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Toughie 585

Toughie No 585 by Micawber

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

[Today is another milestone – this is the 500th Toughie (excluding online-only specials) that has been reviewed on this site! BD]

This was by far the most enjoyable Thursday Toughie for some time. I found it to be of above average difficulty and it needed a lot of thought to work out some of the wordplay. But it was all perfectly fair and contained nothing particularly obscure (with the possible exception of the answer to 13 across).

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    Vital statistics of calorie-consuming, generously proportioned bodies on beach (5,3,7)
{FACTS AND FIGURES} C (calorie) goes inside “generously proportioned”. This is followed by “bodies on beach” (4,7) where the (4) gives the beach and the (7) the bodies. The whole thing means “vital statistics”

9a    Rough crowd hoot at member of Lords on TV (6,3)
{DOCTOR WHO} An anagram (rough) of CROWD HOOT gives the TV Time Lord

10a    Primate catching bird with both hands (5)
{LEMUR} A primate from Madagascar is given by a flightless bird inside LR (left & right, i.e. both hands)

11a    I fought with climber all over the place (5)
{IVIED} I + fought gives “covered with a particular climbing plant”

12a    Cause a fuss like the First Lady did? (5,4)
{RAISE CAIN} The first lady is Eve and she brought up her eldest son

13a    Performance a failure — a measure of speed required (8)
{GIGAFLOP} A performance by a band or pop group + A failure gives a unit of computer processing speed equal to 109 floating-point operations per second (or so Chambers says)

14a    Church legal representative specialising in verbal exchanges (6)
{CHATTY} An abbreviation for church + an abbreviation for Attorney gives “talkative”

16a    Note one function turning into another (6)
{SOCIAL} A reversal of the sixth note of the scale + I + a trigonometrical function gives an informal party

18a    Rent troubles — one such prompted Dorothy’s relocation (8)
{TORNADOS} Rent (as a past participle) + troubles gives violent storms one of which lifted Dorothy from Kansas and deposited her in Oz

22a    Run in first of Arab white horses on special surface (9)
{ASTROTURF} “To run” goes inside A (first of Arab) + white horses (on the sea) to give an artificial surface for sports pitches, etc.

23a    Motor trouble returns after second kilometre (5)
{SKODA} A Czech car manufacturer is formed from S (second) K (kilometre) + a reversal of the same trouble that was used in 18 across

24a    I’m selling a dream (5)
{IDEAL} I’m selling (1,4) = a perfect type, or a conception of it

25a    Daily punishment perhaps accepted by Milan team coach (9)
{CHARABANC} A daily (cleaner) + a punishment inside a 2-letter description of a Milan soccer team (Inter’s rivals) gives a coach (for travelling in)

26a    Shocking treatment of heavy prisoner at Strangeways? (8,7)
{AVERSION THERAPY} Here Strangeways is used to indicate an anagram of HEAVY PRISONER AT. This gives a form of treatment often involving an electric shock


1d    Vendetta fading, origins of enmity and odium lost in obfuscation (7)
{FUDGING} Vendetta minus the letter E (origin of enmity) + fading minus the letter O (origin of odium) gives obfuscation

2d    Sport piece of clothing like lycra, back to front (7)
{CYCLING} A sport is given by C (piece of clothing) + an adjective that might describe Lycra with the last letter put at the front

3d    One’s scared doom flows from its collapse? (5,2,8)
{SWORD OF DAMOCLES} An anagram (collapse) of SACRED DOOM FLOWS gives a weapon that was suspended over someone’s head by a single thread

4d    Where stories are written — rolling Bronte country perhaps underpins novel (8)
{NEWSROOM} Where stories are written by journalists is given by a reversal (rolling) of the type of country near where the Brontës lived underneath (underpins) “novel”

5d    Escapade written up in pencil or felt-tip (6)
{FROLIC} Hidden in reverse in penCIL OR Felt-tip

6d    After record’s brought up, office workers fish for pay-off (6,9)
{GOLDEN HANDSHAKE} A reversal (brought up) of a record + an office + workers + a fish gives a large sum of money given to an employee who leaves a firm

7d    Rearing animal beginning to pounce on insect (7)
{RAMPANT} “Rearing” = a male sheep + P (beginning to pounce) + an insect

8d    Elastic band through nose (7)
{SPRINGY} An adjective meaning “elastic” is given by a band inside “to nose”

15d    Excited fan of tube leaving terminus — like High Barnet? (8)
{BOUFFANT} Here Barnet is rhyming slang for hair (Barnet Fair) and the answer is an adjective describing hair that is “puffed out”. It is an anagram (excited) of FAN OF TUBE without the E (the terminus of tube)

16d    Ability to keep going makes lively mounts expend energy (7)
{STAMINA} The ability to keep going is a reversal (mounts) of a word meaning “makes lively” with an E (energy) removed (expended)

17d    Conservative with iffy seat (majority vulnerable ultimately) which reflects middle-of-the-road views (4-3)
{CAT’S-EYE} C (Conservative) + an anagram (iffy) of SEAT + the last letters of majoritY vulnerablE gives a reflective device found in the middle of the road

19d    Visual arts show said by some to have terrible security protection (7)
{DIORAMA} A visual arts show could be a homophone of terrible (4) security protection (7) as said by some people

20d    Formal chief in filthy surroundings (7)
{STARCHY} “Formal” = “chief” inside an extremely filthy place

21d    Pope’s man, member of holy order with chinos, oddly (6)
{NUNCIO} An ambassador from the Pope = a female member of a holy order + the odd letters of ChInOs

If only all Thursday toughies were this good!

