Toughie 568

Toughie No 568 by Micawber

Sounds Like a Good One

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

I always enjoy a Micawber Toughie and this was no exception. It has some beautifully constructed clues and quite a few homophones (some of which work better than others). Let us know how you found it in a comment.

Across Clues

1a  Pretentious report about urban areas in Israel and Bedfordshire (11)
{HIGHFALUTIN} – a good chuckle to start. An informal adjective meaning pretentious or pompous sounds like (report about) a coastal city in northern Israel followed by the largest town in Bedfordshire.

7a  More than one giant company gets little interest after depreciation (7)
{COLOSSI} – this is the plural (more than one) of a giant person or statue (like the old one at Rhodes). Start with the abbreviation for company and add a decrease in value (depreciation) and the first letter (little) of I(nterest).

8a  For former partners to eat out adds spice (5,2)
{SEXES UP} – we want a phrasal verb meaning adds spice or makes more exciting. Around (out) the abbreviation for former partners put a verb meaning to eat (mainly used in the North of England and in Scotland).

10a  Greek ruler travels west and east to mount comeback (2-6)
{RE-EMERGE} – the abbreviation for Greek and the title given to a Muslim ruler are reversed (travels west, in an across clue), then follow this with E(ast) to make a verb meaning to appear in public once more (mount comeback).

11a  Thin mark on top of compass? (6)
{NARROW} – an adjective meaning thin is formed from the letter and the symbol that indicate the direction of true north on a compass.

13a  Exposes verbally: ‘Oh, you tease!’ (4)
{OUTS} – a verb meaning exposes or makes public (the name of a footballer who has been granted an injunction, say, to pick someone at random) sounds like (verbally) when spelt out ‘Oh, you tease!’. The last two letters don’t really work, do they?

14a  Aggressive dog mauling writer, let go in the end (10)
{ROTTWEILER} – the definition is aggressive dog. It’s an anagram (mauling) of WRITER LET and (g)O.

16a  Don’t hang around after physical contact — it’s a bit iffy (5,3,2)
{TOUCH AND GO} – double definition.

18a  List of prime numbers (4)
{MENU} – hidden (of) in the clue is a list.

21a  Fruit tea, they say, produced in Java? (6)
{APPLET} – Java is not the Indonesian island but the programming language and what can be produced using it is a small utility program. Start with a fruit and add what sounds like (they say) tea.

22a  A high shot, one hit on the turn, might describe this (8)
{PARABOLA} – this is a semi-all-in-one and it describes the path taken by a projectile under the influence of gravity. String together A, a high shot (in tennis, for example), A (one) and a hit, then reverse the lot (on the turn).

24a  Back in bygone time, recluse (7)
{EREMITE} – hidden (in) and reversed (back) in this all-in-one clue is a recluse from early Christian history (in bygone time). (Thanks to Gnomethang for pointing out that this is an all-in-one).

25a  View through rose-tinted spectacles to pick up cases of lazy eye (7)
{IDOLISE} – a verb meaning to revere or see only the good in someone sounds like (to pick up) idle eyes. A nice bit of misdirection with cases, which often signifies the outer letters, but here just indicates the plural. This is marred somewhat by ‘eye’ appearing in the clue.

26a  Evening watching TV, perhaps, with good beer and bird (11)
{NIGHTINGALE} – start with an evening watching TV, for example (5,2), and add G(ood) and beer to make a bird noted for its song.

Down Clues

1d  Most religious stories are found in hotel bible section (7)
{HOLIEST} – the definition is most religious. Put made-up stories inside the letter that hotel stands for in the Nato alphabet and the first chunk of the Bible.

2d  Understand pent-up demand — too much pressure might cause it to blow (6)
{GASKET} – an informal verb to understand or take in contains (pent-up) another verb meaning to demand or request. The result is something used to make a seal in a piece of machinery – when the pressure gets too high this may blow. Alternatively, you may blow one of these if you get very angry.

3d  Good reason for attraction (10)
{FAIRGROUND} – a charade of synonyms for good and reason gives us a place where people go to enjoy themselves (attraction).

4d  Ruddy cheek — fellow’s wasted, drunk (4)
{LUSH} – a word that describes a ruddy cheek (i.e. a red face, not the way you’re meant to read it in the surface) has its initial F(ellow) dropped (wasted) to leave a drunk.

5d  E.g. Jersey or Guernsey don’t get a vote during cycle (3,5)
{TAX HAVEN} – these islands are examples of a place where you can go and live if you want to get out of paying your fair share to Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs. A phrase meaning “are not in possession of a vote” (5’1,1,1)  is cycled, in the sense that the last three letters get cycled round to the front.

6d  Passage lost in initial Russian translation (7)
{NOSTRIL} – an anagram (translation) of LOST IN and R(ussian) makes a bodily passage.

7d  Irregularly, a clear profit’s taken in unofficial market (3,4,4)
{CAR BOOT SALE} – this is an unofficial market. Make an anagram (irregularly) of A CLEAR and inside it (taken in) put a verb meaning to profit plus the ‘S. The word for profit is these days only normally seen in the phrase “to ****”, meaning “in addition”.

