Toughie 624

Toughie No 624 by Elkamere

It may be just a smear to you, mate!

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

We have a super midweek Toughie today from Elkamere. It’s a pangram and I enjoyed it a great deal.
Let us know what you thought and please remember to click on one of the stars below to record your enjoyment factor.

Across Clues

7a  Bad hospital’s excessive demand for blood? (7)
{HARMFUL} – this is a lovely allusion to the classic Tony Hancock programme “The Blood Donor”. Start with H(ospital) and add what the lad thought a pint of blood was almost equivalent to.

8a  What oven cleaner is of no relevance? (7)
{ANAGRAM} – if you rearrange the letters of “oven cleaner” you get “no relevance” so one must be this of the other.

10a  Surrounded by concrete, picks up drill (9)
{REHEARSAL} – a synonym for concrete, as opposed to virtual, goes round a verb meaning picks up or finds out to make a drill.

11a  Remedies bring back the other condition (5)
{FIXES} – start with what “the other” is used as a humorous euphemism for and add a conjunction introducing a condition or provision. Then reverse (back) the lot to reveal a synonym for remedies.

12a  Anger about book in Scripture (5)
{BIBLE} – a synonym for anger contains B(ook) to make the ultimate authority on scripture in some religions.

13a  Comedian mostly repelled after dad sees photographers (9)
{PAPARAZZI} – the surname of Eddie, the comedian, without his final D (mostly) is reversed (repelled) after a childish name for dad to make photographers.

15a  Psalm — one’s torn it to pieces (7)
{INTROIT} – start with I (one) and add an anagram (to pieces) of TORN IT to make an introductory hymn or psalm.

17a  Romantically dark, cruel irony in ancient times (7)
{BYRONIC} – an adjective meaning dark and moody and relating to the Romantic poet is formed by putting an anagram (cruel) of IRONY inside the abbreviation indicating a date prior to the start of Christianity.

18a  An overdue rerun for Morse (9)
{ENDEAVOUR} – an anagram (rerun) of AN OVERDUE gives us the eventually-revealed forename of the tetchy inspector.

20a  Where violin goes to be fitted with a string (5)
{CHAIN} – what a violin is tucked under to be played has A inserted (fitted with) to make a string or series.

21a  Dallas family’s European branch (5)
{EWING} – the surname of JR, Swellin’ and the whole ghastly clan is E(uropean) followed by a branch or faction.

23a  German aristo welcoming support of driver, jolly sort? (9)
{JUNKETEER} – a young Prussian aristocrat of the past goes around (welcoming) what a golfer using a driver sticks in the ground to support his ball. The result is a merrymaker.

24a  Common man on dope (7)
{GENERIC} – a man’s name (think of Mr Idle of Python fame) goes after an informal word for dope or information.

25a  Drivers learning to hide behind land boundary (7)
{ABUTTAL} – this is the boundary or junction where two structures come together. A motoring organisation (drivers) and the letter used for a learner driver contain (to hide) the (mainly American) slang word for behind or buttocks. I’m not sure about the use of learning for L – it can certainly be used for learner, but learning? Perhaps I’ve missed something.

Down Clues

1d  Not allowed to dig without welcome snack (10)
{PROHIBITED} – the definition here is not allowed. A verb meaning to poke or dig (in the ribs, perhaps) contains (without) a welcoming cry and a small snack.

2d  Recently dead, buried in old earth (2,4)
{OF LATE} – this phrase means recently. Put a description of something (a battery, perhaps) which is dead inside (buried in) O(ld) and E(arth).

3d  Top shelf could be where naked ladies are (5,3)
{FLESH POT} – an anagram (could be) of TOP SHELF provides a picture opportunity!

4d  With each round, soft drink (6)
{WALLOP} – a slang word for beer is formed by stringing together W(ith), a synonym for each or every, a round letter and the musical abbreviation for soft.

5d  I travel much lighter without one (8)
{WAYFARER} – someone who travels could be formed by removing the I (one) from an informal way of saying much lighter or paler (3,6).

