Toughie 389

Toughie No 389 by Excalibur

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ***

No real problems with this one. I was a bit slow in finishing off the top left-hand corner but I put that down to the brain not functioning fully following a hard day at Uttoxeter races yesterday.

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    Sir is, for one — and madam’s another (10)
{PALINDROME} This is one I should have got much more quickly than I did. What are “SIR IS” and “MADAM” examples of?

6a    Fuzz ball inside cage (4)
{COOP} The fuzz is a policeman. Put O (ball) inside him to give a cage

9a    Stitching a gash — point is sharp (5)
{ACUTE} A + another word for gash + a point of the compass gives a word meaning “sharp”. I’m not sure about the “Stitching” at the start of the clue

10a    Given vessel, trawled about (9)
{FURNISHED} “Given” is the definition. Put a vessel (in which tea might be made or someone’s ashes kept) inside a more generic term for “trawled”

12a    As water container, nicest possible rain trap (7)
{CISTERN} An anagram (possible) of NICEST containing R. I assume the R is used as an abbreviation for rain but I can’t find it in any of my dictionaries

13a    In very Gallic ambience, one gets fed up (5)
{TIRES} I (one) is put inside the French word for “very”

15a    Just a bob of the head? (7)
{HAIRCUT} A cryptic definition. A bob is an example of a *******

17a    Smash that’s somehow returned (7)
{SHATTER} An anagram (somehow) of THAT’S is followed by ER (given by “re” turned). I’m not sure that I like re-turned = ER

19a    Rover’s old two-wheeler? (7)
{DOGCART} Another cryptic definition. What is Rover likely to be and what did he used to pull

21a    Don’t allow an an ad, unreasonably, showing an item of apparel (7)
{BANDANA} A word meaning “don’t allow” followed by an anagram (unreasonably) of AN AD gives something worn around the head or neck. I wouldn’t have spelt it this way

22a    Get off with blonde (5)
{LIGHT} Two meanings. Get off (as from a vehicle) and blonde

24a    Know ale-brewing and increase all round (7)
{REALISE} An anagram (brewing) of ALE inside a word meaning “increase” gives a word meaning “to know”

27a    New support for the dollar (9)
{GREENBACK} An informal name for a one-dollar bill is given by new (or inexperienced) + support (as a verb)

28a    Unable to sleep after a farewell party (5)
{AWAKE} A + a party to say farewell to the departed gives a word meaning “not asleep”

29a    Drew fast (4)
{TIED} 2 meanings. Drew ( a sporting contest) and fast (secured)

30a    Fear of God felt by naughty child? (4,6)
{HOLY TERROR} Not a term that I am familiar with although I have heard the second word applied to children (as in little _______). It is defined in the COD as a troublesome person. The first word is to do with God; the second word means “fear”


1d    Intend to take north, mountain climbing (4)
{PLAN} Reverse N + a mountain (especially one in Central Europe) to give “intend”

2d    Starting by having meal: a take-in (9)
{LAUNCHING} Put A inside a word for having a meal (in the middle of the day) to give “starting”

3d    The more you have, the more you want (5)
{NEEDS} A simple definition which I thought a bit weak

4d    Think about fellow-Celt in trouble (7)
{REFLECT} RE (about) + F (fellow) + an anagram (in trouble) of CELT gives “think”

5d    Uniformed people from another planet, interning in earth (7)
{MARINES} The uniformed people are in the armed services. The name of a planet is put round IN E where E is an abbreviation for earth (and that one is in Chambers)

7d    Not that it’s a nuisance having blackout (5)
{OTHER} “Not that” is the definition though “not this or that” might have been better if it had made sense. Remove B (black) from the start of a word meaning “nuisance”

8d    Into prison, with a stride that’s fettered, he walks (10)
{PEDESTRIAN} Someone who walks is obtained from an anagram (fettered) of A STRIDE put inside the shortened form of an American prison

11d    En route by land, it’s already started (2,5)
{IN TRAIN} Already started (or in progress) provides the definition. In another reading, if you were this you would be travelling on the railway.

14d    Supplied information on hangar burning? (4,1,5)
{SHED A LIGHT} This phrase is more usually found without the one-letter word in the middle (by a 57:1 ratio on a Google search) . A word for hangar (4) is followed by one for burning (6) to give “help to explain”

16d    Having caught, be quick to discipline (7)
{CHASTEN} C (caught) + “be quick” gives “to discipline”

18d    Business not very good at exhibition (5,4).
{TRADE FAIR} A word for business (commerce) is followed by a word meaning “pretty good” to give an exhibition organized so that companies in a specific industry can showcase and demonstrate their latest products, etc. This term does not appear in my Chambers, Collins or COD

20d    Big blow for ‘Rent-A-Party’ (7)
{TORNADO} A big blow (whirling windstorm) is given by “rent” + A + “party”

21d    How form waiting to be filled in stares at you? (7)
{BLANKLY} A form that’s not filled in is *****. Make the adverb to give how you might stare

