Toughie 660

Toughie No 660 by Micawber

A Thing of Joy

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

I may have mentioned once or twice that Micawber is my favourite Toughie setter and this is a “thing of joy” (I’ve nicked Crypticsue’s very apt description to me in an email). It’s chock full of amusing and very clever clues but, as Toughies go, it’s fairly gentle.
Let us know how you fared with it and please take the time to click on one of the stars below to register your enjoyment (personally Oi’ll Give it Foive, as Janice used to say on Thank Your Lucky Stars).

Across Clues

1a  Observer of booby and American warbler? (8)
{TWITCHER} – a great semi all-in-one clue to start. Someone who’s on the lookout for rare birds (although I’m not sure how rare these two are) is a charade of a foolish person (booby) and an ageing American chanteuse.

6a  Fine American novelist ultimately very insubstantial (6)
{FROTHY} – the definition is insubstantial – string together F(ine), the name of an American novelist (author of Portnoy’s Complaint) and the ultimate letter of (ver)Y.

9a  Tory having great chat (6)
{CONFAB} – a charade of a Tory and a slang term for great produces another slang term for a private chat.

10a  A tailless dog getting stuck into its food — for real (4,4)
{BONA FIDE} – insert A and the name often given to a faithful dog without its final O (tailless) inside what dogs love to chew to make an adjective, from latin, meaning real or genuine.

11a  Score through centre away from home (5,3)
{CROSS OUT} – a phrasal verb meaning to score through is a verb to centre (as a winger on the football field may do) followed by a synonym for away from home.

12a  Times goes after setter’s pictures (6)
{IMAGES} – long periods of time follow setter’s (i.e. a contracted form of “setter is”) put into the first person.

13a  Apricot lover evolved into predator long ago (12)
{VELOCIRAPTOR} – an anagram (evolved) of APRICOT LOVER gives us a (relatively) small dinosaur.

16a  Form of education reducing social barriers? (7,5)
{EVENING CLASS} – a form of education (normally for adults) could cryptically be concerned with reducing the disparities between different levels of society.

19a  Sea creature spotted around site of net heading west (6)
{WALRUS} – a synonym for spotted or noticed goes round the abbreviation for an internet address (site of net) then the whole thing is reversed (heading west, in an across clue).

21a  Putting ‘oly man’s robe on Miller’s son, over the top (1,3,4)
{A BIT MUCH} – start with a holy man’s (monk’s, perhaps) robe and drop the initial H to mimic the clue, then add the name of the Miller’s son in the legend of Robin Hood to make a phrase meaning over the top.

23a  Vegetable giving brother internal pain, starting with back (8)
{BROCCOLI} – an abbreviation for brother (or a friendly form of address in the USA, often preceded by the salute found in 24a) is followed by an internal pain (mainly suffered by babies) with its final letter promoted to the front (starting with back).

24a  Inappropriate salute to monarch results in enslavement (6)
{YOKING} – such a salute (2,4) to a monarch would probably be deemed inappropriate or too familiar. LOL

25a  Offer to take care of former partner first (6)
{EXTEND} – a verb to take care of is preceded by a former partner to make a synonym of to offer or hold out.

26a  Trot oddly up against a wealthy comrade (8)
{TOVARICH} – a word, from Russian, meaning comrade (often used as a friendly greeting in the Soviet Union) is built from a) the odd letters of TrOt, b) a single-letter abbreviation meaning against, c) A and d) a synonym for wealthy.

Down Clues

2d  They press suits and fringes of woolly jumpers (6)
{WOOERS} – these are lovers who press their suits or pay court to their beloved. They come from the fringe letters of WOO(lly jump)ERS.

3d  Rows of headless bodies (5)
{TIFFS} – take of the initial letter (headless) from a slang word for dead bodies to leave rows or spats.

4d  Frightful creature heard staggerin’ round raised marshland (9)
{HOBGOBLIN} – this frightful creature is a homophone (heard) of a truncated present participle meaning staggerin’ or movin’ unsteadily around the reversal (raised, in a down clue) of a marshland.

