Toughie 362

Toughie No 362 by Micawber

As Time Goes By

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

Another tour-de-force from Micawber. Perhaps not as difficult as he can sometimes be, but as inventive as always with some cracking clues. I loved it – let us know what you thought of it!
A very big thanks to Gnomethang, languishing on his day off somewhere in the Middle East, for looking out the visuals for me and also for sorting out the wordplay on 7d.

Across Clues

1a  Mother with dicky heart taken in by a dodgy, inspirational remedy? (12)
{AROMATHERAPY} – put an affectionate abbreviation for mother followed by an anagram (dicky) of HEART inside A and a colloquial synonym for dodgy to get a remedy involving the inhalation (inspirational) of scents from aromatic plant extracts and essential oils.

9a  Henman gets favourable line-call after anything returned — good cheating? (3-6)
{TWO-TIMING} – take the forename of the last great hope of British tennis (i.e. the one before the current one) and add a line-call in tennis (which is favourable to the person making the stroke, but not the player receiving) and put all that after a Northern dialect word meaning anything which is reversed (returned). Then (pause for breath) stick G(ood) right at the end and you should have ended up with a description of someone cheating on their partner.

10a  A foot condition that can develop into something much bigger (5)
{ACORN} – double definition, the first (1,4) being a painful area of thickened skin on the foot and the second something that can grow into a great oak.

11a  Queen’s strident message making a mistake (6)
{ERRANT} – put together HM’s abbreviation and an angry tirade or strident message to get an adjective meaning making a mistake. I originally put “ring” for the strident message, thinking of a telephone’s urgent summons, and it does fit with the crossing letters, but I was rapped over the knuckles for it by CluedUp.

12a  Sweater I knitted after a fashion (2,2,4)
{AS IT WERE} – an anagram (knitted) of SWEATER I.

13a  Move sexily for audience to make a packet (6)
{SACHET} – we want a small packet which sounds like (for audience) a verb meaning to walk with exaggerated movements of the hips and shoulders (move sexily).

15a  Global ring linking Middle East, central America and India broken up (8)
{MERIDIAN} – another word for a line of longitude (global ring) is made by stringing together M(iddle) E(ast), the central letter of AmeRica and an anagram (broken up) of INDIA.

18a  Dull recording on the radio sounds like member of Gorillaz (not Monkees) (5,3)
{GREAT APE} – a dull recording might be a grey tape. We want a homophone (on the radio sounds like) which describes a gorilla or chimpanzee, but not a monkey. Micawber continues his music analogy by referring to the virtual band Gorillaz and the real (albeit short-lived) band the Monkees.

19a  School hop’s not a difficult journey (6)
{SCHLEP} – start with a 3-letter abbreviation for school and add a synonym for hop or jump without the A (not a) to get a word, from Yiddish, for a tiring and difficult journey.

21a  Motorway enthusiast’s regularly fixated on the smallest things (8)
{MINUTIAE} – to get this noun meaning the smallest things or most trivial details put together the London to Leeds motorway, an informal word for someone who is excessively interested in a specified thing (enthusiast) and the even (regularly) letters of fIxAtEd.

23a  Reptile in America fed on endless manure (6)
{IGUANA} – inside the abbreviations for I(n) and A(merica) put a word for the excrement of seabirds with its final O dropped (endless).

26a  To be old with two canines (5)
{OCCUR} – the definition is to be, and we want to string together O(ld), the abbreviation for a canine tooth and another word for a dog.

27a  I returned, perhaps, before awkward date, having lost a lot of weight (9)
{EMACIATED} – a word meaning gaunt or thin is constructed from I CAME back (reversed) (i.e. I returned) followed by an anagram (awkward) of DATE. Very devious and clever wordplay.

28a  Move to another directorship where you can make connections (12)
{SWITCHBOARDS} – double definition, the first being what a director does when he moves from one company to another (possibly picking up a golden goodbye from the first and a golden hello from the second). The second literally describes what a telephone exchange used to be like with an operator manually plugging in cables.

Down Clues

1d  Old are not as innocent (7)
{ARTLESS} – put together an old word for are (second person singular of the verb to be) and an adverb meaning not as (much) to get a synonym for innocent.

2d  Scent picked up could be forerunner to cologne? (5)
{ODOUR} – a homophone (picked up) of the two French words which normally precede cologne when referring to the perfume is a scent which may not be as pleasant.

3d  Lamenting new order (9)
{ALIGNMENT} – an anagram (new) of LAMENTING.

