Toughie 352

Toughie No 352 by Osmosis

All Our Yesterdays

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

Today’s puzzle contains an extraordinary number of names, both of people and places, and most of the people mentioned are no longer with us. Osmosis also takes a few liberties with the wordplay, but in spite of everything I did enjoy battling with it, and there are some really good clues.
What do you think of it? Tell us in a comment (and let me know if you think I’ve got any of the explanations wrong!).

Across Clues

1a  Robin, batting three sessions, on strike regularly (3,2,3,3)
{DAY IN DAY OUT} – this is a complicated clue where the surface reading and parts of the wordplay relate to cricket. We want a phrase meaning regularly – start with the surname of Sir Robin (the first host of “Question Time”) and add IN (batting) and the length of time taken by three sessions in a first-class cricket match, finishing with a term meaning taking industrial action (on strike). I think that “three sessions” is a bit unfair.

10a  Working couple nett minimum of income — it could bring tears to your eyes (5)
{ONION} – “working couple” is a slightly loose way of saying two occurrences of a short word meaning working. Between the two bring in (nett) the first letter (minimum) of Income.

11a  Dry river banks animal’s tracking thus (9)
{DESICCATE} – we want a verb meaning to dry (often used in conjunction with coconut). Put the name of a common river in crosswordland around (banks) a domestic pet (animal) which follows (tracking) a latin word meaning thus.

12a  Amanda creepily retained employment to a disgusting extent (2,7)
{AD NAUSEAM} – This latin phrase meaning to the point of producing disgust is an anagram (creepily?) of AMANDA around (retained) USE (employment).

13a  Such entertainment, endlessly racing around (2-3)
{IN-CAR} – entertainment that you enjoy on the move is an anagram (around) of RACIN(g) (without its final letter).

14a  Sailor having nip by optic (6)
{POPEYE} – a cartoon sailor is formed by putting together a word for drink dash (nip, as in nip out. Thanks Touchwood) and an organ (optic).

16a  Wise entertained adversely, not close to Morecambe for a long period (5,3)
{STONE AGE} – we want a synonym for wise which contains (entertained) a reversal (adversely) of NOT and the final letter (close) of MorecambE.

18a  By box office, man wears flamboyant fabric for opera (2,6)
{LA BOHEME} – the title of a Puccini opera is constructed by putting the abbreviation for box office and a male pronoun (man) inside (wears) a fabric in which gold or silver threads are interwoven.

20a  Ball kept in play wonderfully by a backhander (6)
{PAYOLA} – the answer is a bribe (backhander) – put O (round shape, hence ball) inside an anagram (wonderfully) of PLAY and add A.

23a  Centre of banner contains odd bits of yellow material (5)
{NYLON} – inside the central two letters of baNNer put the odd letters of YeLlOw.

24a  Round American splits garden tool turning over plant (9)
{LOUSEWORT} – an herbaceous plant of the figwort family which at one time was thought to give lice to grazing animals is formed by reversing (turning over) a small garden tool and inserting O (round) and an abbreviation for American.

26a  Having the stature of a man involved in mating — on this bed? (4-5)
{KING-SIZED} – a man involved in mating is a chess piece which is always involved in a checkmate (because it’s the piece that gets mated). This is a double definition, the first describing the stature of this piece and the second a description of a large bed. The surface reading is very amusing.

27a  Book later verbally proposed for award (5)
{BAFTA} – start with B(ook) and add a homophone (verbally proposed) of a word meaning subsequent or later to get our very own equivalent of an Oscar.

28a  Folk singer gets on well with Macca when touring (4,7)
{EWAN MACCOLL} – the name of a British folk singer (and father of Kirsty) who died in 1989 is an anagram (touring) of ON WELL and MACCA.

Down Clues

2d  Eager to lay off Department with a number of birds (5)
{AVIAN} – an adjective meaning relating to birds is formed from a word meaning enthusiastic or eager without its final D (lay off Department) followed by A and N(umber).

3d  Rock musician quietly leaves unpaid, having mixed tracks (3,4)
{IAN DURY} – the name of an English Rock and Roll singer, who performed with the Blockheads, is an anagram (mixed) of UN(p)AID (without the P – quietly leaves) followed by the usual abbreviation for railway (tracks).

4d  Faulty line somewhere in the Midlands (6)
{DUDLEY} – this town in the West Midlands is a charade of an informal adjective meaning faulty or useless and a straight line between features of the landscape, once thought to have magical significance.

5d  Love reading over newspaper in the old park (8)
{YOSEMITE} – we’ve had O described as ball and round – here it’s love. Put this and the name of a national newspaper reversed (reading over) inside an old (or should that be olde?) word for “the” to get the name of a national park in California.

6d  Head from crossroads for some oil? (7)
{UNCTION} – remove the initial (head) J from another word for crossroads to leave a term for ointment or oil used as part of a religious rite.

