Toughie 590

Toughie No 590 by Osmosis

In the Can!

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

Greetings from the Calder Valley. Thanks to BD for helping out last Friday when my hospital appointment got messy. I managed to make the Crossword Meet at Birmingham the following day and it was a joy to meet up with Rufus and Eric Westbrook, as well as the other setters and solvers. Thanks to Anax for a grand day and there are some great pictures around especially those taken by Jane Teather. I’m not a fan of pictures of myself, but this is quite a decent one of me wrestling with the Anax special puzzle!

Anyway, on to today’s puzzle. As usual with Osmosis, you know you’re in for a tough challenge and this was no exception. Most of today’s clues are of the “container and contents” type. However, whether it’s just me feeling tired after my gym exertions yesterday or some other reason, but I didn’t enjoy this as much as his usual challenges. It’s not a bad puzzle, but I just found it a bit of a slog. Some nice clues but one or two felt a bit contrived. Thanks to Crypticsue for a couple of pointers as well.

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. Favourite clues are highlighted in blue.


1a    Diamonds and hearts stored in memory by mouthing (6)
{ RHOMBI } H (HEARTS, in card game notation) goes inside the abbreviation for a type of computer memory. Attached to this is a homophone of the word “by” and leads you to a word meaning diamond shapes.

4a    Unlawful politician joins guy, perhaps, in old tax office (8)
{ IMPROPER } The usual abbreviation for a politician based in Westminster is added to what ‘guy’ means in the world of camping. Together these go inside the abbreviation for the former name for civil servants who collect your PAYE. You should then see a word meaning ‘unlawful’.

9a    Managing the bar is a breeze (6)
( BREATH } An anagram, indicated by “managing”, of THE BAR gives a word for a gentle wind.

10a    Much beer consumed, admits old German lady (8)
{ HOGSHEAD } The word for a large quantity of ale (419.668 pints!) is found by taking a word meaning “consumed” (amongst its many other definitions) and placing inside 0 (Old) G (German) and SHE (lady).

12a    Country work accepted by two during crippling heat (8)
{ ETHIOPIA } A short word meaning ‘work’ goes inside the Roman numeral for two. This all gets place in an anagram (crippling) of HEAT

13a    Ship’s controlled by active person — not him (6)
{ DOSSER } The abbreviation for a ship goes inside a word meaning an active and energetic person. This reveals a person who is the exact opposite, and is homeless.

15a     Bond girl Laura’s recreating in strip (6,7)
{ URSULA ANDRESS } Probably the most famous of the Bond girls, but can you remember her character’s name? Answer is below. The actress who played this character is revealed by taking an anagram of LAURA’S and placing it inside a word that means to remove clothes.

18a    Draining earth harmed herbaceous perennial (8,5)
{ BLEEDING HEART } One of the most beautiful perennial flowers (Latin name is Lamprocapnos spectabilis) is found by taking a word that means ‘draining’, removing the life-juices out of something and adding an anagram of EARTH.

22a    Missile one steers into area of golf course that’s withdrawn (6)
{ EXOCET } One of the weapons of mass destruction, probably most associated with the Argentine army during the Falklands War, but also used by the Brits from time to time. The name for where the golf ball is launched has inside it the name for the person who steers a rowing boat with their voice. This is all reversed to give you the name of the missile.

24a     Conspicuous light-coloured frames Picasso snubbed (8)
{ PALPABLE } Picasso’s first name, minus its last letter (‘snubbed’} goes inside a word meaning light-coloured and leaves you with a word that refers to something conspicuous or obvious.

26a    See 7 down

27a    See copper closing brace to arrest destructive creature (6)
{ LOCUST } The Biblical command to “look” is added to the chemical symbol for copper and ST (the closing pair of letters (brace) of ARRE ST ). This gives you a biblical creature with destructive tendencies.

28a    Reputable bride meets everyone, holding back (8)
{ ESTEEMED } Hidden and reversed within “bri de meets e veryone” is a word meaning reputable.

29a    Calling nurse to clothe patient, third from the end (6)
{ CAREER } A word that means ‘calling or vacation’ consists of the current trendy word for nurse with the third last letter of the word pati e nt.


