Toughie 632

Toughie No 632 by Micawber

Burning the Midnight Oil at Both Ends

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

We have another delightful, but not over-taxing, puzzle from Micawber. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
Please let us know how you got on and take the time to click on one of the stars below to grade the puzzle.

Across Clues

1a  Not much news as troops advance, not much (6,4)
{COLUMN INCH} – a charade of a formation of troops on the move and a very small distance (not much) produces the amount of space that may be devoted to a minor news item in a newspaper.

6a  Great online image? (4)
{EPIC} – an adjective meaning great or on a grand scale could also, cryptically be an online image (1-3).

10a  Where to get clean and neat after relapsing, half-wasted (5)
{DETOX} – this is an informal, short, name for a centre you might visit to cleanse your body of poisonous substances. Put a bovine creature (neat) after half of the word wasted when reversed (relapsing).

11a  Regularly using an old horse — but beating it won’t make this move! (5,4)
{SNARE DRUM} – start with the even (regularly) letters of uSiNg An then add the name of a famous old racehorse (3,3) to make a percussion instrument which should remain still while you beat it.

12a  Country cure failing where trouble is internal (7)
{ECUADOR} – this South American country is an anagram (failing) of CURE with a synonym of trouble inside.

13a  Portugal and Italy getting a loan arrangement from which notes are automatically forthcoming (7)
{PIANOLA} – this is a musical instrument that produces notes from a roll of tape with perforations. Start with the IVR codes for Portugal and Italy and add an anagram (arrangement) of A LOAN. Nice surface relating to the current troubles in the Eurozone.

14a  Having drifted, lies stranded here? (6,6)
{DESERT ISLAND} – a semi-all-in-one – where you may be stranded (with nothing but your eight records?) after drifting at sea is an anagram (having drifted) of LIES STRANDED.

18a  Old farm machinery enthusiast found way of dealing with unpleasant smells (9,3)
{EXTRACTOR FAN} – a device for removing unpleasant smells is a charade of a prefix meaning old or former, an item of farm machinery (I may have a relevant picture to hand) and an enthusiastic supporter.

21a  Container docked by trains (7)
{TEACHES} – a container for transporting dried leaves (3,5) has its final T docked to leave a verb meaning trains.

23a  Draw off last of old wine barrel with antique instrument (7)
{SACKBUT} – join together an old name for various dry white wines from Spain and a large cask for holding such wines then remove (draw off) the final T to leave an old musical instrument similar to a trombone.

24a  Washington’s international force not in Oman at first for aquatic exercise? (5,4)
{WATER POLO} – combine the standard abbreviation for the state of Washington, an international police organisation without its leading IN and the first letter of O(man) to make an aquatic sport.

25a  Shy youth leader follows sumo wrestling (5)
{MOUSY} – the first letter of Y(outh) follows an anagram (wrestling) of SUMO.

26a  Vermin’s headcount 95 per cent reduced, but still vermin (4)
{LICE} – this is a tale of two vermin. The first letter (head) of the one you finish up with is 95 percent less (counting in Roman numerals) than the one you started with.

27a  Work experience in prison hulk? (10)
{INTERNSHIP} – double definition, the second cryptic.

Down Clues

1d  Food processed in Jersey perhaps with aspic in batter (6)
{CUDGEL} – we want a verb to batter with a heavy club. It’s a charade of food that a Jersey (or other ruminating animal) likes so much that it eats it twice and a jelly-like substance (aspic).

2d  Kind of paper changing political complexion in response to outside influence? (6)
{LITMUS} – lovely cryptic definition of a paper which may turn red or blue.

3d  Might such figures cause poets harm? (5,9)
{MIXED METAPHORS} – I’m reminded of the football manager who turned down the offer of a new job because he suspected there was a bigger fish around the corner. These figures of speech feature in a reverse anagram leading to POETS HARM.

4d  Popular Socialist begins pressing rebel… (9)
{INSURGENT} – this rebel is a charade of a short word for popular or trendy, the first letter of S(ocialist) and a synonym of pressing.

5d  …defender — tea party representative? (5)
{CHAMP} – a short form of a word for someone defending his or her title is an informal word for tea followed by a party representative in the Commons. We don’t, yet, have the Tea Party Movement in this country, but is it a matter of time?

7d  Offensive contents of papers on Albania (8)
{PERSONAL} – hidden (contents) in the clue is an adjective that can mean offensive.

8d  E.g. marine company receiving military medal as well as expression of admiration (8)
{COMMANDO} – this is a serviceman specially trained to carry out raids into hostile country and a marine may be an example of this. It’s a charade of an abbreviated company, a military medal, a synonym for as well as and an expression of admiration.

