Toughie 398 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 398

Toughie No 398 by Osmosis

C’mon Everybody!

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

Greetings from Calderdale Hospital once more, my second home. I was rushed here yesterday following advice from NHS Direct the previous evening that nothing was wrong and to take two Paracetamol and go to bed.

I logged in at midnight to tackle today’s challenge and found it quite stern and well up to the usual Osmosis standard. Luckily I finished his recent Independent challenge only the other day and was able to lock in to the tight standard of cluemanship with beautifully concealed definitions. I still found it a good workout.

As usual the answers are concealed between the squiggly brackets and you can highlight them with your mouse if you get stuck. Feel free to comment after the blog and of course you can rate the puzzle with the star system. Clues I really liked are highlighted in blue.


1a    Perhaps a Greek style of music reflects sports event (3,4)
{THE OAKS} We start today with the name of a famous annual event in sport, in particular horse racing. Think of a Christian name associated with Greece (or Kojak!) and add to it the name of a type of music associated with Jamaica and bands such as The Specials, The Beat and Selecter. This name should be reversed, and it will give you an event which this year was won by Snow Fairy.

5a    Spam spread included in company’s range (7)
{COMPASS} An anagram (indicated by spread) of SPAM inside the abbreviation for Company’s gives you a word meaning range, extent.

9a    Opera star’s a religious type (5)
{RASTA} This held me up for quite some time looking for the name of an opera. In fact it’s a hidden answer, although I have to say there’s no indicator as such other than the apostrophe “s”, which to me, makes the clue a bit weak. Hidden in “opera star’s” is the short name for a follower of a religion in Jamaica.

10a    Read about boxer in news — it gets the pulse racing (9)
{ADRENALIN} A nice smooth surface reading. An anagram (indicated by about) of READ plus the second name of probably the most famous boxer of all inside two N’s (abbreviation for new, hence news).This gives you the name of the chemical produced in the body that is associated with stress and racing pulses.

11a    Perhaps French artist, Lord and clergyman retired (10)
{VERNACULAR} A word sum. The standard crossword abbreviation for an artist (as in member of the Royal Academy) + the name of a famous murdering Lord + a short name for a C of E clergyman. This should all be reversed (retired) and it gives you a descriptive word of which French is an example.

12a    Chain in France where bakery produces this (4)
{CHOU} CH (abbreviation for chain, as in measurement) + OU ( where, in French) = a type of cake (not the pastry, which has an X at the end). A type of puff pastry filled with cream or custard. “Mmmm, cream or custard”, as a certain Mr Simpson would say.

14a    Old rocker Rod, struggling with ice dance, captures hearts (5,7)
{EDDIE COCHRAN} Nothing to do with Mr Stewart. An anagram of ROD, plus ICE DANCE and H for hearts, gives the name of a rock and roll star killed in a car crash in the early sixties. Fascinating facts: one of the police officers who attended the crash achieved fame later that decade as Dave Dee and indeed taught himself to play guitar on our subject’s instrument which was in the police goods pound. Some music

ARVE Error: need id and provider

18a    HQ of Galaxy club oddly keen to contact Beckham somewhere in Africa (4,8)
{LAKE VICTORIA} Nice surface reading. Nothing to do with soccer ultimately. Think of the location of D. Beckham’s current club which is nicknamed Galaxy. Add to this the odd letters of KEEN, plus the first name of (Mrs) Beckham. This will give you a location in Africa that is very famous.

21a    Domestic vehicle occupied by husband (4)
{CHAR} A word for a type of vehicle carries H (for husband) and this gives yiou an old-fashioned word for a cleaning lady.

22a    Maestro jumping in countryside? Learner might have picked up the keys for it (10)
{CHOPSTICKS} This doesn’t quite sit right for me, unless I am missing something. I haven’t got my Chambers with me. Maestro is the name of a famous composer for piano music, which loses IN, the last two letters of his name. Add to this countryside = sticks. This gives a famous piece of piano music played by novices. I’m not keen on this clue, it seems a bit clunky and the definition a bit forced.

25a    With places to sleep rejected, Mark finally left English town (9)
{STOCKPORT} A word for babies’ beds reversed, and add to this K (Mark, finally) and the nautical word meaning left. This leads to a town near Manchester with a famous hat museum.

26a    Erotic dances, exhausting old muscles (5)
{RECTI} An anagram (indicated by dances) of EROTIC less O (for old) gives the name of muscles found in the eye.

27a    Composer’s midsection produced in Australia (7)
{AMADEUS} A word meaning constructed or built goes inside AUS (for Australia) and you have the middle name of a famous composer.

28a    Time off work thoroughly boring in the main? (3,4)
{OIL WELL} A word meaning work loses its first letter and is added to one meaning thoroughly, completely. This gives the name of a location for drilling at sea (boring in the main) as in problems with BP.


1d    The defending side in round four make progress (6)
{THRIVE} Another clue that seems slightly odd. I’m assuming R = side (as in left/right) inside THE (defending / in) and this is all round IV (four), so either DEFENDING or IN is surplus, as far as I can see. This gives a word meaning make progress.

2d    Guard from N. coastal area called (6)
{ENSURE} A word that means guard is a homophone of N SHORE (N coastal area)

3d    Believe Cockney, redesigning V&A, made basement in marble (4,3,3)
{ADAM AND EVE) An anagram (redesigning) of MADE V AND A, plus E (basement, last letter of marble) will give you the rhyming slang for believe.

