Toughie 784 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 784

Toughie No 784 by Elkamere

A proper little Toughie?

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

No, I’ve not blogged the wrong puzzle by mistake! Gazza thought I might be at a loose end with Pommette being away so offered me the chance to do my first Toughie blog.  I couldn’t refuse but it’s been a bit like sailing ‘Firenze’ across the Irish Sea in a force 8 gale – I could do it but I’m not sure I really needed the stress!  The date is quite apposite for my first Toughie blog though – it’s the anniversary of D-Day! Oh well, Once more into the Bleach!

Today Elkamere has given us a middling difficulty Toughie with some fine clues. Due to a bout of on-the-day blogger’s panic I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have done but it grew on me as I was writing the review. It probably deserves the fourth star just for 1a.

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           This describes loaf cut up (6,2,5)
{SLICES OF BREAD} – A splendid all-in-one to start! The answer is an anagram (cut up) of DESCRIBES LOAF and it also describes what a loaf becomes after it’s been cut up.  I think this might be my favourite clue this year!

9a           They refuse to accept East German money (9)
{OSTRICHES} – this is a term for people who refuse to face, or ignore, unpleasant facts. If split (3,6) it might describe East German wealth.

10a         One in nursing profession lacks energy (5)
{CARER} – Remove an E (lacks Energy) from your profession or job and you’re left with someone who nurses, especially an elderly or infirm relative.

11a         Some bandages, some plaster (5)
{GESSO} –This is a type of plaster of paris used to prepare a surface for painting. It’s hidden in (some) bandages some.

12a         Punch French man in the knees (4)
{LAMP} – To get this punch you need to think of another word for your knees, where your girlfriend or cat might sit perhaps, and insert (in) the French for Mr.

13a         Sulphur will break through plastic (4)
{VISA} – The definition is plastic in the sense of a credit card. Take a word for through or by way of and insert the chemical symbol for sulphur, or sulfur if you’re American.

15a         Ulster’s function — state capital (7)
{NICOSIA} –The capital of a Mediterranean island is formed from the abbreviation for the part of the UK known as Ulster followed by a homophone (state) of how an Ulster might make you feel if you put it on during some cold weather.  Either I’ve got this completely wrong or it doesn’t quite come off!  Gazza has pointed out that COS is a mathematical function and IA is the abbreviation for a state (Iowa) – Told you I’d got it wrong!  Thanks Gazza!

17a         Medic will take anything from a barrel (7)
{DRAUGHT} – One of the usual abbreviation for a medic followed by a word meaning anything gives a word describing stuff that comes straight from the barrel, beer for example.

18a         Turning back, I stop at point of escape (7)
{EVASION} –Reverse (turning back) a phrase meaning I stop, especially if you’re a goalkeeper, and follow with a word which can mean at the point of or at the occasion of and you get an escape or avoidance.

20a         Something in vein on bottom’s an ulcer (7)
{BEDSORE} – This is a type of ulcer which hospital patients can get if they’re allowed to lie in the same position for too long.  Start with a word for bottom, of the sea perhaps, (don’t forget the S from the clue) and follow with something which is found in veins in the ground and yields metal or minerals.

21a         On account of losing ball, play with another (4)
{DUET} – You don’t often see this word as a verb but it means to play with one other person. You need a phrase for “on account of” (3,2) and remove the O (losing ball) and then put what’s left together as one word.

22a         A region of the Far East (4)
{AREA} – This region is hidden (of) in Far East.

23a         Lover runs rings round yours truly (5)
{ROMEO} – this Shakesperean lover is R(uns) followed by two ring shaped letter placed around another word for “yours truly”.

26a         A lot of gas over Germany (2,3)
{NO END} – Definition is a lot.  Reverse (over) a noble gas used in lighting and follow with the IVR code for Germany and then split it all (2,3).

27a         Less comfortable as a Mon-Sun prison officer (9)
{AWKWARDER} – A word meaning less comfortable or more ill-at-ease is a charade of A (from the clue), an abbreviation for the time span Monday to Sunday and a prison officer.

28a         Children’s stories eliciting cursory remark from poet? (7,6)
{NURSERY RHYMES} – These are some childrens stories and the answer could also be taken as something a poet might say about the word “cursory”.  Thanks to Gazza for helping me out with this one. Knew what the answer was but couldn’t see where it came from, D’oh!


1d           A linking of arms? (7,7)
{SHOTGUN WEDDING} – A cryptic definition of a linking or union forced on one of the partners, usually by an armed father!

2d           About to invade SA before American attack (5)
{ICTUS} –This is a sudden attack or stroke. Take another word for Sex Appeal, insert (to invade) a letter for about, and then follow with the usual abbreviation for American.  I found this one quite easy as the word came up in another puzzle which I solved only a few days ago!

3d           Team penning rubbish up in newspaper office (10)
{EDITORSHIP} – The office held by the most senior person at a newspaper. Start with the usual word for a team and insert some rubbish (3) and then reverse it all (up in a down clue). Follow with a slang word for “in”, as in fashionable.

