Toughie 678 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 678

Toughie No 678 by Elgar

The I’s Have It!

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

Greetings from the Calder Valley and not from the NHS controlled part of it! I came home yesterday and although I feel a bit drained, things are on the way to sorting themselves out although I will have to go through things a few more times before I’m clear.

It’s been a bit of a rum week in The Toughie World (I still struggle to get into the Telegraph site) and the hospital newspaper seller only carried a couple ‘as there was no demand’, so luckily some chums sent me copies. Disliked Tuesday’s intensely, Wednesdays and Thursday’s were fine and today we have Elgar who is back to being King of the Tough Toughies with this ferocious beast.

There’s a theme to the puzzle which will become obvious as the blog unfolds. We have the usual mix of difficult definitions and great surface readings and laugh-out loud moments. Days like this are a joy and the sense of achievement when you finish is amazing. Do try and persevere. Thanks to Elgar for a cracking challenge and one that will live in the memory.

Favourite clues are highlighted in blue. 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    See 26 Across

9a    Totally valid rant (4,2)
{BANG ON} We start with a double definition today. We are looking for a colloquial expression that means both completely valid, kosher as well as to rave and rant about something.

10a    Fine Royal Burgh’s seen through the agony (5-4)
{PAPER-THIN} The location of one of Scotland’s Royal Burgh’s (St Johnstone FC play here, IIRC) goes inside a word for agony to give a description of something that is very delicate or fine.

11a & 15d    Ian must ring Ken in the morning — time Dr John Friend could assist … (1,4,1,3,3,3)
{I KNOW A MAN WHO CAN} One of his convoluted clues that needs a bit of explaining. IAN goes round a word (indicated by ‘must ring’) that equates to the slang word Ken, as well as the abbreviation for ‘in the morning-time’. Add to this the name of a famous doctor and a synonymical (?) nickname for what an American calls a “john”. This gives you a statement meaning ‘a friend with the ability to assist’.

12a    See 13 Across

13a & 12a     … and it’s me admitting error! (1,5,9)
{I STAND CORRECTED} A cryptic definition of an expression uttered when a mistake is pointed out to someone.

17a    Current 27 confirmed as President (3)
{AMP} This sort of threw me for a while. A unit of electric current is found by revealing what someone would say if they (27 ac) were confirmed as President (abbreviated to P).

19a    Melodious religious figure fashioning new clues well! (2,1,7,5)
{I’M A MONKEY’S UNCLE} If the leader of a mosque who calls prayers was melodious, he may be said to be using a piano, say. Add to that an anagram (indicated by ‘fashioning’) of N (for new) CLUES and you get a phrase that equates to the surprised used of the expression “Well!” My brain hurts.

20a    Took in mischievous female (3)
{ATE}     A word that means took in, ingested is also the same as the name of the Greek goddess of mischief and misfortune (a sort of equivalent to the Norse Loki).

21a    Liked by Caledonian inside (2,4)
{IN WITH} – an expression meaning liked if taken as a single word is a Scottish word meaning inside

25a    How The Rake made Progress not very far from the mouth? (9)
{IMMORALLY} A description of how a rake, or cad, behaved is found by taking an abbreviation that means ‘not very far away’ or ‘in the near vicinity’ in metric terms and adding a word I am only too familiar with when using my medication, as to how it is taken.

26a & 1a    Claim of one potentially insatiable Lothario — seduce a libertine! (1,5,3,1,5)
{I COULD EAT A HORSE} Perhaps I am being bad minded, but isn’t this clue worthy of Private Eye’s crossword?! An anagram (indicated by libertine) of LOTHARIO SEDUCE A gives an expression that one of these characters might say!

27a    Song from Grammy-nominated singer recovered from Emmy files (2,6,1)
{ME MYSELF I} One of my favourite Joan Armatrading songs is an anagram of EMMY FILES.

And here it is…. Although I don’t remember seeing Richard Whiteley bop along with this…..

ARVE Error: need id and provider

28a    Firm screening drug in a tight way (6)
{MEANLY} The common abbreviation for the ravers’ drug goes inside a word meaning firm or even butch.

29a    Setting reverses such anagrams signify (9)
{OSSIFYING} A lovely word that means setting or solidifying to bone is found by reversing a short word for such and adding an anagram of SIGNIFY,

I confess to feeling a bit drained at this point that the ever lovely Big Dave is going to supply you with the Downs in a bit.

[Be warned – Vlad is back with a vengeance! No more pink fluffy slippers or Elgar-lite – this is the real thing. BD]


2d           Surprise details describing long-distance runner (6)
{AMAZON} – drop the final letter (de-tails) from a verb meaning to surprise and add a preposition meaning describing or about to get a log South American river (runner – a change from flower!)

3d           In confirmation, old Don’s very, very tired (6)
{AWEARY} – inside a short word of confirmation put a verb meaning to don or clothe yourself in to get an obscure adjective meaning very, very tired

4d           Time behind bars, maybe, following round to be paid for later (2,4)
{ON TICK} – put T(ime) inside a slang word for prison (behind bars, maybe) and precide it with O (round) to get an expression meaning buying something intending to pay for it for later

5d           ‘I don’t belieeeeve it!’ — funny: this is Victor, remember! (6,2,7)
{SHIVER ME TIMBERS} – this expression which is similar to “I don’t belieeeeve it!” is an anagram (funny) of THIS IS V(ictor) REMEMBER

6d           Time Magazine? Not the current one (4,5)
{BACK ISSUE} – if you use this answer, which describes a magazine which is not the current one, as an instruction then you  reverse emit to get time

7d           Bliss in saying grace? In desecrated houses that is not so (9)
{IGNORANCE} – according to a well-known saying this is bliss – put an anagram (desecrated) of GRACE IN around (houses) a much shorter way of expressing “that is not so”

