Toughie 384

Toughie No 384 by Firefly

Bog Snorkelling

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

I enjoyed this one. It was worth getting bogged down in the top left-hand corner for the “aha” moment when I got 1d. I do wish that CluedUp could manage to print the full enumeration for a multi-part answer against the clue, rather than making you hunt around for the various bits, but this has improved since the days when it didn’t even tell you against the clue itself that it was multi-part, so I mustn’t grumble too much.
As always we welcome your comments, and please don’t forget to show how much you enjoyed it by clicking on one of the stars at the bottom.

Across Clues

1a  Loo? Gee, thanks – that’s capital! (6)
{BOGOTA} – the capital we want is that of Columbia, and it’s formed from a slang word for loo, a single letter expressing surprise (gee!) and an informal exclamation of thanks.

4a  Like coteries possibly? (8)
{ESOTERIC} – this is an all-in-one clue. Coteries are small select groups of people with shared interests and if you make an anagram (possibly) of it you get an adjective meaning understood by only a select few.

9a  Opportunity among General Staff for Queen’s officers (6)
{GROOMS} – a word meaning opportunity (for improvement, say) is put inside (among) the abbreviation of General Staff to get various officials of the royal household. In earlier times one important officer was known as the ***** of the stool, but we won’t delve any further into that!

10a  Private quarter a dude is designing (8)
{SQUADDIE} – the definition is private and it’s an anagram (designing) of Q(uarter) A DUDE IS.

12a/13a/14a Top achievement in advanced paper design (4,5,4)
{HIGH WATER MARK} – the definition is top achievement and it’s the furthest point that the incoming tide reaches up a beach, say. Start with an adjective meaning elevated or advanced and add a distinguishing feature (design) in paper.

13a  See 12a
14a  See 12a

17a  Racking collapses in exit, accruing … (12)
{EXCRUCIATING} – an anagram (collapses) of EXIT ACCRUING produces an adjective meaning extremely painful.

20a  … initially tricky complication for Regal Hotel, needing early return for taxman (4-8)
{TOLL-GATHERER} – start with the first letter (initially) of T(ricky), follow with an anagram (complication) of REGAL HOTEL and finish with the first letter (early) of R(eturn) to get another term for a tax collector.

23a/24a/25a   Ladies’ group joining churchman’s Dales gathering learn ‘Ecumenism for Beginners’ — it offers a broader view (4,5,4)
{WIDE ANGLE LENS} – string together the initials of a ladies’ group associated with Jam and Jerusalem, a senior churchman and what dales are called in Scotland, and inside the last insert (gathering) the initial letters (beginners) of Learn Ecumenism.

24a  See 23a
25a  See 23a

28a  Suspicions when Nigel’s stripped and in undies (8)
{VESTIGES} – small amounts, traces, suspicions or soupçons (as the French might say) are formed by putting the middle letters (stripped) of nIGEl inside a word that we use for undergarments, but which in the U.S. means sleeveless jackets.

29a  Op-ed pieces about island race abridged (6)
{POTTED} – an anagram (pieces) of OP-ED is put around the abbreviation for the motorcycle race held annually on the Isle of Man to get a word meaning summarised in a simplistic fashion (abridged).

30a  Trainee placing first of drones in beehive of stone (8)
{LAPIDARY} – the definition is of stone or relating to stones. Start with the letter associated with a trainee driver and add a place where bees are kept with the first letter of Drones inside.

31a  Vault covers girl in credit (6)
{CELLAR} – the surface leads you to think that the definition is credit made up of vault around girl, but it’s not. Covers here is not a containment indicator but means comprises or relates to, so we want a synonym for vault which is made by putting a girl’s name inside the abbreviation of CRedit.

Down Clues

1d  Eye Penny on a bicycle? (3,5)
{BIG WHEEL} – a penny farthing bicycle was so named because, from the side, it looked like two coins in circulation at the time. So we want the “penny coin” of the bicycle (rather than the farthing coin) which also gives us what the London Eye is an example of. Lovely clue!

2d  In old college Grieg’s composed pastoral piece (8)
{GEORGICS} – an anagram (composed) of O(ld) C(ollege) GRIEG’S gives us the name of a poem on the subject of agriculture (pastoral piece) by Virgil.

3d/15d/26d  Wach over in days of yore? (4,3,2,4)
{TIME OUT OF MIND} – my initial thought was that “Wach” was a misprint, so thanks a lot to Crypticsue for explaining the correct wordplay to me. The definition is days of yore and what we want is a phrase (previously unknown to me) meaning the whole span of human memory. If you look for a synonym of the last word of the answer (in the sense of a verb meaning to look after or keep under observation) you could come up with “watch over”. Now apply the first three words of the answer, in a cryptic sense, to that phrasal verb and you end up with “wa(t)ch over” as it appears in the clue. In other words what you’re doing is applying the instruction “no time in” to remove the T from watch over – fiendish or what?

5d  In succession, it’s Queen badly needing friend (12)
{SEQUENTIALLY} – an anagram (badly) of IT’S QUEEN followed by (needing) a synonym for friend.

6d/16d/27d  Until a depression he’s on healthy-sounding grub (4,2,3,4)
{TOAD IN THE HOLE} – the definition is grub and it’s a good old English dish. String together TO (until), A, a word meaning depression or hollow, HE and (finally!) a synonym (sounding) for healthy.

7d  MP’s daughter involved in review (6)
{REDCAP} – we’re so used to seeing MP standing for a politician that it’s easy to forget what else it stands for (as here). Put D(aughter) inside a verb meaning to describe again (review).

