Toughie 356

Toughie No 356 by Petitjean

‘Oi, leave it aht, orwright!

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

We have a thoroughly entertaining and laugh-provoking Toughie from Petitjean today. It contains some brilliantly-constructed clues with good surface readings. It also has several clues based on Cockney and rapper-speak (one of which I can’t explain fully).
Let us know whether you enjoyed it as much as I did, and please don’t forget to click on one of the stars below to indicate how you rate it.

Across Clues

1a  Ego-tripping personality almost overcome with it (4-7)
{SELF-WORSHIP} – the definition is ego-tripping and it’s a charade of a word meaning what one is (personality), WORS(t) (almost overcome, as a verb) and an informal adjective meaning trendy or with it.

7a  Tartan trews tailored with a premier tweed (7)
{STEWART} – an anagram (tailored) of TREWS with A is followed by the first letter (premier) of Tweed to get the name of a Scottish clan (and royal house) and its tartan.

8a  Life sentence for hold-up (4,3)
{TIME LAG} – the definition is hold-up or delay. Put together a synonym of life (e.g. life as a student) and a slang verb meaning to send to prison (sentence).

10a  Library director circulated blue jokes (8)
{RIBALDRY} – use an anagram (circulated) of LIBRARY and D(irector) to get a noun meaning coarse jesting (blue jokes).

11a  Given time, the spread of ageism does not embody life’s ultimate disgrace (6)
{STIGMA} – a synonym for disgrace is produced from an anagram (spread) of T(ime) and AG(e)ISM (without the ultimate letter of lifE).

13a  Surpasses junk — rapper’s excellent food (4)
{EATS} – the answer is a slang term for food, and it’s constructed (I think) from BEATS (surpasses) with the initial letter removed (junk). But how B is obtained from “rapper’s excellent” is a mystery to me. I hope that one of our many rapping readers will be able to help me out! and it’s constructed from (def)eats (surpasses, with DEF (rapper-speak for excellent) junked) [Thanks to Jezza, Bob and Roger Valentine for a collaborative effort in sorting this out].

14a  Crosby, indebted to Stills primarily, this pair rarely associated with Young (5,5)
{BINGO WINGS} – brilliant surface based on the folk rock group Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Start with the nickname of the crooner called Crosby and add a word meaning indebted to and the first letter (primarily) of Stills. You should end up with a slang term (new to me) for the build-up of fat and/or extra skin that hangs from the underside of the upper arms of some elderly people (hence “rarely associated with Young”). The term comes from the sight of an elderly person raising their arm in the air and calling “house!”.

16a  Turning red, perhaps, from cruel snub before a night out (10)
{SUNBATHING} – if you indulge in this for too long you may turn red. It’s formed from an anagram (cruel) of SNUB followed by another anagram (out) of A NIGHT.

18a  Greeting card inscribed with awkward initials before the end in biro (4)
{CIAO} – this is a greeting and it’s constructed from the initial letters of Card, Inscribed and Awkward, and finally the last letter (end) of birO.

21a  Fade away — rather like Luton? (6)
{VANISH} – a verb meaning to fade away is a word which might (very loosely, hence the question mark) describe a vehicle, of which Luton is one type (Luton being a design where the body of the vehicle overhangs the driver’s cab).

22a  Londoner declares beer undrinkable, adding he has support (8)
{AUSPICES} – it’s laugh out loud time (although I am a bit surprised that this one made it past the Telegraph blue pencil!). The definition is support or patronage. We want a word that sounds like (declares) how a Cockney would pronounce his description of low-quality beer (comparing it to the output of a nag. When I lived in London I used to frequent a pub in Holloway Road called the Nag’s Head – well, this comes from the other end!). Add to that ‘E’S (i.e. he’s, he has with the initial H dropped).

24a  Theoretic left-of-centre network (7)
{RETICLE} – we want the central letters of “theoretic left-of” for what Chambers calls an attachment to an optical instrument consisting of a network of lines of reference.

25a  Syrupy drink contains horseradish root to give body (7)
{CHASSIS} – put the initial letter (root) of Horseradish inside a syrupy blackcurrant drink to get the body of a vehicle.