8d           Together these presenters might be seen to be mother (3,3,3)
{ANT AND DEC} – take these two talentless presenters (OK, that gives plenty from which to choose but it’s not Christine Bleakley and Adrian Chiles) and put the second one in front of the first and you get what the person being mother does when pouring out a drink

14d         Escalating ego displayed in crossword pattern — is setter in a form of control? (9)
{DIRIGISME} – reverse (escalating) ego inside a crossword pattern then add IS and the setter as an objective pronoun to get a form of control by the State

15d         See 11 Across

16d         Steps through church so described with enmity (9)
{HOSTILELY} – put the kind of steps used to climb across a fence inside (through) how a church might be described to get an adverb meaning with enmity

17d         Using the byline in breakaway (1,1,1)
{AKA} – this abbreviation used to indicate a byline is hidden inside the last word of the clue

18d         Poet Laureate it’s easy to discuss (3)
{PYE} – the surname of Henry James, Poet Laureate from 1790 – 1813, sounds like (to discuss) the word used in an expression “as easy as ***”

22d         One’s pay minus a cut over unpleasant growths (6)
{POLYPI} – reverse (over) a charade of I (one), PY (pay minus a) and a verb meaning to cut, as in to cut a branch from a tree, to get these unpleasant growths

23d         ‘Viz’ lover upset by Terry’s death (6)
{NAMELY} – the meaning of the Latin term viz or videlicet is derived by reversing (upset) an archaic word for a lover and then adding the final letter (death) of TerrY

24d         I very much approve closure of Parisian compound (6)
{OLEFIN} – take a three-letter word, of Spanish origin, which means “I very much approve” and add the French for closure or end and the result is hydrocarbon of the ethylene series (compound)

If you’re still here remember this – you have until next Tuesday to recover, when I will be back with what no doubt will be a scintillating puzzle from Excalibur (5d!).

15 comments on “Toughie 678

  1. Thanks to Elgar for a brain-stretching puzzle and to Tilsit for the review.
    I think that 13/12a is a bit more than a cryptic definition. It’s a reverse anagram leading to AND IT’S.

  2. Thanks Elgar, Tilsit & BD. Nearly choked on my lunch when I settled down with, this but finally finished after an exhausting battle. Very enjoyable & satisfying though.

    PS There’s no answer to 21a.

  3. Elgar has obviously worn out his fluffy slippers and is back to Vlad’s hob nailed stomping boots. I did enjoy the fight with this one – I even resorted to pencilling in some of the answers until I was sure I was right. Agree with Gazza about the anagram element of 13/12. Thanks to Elgar for making every corner of my brain ache and ti Tilsit for having the stamina to sort out all the explanations.

  4. These Friday Toughies work out expensive because, once again, I needed a second pint of beer with my afternoon fish and chips before I could finish the crossword. One of those puzzles where you need to pause after solving each clue in order to draw breath (and take a mouthful of beer) in order to give the brain chance to recover before attempting to solve another clue. If I say that I thought it was a fantastic crossword do you think Elgar will compensate me by buying me a pint next time I see him?

  5. What do they give Tilsit in the Calder Valley? Are we sure, perish the thought!, it was not the solution? I found this puzzle absolutley impossible and, having read the answers am sorry I wasted time on it. I just do not like puzzles that include expressions. Better luck next week.

  6. Brilliant toughie from Elgar, brilliant review from Tilsit. I needed assistance with 14d and 21a ( as a Scot I can truthfully say that I have never heard of this)

  7. I thought it very entertaining and a good challenge. Got only two on first run through and couldn’t see me breaking it. Then managed to untangle some of the well hidden some of the definitions and managed to complete all but eight. Needed the hints for the rest, although I had worked out some of the wordplay elements. So thanks to Tilsit. My favourite was the two presenters clue, very clever. Thanks, Elgar. It is very enjoyable to be able to work through a satisfyingly tough puzzle.

  8. I can usually do the Toughies even if they take a little longer (OK, they ALWAYS take a little longer) but I have to admit, this one had me beat(en). Obviously, I need to think harder and even further outside the box!!! Now I see the answers, I know I should have got some of them but there you go.

  9. I must give my thanks to Elgar!.
    I think he is back to the top of the nail biting best – am I thinking right? Oooh Yes!.
    I laughed at about 6 clues on the train and whilst strap-hanging today and got some funny looks. Sue helped me out on a couple of the laggards (thanks!)
    I shall now go back and check the subsiduary indications of the clues that I threw in inspirationally.
    I ought to thank Tilsit (glad you are on the mend!) and Big Dave as well.

  10. Got back home and gave this a go today – ‘ferocious beast’ doesn’t even begin to describe it!!!!
    Managed about half and that was it – and Elgar seemed such a nice chap when we spoke in Derby last week!
    Thanks to him for proving I’m not an expert solver and to Tilsit/BD for the much needed hints.

    1. Sorry to have missed you and Pomette – I simply couldn’t get up there due to work commitments. It looks like you all had a good time though.
      Elgar is a nice chap but then many people smile at you whilst handing out awkward paperwork!

      1. Yeah, geat afternoon!
        I thought Elgar was giving me a friendly pat on the back but now I realize he was just feeling for the best place to slip the knife in!
        Sorry to have missed you as well, when I saw a ‘gnomey’ name tag on the table I lived in hope but c’est las vie!

  11. 13a & 12a in this one isn’t just a cryptic definition. “And it’s” is an anagram of “I STAND” – hence “I STAND CORRECTED”. One of those “reverse anagram” thingies, with “me admitting error” as the definition. Semi-all-in-one, I suppose.

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