Toughie 508

Toughie No 508 by Elgar

Wipe my brow please, Nurse!

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

It was a lovely surprise this morning to find that I had an Elgar to review, though tinged with trepidation for what may be in store for the rest of the week to top this. There’s a theme, indicated by 15d/14a, based on many terms associated with a hospital theatre. I got the theme fairly quickly, but the grid is “cornery” and I was held up for some time in the NW and SE corners. I found it very enjoyable with the usual stock of “doh” moments which Elgar invariably provides. Although it is difficult I’ve only given it four stars for difficulty because Elgar can be even trickier and the theme, once you’ve got it, does make it a bit easier.
Let us know what you thought and please remember to click on one of the stars below to show how much you enjoyed it.

Across Clues

1a  Henry Bishop, seaman apprehended by meddling primate (8)
{BUSHBABY} – this is a small (and very cute) tree-dwelling African primate. Insert (apprehended) the abbreviations for H(enry), B(ishop) and a seaman inside an adjective that can mean meddling (especially when attached to body).

5a  One gets up a piece of art (6)
{IRISES} – I (one) and a verb meaning gets up combine to make the title of a Van Gogh painting.

9a  Not knowing the lower classes have left 15 14 (8)
{INCISION} – our first theme word. What a surgeon makes is a word meaning shilly-shallying or uncertainty (not knowing) from which DE (the lower social classes) have been removed.

10a  One making another attempt to take top off climbing equipment (6)
{ETRIER} – someone making a further attempt has his leading R dropped (take top off) to make a short rope ladder used by mountaineers.

12a  Mike’s occupying a hot seat in discomfort: 15 14 (9)
{HAEMOSTAT} – this theme word is an instrument used to compress a blood vessel to stop bleeding. It’s an anagram (in discomfort) of A HOT SEAT with the letter that Mike represents in the Nato alphabet inserted.

13a  He welcomed playmates audibly in code (5)
{ASCII} – this sounds like (audibly) the surname of a diminutive comedian whose catchphrase was “Hello, playmates”. It’s actually the abbreviation for American Standard Code for Information Interchange, a character-encoding scheme used on most personal computers.

14a  See 15d

16a  Fruit is a necessity when turned over (7)
{SATSUMA} – this is a variety of tangerine. It’s a reversal (turned over) of A and synonyms for necessity and when.

19a  Make letter-writer add more 15 14 (7)
{FORCEPS} – another theme word could, if split (5,2) mean make someone add an extra bit to a letter.

21a  With post-15 7, you’d be this angry (4)
{SORE} – double definition – what you’d be after a 15d 7d is also an informal, mainly North American, term for angry.

24a  Shilling — appreciation shown by dad for food (5)
{PASTA} – put S(hilling) and an informal expression of appreciation after an affectionate abbreviation for dad.

25a  Community of dubious 27 making chief go around start of week (9)
{AGAPEMONE} – this is a religious community founded in the 1840s in Somerset where men and women engaged in “spiritual marriages” which, to quote Chambers, “were in some cases not strictly spiritual” (hence, of dubious 27a). Start with a Turkish military commander (chief) and add a verb to go (in the lavatorial sense) around the abbreviation for the first day of the working week.

27a  See 1d

28a  Transferred data from posh PC editor with advanced inset (8)
{UPLOADED} – the definition is transferred data. Start with the letter used for upper-class or posh and add a derogatory term for a police officer and the usual abbreviation for editor, then insert (inset) A(dvanced).

29a  Head off hound touching rear of pert young bird (6)
{EAGLET} – this is a young bird of prey. Remove (head off) the initial B from a type of hound and add the last letter (rear) of (per)T.

30a  Soldier on, not accepting author’s bad language (3,5)
{OLD NORSE} – the language spoken by the Vikings is an anagram (bad) of SOLD(i)ER ON from which I (i.e. the author) has been removed.

Down Clues

1d & 27a  Play cheerful 15 14 in 8 terms (6,6)
{BLITHE SPIRIT} – the title of a play by Noel Coward is made up from an adjective meaning cheerful and something that goes with 8d to make a liquid that fits the theme.

