Toughie 560

Toughie No 560 by Petitjean

Norwegian Blue

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ***

When I first read through the clues to this puzzle I thought that it was going to cause me a lot of problems, but in fact I managed to progress fairly steadily through it, helped by a couple of guesses at answers based on the definition and checking letters, which I then had to justify retrospectively from the wordplay. I have a couple of niggles but on the whole I enjoyed it.
Let us know what you thought in a comment and please take the time to register how much you liked it by clicking on one of the stars below.

Across Clues

1a  Radical view embraced by right wing of Conservatives and Labour left gets spin (6)
{ SWIVEL } – a verb meaning to spin is formed from an anagram (radical) of VIEW which is bracketed (embraced) by the rightmost letter of Conservatives and the leftmost letter of Labour.

4a  Salutary plunge rippling deepish pond’s surface (5-3)
{ SHEEP-DIP } – this is an annual beneficial plunge to which a farmer subjects his flock to clear them of parasites. It’s an anagram (rippling) of DEEPISH followed by the first letter (surface) of P(ond).

9a  Young girl the French get crazy about (6)
{ DAMSEL } – a French definite article and another word for crazy are joined together and then the lot is reversed (about) to make a young girl.

10a  Cheese — middling Pont l’Eveque with a covering of mould — with crackers (8)
{ EMMENTAL } – this is a hard Swiss cheese. Start with the middle letter of Pont l’Eveque, add the first letter (covering) of M(ould) and finish with an informal synonym for crackers or crazy.

12a  E in code switched with O in ballyhoo (2-2)
{ TO-DO } – reverse (switched) how the letter E is expressed in Morse code and follow this with O.

13a  Setter disregarding time off in short (5)
{ TERSE } – an anagram (off) of SET(t)ER disregarding T(ime).

14a  Brand new year’s unbegun (4)
{ SEAR } – this is a verb meaning to burn the surface of something with sudden, intense heat (brand). It’s an anagram (new) of (y)EAR’S. Unbegun is such an ugly word – I don’t know what’s wrong with “not started” .

17a  Comedian following calling with a handful of self-revelatory lines (8,4)
{ VISITING CARD } – this is something that social etiquette required to be left if one called on someone who was out, in olden days. The content of the item left would be the name and address of the caller (self-revelatory lines). Put another word for a funny person or comedian after a synonym for calling.

20a  Chance expression of disgust about change involving co-star of Oliver! (12)
{ HAPPENSTANCE } – there’s a nice bit of deception here with Oliver (complete with exclamation mark to match the name of the musical) and I spent a little time trying to work Fagin into the answer before it dawned on me that the Oliver in question was the forename of the portly one of a comedy duo. Start by reversing (about) a 3-letter expression of disgust, then follow this with loose change around Oliver’s comedy partner. The result is a chance happening or coincidence.

23a  End with horn making a comeback (4)
{ ABUT } – this is a verb meaning to adjoin or have a common end with. If you reverse it (making a comeback) you get a large brass musical instrument. I’m not sure how this instrument is a horn, but, since my musical career peaked with an appearance as a triangle player in my junior school orchestra at the age of 7, I don’t feel qualified to judge.

24a  Have a go at sanctimonious person in meeting (5)
{ TRYST } – this is an arranged meeting, generally for romantic reasons. It’s a charade of a verb meaning to have a go and the abbreviation for someone venerated as a holy person. Sanctimonious normally means holier-than-thou or pretending to be superior but Chambers shows an obsolete usage for it as just meaning holy.

25a  Instruction to let it stand or sit bent oddly (4)
{ STET } – this is a (normally handwritten) instruction on a printed proof to indicate that other alterations should be ignored and the original text retained. It’s the odd letters of “sit bent”.

28a  Criticise offensive opening (8)
{ BADMOUTH } – an informal verb meaning to criticise someone behind their back is a charade of synonyms for offensive and an opening.

29a  Round of halves initially stopping drunken spree (6)
{ SPHERE } – something round is an anagram (drunken) of SPREE with the initial letter of H(alves) inside (stopping, i.e. plugging) it.

30a  Ecstatic utterance of feeling from drunken harpy embracing obnoxious person (8)
{ RHAPSODY } – an anagram (drunken) of HARPY goes round (embracing) a slang term for an obnoxious person. It’s a bit sloppy to use the same anagram indicator in two consecutive clues .

31a  Turkey omitted from ‘to die for’ dish for gastronome (6)
{ FOODIE } – an informal term for a gastronome is an anagram (dish) of (t)O DIE FO(r) without the IVR code for Turkey. I don’t like this clue – if you’re going to remove an abbreviation from anagram fodder then I think that the letters removed should be contiguous as well as being in the correct order .

Down Clues

1d  Composing announcement of aforementioned musical revival (8)
{ SEDATIVE } – this is an adjective (which we’re more used to seeing as a noun) meaning calming or composing. Start with a sound-alike (announcement) of a past participle meaning previously mentioned then reverse (revival) the name of a Lloyd-Webber/Rice musical.

2d  One’s claim to be pure and delicate becomes boastful (8)
{ IMMODEST } – an adjective meaning boastful is what someone claiming to be pure and delicate might say (1’1,6).

3d  Not so many denying feminine side? That could hold water (4)
{ EWER } – remove the abbreviation for feminine from one side of a comparative meaning not so many.