4d & 17d Airmen’s odds paper thin, sadly — one expected to succeed (4,8)
{HEIR APPARENT} – we want an anagram (sadly) of the odd letters (odds) of AiRmEn plus PAPER and THIN to get what Prince Charles has been for a very long time.

6d  What Rick really said to Sam’s not unknown, but it’s been twisted (5)
{PLAIT} – the famous phrase “play it again, Sam” is never actually spoken in the great movie, but Rick does actually say “play it” to Sam. Remove the algebraic unknown (not unknown) to leave something that has been twisted. Lovely, and very apt, surface reading.

7d  In Flanders, what I initially label mountain, exaggerating (8)
{MOLEHILL} – take the forename of Daniel Defoe’s heroine and inside put EH (what), I and the first letter (initially) of Label to get what people exaggerating make mountains out of.

8d  Fashionable high-flier’s jail (6)
{INTERN} – a verb meaning to imprison (jail) is made from a short word for fashionable followed by a seabird that is very common in crosswordland.

14d  Team get off — it’s not polo (4,4)
{CREW NECK} – put together the name for a nautical team and a verb meaning to have an amorous encounter (get off – brilliant!) to get a description of the upper part of a jersey.

16d  Tossed coin and got in unknown (9)
{INCOGNITO} – an anagram (tossed) of COIN and GOT IN.

18d  Actor Michael’s rejected central part in Macbeth, preferring lead — what a ham! (6)
{GAMMON} – take the surname of Sir Michael the actor and replace the middle letter (central part) of MacBeth with the first letter (preferring lead) to get a cut of ham.

20d  What one’s called to mind, in an afterthought: Qatar’s covered by desert (2,3,2)
{P’S AND Q’S} – the letters that one is urged to mind, as a child, are made by starting with PS (postscript, afterthought) and putting inside Q(atar) preceded by a synonym for desert (or more accurately what you find in some deserts).

22d  What to do with party for cast (5)
{THROW} – double definition and/or cryptic definition. A verb meaning to lay on a party (at the end of the first night of a play, for example) also means cast (as a verb).

24d  Seeking singular pudding (5)
{AFTER} – a word meaning in pursuit of (seeking) is the singular form of another word for pudding or sweet.

25d & 5d Till charges worked out, I rest uneasily (4,8)
{CASH REGISTER} – the definition is till (where the money goes) and it’s an anagram (worked out) of CHARGES followed by another anagram (uneasily) of I REST.

Too many excellent clues to list them all, but I really liked 9a, 18a, 27a, 6d, 7d and 14d. My favourite clue was 18d. What do you think? Leave us a comment!


  1. Prolixic
    Posted May 28, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Superb fun and frolics from Micawber. Many thanks to him and to Gazza for the notes. Favourite clue was 6d.

  2. Posted May 28, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    An absolute belter from Micawber to round off the Toughie week. All of gazza’s choices are on my list but I will plump for 6d for the perfect surface reading for the clue. Anyone start thinking about Eastenders on that one?. No? Just me then!

    Thanks to gazza for the review and many thanks to Micawber for a top class crossword..

  3. crypticsue
    Posted May 28, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I thought it was a fabulous toughie. Wonderful clues – impossible to pick a favourite.

  4. Posted May 28, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Looking at 7d it gets even better! – Flanders is part of the ‘Low lands ‘ of northern Europe so they may well wish to ‘Big Up’ their molehills!.

  5. BigBoab
    Posted May 28, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Absolutely brilliant crossword, loved 6d,7d 18d,1a and 9a. Great reviewGazza (are you on overtime?) Thanks a million Micawber!

    • Libellule
      Posted May 28, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Due to a small oversight and the Sloggers and Betters meet, Gazza unfortunately had to pull double duty today.

  6. David R
    Posted May 28, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

    That was awesome! Took 3 hours Need to lie down

  7. digby
    Posted May 28, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A great way to finish the week. A few days off now (Cotswolds & Oxford) so may not be on line for a week or so. Meanwhile, here’s wishing you all a thoroughly enjoyable and challenging crossword time.

  8. NMS
    Posted May 28, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This was a very good puzzle, v tough indeed. Favourite clues 1A and 7D, to finish had to go for help re 14D.

  9. AnnB
    Posted May 28, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Agree with all above an excellant toughie
    Thanks to Micawber.

  10. Micawber
    Posted May 28, 2010 at 6:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks v much for all the comments and blog – great to have the Casablanca scene embedded like that, top work Gazza – and thanks for stepping in. I can confirm Anax’s alibi, having enjoyed a few pints with him and Big Dave among others last night!

    • gazza
      Posted May 28, 2010 at 7:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for dropping in, Micawber, and thanks for the highly enjoyable puzzle.

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