2d  Dupe 15 14 (6)
{SUCKER} – double definition.

3d  What’s poured over top of roast in restaurant? (5)
{BISTO} – this is a semi-all-in-one. It’s a product (everyone say “Ah!”) which with the insertion of the first letter (top) of R(oast) becomes a small restaurant. Brilliant!

4d  Swollen, gave blood, reserving seed (7)
{BLOATED} – another word for swollen is a verb meaning lost blood with a cereal seed inside (reserving).

6d  15 14 on farm vehicle (9)
{RETRACTOR} – this theme item is a charade of a preposition meaning on or about and a farm vehicle.

7d  What’s the matter, turning up to nail little fellow in swindle? (6-2)
{STITCH-UP} – reverse (turning up, in a down clue) the sort of matter that you get in infected tissue and inside this (to nail) put an informal word for a little person.

8d & 18d  In power increase, ‘melting laser-disc’ — 15 14s (8,8)
{SURGICAL DRESSING} – put an anagram (melting) of LASER-DISC inside (in) a gerund meaning power increase.

11d  Rueful woman involved in song and hypnotism (4)
{OTIS} – this is a Miss who is regretful in a song – her name is contained (involved) in the word hypnotism.

15d & 14a  Emphasis on this promise from labourer? (9,4)
{OPERATIVE WORD} – this is the clue that explains the theme. A synonym for promise coming after a worker means, as a phrase, the most significant part of a sentence, i.e. the bit on which emphasis is placed.

17d  Using irregular slopes of iron, Portugal’s first in (3-5)
{OFF-PISTE} – the definition is using irregular slopes. Start with OF and the chemical symbol for iron and inside (in) that put the IVR code for Portugal and a way of writing “first”.

18d  See 8d

20d  15 14 — one/two blood groups of Cornwall/Devon? (4)
{SWAB} – put either a single blood group or two separate ones after the part of the country where you’d find Devon and Cornwall to make another themed answer.

21d  Caught one in spell, unusually 15 14 (7)
{SCALPEL} – put the cricket abbreviation for caught and A (one) inside an anagram (unusually) of SPELL to make an instrument that’s part of the theme.

22d  See 23d

23d & 22d  Irritation — one contains 15 14s (6)
{NEEDLE HOLDER} – a charade of a synonym for irritation or provocation and something that contains things makes something relevant to today’s theme.

26d  Lynne & Co in distance (5)
{ELOIN} – this is a verb, derived from French, meaning to move further away or distance. It’s the initials of a group from Birmingham, founded by Jeff Lynne and others, followed by IN.

I enjoyed a whole host of clues today, including 25a, 11d and 26d, but my favourite was 3d. Let us know what you liked in a comment.

36 Comments

  1. crypticsue
    Posted February 9, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    What a great crossword – I got the theme fairly early on this morning, then the left hand side and, with the aid of some very helpful brainstorming with a friendly Gnome achieved everything except 25a. Thanks for the hint Gazza, I would never have got that in a million million years. Thanks to Elgar for the brilliantly themed Wednesday workout – my clue of the day is the excellent 3d. Thanks too to Gazza for hints and pics.

  2. pommers
    Posted February 9, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Bit of a curate’s egg for me! Too many linked clues (apart from the theme) for my taste. Also a few words unknown to me so a fair bit of cheating was the order of the day. Probably managed about 2/3 before resorting to Google etc.
    I guess irritation is the 15,14!
    Anyway, thanks to Elgar and to Gazza.

  3. Posted February 9, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    3d was definitely among my favourites as was 26d. Failed on 25a same as CS and had to crunch it in my phone – glad I did as I havent heard of them and the wordplay was a bit of a devil!.
    Many Thanks to Elgar , gazza for the review and crypticsue for the ‘cross fertilisation’ of clues.

