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Toughie 434

Toughie No 434 by Elgar

What’s the Story?

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

Greetings from one end of the Calder Valley, shortly to be hurtling up the other end of the valley to my second home.   A splendid puzzle to start the weekend from Elgar with some lovely clues and laugh-out loud moments.  Thanks to our setter for a really  enjoyable solve.

[Tilsit was unable to finish this review before his transport arrived, so I have provided the down hints.  BD]

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 & 29a    Track on award-winning album from pop star (9,9)
{CHAMPAGNE SUPERNOVA} – The seminal song from the Gallagher Brothers is one clued so simply and elegantly with the two word definition Pop Star.  Think of a drink sometimes referred to as “pop” and popular with celebs and media types.   Add to this a type of astrological star and you get a track from “What’s The Story, Morning Glory?”

6a    This number foregoing stiffener in Asian city (4)
{AGRA} – Elgar strays into the territory occupied by the crosswords in Private Eye and Viz magazines with an amusing clue.  Think of the sort of stiffener that you get exhorted to buy in those dodgy emails.  Take away the number of this clue (in Roman numerals) and you are left with the location of the Taj Mahal (the mausoleum, not the Takeaway).

10a    Fur-supplier with reserve completely done over (5)
{COYPU} – A word sum.  Take a word meaning “with reserve” or shy and add a word meaning done (as in The Game’s ….), which is reversed.  The whole solution is an animal known for its fur.

11a    Left Group 1 without notice? The reverse (9)
{ABANDONED} – If you read the clue, you need a word meaning group, added to ONE,  and put it about  (without) AD for notice.  However as the clue finishes with “the reverse”.  It needs to be the other way round.

12a    See 22d

14a    Sort of shirt that’s roughly put on body (5)
{TORSO} – A word sum.  A one letter type of shirt is added to a two word answer meaning roughly.  The whole thing when stitched together means “body”.

15a    When to say goodbye, in the event? (7)
{ONGOING} – When do you say goodbye?  This two word answer (2,5), when joined will make one word meaning continuous

16a    Ranks, say, Rhode Island, Maine and Massachusetts cars (7)
{ESTATES} – If you classified or described those three locations you would say they are EASTERN STATES or in short….. which is the name for types of cars.

18a    Perhaps drinking to forget the director’s cut, or vice versa? (7)
{LETHEAN} – Similar to 11 across.  You have a word for the surname of a film director responsible for A Passage To India and Ryan’s Daughter amongst others, “cutting” the word “the”.  However it is vice-versa, i.e. the other way round. This gives an adjective that means of a river from the Greek mythological underworld from which you drank and became forgetful.

20a    What we dread – return ferry disrupting small hours? (7)
{HORRORS} – This clue probably caused me more grief, as I couldn’t see how it worked, though I could see the make-up.  An abbreviation for “hours” is “cut” by a type of car ferry.  However, it is not a straight insertion.  The abbreviation needed is a three letter word and half of the ferry word goes before the middle letter and half goes after it to give a word meaning things to fear or dread.

21a    Plants ‘The Social Animal’ in the auditorium (5)
{FUNGI} – A homophone (indicated by auditorium) for a social animal, i.e. one who enjoys himself) gives the botanical name for toadstools and suchlike.

23a    See 22d

25a    Features shown by cataracts round Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, perhaps (9)
{OPACITIES} – Following O (round), you can add a short phrase that describes the locations of the two places above (2,6), based on the US State that is their geographical location.

26a    The total is, at the last count, between 1 and 7, or 6 and 25 (2,3)
{IN ALL} – This is a little complex, so I hope you are sitting down.  A word meaning “ultimately, at the last count” needs to lose letters 1 and 7 or put another way,  the 6th and 25th letter of the alphabet.  This will give you an expression that means total

28a    We’ll conform in this small space (4)
{STEP} – If you are in this you are in agreement, it’s a word meaning a small space  or gap

29a    See 1a

ARVE Error: need id and provider


1d    2+2, coming to a powder (5)
{COCOA} – what “two is” is abbreviated and repeated (2+2) followed by A to get a powder used to make a bedtime drink

2d    A lot? Not a lot — some, or one! (3)
{ANY} – take a word meaning a lot and remove the Roman numeral for 1,000 (not a lot) to get a some, or maybe one

3d    Come down heavily on wearisome individual accepting single tip (9)
{POURBOIRE} – to rain heavily is followed by a wearisome individual around) accepting I (single) to get a French word, adopted into English, for a tip or gratuity

