting the answers, and secondly untangling some of the trickier bits of the wordplay.
How did you like it, and how do you think it compares to yesterday’s Toughie, which was also excellent? For me yesterday’s was slightly tougher, but today’s just noses ahead in the enjoyment stakes – leave us a comment with your views!

Across Clues

1a  Pillars bear special, one-off bit of railing? (10)
{BALUSTRADE} – weld together BALU (the bear from Kipling’s Jungle Book), S(pecial) and T(i)RADE (a bit of railing/ranting with the I taken out).

6a  First bit of advice? Get shelter (4)
{TIPI} – tip number 1 gets you an alternative spelling of tepee.

9a  It’s over, with no one running principal town in Berkshire (10)
{MAIDENHEAD} – in cricket an over in which the batsmen score no runs is a MAIDEN – add HEAD (principal).

10a  Examine cat, perhaps, in a different case (4)
{SCAN} – double definition – a verb meaning to look over or examine, and the three-dimensional image produced by a Computerised Axial Tomography (CAT) machine.

12a  Plain kind of aerobics exercise class (6)
{STEPPE} – a charade of STEP (kind of aerobics) and PE (exercise class).

13a  Fish with exterior battered to be a thing of the past (8 )
{OBSOLETE} – put an anagram (battered) of TO BE around SOLE.

15a  Friendly, like Pussy in Johnny Green’s hands? (4-8 )
{WELL-DISPOSED} – the fate of poor pussy in the nursery rhyme, until rescued by young Thomas Stout.

Ding, dong, bell,
Pussy’s in the well.
Who put her in?
Little Johnny Green.
Who pulled her out?
Little Tommy Stout.
What a naughty boy was that,
To try to drown poor pussy cat,
Who ne’er did him any harm,
But killed all the mice in the farmer’s barn.

18a  MORI man perhaps dashed Government hopes, its poll showing eclipse of Left (12)
{PSEPHOLOGIST} – an expert in the statistical analysis of election results (MORI man perhaps) is constructed from an anagram (dashed) of G(overnment) HOPES ITS POL(L).

21a  Developing seed in my imagination (5,3)
{MINDS EYE} – an anagram (developing) of SEED IN MY.

22a  Involved in departure — a personification thereof (6)
{REAPER} – hidden (involved) in the clue is the grim personification of death.

24a  ‘The mountain goat’ — concise autobiography of anonymous countryman? (4)
{IBEX} – an anonymous countryman might say “I BE X”.

25a  To clear all liquid assets (10)
{COLLATERAL} – a word used to describe assets (or “damage” in another context) is an anagram (liquid) of TO CLEAR ALL.

26a  Taking it easy in holiday home? Au contraire (4)
{GITE} – the definition is holiday home and the “au contraire” indicates both that this is a French word and that it should really be reversed to “holiday home in taking it easy”, in other words what we want is a hidden word in takinG IT Easy. Very clever.

27a  PM’s cheek in HP? (5,5)
{BROWN SAUCE} – it was Harold Wilson, always a man of the people, who was said to like HP sauce, but what we want here is the surname of the current PM followed by a synonym for cheek.

Down Clues

1d  Puzzle or inspire artist, perhaps (6)
{BEMUSE} – someone who inspires an artist is said to BE their MUSE.

2d  It’s part of role-playing to hang around (6)
{LOITER} – an anagram (playing) of the first part of IT’s and ROLE.

3d  Soak, lascivious type with lassies regularly, to overcome obstacles in pursuit (12)
{STEEPLECHASE} – to soak, or marinade, is to STEEP – add LECH (slang term, short for lecher) and the even (regular) letters of lAsSiEs.

4d  Industrial area, oddly rough and ready at first (4)
{RUHR} – take the odd letters of RoUgH and add the first letter of Ready to get this industrial region of Germany.

5d  Protection for king, perhaps stalemate at game (10)
{DRAWBRIDGE} – the compiler is trying to make us think that this relates to chess but it’s DRAW (stalemate) followed by BRIDGE (card game) to produce a feature of medieval castles.

7d  Where cricketer stands to get higher score (8 )
{INCREASE} – when a batsman is facing the bowling he stands IN the CREASE.