23d    ‘Heavens above!’ (Points to birds…) (5)
{GEESE} An exclamation equivalent to “Heaven’s above” is followed by two points of the compass to give water fowl

25d    One estimate gets you furious (5)
{IRATE} I (one) + “to estimate” gives “furious”

26d    A hesitant answer might, to ‘What’s yours?’ (4)
{BEER} A hesitant answer might ** ** (and mine’s a pint)

I quite liked 1 across but nothing else really grabbed me



  1. Posted July 15, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Up and down this one. I found the wordplay less tortuous than some of Excalibur’s but some clues didn’t quite work; 26d for example – There seems to be no way to write the clue properly without using the first two letters in the clue.
    I did like 1a (which took me a while to spot as well!) and also 23d and 30a (which I have heard of as an expression).
    All that said I really didn’t find it that tough – the only problem being 26d
    Thanks for the review, Bufo, and thanks to Excalibur for the puzzle

  2. BigBoab
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    I quite enjoyed this and have no problems with clues as they stand. Thanks Excalibur for an enjoyable if untaxing puzzle, and thanks Bufo for the review. Unlike Crypticsue I thought this was a little harder than the cryptic which was pretty poor.

  3. Nubian
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Not really a toughie was it ? I am normally at the point of despair but didn’t experience it this this one. A 3 * Cryptic maybe.
    Thanks to Bufo for the blog, Excalibur never really unsheathed his sword today.

    • Libellule
      Posted July 15, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      Psst! Excalibur is a her!

      • Digby
        Posted July 15, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

        “The Lady of the Lake” was clearly that, but I hadn’t realised that the sword was too. One is never too old to learn!

        • Nubian
          Posted July 15, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

          I’ll put my tongue back in its scabbard (masculine)

  4. Libellule
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Well, I didn’t twig this was an Excalibur effort, so it can only be an improvement. Mind you I didn’t think it was worthy of the name “Toughie”, but it was certainly better than many previous Excalibur puzzles.

  5. crypticsue
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Sorry BigBoab to disagree but it took me longer to solve the cryptic than this toughie. 30a across was my favourite clue as I do knew a few!

  6. Digby
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Tackling a Toughie seems to fill me with self-doubt. I found this harder than it really was – had it been on the back page it would have seemed easier. A small point, but I don’t much like the same word appearing twice in a puzzle – 22a and 14d

    • ceh58
      Posted July 15, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      I agree, seems a bit weak?

      • Posted July 15, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

        … and they interlinked. Very poor setting.

  7. brendam
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Actually I enjoyed this puzzle! The clues were logical and doable and not too complicated, right up my street. I haven’t come across 22a, meaning “to get off” without an “a” at the beginning before but as nobody else has commented on it I gather it’s all right. Favourites are 1a 28a and 8d

  8. ceh58
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    For me slightly easier than average, though still took a me quite a while. Brain also not fully functioning.

  9. Pommers
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    This can’t be a true Toughie as I finished it without any outside assistance! First time ever for me and a Toughie!
    First clue in was 1a which, for some reason, I spotted immediately! Sorry Gnomethang! Perhaps the heat in Alicante has woken the aged brain up! I agree with others that this was a tad easier than the cryptic today.
    Thanks to Excalibur for my first successful Toughie and thanks to Bufo for the blog.

  10. Barrie
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    Mee too, my first ever completed Toughie! It must have been more straightforward than normal or I am getting better which I really don’t think is the case.

    • Posted July 15, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      Probably a bit of both!

    • crypticsue
      Posted July 15, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      Well done Barrie

    • mary
      Posted July 15, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

      well done Barrie :) haven’t had a chance to do this, not saying I could!!

    • Nubian
      Posted July 15, 2010 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      Good on Ya Barrie !!!

    • gnomethang
      Posted July 15, 2010 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

      Well done Barrie!
      Always worth a second look!
      I am currently struggling on Anax’s Indy today and may have to set it aside fir a while!
      Never thought that ‘ostrichism’ existed!

      • Pommers
        Posted July 15, 2010 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

        Who, or what, is ostrichism – a fetish for large birds?

        • gnomethang
          Posted July 15, 2010 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

          Or the ability to stick your head in the sand at any point!

  11. Peter Biddlecombe
    Posted July 17, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Just solved in a run through the week’s toughies – hardest of the 4 for me. Also unhappy with rain=R, 9A’s “stitching” (presumably a ‘catenation indicator’ for the charade) and 27 which doesn’t really quite work.

  12. Nomis
    Posted July 19, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Liked it coz I completed it! Specially liked “returned” = “ER” (17a)
    Just one question: how is “fettered” an anagram indicator (8d)? The meanings I glean for “fettered” are all to do with restraint and hampering; “unfettered” I could see as an anagram indicator.
    Thanks to Excalibur & Bufo.

    • Posted July 19, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Permalink


      Welcome to the love-it-or-hate-it world of Marmite and Excalibur. I agree with you, but mine is not to reason why.

      • Nomis
        Posted July 19, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

        Thank you.
        I’m glad it’s not just me!