4d           Work hard with writer who was associated with Hamlet? (7)
{OPHELIA} – This is one of the few female characters in Hamlet. Start with the usual work, then H(ard) and finally the pen name of the essayist Charles lamb.

5d           Having breasts more or less filling out figure (7)
{BOSOMED} – A word meaning “having breasts” is formed by inserting a word for more or less into a slang term for your body or figure. Well, never look a gift horse in the mouth!

6d           What about a head to copy a head? (4)
{EACH} – Start with an exclamation meaning “what?” and place it around (about) A (from the clue) and C (head to Copy) and you get a word meaning a head, as in per head.

7d           Not even upset about screwing up heroic acts (7-2)
{DERRING DO} –An archaic  or literary phrase meaning heroic acts is a word for “not even” reversed (upset) and placed around (about) a word meaning screwing up as in making mistakes.

8d           Act that breeds road rage (5,3,6)
{TREAD THE BOARDS} – A phrase meaning to act or go on stage is an anagram (rage) of THAT BREEDS ROAD.

14d         Try to cover tree with dead rhubarb (10)
{BALDERDASH} – Definition is rhubarb in the sense of rubbish. Take a word for a try or a go and place it around (to cover) a tree and D(ead).

16d         Scales are attached to this blender (9)
{CHAMELEON} –A cryptic definition of a type of lizard which can change colour to blend in with its surroundings.  I wasn’t aware that they have scales and can’t find any reference but perhaps someone will confirm.

19d         Printed up tariff to read (7)
{NARRATE} – I suppose this word could mean read, as in read or tell a story, but it’s not one of the definitions in the BRB. Take a word for printed, as in printed off a copy, and reverse it (up in a down clue) and then add a tariff or hourly charge.

20d         Close to accepting vacancy, left angrily (7)
{BLACKLY} – the definition is angrily as in an angry look.  Take a word for near or next to and insert (accepting) a word for vacancy or shortage and L(eft).

24d         Young girl using potty in the morning (5)
{MADAM} – This is a word for a young girl who’s behaving precociously. It’s a word for potty, as in crazy, and the usual abbreviation for morning.  Anyone old enough to remember the advert for Clarks shoes? Mummy says I’m going to be a proper little *****! Unfortunately I can’t find a video clip!

25d         About to tackle rising river (4)
{ODER} – Take the usual about and add a word meaning to tackle or undertake a task and reverse the lot (rising in a down clue) and you get a river which forms part of the border between Germany and Poland.

Many thanks to Gazza for the opportunity and for standing by like the RNLI, at least the air-sea rescue helicopter  wasn’t needed!
As usual the ones I like best are in blue but stand out favourite has to be 1a – superb clue!

51 comments on “Toughie 784

  1. Well done and thank you Pommers – a proper Toughie to have to blog and no mistake. I had similar favourites to you but my top two would be 9a and 1d. Thanks to Elkamere too. Definitely user-friendly Anax today :)

  2. NIce one pommers and many thanks to Elkamere for a fun solve. I agree with 1a being favourite.

  3. Pommers re 15a I read it Uster NI functions COS state IA (Iowa). Really liked this one, far too many good clues to mention but 1a priceless. Thanks to Elkamere and to Pommers for a sterling effort.

    1. Hi pegasus

      Yeah, you’re right! Gazza sent me a mail a few minutes ago!

      Must be the heat frying the brain (35C this pm!), so obvious really but I got the dodgy homophone in the head and then couldn’t see past it, D’oh!

      1. Enough of the going on about the heat! Some of us are seriously considering getting the winter duvet back out as it will be very handy in the ark!

        1. You are welcome to join me in delivering an almighty e-punch, it’s time to consider putting the heating back on here!

            1. You can go off people you do know that don’t you? I am on staycation this week and apart from about a ½ hour of sun today the rest of the week has been grotty. And please don’t ask me about the forecast for Thursday & Friday! I am eyeing the central heating thermostat with serious intent…

              1. It’s the overnight lows that are the problem – makes getting a kip difficult. That’s why I did a load of my blogs last Summer in the middle of the night and went to bed about 0400 when it’s at least getting tolerable! Can’t afford to run the aircon all night!

                1. Somebody’s cruisin’ for a bruisin’….Me & Mrs S are trying to do a bit of gardening but because of the rain we’re in & out like two dogs at a fair! Great! Now we’ve got thunder!

  4. Thanks to Pommers for giving me a lazy morning and well done on an excellent maiden Toughie blog. Thanks also to Elkamere for a Toughie just right for a Wednesday.

  5. Well done Pommers, there were a few, which I think matched yours that I had serious trouble parsing what seemed an obvious answer. I enjoyed 1a and 1d in particular, and 13a for its ingenuity. Thanks to Elkamere and Pommers

  6. Super wee toughie which I enjoyed very much, many thanks to Elkamere and to Pommers for the excellent review, by the way, I read 15a the same way as you at first.

  7. Got a bit flummoxed re ‘chameleon’ as I was sure that 21a was a golf reference, ie drop (losing one ball, play another), and was desperately looking for an alternative spelling to aforementioned blender!