    • pommers
      Posted February 9, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      25a I solved in a devious way after getting the checking letters. Put the M and the N around the O for start of week, guessed AGA from the 2 A’s and then put it into one of those word searcher that, IMHO, are cheating. Only 1 word came up so a quick check in Wiki and Hey Presto! Never heard of the buggers! At least I can say I solved 2/3 of that clue. Still couldn’t see where the PEE came from without Gazza.
      Does even Elgar get trickier than that?

      • gazza
        Posted February 9, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

        Oh yes. Do you not remember sol-dier for Icarus from his last Telegraph puzzle?

        • pommers
          Posted February 9, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

          I think I’m glad I missed that one!

      • Posted February 9, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

        We’ve had the discussions last night regarding cheating – neither of us waved a completed puzzle in someone’s face and said “Aren’t I clever!”, I just put it down as a ‘Fail’ (although not an epic one!.

        • crypticsue
          Posted February 9, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

          I think if you only ‘fail’ on one in an Elgar crossword that’s acceptable. I often wonder about all these electronic aids which were obviously not available in the dark ages when I started solving the DT Cryptic – probably I would have used them if they had been, but my little grey cells have been trained to manage without, especially under our new work regime where we are only allowed to use the web for non-work purposes at lunchtime, so although I can sneakily solve the crossword during the morning, I can’t search for any helpful information.

        • pommers
          Posted February 9, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

          I don’t think using Wiki or Google is really cheating as you have to key in the right thing. It’s the same as using a reference book only quicker.
          The word finders where you key in AGA–MON- and it gives you every word that fits is, to me, definately a cheat and counts as a fail.
          I

    • nanaglugglug
      Posted February 9, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

      Snap!!

  4. BigBoab
    Posted February 9, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    I’m afraid I failed dismally with this one, I got about half before I needed your assistance and in the end was almost as flummoxed as when I started. As usual Elgar is too good for me, ach weel I’ll just have to keep trying. Thanks Gazza for the assistance and Elgar for stretching me way beyond my limit.

    • Cathy
      Posted February 10, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

      I’m with you on this one :-(

  5. Andy
    Posted February 9, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    I’m in the 2/3 complete before having to resort to “cheating devices” club today. Like CS would never have got 25a. Favourite clues 3d and 11d for it’s elegant symplicity. The theme reminded me of carry on Nurse, Nurse “it’s Matrons round” Percy “Mine’s a pint”. Many thanks Elgar and Gazza.

  6. Jezza
    Posted February 9, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t complete this one – perhaps I am in a minority, but I get put off my puzzles that have too many linked clues that are spread around the grid. I lost interest after a while and came here for gazza’s dissection (no 15 14 intended!).
    Thanks to Elgar, and to gazza.

  7. pegasus
    Posted February 9, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    You get a wonderful feeling when you finish one of Elgars puzzles but alas not today for me, the south east corner totally defeated me.Thanks for an excellent review from Gazza and also to Elgar for the torture.

  8. honestjohn
    Posted February 9, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Finished in the end with a little help from Gazza on 26d and 25a. This was certainly difficult although for once the theme was obvious from early on which made the solving a little bit easier. Usually either I don’t notice there is a theme until I have finished or the subject is one on which I have minimal knowledge (eg Formula 1 motor racing). This was a clever puzzle, as you would expect from this setter, and I enjoyed it but for some reason not as much as some of his previous offerings.

    Thanks to Elgar for the puzzle and to Gazza for his helpful comments.

  9. JB
    Posted February 9, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    I found this one very difficult. Did about half of it. I got the “operative word” but took in literally in the grammatical sense. A real “doh” moment.

    At my advanced age I just remember Arthur Askey but who under 50 would? To then put a modern computer twist to it is brilliant. it quite threw me.

    It’s very clever of Gazza, and Elgar, to cross the generation gap like this. Can we be told how old they are?

    • Andy
      Posted February 9, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      Elgar was born in 1963 – there are short biographies of many setters in a link called ‘best for setters’ in the section called ‘crossword blogs’ on the right hand side of this page. All I know is Gazza is retired.

