Toughie 672

Toughie No 672 by Micawber

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

Obviously my ongoing programme of sacrificing goats is working because once again Wednesday has served up a superb puzzle by the great Micawber. It took me some time to get going but I later speeded up and was, as usual, disappointed when it was all over because I was enjoying it so much.
Please let us know how you got on and take the time to click on one of the stars below to record your enjoyment factor.

Across Clues

1a  Enjoying considerable intimacy with passing fancy (4,2,5)
{HAND IN GLOVE} – a phrase describing being on intimate terms or having a close working relationship with someone is a charade of passing or giving (7) and to fancy or have feelings for (4).

7a  Primate: ‘God exists, no hint of doubt!’ (5)
{LORIS} – a phrase proclaiming that God exists (4,2) has its D removed to leave a nocturnal primate from South-East Asia.

8a  Flower to sow abundantly around Portugal (9)
{SPEEDWELL} – this is a herbaceous plant with small blue or pink flowers. A phrase meaning to sow or plant abundantly (4,4) has the IVR code for Portugal inserted.

10a  Allowance finally makes ends meet (7)
{STIPEND} – this is an allowance, especially one paid to a clergyman. The final letter of (make)S is followed by two different ends, one after the other.

11a  Get going from place with vermin running round (5,2)
{START UP} – a phrasal verb meaning to get something going comes from a verb to place and vermin all reversed (running around).

12a  Money in hand that’s useful for getting plastered? (5)
{FLOAT} – double definition – a sum of money available for giving change at the start of a period of trading and a tool with a rectangular blade as used by a plasterer.

13a  What’ll result in restart? Judge, with some hesitation, puts case (4,5)
{JUMP LEADS} – string together the abbreviation for a judge, a small word expressing hesitation and a verb meaning presents one’s case in court to make devices to help 11a your car, especially in the coming cold weather.

16a  Note English side taking on singular Scots team with tense display again (2-7)
{RE-EXHIBIT} – the definition here is display again. This has to be built up from a) the second note in tonic sol-fa, b) E(nglish), c) the Roman numeral for the number of players in a football side around (taking on) the singular form of the nickname of an Edinburgh-based football team, and finally d) T(ense).

18a  Kind of classic Channel Islands bar, laid-back (5)
{DORIC} – a classical Greek architecture is a charade of the abbreviation for the Channel Islands and a slender bar, all of which then has to be reversed (laid-back).

19a  Pronounced particularly popular, with a good body? (7)
{INTONED} – a verb meaning pronounced or recited comes from a short word for particularly popular or trendy followed by an adjective describing a good body with firm muscles. Since I am never less than even-handed in these matters, here are two pictures …

22a  Not a conservative, deacon enters terribly pious sect (4,3)
{OPUS DEI} – this is a Roman Catholic organisation (I’m not sure that it is a sect) which came to prominence a few years ago thanks to one of Dan Brown’s ludicrous books, its main claim to notoriety being the belief of some of its members in the necessity of self-inflicted pain. Remove A and the abbreviation of Conservative from deacon and insert what’s left in an anagram (terribly) of PIOUS.

23a  Turning stoic if fox eats inside, in view of one’s position (2,7)
{EX OFFICIO} – a latin phrase meaning by virtue of one’s post (used to describe the basis on which someone is a member of a committee, say) is hidden (inside) and reversed (turning) in the clue.

24a  Scots town’s song in the news (5)
{NAIRN} – the name of a seaside resort on the Moray Firth is a synonym for song inside two N(ew)s.

25a  Stop current, or let it flow (4,3,4)
{PULL THE PLUG} – this phrase means to put a stop to something (a failing project, for example) by cutting off the flow of money to it. Literally it may mean to let the current flow (from a bath, say).

Down Clues

1d  Veggie woman put up with eating olives, essentially (9)
{HERBIVORE} – a feminine pronoun is followed by a verb meaning put up with or endured around the central two letters (essentially) of olIVes. The result is a vegetarian.

2d  Starting to develop north face of mountain? (7)
{NASCENT} – N(orth) is followed by the rising face of a mountain.

3d  Patience found here, perhaps, in work of fifth column … (6,3)
{INSIDE JOB} – double definition. You might find patience within the Biblical character who is proverbially famous for it.

4d  … suppose, visitors sacking Troy (5)
{GUESS} – remove T(roy) from a word for welcome visitors.

5d  Queer fish in pool, may be striped or spotted (but not black) (7)
{ODDBALL} – never having played the game of pool I had to look up the relevant colours. There are various striped and spotted targets to hit numbered in the range 1-15 but the only black one is the number-8 (eight, of course, being an even number and therefore not qualifying for this (3,4) description). As a noun it means an eccentric person or queer fish.

6d  Make effort, turning up dinosaur in rock after start of excavation (5)
{EXERT} – the shortened name of the British rock band founded by Marc Bolan and named after a dinosaur is reversed (turning up) after the first letter of E(xcavation).

7d  Exuberantly tries, full of vitality (4,3,4)
{LUST FOR LIFE} – an anagram (exuberantly) of TRIES FULL OF.