5d  Mechanical ear’s covered by fleece (7)
{ROBOTIC} – the definition here is mechanical in the sense of working automatically without spontaneity. An adjective meaning belonging to the ear (ear’s) has before it (covered by, in a down clue) a verb to fleece or swindle.

6d  Female antelope raised on island plants (5)
{FUNGI} – these plants are made from F(emale), an African antelope reversed (raised, in a down clue) and I(sland).

7d  Fulham, in the morning, work out away from main training area (3-6)
{OFF-CAMPUS} – the abbreviations for Fulham (the football club, not the district) and in the morning are surrounded (out) by the word for an artistic work to make somewhere away from the main college grounds (i.e. away from where most of the teaching happens).

8d  Thicket where dog got tangled (8)
{HEDGEROW} – an anagram (got tangled) of WHERE DOG.

13d  Centre ville mistranslated — not the French for this circulatory centre (9)
{VENTRICLE} – we need to find an anagram (mistranslated) of CENTRE VIL(le) (one of the two ubiquitous road signs in French urban areas – the other being of course “toutes directions”) without one of the French definite articles to make something at the heart of the body’s circulatory system.

14d  Tarty live broadcast like Big Brother? (7,2)
{REALITY TV} – what a lovely description of Big Brother! This is an anagram (broadcast) of TARTY LIVE.

15d  A woman ace presiding over stunts, say? (8)
{AVIATRIX} – this is a clever all-in-one clue.  A, an abbreviated woman’s name and A(ce) precede (presiding over, in a down clue) a sound-alike of another word for stunts.

17d  Tea Party vehicle (7)
{CHARIOT} – this is nothing to do with the frightening political movement in the USA. We want a vehicle which is a charade of an informal word for tea and a slang term for a party or wildly enjoyable event.

18d  For audience to be shown the devil is dramatic (6)
{SCENIC} – something dramatic sounds like (for audience) have sight of the devil.

20d  South getting icy blast (5)
{SCOLD} – a verb to blast or berate is S(outh) followed by another word for icy.

22d  Creator of Earth in gospel (right at the end) (5)
{MAKER} – the definition here is creator. Put E(arth) inside the name of one of the gospels in the New Testament with its R(ight) moved to the end.

I could have listed a dozen favourites here but I’ll restrict myself to 1a, 24a, 2d, 14d and 15d. Let us know your selection.

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22 Comments

  1. crypticsue
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Gazza doesn’t mention that my email to him was expressing my jealousy that not only did he have the joy of solving this splendid crossword, but he then had a second chance to enjoy it all over again while writing the review.

    This wonderful crossword was solved in possibly my quickest ever Toughie time but that didn’t detract from the enjoyment at all. I love Micawber’s puzzles as his great clues are fun to solve and leave you feeling really happy with the day. I can’t pick a favourite from so many so I will just say a big thank you to Micawber and to Gazza too.

  2. pommers
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    A splendid puzzle and just the right level of difficulty for me. 2d I thought was the trickiest and was my last in. Even with all the checkers it took ages for the proverbial to drop!

    Many thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

  3. Warren
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Also easily my record for a Toughie but a beautiful puzzle and 1a simply sublime, closely followed by 7d.

  4. Chris
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant. (Though not tough)
    So many good clues. 16ac just favourite.
    Needed blog for explanation of 19ac.
    Thanks to Micawber for pleasant start to the day!

  5. Jezza
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    I think I enjoyed this one even more the second time around (ie reading the review!).
    Plenty of splendid clues, my favourite 24a for the chuckle it produced.
    Last one in for me was 2d.
    Thanks to Micawber, and to gazza.

  6. andy
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Ditto above, it took reading the review to reemphasise just how good this was. 24a also favourite for the lol moment.
    Thanks to Micawber and Gazza

  7. seymour
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    I’m not usually a visitor to the inner pages of the DT, but thoroughly enjoyed this; I have to say I’d never heard of 26a and needed a bit of help, especially with some I had got the answer for and didn’t know why!!! So thank you Gazza!