38 comments on “Toughie 585

  1. You always know when a Toughie has Micawber’s name at the top that it will be a thing of great joy and today’s was no exception. It didn’t take that long to solve but some fabulous clues – 1a was brilliant but I have ‘dots’ marking lots of others that I liked too. Its wonderful to have a toughie where all the clues are really beautifully crafted and you don’t end up scratching your head or groaning out loud because its taking you ages to get nowhere. Thanks to Micawber for the excellent crossword and to lucky Bufo – who got to enjoy the fun twice over – for the review.

  2. 1a was a standout favourite in a puzzle crammed with excellent clues and I also particualrly liked the surface reading at 17d. Many thanks to Micawber and to Bufo for the review. More like this please!

  3. An excellent puzzle; I found it quite tricky in parts, and it took me a fair chunk of the morning to complete whilst doing other work bits and pieces.
    Many thanks to Micawber, and to Bufo for the review (I bet Gazza wishes he got this one! :) )

    1. You’re dead right, Jezza. This was yet another superb puzzle from Micawber. I agree with everyone that 1a was the best clue, but it was closely pursued by at least half-a-dozen others.

  4. Ditto comments above, though I will add I particularly enjoyed 15d as well amongst a host of others. Bufo I think the hint for 19d should read security protection (3) so you link 2 homophones of 4,3 to get the 7. Anyway, fantastic fun, thanks to Bufo and to Micawber as always

  5. Putting megaflop in at 13a (its a perfectly valid answer) caused me problems for a time. But otherwise an excellent crossword from Micawber consisting of many top quality clues.

  6. Brilliant crossword from Micawber. Some really excellent clues. Many thanks to the setter and to Bufo for the review. Favourite clues were 9a and 1a.

    Brilliant though this was, clue of the day for me goes to the stupendous 17a by Anax in today’s Independent:

    “Stupid cow needed my ring for this (7,8)”

    1. I can second the recommendation for Anax’s Indy – It really is a great puzzle with plenty more top clues in addition to that one.

  7. Thanks to Gnomethang for sending me this!! I have finally finished it and with great pleasure- must try another one sone day! I actuall tried putting tearflop in… how daft as it makes little sense of the first part of the clue! Oh well-soon learnt! Thanks to Bufo and Micawber- I await his next Toughie with anticipation! :) :)

    1. Doesn’t that mean now you have completed a Toughie, we have to meet for celebratory cake in town ?

        1. You can come to Canterbury for cake too if you want. Quite some while ago now Liz and I agreed that when she had completed a Toughie unaided we would meet for gooey cake at the (then) new Patiserie Valerie in town. I got quite excited earlier but she has remembered the supplementary conditions so cake will have to wait :(

      1. I tought the coinditions were that I had to finish one without electronic help… and I did resort to the blog for 1d:( Still.. the cake is looming, especially if the weather improves!perhaps the SE needs a crossword cake club?

  8. No complaints from me perfectly fair enjoyable puzzle, favourite for me 1a and 23a thanks to Micawber and to Bufo for the comments.

  9. Very pleasing puzzle. Half completed this morning , then a bike ride to aerate the grey matter helped to tidy it up.Fav. clue 1a. 13a just had to be the what it sounded as if it should be. Chambers can be such a comfort when it says such a word exists. :D
    Thanks Micawber and Bufo.

  10. 13a was the first I entered, but a previous existence with mainframe computers probably helped. Otherwise it took me a while to get on Micawber’s wavelength today.

  11. Thanks for the fine blog, Bufo, and all your kind comments. I’m glad there were no objections to the non-word “Strangeways” as an anagram indicator – seems to me it’s a better anagrind than many actual words we use!

    As a resident of Barnet, and commuter from that station, I enjoyed getting 15d in. Amy Winehouse got a house near here a few years ago, and I remember headlines then about Amy’s High Barnet (but maybe she put the ‘high’ into Barnet anyway).


    PS Thanks for pointing to that Anax in the Indy, Prolixic – great puzzle.

  12. Best Toughie of the week so far. Favourite was 17 but loved 4 12 18 21 and 25. 13 is a bit of a guess but I think it must be right – its obviously newspeak! 1a and 26a jumped out at me so I had a good start. Last one in was 1d which I thought was the poorest of the lot as i don’t like concocted clues.

    1. 1d was one of my head scratchers I must admit. 1a however was excellent since I had a feel for the answer – waited for a couple of checkers and then when I came back and looked at the wordplay I realised just how damn fine the clue was. Sometimes I miss thesse little things which is a shame – I am trying to take a bit more time and ‘smell the flowers’ when solving nowadays.

      1. 1a is a thing of beauty. 1d, although very complex to work out, is very clever indeed – one of those where the solution is clear, but you have to reverse-engineer the wordplay afterwards.

        There’s a lot to enjoy (and to admire) in this puzzle, it’s just great.

        And an Elgar available in 40mins or so…

        1. I really enjoyed today’s Micawber! But, tomorrow a bit of “Aversion Therapy” (26a) – Elgar on Friday!!!!

          From Wiki-Thingy:-

          “Aversion therapy is a form of psychological treatment in which the patient is exposed to a stimulus while simultaneously being subjected to some form of discomfort.”

    1. Welcome to the blog Apricotmoon

      The answers can be revealed by selecting the space between the curly brackets with your mouse.

  13. Thanks to Micawber for a fantastic puzzle, and to Bufo for the review.
    Normally the Toughie is beyond my skill level, but after reading all the positive comments on the Blog, i was inspired to have a crack. Much to my surprise and delight, I managed to do a good chunk of it, needed six hints, and two I couldn’t get.
    I still don’t quite get 19d, I get the homophone for Dire, but how is the rama obtained ?
    Favourites were 1 & 10, 11 & 22 across.
    The wordplay was superb.
    Off to try today’s Cryptic now.

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