  8. BTW, the bit about “Once more into the Bleach” isn’t a typing error! It’s the title of a Blondie album from 1988. Well, it amused me :grin:

    1. and me, i’d forgotten it, i’ve got it somewhere i think. My books are well organised, my record, cassette (yes I still have them) and CD collection are a bit haphazard. When I last moved it entailed moving over 3000 books, and 27 record cases. Rest of the week off, need to sort them!!

      1. I’m a bit the same except it’s only my CD’s that are well organised – books, vinyl and cassettes are more like organised chaos :grin:

        1. I have OCD with books I guess, I have to buy new shelving if the position is not right. Oh dear….

    1. Hi Mary, if nothing else I recommend you have a look at 1a, 9a and 1d. Three clues of absolute brilliance!

        1. OST is German for east. Well, actually I think the word is OSTEN, but the West Germans refer to East Germany as the OSTREICH, East German people as OSTVOLK etc. so OSTRICHES must be East German money! Clever!

          I think all 3 would be outright winners on DIY COW if the words had ever come up!

          1. I agree pommers unfortunately I couldn’t have solved or compiled 9a because I just wouldn’t have known it now I might have had a chance with the others :-)

    1. Can’t help Mary. Got the image off Google and never even looked where the source was, although I think it might have been a swimwear catalogue.

      1. Bad news: The puzzle I was working on that contained the answer CREVICE was scrapped.
        Good news: The one with VAJAZZLE is looking good so far.
        Bad News: The Good News wasn’t real.

        1. Shame :grin: What’s wrong with crevice though? I don’t think even Gazza would have the nerve to illustrate that one with what we’re both thinking!

        2. To all of you, Elkamere Elgar et al, let us see who get’s it by the editor first ,….

              1. OK Andy, not quite gone to bed yet. From what I’ve seen of Paul puzzles it could be either way. he’s become my favourite setter due to his very smutty, schoolboyish sense of humour (like mine). I’m sure he’d have a field day with that word!

  9. Thanks to Elkamere for the puzzle and to Pommers for the review! (Very entertaining blog – as always!!)

    My favourites: 1a and 8d: Nothing wrong in my book for clever anagrams!

    (Why did BigBoab consider 21a (on the back-pager) to be such a weak clue?)

    1. Hi Franco

      Re 21d on the back page. No idea! It worked for me and seemed a pretty standarde back page anagram clue so what’s to complain about?

      Odd, we sometimes get sent to the naughty corner for discussing the Toughie on the back page post and here we are now discussing them the other way round!

      I see Mr Murray’s back on level terms but not the greatest match IMHO. After yesterday’s games I suppose anything would look a bit flat!

  10. Evening all. Many thanks to Pommers for a great review and to all for your kind comments.
    Not much to add really, but apologies for my oversight at 16d. I always thought there were scaled varieties but, so far, I haven’t found anything to back that up – funny how the brain lets you imagine things that ain’t true. I could, of course, have examined by pet ********* to check, but I can’t find the blasted thing.

    1. Hi Anax and thanks for your thanks. really enjoyed it!

      Re the blender, I dfidn’t want to make a big thing about the scales as I wasn’t certain and, if the little blighters do have them, it’s a brilliant clue!

      How’s the roadworks in Poynton? Finished I hope!

      Thanks in particular for 1a – how the hell do you come up with a clue like that?

      1. Thankfully Poynton has been declared open at long last although I have to be honest and say the new roundabout seems to be causing longer queues – I suspect some of the locals, having never seen roundabouts before, are still working out how to use them.
        Just an additional note: I’m serious about that – a smaller mini roundabout has been placed a hundred or so metres down the road from the major stuff and there have been at least two occasions when drivers have pulled out on me from the left!
        1a was just one of those lucky strikes. The anagram itself happened a few years ago but I’d never put it into a clue. The answer is a familiar phrase but not a dictionary one, so I’m hugely grateful to Phil for temporarily putting aside Chambers and allowing this example of how astonishing our language can be.

        1. Pommette’s at her mum’s at the moment so I’ll tell her to avoid Poynton!

          Phil would have to be ‘potty’ to disallow a clue like 1a just because the phrase isn’t in Chambers. As I said, it’s my clue of the year so far!

    2. You are off the hook Anax .

      his chameleon bears greatly enlarged occipital lobes.[3][4] It has heterogeneous scales which vary shape and size to various parts of its body and large, granular scales distributed homogeneously on the trunk and limbs. There are longitudinal rows of large, granular scales in the chameleon’s gular region, one of its most distinctive characteristics.[

      Wkipedia on Meller’s Chameleon.

      1. Thanks Colmce, l looked at Wiki but missed that bit but knew someone would come up trumps. So it is a brill clue after all! Add it to what is now my top four, 1a, 9a, 1d and this one :grin: Almost worth upgrading to 5* enjoyment now I’m sure this one really works!

  11. Going to bed now but just a last thought:-

    As you’ve probably all gathered by now I rate the difficulty of the Weds Jays simply on how long it takes me to solve. If I extrapolate the scale beyond 4* then this puzzle would have been 6* for a back pager – so 3* for a Toughie seems about right.

    See y’all tomorrow – and no, I’m not blogging anything!

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