Toughie 373 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 373

Toughie No 373 by Petitjean

Hints and tips by Bufo

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

I completed this puzzle in reasonable time but struggled to understand some of the wordplay. I think that I’ve now worked it all out correctly.

Please 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    Tramps’ favourite poet quits Wesleyans (5)
{METHS} This is reputed to be something that tramps drink (tramps’ favourite drink?). Remove a poet (or ODIST) from another word for Wesleyans

4a    Abrasive diction of East End bird (9)
[4a    Bird’s abrasive Strine diction (9) – newspaper version]
{SANDPIPER} On seeing “diction of East End” I assumed that, as usual, it was going to involve the removal of H from the start of a word. It doesn’t. Instead it relies on the fact that Eastenders supposedly pronounce long A as I. Therefore take something abrasive used by DIYers and replace an A by an I to give a wading bird that frequents the shoreline

9a    Target man sent off for brawling (9)
{TERMAGANT} An anagram (sent off) of TARGET MAN gives an adjective meaning “brawling”. The word is most commonly used as a noun for a scolding woman.

10a    Spot Manx form of plague? (5)
{LOCUS} A Manx cat has no tail so you have to remove the last letter from something suggested by a “form of plague” to get a word meaning “spot”. It’s the eighth plague of Egypt that you need to consider

11a    Wild, albeit small animal (7)
{BESTIAL} An anagram (wild) of ALBEIT + S (for small) gives an adjective meaning “like an animal”

12a    Ban on schmaltz at last turned out a blessing (7)
{BONANZA} An anagram (turned out) of BAN ON Z (the last letter of schmaltz) is followed by A to give a blessing

13a    Between laxative’s onset and inevitable denouement, pained expression is of questionable taste (6)
{LOUCHE} Put something you say when you hurt yourself in between L (the first letter of laxative) and E (the last letter of inevitable) to give a word meaning “of questionable taste). It’s not a word that I am familiar with.

15a    Unfortunately naif victim of farmer’s wife with a very bad reputation (8)
{INFAMOUS} The farmer’s wife cut off the tails of the three blind mice with a carving knife. Take one of the mice and cut off its tail, i.e. its last letter. Put the result after an anagram of NAÏF to give a word meaning “with a very bad reputation”.

18a    Cleaner fuel creates carbonaceous residue (8)
{CHARCOAL} A cleaner (someone who cleans) + a fossil fuel gives a carbonaceous residue

20a    Fish cook sears whitebait starter (6)
{WRASSE} An anagram (cook) of SEARS W (the first letter of whitebait) gives a fish

23a    Simple quality of lasagna I’ve temptingly portioned (7)
{NAIVETÉ} Look for a hidden word meaning “simple quality”.

24a    Shrinking violet in a roofless squat showing spirit (7)
{AQUAVIT} A shortened form of the name Violet is put inside A QUAT (roofless squat) to give an alcoholic drink

26a    Prior to retrospective Brian Ferry worked with Australia’s Air Supply (5)
{OZONE} A few months ago this would have baffled me because I’d never heard of Brian Eno until he featured in a Listener crossword. Since then his name keeps cropping up. Brian Eno was a member of Roxy Music with Bryan Ferry. Reverse his name and put it after a two-letter abbreviated form of Australia to get something found in the atmosphere. I can’t say that I like this clue

27a    Take nothing away from jazzy mambo sound that’s representative of Scandinavia (9)
{OMBUDSMAN} An anagram (jazzy) of MAMBO SOUND without an O (nothing) gives a Scandinavian “grievance man”

28a    In Italian capital knocked back bubbly with tenor in a preoccupied state (4,5)
{EAST TIMOR} An Italian sparkling wine (bubbly) is put round T (tenor) and is then put inside the capital of Italy in reverse. This gives a country that was once occupied by Indonesia

29a & 23d    Hermit leader is safe with nobody following (5,5)
{PETER NOONE} Who remembers Herman’s Hermits and what Herman’s real name is? It’s a word for a safe followed by an alternative for nobody