1d Physio for test series? (6)
{ RUBBER } Usually in a crossword, a question mark indicates something is not quite straight, and requires a little thinking outside the box. And so it is with this clue. However, it’s the definition for “physio”, rather than the second half of the clue that is cryptic here, so the question mark is a little misleading, unless I suppose you take the whole clue as being part of the definition. It doesn’t quite work for me, but I’d love to hear what you think.

Here we have a cryptic definition for a physiotherapist (think what they do with their hands) which is the same as a series of games in cricket, tennis or bridge.

2d Writer wearing fancy flower shows hospitality to all comers (4,5)
{ OPEN HOUSE } A word for something that writes goes inside the expression for “Fancy!” and the name of a UK river (the crosswordese definition of ‘flower’) and gives the expression that means a very hospitable place.

3d See 7 down

5d Controversial doctor to cut back (4)
{ MOOT } Analysing this clue caused me no little trouble and I’m still not sure now. The use of the word “cut”. If the word wasn’t in the clue, it’s a simple abbreviation for a doctor and the word TO reversed. However I wonder whether our setter wanted to say the word TO, when reversed , cuts the abbreviation for doctor. Either way, I feel it doesn’t work.

6d One left spider weaving traps on counter (7)
{ RESPOND } A word meaning to counter (as in an argument) is found by making an anagram of SPIDER minus I and inserting (traps) ON.

7d,26a,3d Make a phone-call precisely to turn somebody on? (5,3,5,7)
{ PRESS THE RIGHT BUTTONS } An expression de nos jours which means meeting approval is also what you do if you make a precise phone call, assuming you haven’t got a phone with a dial!

8d Humanitarians concerned about diabetic abandoned somewhere in Highlands (3,5)
{ RED CROSS } The organisation founded by the Swiss chap Henri Dunant is found by taking RE (concerned about) adding DC (” d iabeti c ” abandoned, i.e. devoid of contents) and the name of a place in Scotland, that is usually associated with Cromarty.

11d Cake producer left unit, under pressure, in hands of Alfred? (7)
{ KIPLING } The maker of exceedingly good cakes is made up of P (pressure) L I (left unit, i.e. one) inside the title of a notable cake burner called Alfred. Nice reading of this clue.

14d Son avoids breathing disorder during vacation in Beirut, bringing household linen (4,3)
{ BATH MAT } Another outing for the device used in 8 down. This time “vacation in” is used in the same way as ‘abandoned’ to indicate the first and last letters of B EIRU T . The name of a common condition concerning your breathing goes inside, minus S for “son”. This gives a piece of “household linen”. Is it? Debate!

16d Pudding habit will be curbed by summer in France — famous last words! (2,2,5)
{ ET TU BRUTE } The supposed famous last words of Julius Caesar (no, not “Infamy! Infamy! They’ve all got it in for me!”) are revealed by taking an almost abusive word for someone who is large (a pudding) and a word for habit (“stuck in a ___”) inside the French word for summer. However, as scholars know, they weren’t the real famous last words of JC, “The falls Caesar” were generally thought to be his exit words.

17d AWOL sailors on course, right away (8)
{ ABSENTEE } The abbreviation for sailors is attached to the word , mainly used in fine dining for a course of a meal, minus R (for right). This gives you one who is AWOL.

19d With a change of emphasis discussed, settle here around Chester (7)
{ DEESIDE } – A sort of homophone where our setter wants us to interpret a word meaning to settle or agree by changing the emphasis of the first syllable in order to give the name of the area surrounding the City of Chester

20d A doorman regularly tracks speed and pot (7)
{ AMPHORA } This uses A plus the regular (alternate) letters of D O O R M A N, the latter preceded by (indicated by “tracks”) the abbreviation for speed. You will then get the name for a Greek vase.

21d Charlie joins two hospital sections for the heart in US (6)
{ CENTER } The American way of spelling the middle of something is revealed by taking C (Charlie – NATO alphabet) and adding to it two departments within a hospital, one of which is the American way of saying A&E.

23d Frank six deliveries inside for postmen (5)
{ OVERT } Six balls in cricket is added to T (the inside of “postmen”) to give a word meaning candid or frank.

