Toughie 638 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 638

Toughie No 638 by Elgar

Dragged backwards through a hedge!

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

What a difference a few days make.  After finishing this Elgar puzzle I felt as if I’d been mugged by Vlad the Impaler.  I didn’t think it was one of his best, but it was still better than most Toughies.

Tilsit was called away to help a friend, leaving me to explain this one!

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1a    Yens or pounds on what may be followed by gangs with goolies? (8)
{LONGINGS} – then yens or desires come from a charade of the abbreviation for pounds sterling, ON from the clue and the bits that precede the Gangs and the Goolies in what Wikipedia describes as a “gibberish Scouting song written by Robert Baden-Powell”

5a,20d,1d     Some cook reported truck loading up ‘reproductive material’ for show (1,3,2,3,3,6)
{A BIT OF FRY AND LAURIE} – start with a phrase meaning some (1,3,2) then add a word meaning to cook with oil and what sounds like (reported) a truck and finally separate the last two components (loading) with the reversal (up, as it appears in a down component) of a self-replicating material which is present in nearly all living organisms as the main constituent of chromosomes – if you’re still with me you should now have a comedy sketch program

9a    Like the Invincibles, 12 19 22? (8)
{UNBEATEN} –the first part of this clue should lead to the answer – which is just as well as I found the second part to be no help at all

10a    See 2 down

11a    Treatment of indigos, perhaps, with I (8)
{IODISING} – an anagram (perhaps) of INDIGOS with I gives a treatment with the element which has the chemical symbol of I

12a,19d,22a    Militant aggresses with gas? I guess it’s inevitable (2,4,2,4,2,4)
{AS SURE AS EGGS IS EGGS} – an anagram (militant) of AGGRESSES with GAS I GUESS gives a phrase which means “it’s inevitable”

14a    Firm put off, with hidden dangers in store (10)
{DETERMINED} – an adjective meaning firm is a charade of a word meaning to put off and an adjective meaning with dangers buried underground

18a    Dark film cast left in a screw steamer (10)
{OPAQUENESS} – a noun meaning dark is created by putting a film or coating without (cast) the L(eft) inside ONE (a) and a Screw Steamer

22a    See 12 across

23a    Opening for Castle, starting series of rallies in a pickle? (8)
{CONSERVE} – the initial letter (opening) of Castle is followed by a phrase meaning about to start a series of rallies in tennis (2,5) to get a noun meaning a pickle

24a,3d,26a    Despite my opinion seeming big-headed, slimy and offensive, it’s easy to misconstrue (4,2,1,3,2,6)
{EVEN IF I SAY SO MYSELF} – this phrase which means “despite my opinion seeming big-headed” is an anagram (to misconstrue) of SLIMY OFFENSIVE and EASY

25a    Gnats troubling soldier still (8)
{STAGNANT} – an anagram (troubling) of GNATS followed by a soldier insect gives a word meaning still

26a    See 24 across

27a    Opponent of Saracens unusually scared about their game (8)
{CRUSADER} – this opponent of the Saracens comes from an anagram (unusually) of SCARED around the game played by a team called the Saracens


1d    See 5 across

2d,10a,21d    Hit from Simon the reason for deferring to Charles in diary? (6,4,2,6)
{NOBODY DOES IT BETTER} – this hit song from the James Bond movie “The Spy Who Loved Me” was sung by Carly Simon – the rest of the clue is a reference to Charles Pooter, the fictional author of a famous Diary – the book by George and Weedon Grossmith is well worth reading if you haven’t done so already

3d    See 24 across

4d    Live genera winding round poles (5,5)
{GREEN BEANS} – a word meaning to live (2) has an anagram (winding) of GENERA around it and is followed by both poles – the definition in this all-in-one clue is found by reading the whole clue

6d    Summers’ limits may/may not be important to these (8)
{BLOSSOMS} – put the outside letters (limits) of SummerS inside one type of flower to get a word that means more-or-less the same – hence the insertion may or may not be important

7d    Weaving threads, set up prosecution (8)
{TISSUING} – a word meaning the weaving or interweaving of threads is created by reversing (up) a word loosely meaning to set and following it with prosecution in court