6d  Antelope and bull crossing railway (4)
{ORYX} – a large antelope’s name is formed from a castrated male bovine animal around (crossing) the abbreviation for railway.

7d  Serving soldiers won’t invade easily (4-6,3)
{HARD-BOILED EGG} – this is a lovely cryptic definition of a serving which may have been cooked too long for the soldiers to be able to be dipped in it at breakfast.

9d  Les montagnes, monsieur — l’Est français, peut-être? (6,7)
{MASSIF CENTRAL} – Ces montagnes (une région élevée de la France) sont une anagramme (peut-être) de L’EST FRANÇAIS après M(onsieur).

14d  Sacred texts of Buddhism Cameron’s upset at (4-6)
{ZEND-AVESTA} – these are Zoroastrian sacred writings. Start with a flavour of Buddhism, add how Mr Cameron allegedly likes to be addressed and the ‘S, then finish with a reversal (upset) of AT.

16d  Plantation 9 in 6, not 10 (8)
{ORANGERY} – put what the mountains in 9d are inside the answer to 6d without the Roman numeral for 10 to make a place where fruit trees are grown.

17d  Imposing pub I’ll enter on a lake (8)
{BARONIAL} – a description of something imposing or impressive in appearance starts with a synonym for pub, then this is followed by ON A L(ake) with I inserted.

19d  Item of refuse? (6)
{OBJECT} – double definition (refuse is a verb here).

20d  Payment confirmed by phone? (6)
{CHEQUE} – a method of payment which appeared to be on the way out but which has now apparently been reprieved sounds like (by phone) a (mainly North American) word signifying confirmation or agreement.

22d  Salvation Army’s secret Scottish location (4)
{IONA} – hidden (secret) in the clue is a Scottish island.

There are some top-rate clues here. I liked 7a, 11a, 13a and 21a but my favourite is 7d. Let us know what you liked.

20 Comments

  1. Phil
    Posted August 31, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    5d is an awful clue … otherwise good

  2. crypticsue
    Posted August 31, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    If Thursday and Friday match Tuesday and Wednesday, then it’s going to be one of the best Toughie weeks for ages. I thoroughly enjoyed this – once again I like the same clues as Gazza but would highlight particularly the splendid 7′s both a and d. Thanks to Elkamere for the fun and to Gazza for the review – has there ever been a crossword clue you couldn’t illustrate with a scantily-clad lady?? :D

    • gazza
      Posted August 31, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      Some setters make it easier than others!

      • Posted August 31, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

        I couldn’t let you down!

  3. Posted August 31, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    I thought 5d was one fine clue amongst many. Favourites were 7d for the penny-drop and also 3d for spotting the apposite anagram. Thanks to gazza for the review and Elkamere for a top hole puzzle.

  4. jerseyboytoo
    Posted August 31, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    excellent offering today but I needed your help with 14d even after googling sacred texts buddhism! Thought 7d was a brilliant penny-dropper – took a while though. Tnaks for the review.

  5. pegasus
    Posted August 31, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Thoroughly enjoyed this one from start to finish, favourites for me were 16d 20a 25d but the two stand-outs were 7d and 8a. Thanks to Elkamere for a wonderful puzzle and to Gazza for the excellent review.

  6. Prolixic
    Posted August 31, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    First rate crossword from Elkamere, many thanks to him for the excellent entertainment and to Gazza for the review. This was one of those crosswords where it is easier to list the clues you did not like, so that’s a blank line required.

  7. pommers
    Posted August 31, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Glad I’ve now learned about Zoroastrian sacred writings, never know when such knowledge might come in handy!
    Otherwise excellent fare from Elkamere and thoroughly enjoyable.
    Favourites are 7a and 7d. and I also like 11a.
    Thanks to Elkamere and Gazza for the review (and help with the Zorowotsit!)