1d    In the grip of climate change, Borneo’s borders undergoing marked transformation (9)
{METABOLIC} Put BO (the first and last letter of Borneo) inside an anagram (change) of CLIMATE to give a word relating to changes in living organisms

2d    Ejected half-naked from disturbances — that’s Aussie booze! (5)
{TURPS} I wasn’t aware that this is a word for booze in Australia. According to Collins it is especially used in the phrase “on the *****”. How come that in all my years of watching Neighbours I’ve never heard it? The word-play isn’t obvious either. You have to remove NU (half of nude) form from a hyphenated word (4-3) meaning disturbances. I wasn’t aware that this word means disturbances but Chambers assures me that it does. I’d associate it more with bits of trousers or with unexpected occurrences. It’s no wonder that this was the last clue I solved

3d    Like a bridge in Madrid? (7)
{SPANISH} A fanciful definition. Like a bridge could be bridge-ish. Substitute a synonym for bridge and you’ll get the answer.

4d    Permanent replacement of 11 after injury heading clearance (6)
{STABLE} An anagram of the answer to 11 across without I (the first letter of injury) gives a word meaning “permanent”

5d    Pay particular attention to be on Ant and Dec’s ‘Bull’s Eye’ remake (4,4)
{NOTA BENE} It was obvious from the crossing letters what the answer was but it took me some time to work out the word play. It’s an anagram of BE ON ANT E with the E being Dec’s “Bull’s Eye” or centre. The whole thing means “pay particular attention to” or “note well”

6d    Mush dumped on plate (7)
{POLENTA} An anagram (dumped) of ON PLATE gives a mushy Italian dish

7d    Wealthy city in bad humour over debts (9)
{PECUNIOUS} The city is the City of London (postcode) and it is put inside what some consider to be a bad form of humour (joke). Adding the usual four letters denoting “debts” then gives a rarely-used word meaning rich. The opposite of this word formed by adding the prefix “im-” is much better known

8d    Occupying hot seat’s a rather laid-back Zionist (5)
{RASTA} A member of a religious movement is hidden in reversed form in “seat’s a rather”. The “hot” is superfluous. It doesn’t really bother me that it’s there but I know that some people will object.

14d    Single-minded United player takes on sumo wrestling (9)
{UNANIMOUS} Another one where I struggled with the wordplay but then I know very little about modern soccer. The answer means “of one mind”. I could see that it started with U = United and ended with an anagram (wrestling) of SUMO. The middle bit fooled me until I resorted to Google and discovered that it is the commonly-used name for Luís Carlos Almeida da Cunha, a Portuguese footballer who plays for Manchester United

16d    Saccharine Western with essentially cheesy action (9)
{SWEETENER} Saccharine (or saccharin) is an example of the answer which is an anagram (action) of WESTERN EE (the middle two letters of cheesy)

17d    Knocked-off aerosol scam ending after lots sold here (8)
{SALESROOM} An anagram (knocked-off) of AEROSOL M (the last letter of scam) gives somewhere lots are sold

19d    Bond acquires original Lucien Freud (7)
{CLEMENT} A word for bond goes round L (first letter of Lucien) to give another member of the Freud family, one who used to appear in dog food commercials with a bloodhound called Henry

21d    Make 19 20 with neat organisation (5,2)
{ROUND UP} The 19 and 20 do not refer to other clue answers but to the numbers themselves. Neat is used in the sense of cattle and the answer is to do with organising cattle.

22d    He appears in everything bar Berlioz’s ‘Figaro’ (6)
{BARBER} As far as I can see this is a poorly-hidden answer giving Figaro’s occupation

23d    See 29a

25d    Sick, wingless City trailing 5-nil with Lampard’s third (5)
{VOMIT} V (five) + O (nothing) + M (Lampard’s third) + IT (city without its first and last letters)

The puzzle was OK but there was nothing special about it.

21 comments on “Toughie 373

  1. I loved this puzzle. Lots to make you smile when you realised what Petitjean was after – 1a being particularly splendid.

  2. I found this very straightforward until I realised (via Prolixic and Sue) my mistake in the top left – I originally had CARBS at 2d (removing NU and ID EST from disturbances giving me the anagram – what rot!).