9d  Losing current clout at EU, go bananas (5,6)
{POWER OUTAGE} – the definition is losing current. Start with a synonym for clout or leverage and add an anagram (bananas) of AT EU GO.

12d  Lack of progress for menfolk? (10)
{STAGNATION} – double definition, the second cryptic (4,6).

15d  Expression of exuberance and vitality? Hardly! (8)
{WHEEZING} – an audible sound of heavy breathing indicates the opposite of exuberance and vitality. Combine an expression of delight and an informal word for energy or vitality.

17d  Countless millions start to proliferate in limitless outer space (7)
{UMPTEEN} – we want an informal word for a large number, normally too many to count (countless). Put the abbreviation for millions and the first letter of P(roliferate) inside (o)UTE(r) and add a word used in printing to indicate a space of a specific size.

19d  Upcoming book on setter’s gut-wrenching (7)
{EMOTIVE} – reverse (upcoming, in a down clue) a large book and add a contracted form of the setter has in the first person.

20d  Worship a god appropriately therein (6)
{PAGODA} – hidden (therein) in this all-in-one clue is a place where a god may be worshipped.

23d  Having skill shortage with no French here (4)
{DEFT} – start with a word for a shortage and remove the French for here to leave an adjective meaning having skill.

The clues I liked today included 1a, 8a, 22a and 20d, but my favourite was 26a. Let us know what you liked in a comment.

19 Comments

  1. moggy
    Posted May 25, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Agree this was a lovely puzzle. Favourite clue was 1a. Many thanks Micawber & Gazza.

  2. Posted May 25, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    1a and 22a were my definite favourites. Good to meet Micawber (amongst others) last night. Thanks to him for a splendid puzzle that pretty accessible to all solving abilities, and thanks to gazza for the review.

  3. BigBoab
    Posted May 25, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Micawber for a superb toughie and Gazza for a great review. I liked 7d best.

  4. Posted May 25, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Gazza, after your recommendation yesterday I had a go at this and finished it (much to my surprise)!
    Great puzzle and excellent blog so thanks to Gazza and his favourite Toughie setter. Perhaps mine as well after today!
    BTW, I think 15d is my favourite out of a bunch of favourites.

  5. andy
    Posted May 25, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Pommers if you thought todays was good, no 486 of 31st Dec was an absolute cracker.

  6. Jezza
    Posted May 25, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Most enjoyable puzzle from Micawber. Favourite clue 26a (although I think the surface would have been better if the clue read…. and a bird).
    Thanks to gazza for the notes – re 10a, is the definition ‘mount comeback’, or is it ‘comeback’, with ‘to mount’ indicating to add on the letter (E)ast?

    • gazza
      Posted May 25, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      Jezza,
      I agree on 26a. I thought that an “a” before bird would improve the surface.
      Not sure about 10a. If the definition is just comeback doesn’t it need a space between the two syllables, because re-emerge is a verb?

      • Jezza
        Posted May 25, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

        Re 10a – I think you are right, comeback as one word would be a noun, and not a verb.

  7. Posted May 25, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Regarding 24a, is this not an &Lit/All in one clue?. Given that the answer is an old word for hermit and that two letters in recluse are used in the answer, if it were not an &Lit then ‘recluse’ would be doing double duty.

    • gazza
      Posted May 25, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Gnomey – I’m sure you’re right.

  8. andy
    Posted May 25, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Oops, comment no 5 meant to be a reply to no 4. Another excellent offering, can’t decide between 1a or 26a as favourites. In defence of 14a breed i’ve owned two and they were never aggressive at all, big softies really. Thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

  9. Prolixic
    Posted May 25, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks to Micawber for a great crossword with too many good clues from which to select a firm favourite. Thanks also to Gazza for the review.

  10. Franco
    Posted May 25, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    Very entertaining puzzle! Much help was needed from Gazza’s hints and tips to finish the NE corner (4d, 5d + 8a) – Thanks!

    One question – “pent-up” in 2d? In which sense does it mean “contains”?

    1a – brilliant – never been to Bedfordshire (or Israel).

    • gazza
      Posted May 25, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      Franco,
      Pent-up means confined or bottled-up (pent is a past participle of the verb to pen, i.e. to enclose).

      • Franco
        Posted May 25, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

        I always thought the past participle was “penned”. You live and learn! Thanks for the reply.

        • Jezza
          Posted May 25, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

          I think ‘penned’ also means confined, or fenced in, but in this clue ‘pent-up’ makes for a better surface read.

  11. Qix
    Posted May 25, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    Only just got to this after a busy day.

    Excellent stuff! Fairly straightforward, but plenty of giggle-worthy clues, and loads of fun.

    Great!

  12. Posted May 26, 2011 at 2:21 am | Permalink

    Agreed!

    And he never said anything about it on Tuesday!