5d  In comedically macabre head this is ‘pining for the fjords’ (12)
{ HOMESICKNESS } – Python fans will have recognised the quote immediately as coming from perhaps the most famous of all British comedy sketches. The answer is a charade of a synonym for in (we normally see this the other way round), the description of a type of macabre comedy and a head or promontory.

6d  Environmental project ticked endless boxes (4)
{ EDEN } – hidden (boxes) in the clue is an environmental project based in Cornwall.

7d  Frantic third race ending in tremulous excitement (6)
{ DITHER } – a word meaning tremulous excitement or agitation is an anagram (frantic) of THIRD with the last letter (ending) of (rac)E inserted (in).

8d  Meagre fifty in Liberal Party (6)
{ PALTRY } – the Roman numeral for fifty goes inside an anagram (liberal) of PARTY. Is this a prediction for their membership numbers by the time of the next General Election?

11d  Rancorous cacophony of reeds and timpani or tripe sideman played (4-8)
{ MEAN-SPIRITED } – a term meaning rancorous is produced by not one but two anagrams: 1) REEDS and TIMPANI (indicated by cacophony) and 2) TRIPE SIDEMAN (indicated by played).

15d  Ermine can be — to a T — the ultimate in furriers going over the top (5)
{ STOAT } – another name for an ermine is spelt out for you in the clue, with the last letter of (furrier)S required at the start (over the top, in a down clue).

16d  Pumpernickel the basis of Rhenish soup? (5)
{ BROTH } – so, what’s pumpernickel? It’s German bread, so take the German word for bread and add the bottom (basis) letter of (Rhenis)H.

18d  Unwelcome bedfellow rumoured to be otherwise (8)
{ KNOTWEED } – my initial thought here was of a bug or louse, however the bed mentioned is not one you sleep in but one in the garden. This unwelcome plant sounds like (rumoured) it isn’t what it actually is.

19d  Art lover’s articles about central characters in fresco on walls of Tate (8)
{ AESTHETE } – this is an art lover. Put two articles around the central two letters of frESco and finish with the outer letters (walls) of TatE.

21d  Constant warning light for potentially adverse road condition (6)
{ CAMBER } – start with the constant for the speed of sound and add the colour of a warning light to give the tilt on a road, which, if adverse, can cause driving problems.

22d  ‘Oodlum turned up in uncongenial environment (6)
{ TUNDRA } – a frozen waste is formed from a phrase (4,3) meaning a hoodlum or tough, aggressive person, with its initial H dropped to match the clue, then reversed (turned up).

26d  ‘Cheers!’ — not exactly the drinks ordered (4)
{ BOOS } – these are not exactly cheers, in fact they are the opposite. They also sound like (as articulated in an order, across the bar say) an informal word for drinks.

27d  Pawnshop ‘pottery pieces’ are china (4)
{ OPPO } – hidden (pieces) in the clue is another informal word for what china means in rhyming slang.

I liked 10a, 5d and 18d today, but my favourite clue was 20a. Let us know what you liked in a comment!


  1. piglet
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    I’m in Budapest all week and missing my paper edition of the crossword so much! Doing it online is just not the same. Still, got to have a drink and chat with Gerard Depardieu so it’s not all bad. :)

  2. Posted May 11, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    I am not sure about this one – it seemed to me that I was taking ages to solve it but actually my time was probably quite quick for a toughie. The SW corner caused the most trouble. I didn’t like 18d – one of those where I had to work through the alphabet to get the first letter before the Eureka moment. I did like 5d and 11d. Thanks to Petitjean and Gazza.

  3. Prolixic
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed this once I had got onto the right wavelength. Petitjean loves his food related clues (was / is he a chef or food critic as well as a crossword setter?). Favourite clue was 22d though I also enjoyed 5d and 11d.

    Many thanks to Petitjean for the crossword and to Gazza for the review.

    • Posted May 11, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      According to Crossword Who’s Who Petitjean is a journalist, author, music historian, radio producer and comedy executive. It doesn’t mention food critic :D

  4. andy
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Well I too took an age to make any headway at all, but once some of the 12 letters went in it started to pleasantly unravel. Needed a clue for 22d , but I feel a fool now! Favourites 5d, 18d and 26d but also thought 1a well constructed. Thanks to Gazza and Petitjean.

  5. andy
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Gazza, re 23a Isn’t Tuba latin for trumpet ?

    • Posted May 11, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      Apparently it is, Andy.

  6. BigBoab
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks Petitjean for a good workout, I struggled with the SW corner but thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing. Thanks Gazza for the review.

  7. Jezza
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    I found this quite tricky, and at one point nearly threw in the towel. I quite enjoyed it, but not convinced I got as much pleasure as the thought I put into it.
    Favourite clue – 22d.
    Thanks to Petitjean, and to gazza.

  8. pegasus
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    I also enjoyed this one immensely favourites for me were 11d 18d but the standout was 20a thanks to Petitjean and to Gazza for a fine review.

  9. gnomethang
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    It was certainly a thinker. I always consider that I need to put a ‘slightly mad’ hat on in order to solve a Petitjean crossword. In this instance it worked but there were a few head scratches along the way. Thanks to gazza and to Petitjean,

  10. Qix
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed this a lot. Some very creative clues.

    Thanks to Petitjean for another great puzzle, and to Gazza for the blog.

  11. Nick
    Posted May 12, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    Thank you to Petitjean and Gazza.

    Glad others round the SW corner hard as well. Needed the hint for 26d – what can you do when you can’t see a four-letter clue???? Liked it, though. :)

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