  8. Jezza
    Posted August 31, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    I found this quite tough, but enjoyable. Thanks to Elkamere for the puzzle, and to gazza for the review.
    Re 25a, I think L for learning is ok, because if you were learning, you would have an ‘L’ on (hence the last letter?)

  9. Qix
    Posted August 31, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Excellent stuff, although Anax/Elkamere is being gentle with DT readers.

    L for “learning” is well- enough used to be standard, I think, although a little harder to spot than the more usual nouns.

  10. Lostboy
    Posted August 31, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Some really good clues today- excellent, even though I only managed about 60% without some help.

    Thank ‘Eavens for 3d, that’s what I think.

  11. Boaz
    Posted August 31, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Some outrageous stuff in there! 7a gets the first among equals tag as my favourite. I’d have to agree with Phil though that 5d is a bit of a clunker, but apart from this (and 9d, which I would never have got in a months of dimanches) this is a puzzle of the very highest quality.

  12. Franco
    Posted August 31, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Thoroughly enjoyable puzzle from Elkamere even though I only managed 3/4 before resorting to Gazza’s hints. Thanks both.

    Agree with others about 7a & 7d being favourites of the day! Also, 18a – “Morse” seems to be very popular at the moment!

  13. Posted August 31, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    A very witty and enjoyable puzzle with some corkers, e.g. 7d and 9d. The memsahib and I completed about three quarters unaided, grateful to Gazza for explanation of the rest.

  14. andy
    Posted August 31, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    What a great way to return to crossword land after a short holiday (Some of it spent working at the Peterborough beer festival which made it all the more fun, and made 4d appropriate indeed). The 7s and 9d stand out, as did 13a when i’d sussed the comedian d’oh. Many thanks to Elkamere and Gazza

  15. Posted August 31, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Hi all! Huge thanks to Gazza for a splendid review and to everyone else for the kind comments.

    Well, what can I say? My favourites don’t seem to match the consensus and the only possible response to that is “Just goes to show”. Exactly what it shows I’m not sure, but perhaps it has something to do with the circumstances under which clues get written. For me, the ones that tend to stand out are the above average efforts that arrive after a long struggle – 9d was a case in point; FRANCE had stood out as part of the anagram fodder for too long, leaving me with rotten letters in balance, and I kicked myself when FRANCAIS appeared. Really should have seen it earlier. In the end I was thrilled to find a way of turning the balance into more French stuff, and hence an entirely Gallicised clue.

    And perhaps unexpectedly 5d (the “clunky” one) was pleasing too. I’m sure many of you can guess that the first approach was a homophone for the second part of the word, but “I travel much lighter, we hear (8)” really would have been a prime candidate for the day’s Clunk Award. It felt like a minor victory when I saw that removing “I” from the word for “lighter” would serve to complete the story; “I travel much lighter…” – but why? Because there is something I remove to lighten the load. The result came over as a nicely rounded clue which both told and explained its story, and had the additional kick of pointing towards the answer being a word for the thing that’s removed.

    Absolutely no complaints about your comments on these, though. They highlight the very interesting differences in the way setters approach the writing of a clue and the way solvers approach solving.

    • gazza
      Posted August 31, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the insights, Anax.

    • Boaz
      Posted September 1, 2011 at 6:44 am | Permalink

      Oh look at that, you’ve made me feel all guilty now! The problem I had with 5d is that when I finally figured out what was going on, I read ‘way fairer’ in a sort of Keanu Reeves, Calidude voice – ‘Wooah, way fairer, dude’ which seemed clunky and out of place in the context of the wider puzzle. I think calling the clue clunky was more to do with my first reaction based on this, rather than a way fairer objective assessment, dude.

  16. birdie
    Posted August 31, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Fabulous stuff today from both setter and reviewer. So many good clues to choose from but I’ll go for 5d – so clever and a great surface read. I managed most of it but needed help with a couple and I’m glad I did because the review was so entertaining – loved the Eddie you-know-who sketch which reminded me of me when it comes to technology. Many thanks to both:)