26a  A specialist writer of humour, he let wordplay in (11)
{PAMPHLETEER} – a writer of small booklets (often of a political nature) is made from a verb meaning to humour or indulge with an anagram (wordplay?) of HE LET inside.

Down Clues

1d  Having imbibed crafty beer after hours, East End couple call taxi (7)
{SHERBET} – put the last two letters (End couple) of eaST around (having imbibed) an anagram (crafty) of BEER after H(ours) to get a Cockney rhyming slang word for cab (rhymes with dab). Another beautifully crafted clue, although Chambers only gives H as standing for hour, not hours.

2d  In Spain the British tacitly ignore the odds, turning responsible (6)
{LIABLE} – string together the Spanish definite article (in Spain the), B(ritish) and the even letters (ignore the odds) of tAcItLy and then reverse the whole lot (turning) to make an adjective meaning responsible.

3d  Unsinkable Jonathan Ross evokes spirit of Spooner in claiming he ‘trained that woman correctly’ (10)
{WATERTIGHT} – working backwards “trained that woman correctly” is TAUGHT HER RIGHT. Spooner might have rendered this RAUGHT HER TIGHT. Then you need to turn this into a sound-alike (claiming) of ten letters, and finally (are you still following?) change the first R to a W in Wossy fashion to end up with an adjective meaning does not leak (unsinkable). Phew!

4d  Made out audible meaningless repetition (4)
{ROTE} – we want a word for meaningless repetition, where something has been learnt by heart with no understanding. It sounds like (audible) a verb meaning made out or filled out (a form, for example).

5d  Misogynous rapper’s female companion convened circle near Wimbledon environs where she came from (4,4)
{HOME TOWN} – a misogynous rapper might call his female companion HO (African-American form of whore). Add a verb meaning convened, O (circle) and the outer letters (environs) of WimbledoN.

6d  Figure how a child might explain a parrot’s flight (7)
{POLYGON} – this plane figure with three or more straight sides has featured in many a Christmas cracker joke.

7d  Computer-generated imagery’s crass veneer pixilated (6,5)
{SCREEN SAVER} – an anagram (pixilated?) of CRASS VENEER produces what you may end up staring at if you run out of inspiration at the keyboard for some time.

9d  Clearly where not to throw one’s weight around (5,6)
{GLASS HOUSES} – a cryptic definition of dwellings where, if you live in one, you shouldn’t throw weights of 14lb avoirdupois.

12d  He advises initially applying Vanish on both sides of nappy before soiled article is scrubbed (5,5)
{AGONY UNCLE} – a semi-all-in-one which defines a male columnist answering readers’ letters (he advises). Start with the first letter (initially) of Applying, then add a synonym for vanish (which is a stain remover in the surface reading, but a simple verb in the wordplay), then the outer letters (both sides) of NappY and finally UNCLE(an) (soiled, with the indefinite article scrubbed). Another beautifully constructed clue, with an excellent surface reading.

15d  Aspic mixed with pepper (8)
{CAPSICUM} – an anagram (mixed) of ASPIC is followed by a latin word for with to get a pepper.

17d  Lack of points to Pompey’s start ongoing (3-4)
{NON-STOP} – another dig at Portsmouth FC (haven’t they suffered enough?). “Lack of” is NO, then add two cardinal points, TO and the first letter (start) of Pompey to finish up with a term meaning on-going.

19d  Ironic safety tip: mongrel is a biter (7)
{INCISOR} – an anagram (mongrel) of IRONIC and the first letter (tip) of S(afety).

20d  Revise news bulletin (6)
{UPDATE} – double definition. For me this is the weakest clue in the puzzle, since, although one of the meanings is a verb and the other a noun, there is a considerable overlap in meaning.

23d  Co-ordinate time sheet entries (4)
{MESH} – a verb meaning to co-ordinate is hidden (entries) in the clue.