    • gazza
      Posted February 9, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

      JB,
      I’m 66 but I remember Arthur Askey quite well (though I never found him particularly funny). He starred (with Richard Murdoch, I think) in a radio comedy called “Much Binding in the Marsh” and I remember him on TV doing a song about a bee.

      • Posted February 9, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

        I kind of remember – and Prolixic reminded me of him (unwittingly) in an email a couple of weeks ago).
        What I do remember from school magazine’s phonetic alphabet:

        A for ‘orses
        B for mutton
        C for miles
        D for mation
        E for brick
        F for vescence

        etc.

        Of course:
        R for Askey

        I’ll get me coat!

        • Dickiedot
          Posted February 9, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

          We always had it as C for Fish
          It was a wonderful crossword and totally left me for dead, Still trying to understand the answers :-)
          Thanks Elgar and Gazza for the review

        • gazza
          Posted February 9, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

          I thought it was R for ‘mo

          • Dickiedot
            Posted February 9, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

            hmmm me to but I quite like R for Askey

            • Posted February 9, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

              The challenge was to find different ones!

          • Jezza
            Posted February 9, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

            I thought it was R for Daley
            and S for Rantzen…

            • Posted February 9, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

              YA see! All good, nothing bad!
              R for Daley didnt exist at the time!

          • Prolixic
            Posted February 9, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

            Or R for sixpence.

            • gazza
              Posted February 9, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

              Or even R for crown

  10. Qix
    Posted February 9, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    After yesterday’s excellent Beam Toughie, I wasn’t expecting too much today, but I was wrong. This was a corker!

    25A is one of those words that rarely appears outside crosswords, although the erstwhile home of the sect was up for sale about 10 years ago, and there was a fair amount of media coverage, no doubt because of the salaciousness associated with them.

    Lots of good clueing here, but 3D was especially smooth.

    Great stuff!

    ★★★★★

  11. Nestor
    Posted February 9, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Impossible! I may suffer from cultural disconnect but Lynne & Co does not ring a bell and I never heard of the loving brethren of Devon. There are some awesome clues: 3d, 19a.

    I couldn’t finish it and had to resort to the Gazza cheat sheet.

    • gazza
      Posted February 9, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      Somerset, not Devon, which is a much more wholesome county :D

      • Nestor
        Posted February 9, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

        Does that make Devon partsome?

        To me anything west of Bournemouth is called Devon ;-)

        A propos Devon: I often spend some time in Chicago for business. When I was first time there, I had to go to an address on N Devon Ave. I got into a cab and told the driver the address. He went “Ain’t such a street in Chicago…” I was puzzled because I had it in printing. I showed the piece of paper to him and he exclaimed: “Oh, Duffonne” (pronounced with a Midwestern pseudo French accent)..

        These guys always get me with their Worchesters.

        • Posted February 9, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

          Never mind the Australian hitchhikers in the East Midlands – “Are you going to Loogaborooga?”

          • Prolixic
            Posted February 9, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

            Or the one in London who wanted to know which tube line would take him to Loughborough and could he get there in 20 minscas he was late for an interview!

          • pommers
            Posted February 9, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

            I had an assistant once who was French, Virginie (Vi), who told me the English language was designed to confuse foreigners.
            She set me the challenge of coming up with the 8 different ways of pronouncing the letters ‘ough’! Took me a while to get there!
            The relevance of this is that in the town Loughborough the 4 letters appear twice but are pronounced differently!

          • Dynamic
            Posted February 10, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

            A schoolfriend of mine who lived near the town of Battle (of Hastings) was asked by an American couple on the A21, “Excuse me! Is this the right way to get to Savannahwhacks?” eventually pointing to Sevenoaks on their map! Perhaps a rare treat lost to us in the days of Satnav.

            Elgar had me beaten after patient poring over this crossword for quite some time over the course of two days, though my PinC did manage to unravel the wordplay for Agapemone, which we were amazed to find in Chambers and we both got stuck on Lynne & Co. though I had heard of Jeff Lynne and enjoy ELO and could see why after the fact.

            Most setters go for easier wordplay for obscure vocabulary, but not Elgar. Still enjoyed what I could fathom!