8d  Suggestion ruling member’s done wrong, getting fresh earlier, reportedly (8 )
{INNUENDO} – ruling is IN (i.e. in power) – follow this with an anagram (wrong) of DONE but before that (earlier) put a sound-alike (reportedly) of NEW (fresh).

11d  All there is after mankind swamped by waste (6,6)
{COMPOS MENTIS} – the definition is a Latin term meaning all there, i.e. with a full set of marbles. Put IS after MEN (mankind) which is surrounded (swamped) by COMPOST (waste).

14d  Elevated area on which hatless Tyke, ill, perished (6,4)
{ILKLEY MOOR} – a brilliant all-in-one clue to the title of Yorkshire’s “national anthem”. Elevated area is MOOR – before that (on which, in a down clue) put an anagram (perished) of (t)YKE (hatless, i.e. without the top letter) and ILL. If you don’t know the words of the song you can read them here to see just how relevant the wording of the clue is.

16d  Campbell supports tinned produce with annoying direct marketing (8 )
{SPAMMING} – Campbell here does not refer to one of our regular Toughie setters (which was my original thought, because I did the puzzle before I found out the name of the compiler), nor is it Naomi or Alistair – it refers to the erstwhile Olympic athlete who was briefly leader of the Liberal Democrat party. Put his abbreviated forename after (supports, in a down clue) SPAM (tinned produce).

17d  Spend money again on toddler’s control garment (8 )
{REINVEST} – a charade of REIN (toddler’s control) and VEST (garment).

19d  Ace copper grasping a sudden insight (6)
{APERCU} – put A (ace in bridge notation) and CU (chemical symbol) round (grasping) PER (a, as in “50p a pound”) to get a word (actually the past participle of the French verb apercevoir, meaning to perceive) meaning sudden insight.

20d  Cook left out two thirds of sea salmon (6)
{GRILSE} – cook is GRIL(L) – drop one L (left out) and add the first two letters of SE(a) to get a salmon that has returned to fresh water after its first winter at sea.

23d  Gobble up and run (4)
{FLOW} – gobble is WOLF – reverse it (up).

I liked 15a, 26a, 27a and 11d, but my runaway winner for clue of the day is 14d. What do you think? – leave us a comment and please take the time to register a vote by clicking on one of the stars below.


  1. gnomethang
    Posted October 28, 2009 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    I certainly found this one less difficult but very enjoyable. I failed on 6a and 8d before coming here (thanks gazza).

    Best clue has to be 15a with 14d a close second

  2. gnomethang
    Posted October 28, 2009 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Oh yes, having read the description at the top I very much enjoyed 14d! – I actually meant to say that 11d was a close second up there^^^

  3. Ranger
    Posted October 28, 2009 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    very enjoyable! 19d was a bit naughty I felt. I got it from the clue but had no idea what it meant before checking here.

  4. Prolixic
    Posted October 28, 2009 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Wonderfully inventive and witty puzzle. Top clues for me were 15a, 18a, 3d and 14d but many others were almost as good.

  5. Libellule
    Posted October 28, 2009 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    An excellent Toughie, and I have to agree with you, I found yesterday’s harder (more complex), but I found todays more entertaining. 27a is elegantly simple – my favourite, right down to the picture on the bottle :-)

  6. Big Boab
    Posted October 28, 2009 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Two in a row, what is happening? I loved this, though I had to rely on your hint for 19d, a new one on me, loved 27a.

  7. Kram
    Posted October 28, 2009 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    Very nice Toughie, but still not sure about 19d Gazza, OK got the answer through matching letters,I am sure neither Libellule nor Ray T would have had to go to such extreems, but even checking in Chambers can’t find ‘per’ for ‘a’.I know you are right Gazza but for me it was a bit weak! Like most ,loved 27a.

    • Posted October 28, 2009 at 5:53 pm | Permalink


      Try looking it up under per (preposition):
      * for each or a

      • Posted October 28, 2009 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

        BTW I’m pleased that you are now an avid Toughie fan!

    • Libellule
      Posted October 28, 2009 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      You make an interesting point, this was one of the first clues I put in after a quick read through…
      I didn’t even think about it :-)

  8. nanaglugglug
    Posted October 28, 2009 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    Good challenging crossword. Learnt a new word with 18a and 19d – is it in common usage in English?