4d    Jumble sale’s opening — kind of film buff to turn up (5)
{SNAFU} S (opening of Sale) + U (a type of film, as in categories) + FAN (a buff), all reversed.This will lead you to a word meaning jumble.

5d    Traveller father, putting on calories, extremely into Italian food (9)
{CARPACCIO) A word sum. Traveller (CAR) + Father (PA) + calories (CC) + IO (into extremely)

6d    Intend switching, to the rear, electronic locks (4)
{MANE) Let’s start with a word defined as intend, and then move the E (for electronic) to the end. This will lead to a word meaning locks, tresses particularly of animals.

7d    Vogue has a good exclusive, as normal (3,5)
{ALL THERE} This took me ages to work out! A phrase meaning “in vogue” and “popular” needs to lose A G (a good) from it. This will leave you with a phrase meaning normal, sane.

8d    Bloody hospital! £1.05 to get toe removed (8)
{SANGUINE} A word meaning bloody, gory can be found by taking an old abbreviated word for a hospital and add to it the old amount of money that is worth £1.05 now, or one pound one shilling in old money, without the final letter (toe removed).

13d    Second vault addressed Russia’s range of writing (10)
{SCRIPTURAL} A word sum. S (second) + CRIPT (a homophone for a vault) + URAL (Range in Russia) = a word for (of writing).

15d    Funny person seen among South Americans colluding (2,7)
{IN CAHOOTS} A word meaning a funny chap, or the noise of an owl goes inside the name for ancient South Americans and gives a phrase meaning in collusion.

16d    Spooner’s sagging worker needs vast amount of water (5,3)
{BLACK SEA} The word “Spooner” in crossword clue refers to the famous man of the cloth who indulged in word botching or bird watching, by changing either the first letters or vocal sounds between words to make new phrases. In this clue a spoonerism of a phrase meaning sagging or loose and an insect of which a worker is a type. Swap the first letters around and you get a large European body of water.

17d    Somewhere in US, old Harry’s back inside running amok (8)
{OKLAHOMA} A place in America (also the title of a musical) can be found by reversing O (old) + HAL (Harry) inside an anagram of AMOK. Oh, what a beautiful morning!

19d    Here, the French catch cold — freezing conditions cause this (6)
{ICICLE} The words for here and the in French have C (cold) inside. This gives a phenomenon associated with very cold weather.

20d    Revolving patrol regularly guards posh London area (6)
{ASWIRL} A R L (patrol, regularly) holds SW I (posh London area) to give a word meaning spinning or revolving.

23d    Court, amongst shrubbery perhaps, an Irish icon (fly-half) (5)
{PATIO} Not keen on this. PAT (perhaps an Irish) + IO (ICON, where half has “flown away”. To me, half away would equal either IC or ON, rather than alternate letters).

24d    One ultimately after spirit? Not half, on this isle (4)
{SKYE} E = One, ultimately (i.e. last letter) follows the name of a spirit (half of it, i.e. WHISKY). This gives a location where the spirit may be distilled. [I have visited the Talisker distillery on Skye and regularly sample its produce. BD]

Thanks to Osmosis for a stern, enjoyable challenge.

15 comments on “Toughie 398

  1. Sorry to hear you are in your second home. Hope you are soon recovered. Still at least you had this nice Toughie as a diversion. I agree with your BD assessment as it took me quite a bit of cogitation but I did enjoy the tussle. There are some brilliant clues 11a, 22a and 4d being just a few. Liked the initial mislead to the ‘wrong’ Beckham caused by the mention of the football club. Thanks to Osmosis for the puzzle and Tilsit for the review. Get well soon.

  2. After a few reasonably simpe toughies this was a corker. I looked at it, got nowhere, left it, came back etc., however once I got started it fell into place. Thanks for the review tilset, hope you are ok soon and thanks osmosis for a great toughie.

  3. Yes, Tilsit, I send my best wishes too. As for today’s Toughie, I found it so impossibly difficult — after having done not too badly yesterday — that I will desist in future.

    1. Don’t give up. Just pick your day. I find Friday toughies are usually tougher than some other days. IThis one took me two or three goes with cogitation time in between. I try to comment on the toughness of the toughie when I make my comment on the Cryptic and Mary for one seems to find this useful – yesterday she did the toughie, today she played her flute!!

  4. Franny

    Don’t give up. These are almost the toughest of the Toughie puzzles and a great many people will not make too many inroads today.


    A good (a G) exclusive (excluded) from ALL THE RAGE

  5. Get Well Soon, Tilsit!
    Nothing wrong with your brain though. That Toughie fairly sorted out the men from the boys! I’m afraid I gave up and looked at the hints.
    Favourite clue 8d

  6. Great review.
    I struggle on Osmosis but looked over the puzzle with your notes.
    Thanks for them and thanks to Osmosis.
    Hope all goes well in Hospital.

  7. Wonderful toughie today , managed to get 7d but didn’t understand why without the help of the blog. Could it be that the IO in 23d comes from the number 10 that a rugby union fly half wears on his back ? Agreed totally with the ratings , thanks for the review and get well soon.

    1. I think that you’re right on 23d, which also means, I guess, that the Irish icon is (Saint) PAT(rick). Good thinking!

      1. Gazza,
        I would argue that he is right :-) Because that’s exactly how I read it!

  8. Hope you feel better soon, Tilsit and thanks for the review – really needed it today!

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