Toughie 664

Toughie No 664 by Firefly

Schoolboy Humour – Don’t You Love It?

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

I wasn’t overly taken with this puzzle when I solved it but it grew on me as I wrote the review and I ended up really enjoying it.
We’d love to get your views on the puzzle and please take the time to click on one of the stars below to register your enjoyment factor.

Across Clues

1a  Meat dish a toddler might jump at? (6)
{HOTPOT} – a meat dish popular in the North-West of England is, as (3,3) something a young child might find a painful business.

5a  Busted partition? (8)
{CLEAVAGE} – this is what we call a cryptic definition in the Bristol Channel area. You still don’t get it? Well, reluctantly, I’d better provide a visual hint, then …

9a  What for Muslims a cross can’t become? (10)
{SACROSANCT} – a semi-all-in-one. A cross, being a Christian symbol, is not respected amongst Muslims (so the Red Cross equivalent is called the Red Crescent in predominantly Muslim countries). This is an anagram (become) of A CROSS CAN’T.

10a  Doctor, doctor — I’m a failure! (2-2)
{NO-NO} – an informal term for a failure or something that’s totally unacceptable is the repeated name of the villainous doctor in the James Bond book and film (the latter best remembered, by me anyway, for the introduction of Ursula Andress).

11a  Perceive row to be more substantial (8)
{HEARTIER} – a comparative meaning more substantial (often applied to a meal such as breakfast) is a charade of to perceive and a row (of seats).

12a  Brand which could be said to pinch (6)
{RUSTLE} – a verb meaning to pinch someone else’s livestock sounds like (could be said) the forename of the disgraced entertainer Mr Brand.

13a  Dodge oddities in pillory (4)
{PLOY} – the odd letters of pillory make a dodge.

15a  Accessory badly torn around label (8)
{ORNAMENT} – an anagram (badly) of TORN goes around a label or handle.

18a  He may splash fully tailless right into marsh (8)
{BULLFROG} – another semi-all-in-one. This creature comes from an anagram (splash) of FULL(y) followed by R(ight) inside a synonym of marsh.

19a  Give away (not mislay) saucer (4)
{DISC} – start with a verb meaning to give away or divulge and drop the synonym of to mislay to leave something shaped like a saucer.

21a  Tatterdemalion gets it in the neck (6)
{SCRUFF} – double definition – a tatterdemalion or ragamuffin and part of the neck.

23a  Workers off street given justice for past scare (8)
{AFFRIGHT} – this is a scare and past means that it’s an archaic word. Remove the abbreviation for street from the workers in an organisation and add a synonym of justice or truth.

25a  Blade which pierces orange peel (4)
{EPEE} – hidden (pierces) in the clue is a blade.

26a  Lloyd Webber musical’s current cash reverting to international enterprise (10)
{INITIATIVE} – string together the name of a Lloyd Webber musical, the symbol for electric current and an informal word for cash, then reverse it all (reverting) and append it to I(nternational) to make a synonym for enterprise or originality.

27a  Teaching dog to lie properly taking time — give it a year (8)
{IDEOLOGY} – the definition here is teaching or a system of beliefs. It’s an anagram (properly?) of DOG (t)O LIE with T(ime) taken away, followed by Y(ear).

28a  Plant short leg on right of me (6)
{MYRTLE} – append a truncated LE(g) to a contracted form of “my right” (right of me).

Down Clues

2d  Mature pain occupies heart of poem (2,3)
{OF AGE} – a phrase meaning mature (which follows “come” to mean reach the age of maturity) is made by putting a pain or chore between (occupies) the heart of (p)OE(m).

3d  Half-cut janitor to put pictures up — like this? (9)
{PORTRAYAL} – start with the first half (half-cut) of a janitor then reverse (up, in a down clue) a verb to put or place and a synonym for pictures. The result could be a picture.

4d  Donkey confined by restraint in a Scotch container? (6)
{TASSIE} – this is a Scottish word for a small drinking cup (which could well be used for Scotch) – it may be easier for Sassenachs to get it by thinking of the French word for cup, from which it’s derived. A donkey goes inside (confined by) a restraint.

5d  Location where forces combine — the Old Bailey, perhaps? (6,2,7)
{CENTRE OF GRAVITY} – I did try to get a scientific definition of the answer but got totally befuddled (as usual), so this is my take on it – I’m sure you’ll put me right if I’ve got it wrong. It’s a point (location) in a body where the combination of different forces acting on the body cancel each other out so that there’s an equilibrium. It seems to apply to the Old Bailey in two senses – a) the building is a central part of the judicial system where very grave matters are decided, and b) the statue of Lady Justice on top of the building holds a pair of scales symbolising the equal measures of justice applied to both sides in a case.