4d    On Asian holiday destination, badly want to agree (2,5)
{GO ALONG} – a holiday destination in India is followed by a word meaning to want badly to get a synonym for to agree, which is usually followed by “with”

5d    Stand before entrance, looking up (7)
{ÉTAGÈRE} – this display stand with shelves for small objects or ornaments (very similar to last Sunday’s whatnot) is derived from a poetic word for before followed by an entrance, all reversed (looking up in a down clue)

7d    Rocking exonerating punks (10,1)
{GENERATION X} – an anagram (rocking) of EXONERATING gives an English punk rock band which featured Billy Idol

8d    See 15d

9d    Passage of mine one recites in French? (4)
{ADIT} – a passage in a mine is a charade of A (one) and the French for to say

13d    Singer that’s not enjoyed by Jack in Florence (11)
{NIGHTINGALE} – a songbird that, when split (5,2,4), is something that would not be enjoyed by a Jack, or sailor – it’s also the surname of Nurse Florence

15d & 8d    Funny portrayal of so flashy Londoners on the circuit (4,5,3,6)
{ONLY FOOLS AND HORSES} – an anagram (funny portrayal) of SO FLASHY LONDONERS  is on (that horrible across clue construct that means place before not after is used here in a down clue!) O (circuit, ring) gives a TV program which is loosely described by the whole clue

Everyone’s favourite clip:

ARVE Error: need id and provider

17d    Comparatively economical split I secured in the early part of relationship (9)
{THRIFTIER} – to get a word meaning comparatively economical put a split and I inside (secured) THE and R (early part of Relationship)

19d    For sight of which birdwatcher traverses Poles? (7)
{NODDIES} – some birds that a birdwatcher would like to see are created by putting a well-known birdwatcher, and former Goodie, inside both poles

20d    Midnight signal — from Turpin? (5,2)
{HANDS UP} – where the pointers on a clock are placed to signal midnight (or midday) is what Dick Turpin might have said to the occupants of a stagecoach

22d, 12a & 23a    ‘Tinker with box’ fits an idiot — alternative advice to Carter (2,2,4,5,4,3,2)
{IF IT AINT BROKE DON’T FIX IT} – an anagram (alternative) of TINKER BOX FIT FIT AN IDIOT gives Bert Lance’s advice to President CarterI can hear the cries of “unfair” shrieking out!

24d    On chart it was a day away for a low woman heading north (5)
{TULSA} – the place that Gene Pitney was a day away from in a sixties chart hit comes from A and a low woman, all reversed (heading north in a down clue)

ARVE Error: need id and provider

27d    Fuss over mixer with no top (3)
{ADO} – to get this fuss take a mixer often added to spirits, remove the first letter (with no top) and then reverse it (over)

There’ll be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth from Land’s End to John o’ Groats today!  Your views are especially welcome.

28 comments on “Toughie 434

  1. Finally finished this after a couple of hours slog but loved it. Lots of fantastic clues but especially liked 1&29a. Learnt some new words (& even from the wordplay didn’t believe they were real till looked them up in Chambers). A real challenge but brightened up a very depressing day weatherwise. Thanks Elgar, Tilsit & BD.

  2. Loki is clearly alive and well and spreading mischief and merriment in his wake! Many thanks to Elgar for a stonkingly enojyable and tricky puzzle and to Tilsit and BD for the notes. No good trying to list favourite clues just start at 1 and finish at 29 adding across or down as appropriate.

  3. Tilsit, If you are not lying down in a darkened room after all that effort, can you add S*******a to the hidden answer to 1a please. It doesn’t show up in my browser (Firefox). What a way to end the week, and Mrs Digby will love the clip on 24d, even though he is now de-composing. I see that “Firefox” is now accepted by spellchecker.

  4. Running out of complimentary adjectives for some of the puzzles this week!
    Thanks to Elgar for another fine production, and to Tilsit and BD for the notes and explanations. (I thought I had an unexplained FIT in 22d) :)

  5. And, sorry to be picky, but 11a needs -ED at the end. Unless my browser is playing silly bees!?

  6. Me again – I’ll be getting more air-time than Mary at this rate. I think 20a works slightly differently than in Tilsit’s explanation. The type of ferry, Roll On / Roll Off = RO RO becomes OR RO (partially reversed) inside wee hours.

      1. I bow to the superior weight of opinion, and rest ma valise. Have a great weekend everyone – hope it stops raining, or our club tennis finals will go the way of the golf!

