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Toughie 598

Toughie No 598 by Notabilis

All the World’s…

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Greetings from the Calder Valley. It’s time for the Friday Mental Massage and Notabilis is our tormentor today, which always ensures a good battle. No disappointment today but we do seem to have a thespian theme to the puzzle today. The puzzle does have a Nina (hidden message) running round the perimeter, but I can’t think of a link to the four words produced.

Incidentally, I hope you managed to catch this week’s Desert Island Discs which featured the Guardian’s doyen of the puzzle Araucaria. A wonderful listen and still available via the BBC iPlayer.

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.


8a    Voice clipped in complaint … (4)
{MOAN} A typical Notabilis clue that makes you think a little. If you pronounce the complaint, it comes out as “M Ow N” or clipped.  Note the ellipsis (…) to indicate that it helps you with the next clue…

9a    … of which only the middle is said to have liability (3)
{OWE} …which also starts with the dots to show a link. If you pronounce the middle of the previous answer you get a homophone of a word meaning “to have liability to someone or for something”

10a    Device taking breadth and length in mm (6)
{EMBLEM} Inside mm (em + em) goes the abbreviations for breadth and length to give a word meaning a device in heraldry.

11a    Having dropped off first of letters in a leak (6)
{ASLEEP} The first letter of the word Letters goes inside A + a word meaning leak to give you a word meaning nodded off.

12a    Labour attempt to win Clegg’s heart in preparation for grooming (8)
{TOILETRY} A lovely topical clue. Inside a word that means “labour, travail” and “attempt” goes the heart (ie middle letter) of CLEGG to give a word that means getting ready for a night out.

13a    Esther and Hester sit, fidgeting, one short for this play? (3,5,7)
{THE THREE SISTERS} An anagram, indicated by ‘fidgeting’ of ESTHER, HESTER, and SIT gives the name of a famous theatrical work, cryptically defined in the clue. Here’s something to make Big Dave feel all nostalgic….

15a    Unite in a conservative part of Greece (7)
{ACCRETE} A word sum A + C (CONSERVATIVE) + a Greek island leads you to a word meaning unite.

17a    Perhaps boater caught straight river? (7)
{HATCHET} A word for something of which “boater” is an example has C (for caught) and a word meaning straight indicates a famous fictional river. I think!

20a    London theatre has damage with conflict among swindled audience (6,9)
{DONMAR WAREHOUSE} Words that mean “damage” and “conflict” go inside one that means “swindled or conned” and add to it the name for a theatrical audience and you get a London venue associated with Kevin Spacey and others.

23a    Resident’s come to pass around baked dish (8)
{OCCUPIER} A word meaning to happen or come to pass has the name of a baked treat inside it and leads you to a word meaning a resident of somewhere.

25a    RADA’s foremost actress known for baking slice of meat (6)
{RASHER} The first letter (foremost) of RADA is added to an actress and cake maker named Jane to give the name for a slice of food.

26a    Plunder a grave after disturbance (6)
{RAVAGE} An anagram of A GRAVE gives you a word meaning plunder.

27a    Daughter I married is gloomy (3)
{DIM} Abbreviations of Daughter and Married go round I to give something that means gloomy, murky.

28a    Perversely suspicious, burying the head (4)
{AWRY} Take a word meaning suspicious and move the first letter (“burying the head”) to give a word meaning perversely.


1d Primarily, how Cracovians serve roots of beet up? (6)
{BORSCH} Sometimes spelt with a T on the end as well (and also with a T in the middle), this potato or beetroot soup is made by taking the first letters of “how Cracovians serve roots of beet” and reversing them (indicated by up) .

ARVE Error: need id and provider

2d Fiancé’s to rein in part for grandmother, say (8)
{ANCESTOR} Hidden in the phrase “Fiancé’s to rein” is the name of one of your elders.

3d I’ll manipulate trade price or board’s insiders (9,6)
{CORPORATE RAIDER} An anagram of TRADE PRICE OR (B)OAR(D) produces a trendy phrase for someone who is involved in trading and asset stripping, almost.

4d Flier with stone right inside aircraft’s bottom structure (7)
{KESTREL} The name for an aircraft’s (or ship’s) base has ST R (stone right) inside to give the name of a bird,

5d Scarper, I Married an Avatar! — that’s proper theatre (10,5)
{LEGITIMATE DRAMA} This will have you reaching for Chambers! A simple word sum leads you to a two-word term for a type of theatre. A slang way of saying “Scarper!” + I + a term for married + a word that is a synonym of the real meaning of the word avatar (and not the Johnny-Come-Lately computer-based one!).

6d Article and book I translated into French in a month (6)
{OBJECT} B (for book) and JE (I in French) goes inside an abbreviated form of the 10th month of the year to give you a synonym for article.

7d After a brew, runs race (4)
{TEAR} R (for runs) goes after a word for a drink that’s brewed to give a word meaning to race (around).

14d Lake ignored in capacity for fishy food (3)
{ROE} A name given to food such as taramasalata is found by taking a word meaning capacity or part in acting, and removing L (for lake)

16d Crumbs coming out of pigeon’s beak? (3)
{COO} The first letters (indicated by “crumbs”) of ‘coming out of’ gives the noise made by a pigeon.