25d Footwear, amongst gardening equipment, dislodged spades (4)
{ SHOE } The word for items of gardening equipment has its S (for spades) dislodged (ie relocated) to give the name of a piece of footwear.

Thanks to Osmosis for today’s challenge. The answer to the Bond quiz was Honey Ryder.


  1. John H
    Posted July 1, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    But look at that shirt!

    • Prolixic
      Posted July 1, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      Only if you want to get a migrane!

    • Posted July 1, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

      It has been safely decontaminated now!

    • Posted July 1, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

      Who’s going to look at his shirt after the pic he has inserted for 15a :D

    • Posted July 1, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

      That’s the new Test Card isn’t it? ;-)

  2. bakesi
    Posted July 1, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    nothing wrong with it just a bit uninspired…24a my favourite

  3. bakesi
    Posted July 1, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    when I submitted comments it looks like I’m trying to be trinny and suzannah- the lack of inspiration is in the puzzle not your fine satorial attire!

    • Posted July 1, 2011 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

      I would have left it at that, bakesi – it made you look enigmatic!

  4. Prolixic
    Posted July 1, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    I have to say that I found this very much on the easy side for a Friday Toughie. Given that I had the grid completed before I reached the office, it was only a ** for difficulty for me. Not as enjoyable as some Osmosis puzzles but *** is about right.

    My favourite clue was 18a only because it reminded me of one memorable morning in the office when one of the secretaries was trying to book lunch at the restaurant that shares a name with the answer. In a broad Sarf London accent she bellowed down the phone “Is that the Bleedin’ ‘art” (with a barely pronounced T at the end) …. “Good. I’d like to book a bleedin’ lunch.”

  5. Posted July 1, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    I thought we were going to be in for a treat with a Friday Osmosis but this one didn’t take me long to solve (about the same as a really tricky backpager) and was about medium-level fun. I wouldn’t have given it 5* for solving difficulty but ‘explaining for the review’ difficulty definitely merits that assessment. My favourite clues were 15a (because it made me giggle); ditto 11d and 16d. Thanks to Osmosis for the crossword and Tilsit for the hints, tips and illustrations.

  6. pegasus
    Posted July 1, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    I always enjoy puzzles by Osmosis but on this occasion not quite up to his usual standard, favourites for me 13a 24a and 16d. Thanks to Osmosis and to Tilsit for his comments.

  7. andy
    Posted July 1, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Any hints on 14d most welcome, I have an answer but can’t justify it (well I don’t calss it as household linen)

    • Posted July 1, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think it’s household linen, either!

      • andy
        Posted July 1, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

        Thanks muchly Tilsit- It’s been driving me bonkers!

  8. Qix
    Posted July 1, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    As others have said, I think that 5 stars for difficulty is a bit much.

    A very decent puzzle, with some interesting clues. Stupidly, I entered TANGIBLE for 24a without having read the clue properly, so that slowed things down a little.

    Thanks to Osmosis and Tilsit.

  9. Posted July 1, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    I’m certainly in the ** camp – I don’t often solve toughies faster than this. I was left a bit flat because of that – I suppose I didn’t have time to appreciate it. That said, 15a and 11d were great. Thanks to Osmosis and to Tilsit – keep up the good shirt!

  10. upthecreek
    Posted July 1, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    3 great clues today, 11d, 15a and 16d. All of them gave me pennydrop moments. Didn’t care much for 21 as surely there are lots of English words that would fit and I wouldn’t fancy a linen bathmat! Still, it was a good toughie which was just hard enough to merit the name.

  11. Jezza
    Posted July 1, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Without doubt the easiest puzzle from Osmosis I have ever seen. Half of my solving time this morning was spent in the top right corner because I entered ‘touch’ for 7d, which was particularly stupid, but then again, I would have felt more disappointed if they had all gone in too quickly!
    Thanks to Osmosis, and to Tilsit for the review.

  12. Apricotmoon
    Posted July 1, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    Quite a difficult one I thought, was stuck on quite a few for ages , esp 24a , best clue was 7d . :-)

  13. JB
    Posted July 2, 2011 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    The only clue to stump me was 19d because I wanted to insert “devi” or “dewi”, the Roman name for Chester. Being a real Southerner, “Deeside” never crossed my mind. Shame on me!

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