  7. Stunningly good puzzle. The last one (28a) supplied by prolixic.
    I stared at this for ages with 8 and 2 halves filled in then did a few on the train home.
    Many thanks to Tilsit, Prolixic, Crypticsue and the tinker that is Elgar – Fits indeed !

  8. Its difficult to know which superlative to use first,and other people seem to have pinched most of them already. Fantastic, stunning, beastly, devious and so on. I am hard pressed to find a clue I didn’t like, even 28a for which I thank Prolixic for putting me and the Gnome out of our misery. An Elgar Friday Toughie is the best way to pass the time while spending a couple of hours destroying yet more forests via the colour photocopier. Very many thanks to Elgar, for the grand entertainment and brain bending and Tilsit, Big Dave, Gnomethang and Prolixic for enlightenment/help on this very wet day.

  9. Although I haven’t done this, I have been intrigued by the comments and having looked at 28a I don’t see how it fits the we’ll’ conform bit of the clue? Perhaps I never will

  10. I am absolutely sure that this is a fantastic crossword but it is just way out of my league. I did manage six of them and then resorted to reading the hints – even with them there were several that I still didn’t understand – maybe one day …. ! Even with some easier crosswords I find clues that are a mixture of numbers and downs and acrosses (sorry, not expressed terribly well – eg, in the down clues 22, 12a & 23a) quite hard to get my head round. Thanks to Elgar, Tilsit and Big Dave and I hope that you all have a lovely weekend – and that the weather improves!

  11. I’m sorry, but I didn’t enjoy this at all. A lot of dodgy clues, but worst was

    6a: poor taste (“stiffener” indeed) and “foregoing” seems to mean “going from the fore”, which surely it doesn’t?

  12. Yep, a cracking puzzle today. I managed to get through it, (it took a long time), but I needed the blog afterwards to explain a lot of the wordplay. 26a is a prime example. How the heckety-heck did you break that one down? The first answer I got was 7d, and given the clue to 1a/29a, I was looking out for a theme which threw me a little. The “Florence” reference in 13d was, I think, a slight misdirection as the clue would have been more straightforward without it – I was trying to recall my woeful Italian for “sailor” etc! Was that Elgar’s intention?

    Too many terrific clues to pick from, but 1a/29a was, as has been said, so elegant and gave me such a lovely satisfied feeling in my tum when I got it, that it has to be my favourite.

    Many thanks to Setter and Solutionists! :)

  13. Once again Elgar has put me in my place, I managed most of it eventually but still needed assistance for 1a, 16a,25a,3d and 5d. Laughed at 6a but thought it a bit risque, loved 22-12 &23a. Thanks to Elgar, Tilsit and Dave.

  14. Phew! That is a TOUGH toughie!
    Pommette not too well so she went to bed at 1800CEST so with nothing much else to do I thought I’d have a go at this – turned out to be a learning experience indeed.
    I managed just over half without assistance and then managed the rest having read all the hints – thanksTilsit and BD. I can see this is a very elegant crossword with some fantastic clues and wordplay but unfortunately for me it’s way over my head – perhaps one day! How you guys solved it unaided is a mystery to me.
    Elgar – you have my thanks and admiration. Your crossword brain obviously works on a much higher plane than mine. I think I might have to leave your Toughies alone until I’ve had a few more years practice!

    1. Sorry, forgot I’m using Pommette’s laptop as the screen’s bigger than my netbook.
      That post was from Pommers, not Pommette.

  15. Finally got there – last 2 posts from Pommers! Elgar has scrambled my brain!
    Is it possible to delete posts once posted?

  16. As I feared, several small spaces too much for me. Actually surprised myself by solving about 5 clues. Had to cheat on a couple of multi-word answers to give myself a chance. Eventually solved/guessed the rest, not always correctly. Not much enjoyment in that.

    Not a pop fan so 1&29a and 7d were a complete no-no. Some of the solutions were far to obscure for me. Rather liked 19d. Etagere – ‘a long-legged shelf unit that fits over a bathroom toilet’. Apt.

  17. Only just done this wonderful puzzle – having been up since 5.00 am, but not wanting to miss out on an Elgar! Absolutely brilliant. Thanks to all concerned.

  18. Stuck at this over the weekend and finally finished early Sunday morning. Still don’t fully understand 1d and 28a despite Tilsit’s excellent review for which many thanks. Might avoid Elgar in future – spent far too much time on this.

    1. 1d The saying is “two’s company, three’s none”, so 2 is company, abbreviated to CO. 2+2 therefore, would be CO + CO.
      28a. If two people are “in step” they’re in agreement or conformity.

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