  8. pegasus
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    I like everyone up to now really enjoyed this one, some beautifully structured clues of which my favourites were 1a 10a 19a 2d and 7d thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for the review.

  9. Prolixic
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Highly enjoyable but over far too quickly. As for the crossword … all done well before Clapham Junction today.

    Thanks to Micawber for the fun and to Gazza for the review.

  10. Kath
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Don’t want to look at hints yet – have done this one apart from the top left hand corner and have now run out of time – will “perservate” with that bit tomorrow, if time permits. Have really enjoyed it and just HAD to say that 24a gave me such a fit of the giggles that I was incapable of doing anything else for at least five minutes! That one has gone into my top five ever favourite clues. :grin:

  11. Posted November 2, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    Excellent puzzle as ever from Micawber. The 5 clues in the NW corner went in last -I saw 1a but couldnt parse it as I was only thinking of the birds. My thanks to gazza and to Micawber as ever.

  12. Derek
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    I did about 75% of this puzzle after finishing the cryptic then had to pause to get on with other jobs. Finished it this evening.
    Faves : 6a, 16a, 19a, 26a, 4d, 7d, 13d & 15d (thought of Amy Johnson of course – do you remember why Gazza?).

    • gazza
      Posted November 2, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

      I know that she was an English aviatrix but I don’t know why the clue made you think specifically of her (the picture in my review is of Amelia Earhart).

      • Derek
        Posted November 2, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

        Hi Gazza!
        In an earlier blog, possibly some months ago, I mentioned that I went to the same school as Amy Johnson when we lived in Hull just before the outbreak of WW2.
        The Boulevard School – it is now a block of flats!
        We used to sing about her to the tune of Daisy Bell – “Amy Johnson flew in an aeroplane, she flew to Australia then she flew back again ….”.

  13. Scrabo
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    This made a perfect companion to tonight’s footie and was the only toughie I have ever had much success with. Much easier than today’s back page for me but I missed 2d and never heard of 26a. Many lovely clues, thought 1 was really good and 21a great. Thanks to the setter and to Gazza for the hints. for the hints

  14. pommers
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    Been a long day so off to bed soon. Glad I seem to have got yhte difficulty rating about right for once and that I’m not the only one who had about 3 runs at 16d! It’s not as though I’ve never seen ‘pants’ as an anagram indicator before!
    G’night all.

    • pommers
      Posted November 2, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

      Sorry – wrong blog! Really is time for bed!

  15. Addicted
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    Don’t often attempt the Toughie – only did to-day becos the other bloggers were on about it. OOh dear – now I know why I don’t try very often!! BUT – I did finally finish it, with a lot of electronic help and the hints, which are SO helpful – thank you. It is certainly one way to learn how to find one’s way around the clues – very instructive. Must keep at it.

    • Posted November 2, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

      Addicted – This is one of those crosswords that is easier than the setter’s usual level but contains the same Toughie constructions. Knowing the setter I was expecting not just the usual wit and topicality but a few hard clues. It is worthwhile reviewing this with the blog and remembering where you got stuck. This will help on your next few Toughies until you become an old hand!

  16. Heno
    Posted November 3, 2011 at 12:48 am | Permalink

    Thanks to Gazza and Micawber for the puzzle. A very good puzzle with some great clues. I found this a good Toughie to try, thanks to various bloggers on the backpage review. I only needed 3 hints. Favourites were 10a & 19a. Since the site changed, I can’t see who did this review, I only knew it was Gazza because I read Sue’s comment.

  17. mary
    Posted November 3, 2011 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Had a go at this yesterday but didn’t have time to finish it, I think I actually might have with a little perservation, fav clue 16a, thanks to Gazza for hints and others for encouragement to ‘have a go’ , good day for it :-)

    • mary
      Posted November 3, 2011 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      for some reason I wanted to put ‘titmarsh’ for 1a!!