Toughie 330

Toughie No 330 by Firefly

Holiday Fever

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

After about 30 minutes, with three or four unfilled answers, I started to panic with this one. The problem for me was an abject lack of knowledge about the themed answers connected with 4d, so there was more guesswork going on than I’m used to. That wasn’t a legitimate cause for panic, of course; no, it was panic because today is going to be a mad rush before flying out to Italy pre-sunrise tomorrow. My parents live over there, you see, so while I have the advantage of very cheap holidays on a hillside overlooking the Med with Portovenere in the distance and hot sun and great food and beautiful scenery and fellow bloggers turning green with envy, I have the disadvantage of midnight emails asking me to buy various bits and pieces they can’t get over there.

It’s fair to say my mind is on other things, so let’s stop the holiday talk for a moment and knuckle down…

This was a straight-down-the-middle sort of puzzle for me – no fireworks but hardly anything to grumble about; in fact there is an unexpected and very commendable high point at 12a. My enjoyment rating of three stars is only because I didn’t have an affinity with the theme, but I’m sure many of you will have taken greater pleasure in it.

Favourite clues are, as ever, 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 & 8d Playing the top tune with drums round concert venues? Often in 4 today! (3,7,5,5)
{THE TRUMPET SHALL SOUND} A combined anagram of THE TOP TUNE and DRUMS placed around HALLS (concert venues). I can find web references for the answer being a part of 4d, but not sure exactly what the clue definition refers to. I’m assuming it’s a modern addition to the work.

6a    Bottom heard a voice (4)
{BASS} For this voice (also an instrument played by the utter genius below) think of the sound of a word which means “bottom” as in “lowest part”.

10a    On Wednesday, sign two to join 6 and 23 in 4 (5)
{WOMEN} A single letter abbreviation for “Wednesday” followed by a sign (often one of foreboding).

11a    Neapolitan girl raising no problem (9)
{SIGNORINA} An anagram of RAISING NO gives us the title given to an Italian girl. The anagram indicator “problem” isn’t a favourite but it crops up sometimes in the Tele.

12a    In Tube one’s aggressive (8)
{INVASIVE} As a setter I like to see examples of “Ah – now that’s useful”, and there’s one in this clue. The answer, meaning “aggressive”, consists of IN plus VAS (a medical term for a tube/duct carrying liquid) and then a contraction of I HAVE. At first I couldn’t see how this equated directly to “one’s”, but if you read that as “one has” (using posh-speak) it works just fine. I like it a lot.

13a    Language tuition given to illiterate soldier (5)
{TESOL} The answer is an acronym relating to the teaching of English as a second language and it’s hidden in “illiterate soldier”.

15a    Irish king moves van to rear of rigid equipment (3-4)
{ARD-RIGH} Never heard of him! But if “rigid equipment” can be HARD RIG and you move the first letter (van) to the end all will become clear.

17a    Club’s replay in Torquay partially abandoned (3,4)
{LAY INTO} I rather like the twisted wordplay here which, instead of basing itself on “hidden by”, refers to the removal (abandoning) of an unspecified number of letters from the outsides. If we do that to “replay in Torquay” we get the answer meaning, slightly obliquely, to “club”.

19a    Desire to embrace Ayesha — that’s most juicy! (7)
{LUSHEST} The book “She” (“She” being Ayesha) is one I read as a kid but I remember being hooked on it. This is inside a word meaning “desire”.

21a    6 shortly spending shilling for player in 4 (7)
{BASSOON} Take the answer at 6a and SOON the remove an abbreviation for “shilling” to find one of these:

22a    Drunk bowled out in game (5)
{LOTTO} For this game of numerical chance think of a word meaning “drunk” and chop the cricketing abbreviation for “bowled” off the front.

24a    Income to vary for moving group of characters (8)
{EMOTICON} This anagram of INCOME TO gives us a web-based symbol (such as a smiley) which often appears when you type in something like ;)

27a    Vacancy in middle of month filled by unmarried girl soldier … (9)
{JANISSARY} The answer here is a type of Turkish soldier. Start with the first month of the year but create a “vacancy” in the middle of it by removing the central letter, then replace that letter with a word for “girl” but with the M (abbreviation = married) taken away.