8d    Only thirds needed, awful exams botched on the spin: call Mensa? No! (8)
{FATHEADS} – take the third letters of awFul, exAms and boTched and add one of the two options when a coin is spun to get these people unlikely to be members of Mensa

13d    Missile launcher? Sound alarm when leading in lord (10)
{PEASHOOTER} – to get this small tube used by a schoolboy to launch a “missile” put a word meaning to sound an alarm, in a car say, after a synonym for when and all inside a general name for a lord of the realm

15d    Badly miscue, potting one ball at either end in sports venue (8)
{COLISEUM} – put an anagram (badly) of MISCUE around (potting) the letters at each end of One balL to get a sports venue in Ancient Rome

16d    Having no time for empty-palmed occupants of singles bar? (8)
{DATELESS} – a triple definition! – having no time / an empty palm tree / a term describing the occupants of a singles bar

17d    A squalid place to have suspended herb for Spooner (8)
{DUNGHILL} – if this squalid place is split (4,4) and the initial letters are swapped, Spoonerism style, you get a suspended herb

19d    See 12 across

20d    See 5 across

21d    See 2 down

I feel like lying down in a darkened room for a couple of hours, but instead Mrs BD wants me to hang some curtains!

23 comments on “Toughie 638

  1. If there was such a thing, I would have given this one 6* for difficulty. 5* entertaining for me, not least for the splendid d’oh moments. The Invincibles can refer to either Arsenal or Preston North End so presumably (not being a footie fan myself) at the time Elgar/Vlad set this crossword, one of the teams must have been 9a. More favourite ‘dots’ than unmarked clues but 18a would be my pet hate, mainly because without BD I would never have understood how it worked. Lots and lots of thanks to Vlad, Big Dave, and Prolixic (if you want Gnome’s law to work and you know said Gnome is busy in Slough, then email Prolixic as it works equally well!).

  2. To liken Elgar to Vald the Impaler for this crossword is a vicious slander on Vald. This was more by the doubly viscious offspring of Vlad following dark arts with the wicked witch of the West. Good fun though!

  3. Thanks BD for explaining 18a, so obfvious but just couldn’t work the wordplay. Favourites hard to pick but the 2,10 & 21 and 4d 8d for me were excellent. Many thanks Elgar and BD

  4. I managed to solve 5 clues, which is good for me on an Elgar puzzle. With so many outstanding answers it’s not worth my while looking at them. Not my tasse de thé but it’s all a matter of preference.

  5. Can someone please take pity on my senior moment? I cannot reconcile 11a : Iodising, with 3 d: I say it. Where have I gone wrong?

  6. There’s no James Bond movie called ‘Nobody Does It Better’ … it’s called The Spy Who Loved Me … a rare error from Big Dave!

  7. A large glass of vino collapso required after that marathon but sadly I had to drive later so a brisk walk helped to restore me! Great stuff from Elgar – I needed a number of the hints to explain the wordplay even though I’d finished the grid. Did anyone else waste time mentally scrolling through Paul Simon’s discography? Thanks to Elgar and BD.

    1. Paul Simon – Yes!

      I will never ever attempt a Friday Toughie by Elgar again! Difficulty 5 / Enjoyment 0!

  8. Finally completed phew. My favourite was 13d thanks to Elgar and to Big Dave for the explanations I certainly needed them.

  9. I didn’t find it as difficult as some Elgar puzzles. I did it at one sitting over a meal in the pub. The 4 long answers went in fairly quickly and then it was a case of pummeling the brain to work out all the others. Difficulty 4 / Enjoyment 5

    1. What did you have for lunch? I must have it for breakfast on future Elgar Fridays as porridge obviously wasn’t enough :D

  10. Overcome with admiration for Big Dave. Did half a dozen clues including 12 across and then I stuck. I heartily dislike answers spread over 3 or more clues, Mr Spooner I deplore and yes, I too, was led astray by Paul Simon. I will leave Elgar in future to the likes of Bufo.

  11. A real brainscratcher with so many good clues of which 1a was my favourite as it gave me a giggle. This type of puzzle looks hard but if the long ones are solved the rest go in easily, with a bit of help from Onelook.

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