9d  Cultured chap, one upholding new version of Americanness (11,3)
{RENAISSANCE MAN} – put a word meaning a single instance of something (one) after (upholding, in a down clue) an anagram (new version) of AMERICANNESS to make someone having wide-ranging culture and learning.

15d  Bird changes colour (9)
{TURNSTONE} – this is a bird related to the sandpiper which inverts pebbles on the beach to find food. It’s a verb meaning changes (position or direction) and a word for colour or shade.

16d  Greenish-blue clothing for you and I, a bit of linen (3,5)
{TEA TOWEL} – a bit of linen that lives in the kitchen is formed by putting a greenish-blue colour (named after a freshwater duck) around (clothing) another word for “for” and you and I combined. The surface is not exactly grammatically correct.

17d  Finally reversing direction towards end avoids unknown part of frozen ocean (8)
{ATLANTIC} – this is an ocean. A phrase meaning finally (2,4) has the single-letter direction towards its end reversed, then this is followed by a synonym of frozen without the algebraic variable (avoids unknown part).

19d  Sailor drunk and embarrassed (6)
{ABLUSH} – a literary adjective meaning going red with embarrassment is a charade of an abbreviation for a sailor and an habitual drunk.

20d  Don’t retire on lousy payouts when nothing’s left (4,2)
{STAY UP} – an anagram (lousy) of PAY(o)UTS without the O (nothing’s left) gives us a phrasal verb meaning to postpone retirement.

22d  In speech, Irishman is clipped, not woolly (5)
{SHORN} – an adjective meaning clipped, and therefore no longer woolly, sounds to some ears (in speech) like an Irish male forename.

Too many good clues to list them all but I particularly liked 13a, 26a, 2d and 3d. Let us know what you liked!

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10 Comments

  1. crypticsue
    Posted September 14, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    I do love a Micawber Toughie – always lovely clues and things to make you smile – thank you very much to Micawber, I’ve been in a good mood all morning since I finished this one. Thank you to Gazza too – as you say too many great clues to list so I will just mention the exasperating d’oh moment I had with 7d when I spotted the hidden word.

  2. pegasus
    Posted September 14, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    This compiler can’t do anything wrong in my eyes always a pleasure to solve. Among the plethora of excellent clues Iv’e singled out 10a 11a and 3d.Many thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for the usual top notch review.

  3. Jezza
    Posted September 14, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    At first glance I thought this was going to be quite hard, but then they all fell into place without too much effort.
    I am glad that crypticsue also had fun with 7d – I put a question mark against that one, because until I read the review I did not even notice it was a hidden clue, and I spent ages trying to understand how I got to the correct answer (especially as the code for Albania is AL, the last 2 letters).
    Many thanks to Micawber for a most enjoyable puzzle, and to gazza for the notes and explanations.

  4. BigBoab
    Posted September 14, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks to Micawber for an excellent toughie and to Gazza for an excellent review. (unable to see your picture at 22d, just a message asking us not to hotlink pictures from the photographic dictionary.)

    • gazza
      Posted September 14, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, BB – fixed now, I hope.

  5. Prolixic
    Posted September 14, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Brilliance at work from Micawber today. I have to say that Gazza’ enjoyment rating is downright stingy for this crossword ;) Once again, too many good clues to select favourites. Thanks to Micawber for the treat and to Gazza for the review.

    • gazza
      Posted September 14, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      I was tempted to give it 5 stars (because Micawber is, as I may have mentioned once or twice before, my favourite Toughie setter) but I thought I’d leave a bit of headroom to allow for even greater pleasures in the future. :D

  6. andy
    Posted September 14, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    How strange, I wrestled on and off all morning with this finding it very taxing indeed, one mans meat I suppose. Definetely 4 star enjoyment though with too many penny drop moments to mention. Even more strange I must have been on Pauls wavelength in the guardian as finished that in a fraction of the time to complete this. 7d was indeed a penny drop moment as was trying use (aper) + on + al as an anagram. Back to basics for me. Favourite 10a. Many thanks Micawber and Gazza

  7. Qix
    Posted September 14, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Great stuff again from Micawber. All thoroughly excellent (apart from the non-homophone at 22d – mehhh).

  8. Derek
    Posted September 15, 2011 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Very enjoyable puzzle from Micawber! Started it very late last night and finished it early this morning.
    Too many good clues to pick out faves!

    Re 16d, Gazza, I was going to mention that, in English, prepositions govern the accusative but assume your comment alludes to this.