6d  Install Richard the First among the non-English characters (8)
{ENTHRONE} – this verb to install a monarch comes from putting the first letter of R(ichard) inside an anagram (characters) of THE NON-E(nglish).

7d  Swap final directions for place to meet enchantress (5)
{VENUS} – start with a place to meet and swap the final letter from one direction to another to form the name of the Roman goddess associated with love and seduction.

8d  Drinks trap student into uncouth signs (3,6)
{GIN SLINGS} – these are sweet alcoholic drinks. Start with an outlawed trap for catching wild animals and follow this with the abbreviation for a student driver inside an anagram (uncouth) of SIGNS.

14d  New chap excitedly showered with praise for start of project (6,3)
{LAUNCH PAD} – N(ew) and an anagram (excitedly) of CHAP are inserted (showered with) in a verb to praise to make something from which a project can be started (or a vehicle can be projected upwards).

16d  One day in December setter had success in Masters whilst son lost (3-6)
{MID-WINTER} – this is a day round about the 21st or 22nd of December (but only in the Northern hemisphere so the clue won’t work for those doing the puzzle down under). Put the first person contracted form of “the setter had” and a success or victory inside Masters having first taken out (lost) the synonym for whilst and S(on).

17d  Writing on the wall for schoolboys if raised among corruption, earning nothing (8)
{GRAFFITO} – I don’t think it’s just schoolboys who are responsible for such writing on a wall. Reverse (raised) IF inside a word meaning corruption or fraud, then add (earning) O (nothing).

20d  With runs in a fine first innings, mainly by openers, declare (6)
{AFFIRM} – we want a verb meaning to declare or attest. Take the first letters (openers) of A Fine First Innings Mainly and insert R(uns).

22d  Hives will be significant in apiculture, doubtless (5)
{UREDO} – hidden (significant) in the clue is a word meaning urticaria, nettle rash or hives.

24d  Shed husband for new romance, maybe? (5)
{HOVEL} – when I first saw this clue I thought that Firefly had broken the 9a rule and given us a definite 10a in the shape of an indirect anagram (i.e. H + anagram of love) but of course he hasn’t. The definition is a shed or shack. Start with a type of fiction (a romance, maybe) and bring in H(usband) in place of N(ew).

I liked 18a and 14d but my favourite clue has to be 5a. How about you?


  1. crypticsue
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Not especially difficult but I did enjoy the experience, thank you Firefly. I liked 1a for the vision it created and 5a as it made me think of Gazza :D Thanks to Gazza too – I thought you were very restrained as with a bit of lateral thinking, there are several other opportunities for illustrations in those solutions.

  2. Jezza
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    I was expecting more of a struggle than this turned out to be, but then again it is only Wednesday. Thanks to Firefly for a fun puzzle, and to gazza for the notes.

  3. andy
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Schoolboy humour outweighed by my schoolboy errors today. Groans. Had the film for 10a, but put that in which made a mess of 7d, then had the wrong final letter for 17d which scuppered 27a. Hmmpphh. Thought hidden answer in 22d very clever indeed. Thanks to firefly and Gazza for explanations.

  4. pegasus
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    I loved it. usually I find Firefly puzzles really tough but this was a pleasure 4d a new one for me favourites 1a 5a and 5d thanks to Firefly and to Gazza for a great review.

  5. droolie
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    This felt a lot harder than the back pager but surprisingly took me only about 20% longer to do, though I did have a few right answers for the wrong reasons (does that make them right?). I too had the indirect anagram for 24d and also used a double anagram of SIGN for 8d, but the proper answer is clearly much better in both cases. 4 and 22 both new words to me, but possible to work out, which is nice. Thanks to Gazza and Firefly.

    • gazza
      Posted November 9, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

      I think your explanation of 8d works just as well as mine. It would be interesting to know which one Firefly had in mind.

  6. Firefly
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for your kind comments.

    8D: Nothing complicated intended — just as Gazza suggests!

    Best wishes


    • gazza
      Posted November 9, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the confirmation, Firefly, and thanks for the puzzle.

  7. Prolixic
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks to Firefly for an enjoyable crossword. Favourite clue was 9a. Thanks also to Gazza for the review.

  8. pegasus
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    I’ve just read the interview with Roger Squires on Crossword Unclued and all I can say is ” Remarkable”.