9d  Cost in oil up catastrophically — it’ll mean stripping out the fat (11)
{LIPOSUCTION} – an anagram (catastrophically) of COST IN OIL UP gives a fairly drastic way of giving up fat.

14d  Underground sprite said to be the keeper of time (9)
{METRONOME} – what the underground transport system is called in various cities is followed by a homophone (said) of a sprite or goblin to make a device that keeps time.

15d  Making contract, a union member mostly proceeding without head of organisation (9)
{ABRIDGING} – this means shortening (making … contract). We need to combine A, the female lead in a union without her final E (mostly) and a present participle meaning proceeding without the first letter of O(rganisation).

17d  Taxing one’s pitiful amount? (7)
{HANDFUL} – double definition. Something or someone (a child, perhaps) that’s difficult to control (taxes one) and a small quantity.

18d  Run frantically in ring for a day (7)
{DIURNAL} – the definition is for (or lasting) a day. Put an anagram (frantically) of RUN inside a verb that is still used to mean make a phone call even though the mechanism that it refers to has largely disappeared.

20d  Soldiers mounting post office or telephone box on map (5)
{TROOP} – a group of soldiers is formed by reversing (mounting) the OS abbreviations for Post Office and Telephone Box with OR (given in the clue) between them.

21d  Lost money when train’s shelled (5)
{DUCAT} – a verb meaning to train loses its shell (i.e. its outer letters) to leave an old gold or silver coin.

As always with Micawber there are too many good clues to list them all but I particularly enjoyed 5d, 9d and 21d. How about you?


  1. crypticsue
    Posted November 23, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    I too had problems getting into this puzzle – as a change from Gnome’s Law, I said to a colleague, these aren’t usually as hard to get into as this – whereupon everything started to fall into place. GIven my solving time, I would say 2* toughie difficulty but definitely 5* enjoyment. Thanks to Micawber for the great puzzle – it was only the thought of a Micawber Toughie that moved me from my cosy bed and out into the fog this morning. Thanks also to Gazza – the equal opportunities pictures at 19a are much appreciated. You have been so luckily lately with the setters of Wednesday toughies for your reviews – hope the trend continues.

  2. Prolixic
    Posted November 23, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    A joy and delight to solve. I don’t often disagree on difficulty, but I would have given this ** as I fairly romped through this and had to move on to the Guardian before reaching Waterloo this morning.

    Thanks to Micawber for the fun and to Gazza for the review. I commented to CS how lucky you were to get both to solve and blog this crossword. No disagreements on the top clues though I would add 1a to the list.

  3. andy
    Posted November 23, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    In the took me ages to get going camp, which for a Wednesday before my first ever sloggers and betters I found very disturbing ! However at my snails pace all fell into place. .
    Anyway Thanks to Gazza and Micawber (even if thanks to 7d I cant stop humming Iggy Pop)

    Gazza, in 5D hint I think you mean (3,4) not (3,3)

    • gazza
      Posted November 23, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, andy – fixed.

  4. pegasus
    Posted November 23, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    As is usual with Micawber his class always shines through and this was no exception, favourites 5d 13a and 21d thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for the review.

  5. BigBoab
    Posted November 23, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks to Micawber and to Gazza, a superb puzzle and thoroughly enjoyable, my favourite was 16a but I also loved the simplicity of 24a.

  6. eXternal
    Posted November 23, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    I thought this a nice tough puzzle and well set. Thanks to Micawber and Gazza. I needed a few of the hints to get me going again when stuck halfway for ages. I liked 5d in particular. A very nice PDM.

  7. Posted November 23, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    I’m another in the ‘took ages to get going’ clan but then it all fell into plce rather suddenly after I twigged 1a!
    Nice puzzle so thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for the review.

  8. Posted November 23, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Class as ever, thanks M!. I started easily enough but waited for ages to get the last three in in the SW corner – my fault as usual. On balance I would say that this was a 2-3 star Micawber for me but definitely fun. 5d raised a huge smile as did the excellent 1a (amongst many others). Thanks to gazza as well for the usual sterling review.

  9. Derek
    Posted November 23, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    Posting this after watching Frozen Planet!

    Faves :7a, 10a, 13a, 25a, 3d, 9d & 14d,

    An excellent puzzle.

  10. Heno
    Posted November 23, 2011 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Micawber & Gazza. Too tough for me, wish I was good enough to enjoy it!

    • Heno
      Posted November 23, 2011 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

      Phew, finally finished with 16 hints, 5 of which I to look up. Favourites were 25a & 18d, the last of which I have not heard of since school biology lessons which mentioned diurnal & pelagic fish.

  11. Qix
    Posted November 23, 2011 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    Problems with the DT site continue, but it was worth the considerable amount of hassle required to get hold of this.

    As always, Micawber has come up with the goods. This was fun from beginning to end; trickier than average from Micawber, but none the worse for that. Can’t wait for the next one.

  12. jdr
    Posted November 24, 2011 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    This was pretty tough. I agree with the 4* rating. It was only after a nights sleep that I suddenly solved the last half dozen clues.
    HANDING LOVE was my favourite clue which unfortunately was one of the last ones to be solved.