28a    … saying ‘I’m a buxom shape — not my bottom, though’ (5)
{AXIOM} Slightly naughty (in two ways), this clue asks us to make an anagram (shape) from I’M A BUXOM but with the letters of BUM (bottom) removed.

29a    Chicken leg missing — not found in 4 at first (4)
{HORN} From the surname of the cartoon chicken below remove LEG to give an instrument which, apparently, doesn’t have a part in the early stages of 4d. Look, I’ve already told you – I don’t know anything about 4d!

30a    Tar seal a bane when involving motorway in disruption (4,6)
{ABLE SEAMAN} For this nautical “tar” make an anagram of SEAL A BANE and M (motorway).


1d    Hemp’s discovered in tugs (4)
{TOWS} I had to check Chambers to confirm the double meaning used here. “Tugs” (as in “pulls”) is the one you’ll probably know, but the answer can also refer to the prepared fibres of flax, hemp or jute. A slight quibble here in that the singular version of the answer seems to have a plural definition in the red book, so I’m not sure this clue is quite right.

2d    Passionate women EU employees date in March (9)
{EUMENIDES} This fairly obscure answer is given very straight wordplay, using EU, MEN (employees) and that “beware the — of March” date.

3d    Links Romania with Austria (1,3,1)
{R AND A} The “links” here is a very famous golf course given in its informal abbreviated form, and the wordplay gives us the abbreviations for “Romania” and “Austria” with a word for “with” in the middle.

4d    Forerunners of Mozart era show significant invention after Handel and his work (7)
{MESSIAH} This is the one you need. Thankfully it’s all very simple if you take the first letters of “Mozart era … after Handel”.

5d    ‘Chasing a meteor’ is somewhat definitive of this (3,4)
{EGG CELL} Giving this the blue highlighter may seem strange but I find something oddly appealing about Firefly’s approach. A synonym of the answer is “gamete” and this is hidden inside “chasing a meteor”; not sure I’ve seen an actual definition hidden before but it’s a novel way of doing things.

7d    Look up, in Anglo-Saxon, songs found in 4 (5)
{ARIAS} No knowledge of 4d required here, fortunately, as the songs we’re looking for are by no means exclusive to it. The answer is made up of AIR (look) reversed (up) in an abbreviation for “Anglo-Saxon”.

8d    See 1 across
9a & 20d Casually throw blame around this youngster’s head — wrongly, according to refrain from 4 (6,2,3,4)
{WORTHY IS THE LAMB} An anagram (casually) of THROW BLAME is placed around another anagram (wrongly) of THIS and Y (“youngster’s head”) to make a refrain from 4d.

14d    Orchestra to pull back round start of joyous refrain from 4 (10)
{HALLELUJAH} A great treatment of a difficult answer to clue; take the famous orchestra once conducted by the chap below, then reverse HAUL (pull) around the J of “joyous”.

16d    Roof’s off pleasant chamber — it’s very chilly (3,5)
{ICE HOUSE} Arguably too simple a clue? I don’t think so – in a generally quite tough puzzle this will be a welcome starting point for some. A “pleasant chamber” could be a NICE HOUSE but if we remove the first letter (take its “roof” off – remember this is a down clue) we get the answer.

18d    Coinage from Limoges on display (9)
{NEOLOGISM} “Coinage” here means the coining of a new word; the answer is an anagram of LIMOGES ON.

20d    See 9 down

21d    Oddly, Briton’s face belongs to genetically identical group (7)
{BIOTYPE} “Oddly, Briton’s” asks us to take the odd letters of BrItOn and add TYPE (not strictly the “face” of typography. A face is a specific font; type is the printed output using a particular font).

23d    Bill heard a voice (5)
{TENOR} Another homophone in which the answer (a type of musical voice) also sounds like a “bill” as in a note of currency.

25d    Setter’s time to get the picture (5)
{IMAGE} A concise way of saying “Setter’s” (or “setter is”) is I AM or I’M. To this, add a word meaning a period of time.