    In contrast to bufo I found this highly enjoyable as with previous Petitjean puzzles. I liked the manx cat and farmers wife victims and my clue of the day is 13a simply for the fun in the surface reading.

    Thanks for the review and thanks again to Petitjean

  3. The clue in my paper for 4a read “Bird’s abrasive Strine diction” which made it a little less puzzling. 2d was also the last one I put in and was a guess along the lines of 1a. Thanks for the review and help bufo

  4. I’m in the Bufo camp on this one.

    Some nice clues, but a few too clever for their own good.

    I didn’t like 2 down – utterly unfair and dire. 14 down was deceptive, but not in a fair way. United doing two duties. 26a, didn’t really see the need for Ferry other than to try and make a clever surface reading. (It’s Bryan Ferry anyway). Although oddly Eno (later to be Brian Eno) was a member of Roxy Music.

    23 across – lasagne is what Johnny English calls it, lasagna is what the Americans call it.

    It reminded me of Kcit’s style, but his are far more elegant puzzles.

    1. Similar grumbles – 2D was my only unsolved answer – didn’t quite have the nerve to write TURPS, and rarely admire clues that rely on defs for ordinary words that are only in Chambers. In 4A, I don’t think “diction of East End” means the same as “in East End diction”, and it wasn’t really clear that you needed SANDPIPER sounding like the East Ender’s “sandpaper”, or SANDPAPER because it sounds the same as ‘sandpiper’ with this Cockney speech trait (historic rather than current I think).

      1. I’m glad you mentioned that, Peter; below an email from me to a fellow blogger where we were kicking the clue about:

        “I am now caught between the bird as the def or the abrasive – I think it is the abrasive and is derived from a very Dick Van Dyke pronunciation of a wading bird. Nope! – I’ve changed my mind – it is a Dick Van Dyke pronunciation of the abrasive and the answer is the bird! Final Answer!”

      2. TURPS ….Where has this East End stuff come from. It’s not in the crossword clue. Anyway “Strine” I thought was short for the Australian accent !!!

        1. Welcome to the blog Steve

          I wasn’t impressed by either of those clues – and the newspaper version of 4a was hardly an improvement.

        2. The thought has just occurred to me that most crossword setters know singularly little about the East End – and they probably leaned that from Dick Van Dyke!

  5. I really enjoyed this one, especially after yesterday’s. I’ve never heard of the Man U player, but it couldn’t be anything else. I presume that we’re meant to read 26a as “Brian, (who) Ferry worked with, …”. My favourites were 10a, 13a, 15a and 19d.

  6. I rather enjoyed this due to its being more in my comfort zone than the ‘proper’ Toughies tend to be. Yes 2d utter nonsense, 26a – I think Gazza has the right reading, and 14d works fine – but I’d heard of the guy……

  7. This one seems to be polarising opinions. I enjoyed the crossword but agree that 2d was a bit beyond the pale. Favourite clue was 7d.

  8. Bit of an antipodean flavour to this one, and coincidentally (?) these were the clues that caused me the most angst – 4a, 26a, 2d

  9. I’m also a bit uncomfortable about 3d. Crossword setters are forever using “spanner” to indicate bridge, in the same way that flower and banker relate to rivers. Should something that is supposed to be “a bit like a bridge” be “spannish”?

    Your thoughts welcomed.

    1. Not troubled by “spanish” with this meaning – I can’t think of enough corresponding real-life words to be aware of a rule about doubling the consonant. You could say from the sounds that “British” should really be “Brittish” to rhyme with “skittish”, but it isn’t!

  10. I really enjoyed this one.

    Two excelent ways of arriving at “mous” (15a and 14d) and a wonderfully elaborate way of arriving at “one” (26a).

    Cleverly misleading surface readings in19d and 28a.

    Nice to see Herman’s Hermits still remembered.

  11. SANDPIPER …What have East Enders got to do with it ? They’re not mentioned in the clue. I thought “strine” meant the Australian accent – sandpaper would sound like sandpiper to us when pronounced by an Australian (or New Zealander).

    1. Two different clues were published for this one – one in the newspaper and one on CluedUp. Both are given in the blog.

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