8d  US rivers have constant stink at start of summer (6)
{CREEKS} – for us this word normally means small inlets in the shoreline but in the U.S. it means streams or small rivers. Start with the constant used for the speed of light and follow this with a synonym for stink and the first letter (start) of S(ummer).

11d  ‘Ringer’ vehicle ailing on climbing trip round head of Eskdale (12)
{CARILLONNEUR} – when applied to a vehicle a ringer is one assembled from odd bits of other vehicles, but here it is someone who plays a set of bells. It’s another of these long charades plus insertion – start with a vehicle and a synonym for ailing, then add ON and the reversal (climbing, in a down clue) of a trip round the first letter (head) of Eskdale.

15d  See 3d
16d  See 6d

18d  Chinese perhaps worrying a lot about nothing in Senegal (8)
{ORIENTAL} – Chinese is an example (perhaps) of this. It’s an anagram (worrying) of A LOT around how they would say “nothing” in Senegal (which is French-speaking).

19d  Costa Rica and America raise revolutionary activist (8)
{CRUSADER} – the definition is activist or campaigner. Start with the IVR code for Costa Rica, add the abbreviation of the name of the country often called just America and reverse (raise, in a down clue) a left-winger or revolutionary.

21d  Turn jeans up for wife to get into (6)
{SWIVEL} – Reverse (up, in a down clue) the most famous make of jeans and insert W (wife to get into) to get a verb meaning to turn.

22d  Problem of concentration with drink? Makes sense (4,2)
{ADDS UP} – start with the abbreviation for a task of calculation involving summation (problem of concentration) and add a verb to drink to make a informal phrasal verb meaning makes sense.

26d  See 3d
27d  See 6d

The clues I liked included 28a, 3d, 18d and 21d, but my clue of the day is 1d. Let us know what you liked in a comment.


  1. crypticsue
    Posted July 7, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Glad I could help. I thought this was a wonderful Toughie, moments to make you smile, groan, go Aha!, learn a new word (2d), test your spelling (11d) and so on. 3d is my favourite too although there are some others close behind, 1d, 21d etc.

  2. Digby
    Posted July 7, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Great puzzle – just right for my level of competence. Any harder / vaguer / more contrived / 4a, and I lose interest. As with Gazza, I wondered if 3d was a misprint, but got the answer anyway. Then went to the blog to find out why! Well done crypticsue!! Hard to pick a cotd from so many excellent offerings, but 1d, 3d & 21d & 31a were all up there.

  3. Prolixic
    Posted July 7, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Highly enjoyable feast of fun from Firefly. Many thanks to him for a super crossword. Favourite clue was 1d.

  4. BigBoab
    Posted July 7, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Superb crossword, very enjoyable.Thanks to Firefly and to Gazza for a great review. 1a,1d and 30a were my favourites. I did need help with 2d so thanks again Gazza.

  5. gnomethang
    Posted July 7, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I will echo the above although I failed on 2d.
    Thanks to firefly and gazza for the review.

  6. Nubian
    Posted July 7, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    2d was my downfall too. A great puzzle and a joy to plough through.

  7. Posted July 7, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

    2d was one of my A-Level Latin set books many years ago. Vast tracts of sage advice about beekeeping and grafting vines and fruit trees. Details of which long since forgotten.

  8. Posted July 7, 2010 at 6:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Highly enjoyable. Thought 3d/15d/26d was excellent. Nver heard the phrase before? What about

  9. Gill
    Posted July 7, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I really need more explanation for 3d

  10. crypticsue
    Posted July 7, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Its quite difficult to explain without being shot by BD for giving the answer. However, think about another word for mind, as in mind out or xxxxx out. In crosswordland T often represents time and you are removing (out) the T from the word that means mind which leaves you with the first word in the clue, which for some hours we thought was a typo.. I said to Gazza that the words you fill in in 3d, 15d, and 26d are a sort of “reverse cryptic.” Not sure that’s any clearer, perhaps someone else can have a go,

    • Posted July 7, 2010 at 6:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

      We assume that anyone who doesn’t want to see the answers doesn’t read the comment (well, on weekdays that is!)

      • crypticsue
        Posted July 7, 2010 at 6:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Alll right then. What I said to Gazza was “We all think its “watch” which means to “mind” If you take T for time out of watch (wach) you get the answer “time out of mind”. It’s a sort of reverse cryptic thing. Very clever”

    • nanaglugglug
      Posted July 7, 2010 at 7:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for explaining the Wach-thought it was a typo too! learned a few new words today and thoroughly enjoyed this, mainly because we managed it without resorting to the blog until we’d finished. Thanks to all!

    • gazza
      Posted July 7, 2010 at 7:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I’ve updated the hint for 3d to try to make it clearer (I may or may not have succeeded!).

  11. Dim Dave
    Posted July 7, 2010 at 10:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

    These aren’t so tough nowadays or is it just me? Actually, i was watching the cricket at Arundel and getting not a little help from my xword loving mates. We were so absorbed in the puzzle that a lusty blow from Gidman nearly struck one of my helpers. Exciting stuff mixing xwords with cricket ! Really needed the explanation for 3d, thanks Gazza and Crypticsue.

  12. Pommers
    Posted July 18, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Doing this late – been busy for the last week ir so. Pommette and I really struggled with this one – perhaps too much wine with Sunday lunch, or concentrating too hard on the bike race. 3d had us well and truly stumped (like you Gazza, never heard the phrase), and 12a – but got the rest! Thanks Gazza and Crypticsue

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