I really liked lots of clues today, including 14a, 16a, 1d, 12d and 17d, but my clue of the day for its ROFL moment when the penny dropped is 22a. Did you love it, hate, find it difficult or a doddle? Let us know in a comment.


  1. barbyjo
    Posted May 19, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

    As I posted on the DT blog, I really liked 3 down, but after reading your tips and solutions, yes 22 a is very good! would never have got it though, being a nice young lady from “leafy Lymm”!!!?

  2. gnomethang
    Posted May 19, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thoroughly enjoyable and fresh fare from our new arrival. 14a, 22a and 1d were superb!
    Keep ’em coming guvnor.
    Thanks for the review, gazza.

  3. Sue
    Posted May 19, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Agree with assessment. Very enjoyable – my favourite was 14 a – both from the chance to remember old pop songs and being a lady of a certain age, to smile at the answer. Agree with barbyjo that us nice young ladies wouldn’t know about 22a!!

  4. BigBoab
    Posted May 19, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A curious mixure of totally obscure ( to me anyway ) clues and totally obvious ones. I needed your help with 14a and 3d. All in all I quite enjoyed it. Thanks for the assistance Gazza and thanks to Petitjean.

  5. Jezza
    Posted May 19, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Enjoyable but I found this very tricky! No better explanation for 13a, unless surpasses means defeats, but then there is the *def* to explain away. Thanks to Gazza for the debrief.

  6. digby
    Posted May 19, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The totally brilliant clues more than made up for the obscure (mainly rapper-based) words. As a beer-loving WASP, I thought that 22a was one of the best clues I’ve solved for a long while.

  7. Bob
    Posted May 19, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I think Jezza is correct in that surpasses = defeats.

    Def = Mos Def, an American rapper. He played Ford Prefect in the lamentable HHGTTG film a few years back.

    • Posted May 19, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Welcome to the blog Bob (aka anon 11 months ago!)

    • gazza
      Posted May 19, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Jezza and Bob, thanks for that. It’s certainly better than anything I came up with, but I’m not fully convinced. How does the “excellent” fit in?

      • gnomethang
        Posted May 19, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I can’t find any reference to B = excellent on any urban rap or slang dictionaries and Bobs elucidation does not explain the ‘excellent’
        I shall check wit’ ma homies….

        • Posted May 19, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Ah! Too late – thanks for the confirmation all – I forgot that def could be a synonym for excellent!.
          What a fun clue!

          • Posted May 19, 2010 at 7:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

            def /def/ adj. to describe a person, thing, or event that is cool. (archaic, circa 1981)
            “yo, mah pizzles, I got da hook-up at this def new club. It’s suppose ta be off da hizzy”

            From Urban Dictionary dot com.

  8. Jane
    Posted May 19, 2010 at 8:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’ve been furtively lurking round this site for nearly a year now, but had to post to say how chuffed I was to nearly complete this toughie for the first time ever! defeated by 13a, 22a and 20a though.

    • gazza
      Posted May 19, 2010 at 8:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Jane – welcome to the blog.
      I hope that now you’ve introduced yourself we’ll get more comments from you. This was by no means the easiest Toughie, so well done!

  9. Prolixic
    Posted May 19, 2010 at 8:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Brilliant crossword from Petitjean with really good surface readings and great wordplay. Favourite clue was 14a.

  10. nanaglugglug
    Posted May 19, 2010 at 10:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Sorry to be a grump but I din’t enjoy this one little bit – maybe not on the same wavelength. Interesting to read the review though – will look and learn

    Posted May 20, 2010 at 10:43 am | Permalink | Reply

    I loved 22a. It was the first one I put in. Still don’t un derstand 22a despite the explanation. Where does the pic come from? I know what comes out of a horse and it isn’t pic

    • gazza
      Posted May 20, 2010 at 10:47 am | Permalink | Reply

      You need to go by the pronunciation of auspic(es), rather than the spelling, because it’s a sound-alike.

  12. mark
    Posted May 20, 2010 at 9:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Many thanks for this review, Gazza. I did pretty well on this, but needed your help to understand several of the clues. 14a was great (although I didn’t get it until I read this). Another fave was 3d.

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