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Toughie 321

Toughie No 321 by Messinae

The Good, the Bad and the Mediocre

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment **

One of those puzzles where you feel that you should have enjoyed it, but were let down by some of the clues. Favourites are highlighted in blue.

Leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


1a    Station with loveliest porter working (9,6)
{LIVERPOOL STREET} – this London station is an anagram (working) of loveliest porter – the surface reading is a bit far-fetched!

9a    ‘Gnome’ more decorative outside home (9)
{FINANCIER} – this gnome could be from Zurich! – put a word meaning more decorative outside IN (home)

10a    Order English book you may need shortly (5)
{EDICT} – an order that is built up from E(nglish) and the first four letters of the book that most crossword solvers use – believe it or not, this is an acknowledged abbreviation

11a    Simple dwelling has one grand facility (5)
{IGLOO} – a simple dwelling for an Inuit family is a charade of I (one) G(rand) and a facility, or (public) convenience

12a    Bring in drastic reduction (9)
{INTRODUCE} – a word meaning to bring in is an anagram (drastic) of REDUCTION – there is something very satisfying about an anagram of one word giving another quite different word

13a    Getting fit, sound as a bell, accepting bad weather (8)
{TRAINING} – a word meaning getting fit is constructed from the sound of a bell around (accepting) some bad weather

14a    Dwarf seen messing about with two axes (6)
{SNEEZY} – one of seven, this dwarf is an anagram (messing about) of SEEN followed by the Z and Y axes – x, y and z are often referred to as variables or axes

16a    Dance ‘Tea for Two’ (3-3)
{CHA-CHA} – this dance is a colloquial word for tea, twice – one of the mediocre clues

18a    See flush in nasty chap, drunk (8)
{CAROUSED} – put a word meaning to flush, as in to disturb, inside a CAD (nasty chap) to get a word meaning drunk – “see” appears to be padding here

22a    Take choir performing what may come after ‘Jerusalem’ (9)
{ARTICHOKE} – an anagram (performing) of TAKE CHOIR gives a vegetable of which Jerusalem is a variety

23a    A felon finally caught by London police on purpose (5)
{MEANT} – put A and N (feloN finally) inside (caught by) the London police to get a word meaning on purpose

24a    A lot of shots heal almost nothing (5)
{SALVO} – this series of shots comes from most of a word meaning to heal, perhaps with ointment, (heal) followed by O (nothing)

25a    Illicit sales paid fences (9)
{PALISADES} – an anagram (illicit) of SALES PAID gives these fences made from stakes

26a    Corroborating evidence where Americans hold money (8,7)
{CHECKING ACCOUNT} – a part-cryptic double definition – remember that Americans write checks not cheques!


1d    Bankers’ reading is restricted by unacceptable service of Labour (7)
{LEFTIST} – bankers read The Pink ‘Un – put this and IS inside an unacceptable tennis service to get a word meaning of Labour

2d    Grand house around a northern plain (7)
{VANILLA} – put a grand house around A N(orthern) to get a word meaning plain, as an adjective – a simple construct, but the surface reading is good

3d    Waste time as mouse did at 13:00 (3,4,3,5)
{RUN DOWN THE CLOCK} – a double definition the second part of which seems to have the wrong tense – hands up all of you who, like me, had the past tense here

4d    Views confusion in what one knows well (8)
{OPINIONS} – These views come from putting PI (confusion, as in printer’s pi / pie) inside “what one knows well” from the phrase to know ones ______

5d    Like a music maker some highly rated (6)
{LYRATE} – a word meaning shaped like an old-fashioned musical instrument is hidden inside (some) the last two words of the clue

6d    In which some flee Nazis and find custom house disturbing (3,5,2,5)
{THE SOUND OF MUSIC} – in the story of this well-known musical, the von Trapp family flee the Nazis – it happens to be an anagram (disturbing) of FIND CUSTOM HOUSE – slightly better surface reading and this would have been a favourite clue

7d    Very religious French priest following English one enjoying good things (7)
{EPICURE} – a charade of a synonym for very religious and a French priest coming after E(nglish) gives someone who enjoys the good things in life

8d    Aquatic creature’s driven one from river not stable (7)
{TOTTERY} – a nice construct, albeit rubbish surface reading, has the A (one) in the River T(A)Y being replaced by an aquatic creature to get a word meaning not stable

15d    Shrub appeared sickly coming up on middle of heath (8)
{CAMELLIA} – this shrub is constructed from a word meaning appeared and one meaning sickly, the latter being reversed (coming up) and finally A (middle of heAth)

16d    Top soldier engages girl in great work (7)
{CLASSIC} – put the Commander-in-Chief around (engages) a word meaning a girl to get a great work of literature or art

17d    Plant up to now mostly found in Lincoln (7)
{ASTILBE} – I had never heard of this plant of the family Saxifragaceae, with clusters of red or white flowers, but was able to work it out from the checking letters and the wordplay – most of a word meaning up to now is placed inside the assassinated American president

19d    What’s upset you and me keeping endangered species in prison (7)
{SPANDAU} – this famous prison is derived by putting an endangered species inside US (you and me) reversed (upset)

20d    American lawyer compiled state information (4,3)
{DATA SET} – Crosswordland’s American lawyer is followed by an anagram (compiled) of STATE to get this information

21d    Change of government on the ticket (6)
{COUPON} – a charade of an action that leads to a change of government and ON gives a ticket
A curate’s egg of a puzzle that leaves you longing for the next Elgar or Notabilis.

11 comments on “Toughie 321

  1. A good toughie from my point of view …very accessible…didn’t get the axes reference so needed the blog to complete it.
    Seemed more straightforward than today’s cryptic.
    Was rather slowed down by having 9ac as an anagram of gnome more……greenroom….outside home…maybe…. and quite liked decorative as anagram indicator…pity really.
    Thank you for the blog , sorry you only got two stars of enjoyment out of it.

  2. I only got stuck on the dwarf. I was thinking of axes in the context of hatchets, not as in graphs.

    1. Come to think of it , if I had realised that it was the plural of axis I would still only be looking for x and y as the z axis is a bit smaller print!

  3. A gentle toughie today. More satisfying than the back page crossword but I had both in the bag by Waterloo today so it must have been on the easy side.

    I’m sure we have had Astilbe as an answer in a fairly recent Toughie [just checked Micawber – 2/12/09].

    Many thanks to Messinae and thanks to BD for the notes.

  4. Bit of a romp this one. Flew through it until I stopped and remembered Astilbe. Agree with Bds favorites and the ‘could be improved on’ sound of music.
    Thanks to BD and Messinae.

  5. Must be a first for me. DT and Toughie done within an hour. Never heard of an astilbe but could work it out. Apart from that pretty straightfoward for a Toughie. Looking forward to tomorrow’s Toughie but usually Friday is a real challenge.

    1. I liked the fact that there were two plants in this one. Makes a change from the oft-recurring cricket theme!

  6. I enjoyed that apart from 17a where I was obsessed about thinking of Lincoln. My thoughts were totally on cathedrals and green and Robin Hood. Still a very enjoyable puzzle…..Sherwood forest….Sherriff of Nottingham….merry me ..bow ..quivver…

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