Toughie 677

Toughie No 677 by Giovanni

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

An enjoyable puzzle from Giovanni that caused me no major problems. That now makes eight Thursday Toughies in succession that I have described as non-too-taxing, fairly gentle, benign, very straightforward, etc. I’ll run out of synonyms if this run continues

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


1a    Modern culture born to accommodate comedian (3,3)
{NEW AGE} A cultural trend that emerged in the late 1980s is given by ‘born’ containing a comedian

4a    Beat the heartless lads up cruelly (8)
{PULSATED} Beat (as a past tense) is an anagram (cruelly) of T(H)E LADS UP

9a    Greek academic with stifled expression looking back (6)
{DORIAN} A member of a Hellenic people who invaded Greece around 1100 BC is made up of an academic containing (stifling) an expression(manner) in reversed form

10a    Author not in the ‘in’ team (8)
{FIELDING} The author of Tom Jones = not in the batting (in) team

11a    Crossword finished? Eight letters missing here and there — I’m at sea! (9)
{SWORDFISH} Use nine letters (or remove eight letters) from crossword finished to get a marine creature

13a    Singer giving a sign that something has to go (5)
{ADELE} One of the best-selling singers of 2011 = A + a proofreading sign indicating that something must be removed

14a    One going around with big speakers? (6,7)
{GHETTO BLASTER} A cryptic definition for a large portable hi-fi with built-in speakers

17a    He and I will certainly contribute to it (8,5)
{PERIODIC TABLE} He (helium) and I (iodine) can be found in this arrangement of chemical elements

21a    In diplomacy Italy must be understood (5)
{TACIT} Diplomacy goes round I (Italy) to give ‘understood’

23a    After snide remark in pub see worker in high dudgeon (9)
{INDIGNANT} A snide remark (3) goes inside a pub (3). This is followed by a worker (3) to give ‘in high dudgeon’

24a    Coming out with new regimen — grams reduced (8)
{EMERGING} ‘Coming out’ is an anagram (new) of REGIMEN + G (abbreviation for grams)

25a    Delight in one being released by liberator (6)
{SAVOUR} ‘Delight’ is obtained by removing I from a word meaning liberator

26a    Newspaper (not Independent) has phone interception, taking chances (8)
{DARINGLY} Remove I (Independent) from a newspaper published on weekdays. Then put ‘to phone’ inside it to get ‘taking chances’

27a    Just bank on yours truly (6)
{MERELY} ‘Just’ = ‘to bank’ after ME (yours truly)


1d    Lacking school uniform (and worse!), daughter is kept in by group of teachers (6)
{NUDIST} A person who goes naked = D (daughter) IS inside the National Union of Teachers

2d    Fighting force getting forward into hazard — I wouldn’t mind that? (9)
{WARMONGER} A fighting force (i.e. the Royal Marines) and ON (forward) goes inside ‘hazard’ to give someone who encourages conflict

3d    Characters in garden about to meet English bigwig (7)
{GRANDEE} An anagram (about) of GARDEN + E (English) is a bigwig

5d    Unsettled? Has change of heart, becoming carefree (11)
{UNINHIBITED} Change the middle letter of a word meaning ‘unsettled’ to get ‘carefree’

6d    Wife of despot? One is ‘without seed’ (7)
{SULTANA} The wife of a despot = a seedless raisin

7d    Dull time before formal ceremony (5)
{TRITE} ‘Dull’ = T (time) + a formal ceremony

8d    Constable from old country brought into Ulster city (8)
{DOGBERRY} A constable in Much Ado About Nothing = O GB (country) inside a city in Ulster

12d    When given coaching, a learner is using sixth sense (11)
{INTUITIONAL} ‘When given coaching (2,7) + A L (learner) = ‘using sixth sense’

15d    Sort of parasite damaging to red meat (9)
{TREMATODE} A parasitic flatworm is an anagram (damaging) of TO RED MEAT

16d    What’s put down in a sequence of letters for Spooner to join (4-4)
{SPOT-WELD) ‘What’ + ‘put down in a sequence of letters’ sounds like the way Spooner would have said ‘to join metal’

18d    Circle somehow can’t go into figure with straight sides (7)
{OCTAGON} O (circle) + an anagram (somehow) of CAN’T GO gives a figure with straight sides

19d    Emotional cases proving to be burdensome? (7)
{BAGGAGE} A word for travellers’ luggage that is sometimes preceded by ’emotional’

20d    Wild rumour Mirror’s leader’s quashed (6)
{STORMY} ‘Wild’ = a rumour containing M (first letter of Mirror)

22d    Give immunity to Conservative oldie losing it tragically (5)
{CLEAR} ‘To give immunity to’ = C (Conservative) + an old character in a Shakespeare tragedy

Here’s to the real Toughie that I’m going to get next week. One can but live in hope.


  1. crypticsue
    Posted December 1, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    I found it really hard to get on Giovanni’s wavelength and needed the hints to finish this one off, so a big thank you to Bufo.

    • Posted December 1, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      I obviously was on Giovanni’s wavelength as I completed it before breakfast and thought it was a pussycat!

  2. pegasus
    Posted December 1, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    I must have been on a different wave length to Bufo as I found this quite difficult. Favourites were 10a 17a and 16d thanks to Giovanni and to Bufo for the notes.

    • crypticsue
      Posted December 1, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      Thank goodness I was not alone in the wilderness.

  3. andy
    Posted December 1, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    With both Sue and Pegasus, I really struggled with this, especially in the North, which was largely blank before using the hints. Fared much better with Monk in the FT which I usually stare at forlornly before sobbing in despair.
    Thanks to Giovanni and Bufo

  4. shep
    Posted December 1, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    I wandered lonely in the wilderness too.
    Thanks, Bufo , but (2d) could you please explain the point of “I wouldn’t mind that?”

    • gazza
      Posted December 1, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

      The “I wouldn’t mind that” defines the answer, i.e. a warmonger, who probably wouldn’t mind being part of a fighting force moving forward into a hazard.

  5. Posted December 1, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad you found it ‘non-too-taxing, fairly gentle, benign, very straightforward’, I solved 6 clues before deciding it wasn’t worthy of my time!

  6. Prolixic
    Posted December 1, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    I will play Goldilocks. Not too tough and not too easy! Enjoyable but maybe lacked a little bit of Giovanni’s usual wit and sparkle. Thanks to the setter and to Bufo for the review.

  7. jaehancock
    Posted December 2, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    Half of this puzzle I found surprisingly straightforward, whilst the other half I found extremely tricky (and could only be sure I’d answered correctly when I came here). I was particularly unsure about 16d, 22d and 17a. In fact, if I’m totally honest, I am still unsure as to why the answers to these clues are as they are.

    • Posted December 2, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

      16d – for spot-weld the Reverend Spooner might have said “What spelled”

      22d – the “oldie losing it tragically” is King Lear in the eponymous tragedy

      17a – Helium and Iodine (chemical symbols He and I respectively) are elements in the periodic table