7d  Director type jogging on lap with runner (5,8)
{ROMAN POLANSKI} – the name of a film director (currently under house arrest in Switzerland facing possible extradition to the USA) is made from plain upright type (as opposed to italic) followed by an anagram (jogging) of ON LAP and finishing with the sort of runner that is used to traverse snow.

8d  Boxer hurt unknown, punching so long (8)
{MARCIANO} – the surname of a world heavyweight boxing champion in the 1950s (when there was only one such champion, and everyone knew his name) who retired undefeated, having never lost a fight, is constructed from a verb meaning hurt or damage followed by an informal Italian word for good-bye (so long) with N (an unknown number) getting inside (punching).

9d  Film pioneer agrees montage looks unusual (6,7)
{GEORGE EASTMAN} – an anagram (looks unusual) of AGREES MONTAGE leads to the American who invented roll film.

15d  Couple in Perth start to buy jewellery — superficial decoration at seaside? (8)
{PEBBLING} – the sort of decoration that might be used to embellish a sandcastle starts with two letters (a couple) from PErth, and these are followed by the first letter (start) of Buy and conspicuous and ostentatious jewellery.

17d  Glorify rebellious nobleman alienating leader around Zimbabwe’s capital (8)
{EMBLAZON} – the definition is glorify and it’s an anagram (rebellious) of (n)OBLEMAN (without the first letter – alienating leader) around Z(imbabwe).

19d  Work with needles when a placing outside leads to Drug Squad (4-3)
{HAND-SEW} – an anagram (placing?) of WHEN A around the first letters (leads) of D(rug) S(quad).

21d  Best writing, perhaps, with Biro that’s sharp (7)
{ACERBIC} – an adjective meaning sharp or forthright is made by stringing together ACE (best), one of the three Rs (writing) and the trade name of a disposable ballpoint pen (biro).

22d  Plain fish contains bones (6)
{TUNDRA} – a large fish (often mixed with sweetcorn in a sandwich) has the profession for which “Bones” is a common nickname inserted (contains) to make a frozen Arctic plain. Beautiful surface reading and a clever misdirection.

25d  Two rejected buffalo cuts? (5)
{OFFAL} – Either I’m on totally the wrong track here (which would not be a great surprise!)  or “cuts” is doing double-duty as both definition and anagram indicator. The alternative explanation is that it’s meant to be an all-in-one, but if so, the “two” doesn’t make any sense. Two rejected is a loose instruction (similar to the “couple” in 15d) indicating that you have to remove the first two letters of buffalo, then make an anagram (cuts?) of what’s left to make pieces of meat (cuts).

The clues I liked included 16a, 20a, 26a and 5d, but my favourite today is 22d. What do you think? Leave us a comment!



  1. Sue
    Posted May 12, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Agree with the rating, I think. Achieved it all in fairly quick time for a toughie. However, didn’t really enjoy solving it but can’t put my finger on why. Agree that 22d is best clue.

  2. BigBoab
    Posted May 12, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    I can’t honestly say I enjoyed this one, I struggled with one or two and needed your assistance with 24a, I liked 14a and 22d however. Great review Gazza.

  3. Posted May 12, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed both the crossword and the review, Gazza. Equally unsure about the constructs of 1a & 25d, but the answers were sufficiently obvious when the checking letters were in place, that they didn’t distract too much.

  4. Touchwood
    Posted May 12, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the review, agree with your comments and rating. Managed to finish it with only a couple of letter hints (one for 22d which had me going in the wrong direction – very nice)

    Re. 14a; I had the synonym for the first part from “*** out” for “nip out” rather than a drink – I think either works though.

    • gazza
      Posted May 12, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      On 14a I think that your wordplay is better (I wasn’t particularly happy with pop for drink), so I’ll amend the blog. Thanks.

  5. Digby
    Posted May 12, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    3 (and a half?) * for both D & E today. 22d “Clue of the Day”. Not helped by my contrary perceived spelling of asCerbic and desSicate.

  6. Prolixic
    Posted May 12, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    i thought that this was going to be a slow solve but once the first lot of answers went in and I had some checking letters I hit a purple patch as was left with only one (obscure?) folk singer to look up. Many thanks to Osmosis for the puzzle and to Gazza for the notes.

    • Libellule
      Posted May 12, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      He might be a little obscure (?) but his daughter isn’t :-)

      • Posted May 12, 2010 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

        Obscure??!! ??

        I bet there is nobody here who doesn’t know ‘The First Time Ever’.

        Or ‘Dirty Old Town’.

  7. mark
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    Hi Gazza – many thanks for the review. There were a few here that I could not solve, but I am pleased to say that I am getting better at Toughies. Favourite clues were 12a, 26a, 2d, 3d, 15d and 21d.