26d    4’s closing, so let it be (4)
{AMEN} A very appropriate final clue. It isn’t really a double definition at all (the closing word of 4d is one which means “let it be”) but the clue tends to make you think of an alternative sort of story.

Right then. Passport. Boarding passes. Car parking voucher. Atora suet (2 packs). Schwarz chilli con carne mix. Oven gloves. Don’t ask.

[Here is the official pdf – kindly provided by Phil McNeill, the Telegraph Puzzles Editor – T 330.  BD]


  1. Posted April 2, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Have a good break and thanks for a cracking revew!

  2. Libellule
    Posted April 2, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t done the crossword, no clued up, but read the review anyway, because I enjoy them. Got to the end and laughed out loud. Funnily enough Atora suet, Schwarz chilli mixes are things we usually request when we have visitors from the UK. You also missed out Cheddar Cheese sauce mixes, Pataks curry mixes and Kettle crisps…. :-)

  3. Posted April 2, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    I envy you Italy is my favourit place…enjoy.

    • Posted April 2, 2010 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      We’ll have to have a word with BD and organise for the next solvers/setters bash to be in Lerici. Well, c’mon – cheap Ryanair flights, all that sun and good food… No? Looks like just you and me for the next one then Minx. Some of these crosswordy types just don’t know how to enjoy themselves.

      • Posted April 2, 2010 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

        Yes defo faourite favourite is Sri Lanka….was lucky enough to be an air stewrdess on 747 longhaul…and even luckier to be ALWAYS picked as Flight deck stewrdess…ie no dealing with passengers…this is because I showed an interest in cryptics…which ALL pilots are addicted to…How do you think they stay awake? My induction came after appearing with breakfast in the cockpit and the 3 guys had been straining over the last clue for hours and by way of asking they just said any idea what this could be? It just came naturally…..

        Its a classic clue by Qwark at the FT( many years ago) GEGS 9/4

        After that i was requested by every flight…knowing that when they were doing there pre flight checks I would nick the relevent newspapers from first class….so they would not be disappointed….

        • Posted April 2, 2010 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

          How often do you have these solvers/ setters bashes?

          • Posted April 2, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

            It’s a very frequent occasion for some, but Tilsit and I tend to favour the one at Parson’s Green. The next one is, I believe, on the first Saturday in May and then approximately every three months after that, unless Chelsea are playing at home!

            Tilsit and I are hoping to organise one in the Lancashire /Yorkshire area later in the year. Suggestions for a location are welcome, but it should preferably have good communication links E / W. Huddersfield would be a good option, but let us know what you think.

            • Posted April 2, 2010 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

              Guess the venue will be the at the virgin stallion then Sir? Or alternatively show either?

  4. BigBoab
    Posted April 2, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Very difficult crossword I thought. I did manage about half or just over then had to check your hints. Great review. I liked 28a best. Happy Easter!

  5. Posted April 2, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    A pdf of the puzzle is now available at the bottom of the post.

  6. Harry Shipley
    Posted April 2, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Glad to have a theme I know something about; yes, “The trumpet shall sound”, and the Amen and Hallelujah choruses are parts of Messiah. I confess I get 5d or 12a. But an enjoyable puzzle

  7. Dim Dave
    Posted April 2, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    From one Dave to another, many thanks for tips on unravelling yet another fiendish xword
    Seriously, though you did it before you flew out?!!! Makes one feel decidedly dim.

    • gazza
      Posted April 2, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

      Hi Dim Dave – welcome to the blog.
      The review was written by Anax, who’s the one on his way to Italy.

    • Posted April 2, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      From one Anax to another – no, I’m not that quick! The flight is at about 6am tomorrow, but today has been spent rushing around like an idiot. Thankfully I managed to get it done by about 2pm so I can relax now, for about an hour before I go and pick up my beautiful daughter (she’s coming to Italy with me).

  8. gnomethang
    Posted April 2, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Have fun Anax!
    Not had a bash at this today due to the golf awayday.
    Bon Voyage and Arrivederci!.