18d Annoyed with save, after striker hits it? (8)
{CROSSBAR} A word meaning cross is added to one meaning save to give something that a striker doesn’t want to hit. Nice surface reading.

19d Shard, or different London landmark? (7)
{HARRODS} A famous building in London can be found by rearranging the letters of SHARD OR.

21d Uma Thurman’s recurring characters represented rebellious society (3,3)
{MAU MAU} The three letters that appear both in UMA and THURMAN when rearranged (indicated by represented) leads you to the rebels found in Kenya in the fifties and sixties.

22d Slip in shot that turns a trifle alcoholic? (6)
{SHERRY} A word that means slip or gaffe inside a word meaning shot (think Coconut ___) gives the essential component of a tipsy trifle.

24d Bow lifted by bass fiddler, perhaps (4)
{CRAB} A word meaning a bow in geometry is reversed and added to B for base to give a variety of sea creature of which “fiddler” is a variety.

Thanks again to Notabilis for a splendid challenge. I’ll see you next week!

33 comments on “Toughie 598

  1. 17a is the only clue to beat me. Does “het” mean straight? I also had a feeling that “to rive” could mean “to split” therefore a “river” could be a hatchet. What do others make of this clue?

    1. JB,

      I think Het means straight as a shorthand for “hetrosexual”.

      You may be right about a hatchet being something that rives!

      1. Thanks to both of you. I Googled the answer and got a series of books about the river Hatchet. I think Prolixic has it.

        1. Bonjour from Honfleur encore.

          17a- Well I never.

          I prefer the answer “Hairnet” as Hat + r + “Ine” as a word meaning straight (just like Het, but less well known.) :-)
          Unfortunately, Crossbar ruled it out.

          I guessed it, but i’m not convinced by it as an answer.
          Otherwise a good puzzle, completed in the parc in Honfleur, and then outside a bar overlooking the Vieux Bassin. (Oui, I’m showing off.)

          1. I’m sure that this setter has used “het” before in exactly the way that Prolixic suggests.

  2. Top notch stuff from Notabilis today – not at his toughest but certainly delighful to solve with lots of penny dropping moments and smiles along the way. Favourite clue was 5d. Many thanks to the setter and to Tilsit for the review.

    1. liked it-lots of answers that I would really struggle to give all the wordplay but was able to get them! e.g.coo=crumbs?

  3. I did enjoy solving this crossword this morning. It didn’t need a great deal of cogitation but as Prolixic says was a delight to solve. I do like a Toughie where you end up with a big smile on your face at the finish. I too Googled 17a and found the literary connection but needed Prolixic’s explanation for the het bit. My favourite was 5d too. Thanks to Notabilis for the great Friday fun and to Tilsit for the hints.

  4. An ecellent and thoroughly enjoyable crossword today, that took me most of the day off and on to solve. I took 17a to be
    HAT (Boater for example), C (caught) and HET (straight – short for heterosexual) to produce a river, something that splits something in two (like a cleaver or an axe)

    1. To be honest, I thought I’d made up the word “Rive” in an attempt to justify “Hatchet”.
      Stiil, all’s well that ends well.

  5. Courtesy of a nice man in New York (thanks Mr D!), 1ac is a homophone of “mown” i.e. “clipped”.


  6. 3d : It’s not an anagram of I’LL TRADE PRICE OR but an anagram of TRADE PRICE OR OAR (OAR is insiders of board) — I’ll refers to the Corporate Raider!

  7. This took me most of the morning on and off to complete, but well worth the time spent.
    Thanks to Notabilis, and to Tilsit for the review.

  8. Very nice puzzle indeed, so top marks to Notabilis.

    Still trying to figure out what the Nina is about, though…

  9. In 16d, I read the clue as crumbs = COO (crumbs as in “upon my word” or “gosh”), and COO = the sound emerging from a pigeon’s beak, so a double definition.

  10. This was great fun, particularly the answer to 5d. I;ll never be able to hear that phrase again without mentally pronouncing it as per the clue. With 16d, I got the answer by a different route. I thought that ‘crumbs’ referred to an alternative way of saying wow, or of course ‘coo’, if you see what I mean.

    Thanks to Notabilis for the challenge and Tilsit for the review.

  11. There’s nothing special in the choice of perimeter words (though BACKLOT and MYSTERY (play) might tie in with the theatrical flavour); I just felt I needed to put something there to offset the poor checking of the central entries.

  12. This compiler always sets a very high standard and today is no different, favourite clues were 17a 20a 18d and 21d but the stand-out was surely 5d. Thanks to Notabilis and to Tilsit for a fine review.

  13. Not living in or near London and not being particularly interested in Theatre (capital letter deliberate ), 20a left me completely baffled and I had to wait until my return from the latest Harry Potter film with my grandchildren, to find out the explanation from Tilsit. Other than that, a very enjoyable crossword from Notablis and a smashing review from Tilsit.

  14. Great puzzle from Notabilis with 16d favourite among many. Can we expect the following clue soon?:

    Crumbs coming out of crow’s beak? (3)

    I solved this Saturday morning as the apres-golf was getting in the way of the crosswords!
    Thanks to Notabilis and Tilsit.

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