Toughie 802 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 802

Toughie No 802 by Notabilis

No room for a Big Mac?!

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

Tilsit has still not broken free of Matron’s post-operative regime and so in a moment of madness (probably brought on by the unaccustomed heat) I rashly agreed to have a go at blogging this Notabilis Toughie, which coincidentally contains two words relating to standing in for someone!

Notabilis is one of the toughest Toughie setters and so I wasn’t really surprised at how long it took me both to solve and sort this one out.  I have to thank two fellow bloggers for assistance with a couple of bits of wordplay, although I might have got on better if one of them had said ‘did you see the  NINA’ at a much earlier stage in proceedings!  My favourite clues are highlighted in blue.


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7a           Eject housing tenant at last, with rent to leave behind (8)
{OUTSTRIP} To leave behind or outdo –   insert (housing)  T (the ‘last’ letter of tenanT) into a verb meaning  to eject and then add a word meaning rent in the sense of tear.

9a           Park to the west of Middlesex with deer around (6)
{EXMOOR}   A very large park in the West country –  Insert (around) a rarely-used abbreviation  for Middlesex into a small species of deer, add an O (Of)  and then reverse the result (to the West).

10a         Characteristic of king in fable (4)
{LIKE}  To get a word meaning characteristic of, simply insert the abbreviation for King into the simplest form of a fable or story.

11a         Raging corruption mostly enveloping European or US territory (6,4)
{PUERTO RICO}    A Caribbean island which is an unincorporated territory of the USA is obtained by  inserting E (European) into an anagram (raging) of most of the letters of CORRUPTIOn .

12a         Disavow having place for new delegate (6)
{DEPUTY}   A person delegated to act for another –  Remove the N from a four letter word meaning to disavow or refuse to admit and replace it with a three letter word meaning place, lay or deposit (having place for new).

14a         Having reached zero megabytes twice, it’s very destructive (4,4)
{ATOM BOMB}  The most destructive form of explosive device –   Follow a preposition denoting a precise position in space or time with two lots(twice)  of  O (zero) plus the abbreviation for MegaBytes , and then split the result 4,4.


 15a         Emotional pressure keeps sons dropping round (6)
{STRESS} Emotional pressure such as that caused by agreeing to blog a Notabilis Toughie!   Remove the O (dropping round) from part of a verb meaning keeps or lays up for future use and follow this with S for sons.   (I am definitely suffering from this emotion pressure – I lugged Chambers into work whilst forgetting my lovely ham and watercress sandwich which is still in the fridge at home).

17a         Greek island’s appeal getting hard cash after 50% cuts (6)
{ITHACA}  An Ionian island –  An informal word meaning sex appeal followed by the first two letters of HArd and CAsh (after 50% cuts).

20a         A scrap to fill in place of clerical pad (8)
{VICARAGE}   A home of a member of the clergy (clerical pad)  – insert A (from the clue) and a scrap of material  (3) into a preposition meaning in the place of, usually applied to people.

22a         Spirit of western lost in film industry’s street (6)
{ARDOUR}   Remove the W (western lost) from the name of the Soho street which was the centre of the British film industry in the 20th century and you are left with a word meaning spirit or passion.

23a         Religious student continues to knock here in Lourdes street (10)
{ISLAMICIST}  Someone who studies Muslim religion  –   IS (continues to [be]) followed by a synonym for knock or strike with violence,  plus the French word for here (Lourdes being, of course, in France)  and finally the abbreviation for street.

24a         Writer’s dynamism needing an internal twist (4)
{BIRO}   A type of pen is simply obtained by turning round the middle two letters (an internal twist) of a word meaning dynamism, vivacity or spirit, quite often used in musical instructions.

25a         Vault for all economies somewhat in recession (6)
{CELLAR}   A type of underground vault is hidden reversed (somewhat in recession) in foR ALL EConomies.

26a         Historian has permission to hold a historical headdress (8)
{MACAULAY}  The surname of a British historian, politician and poet – insert into part of a verb meaning has permission or is able to, A (from the clue) and a net or covering for the head(4), more commonly known as the membrane which might cover the head of an infant at birth.


1a           Trade vehicles succeeded when circling home (8)
{BUSINESS}   A trade or commercial activity –  Insert into the plural of some passenger-carrying road vehicles, the two letters indicating that you are home.   Although one can spell the plural of the vehicles with two S’s, I am assuming the  one at the end of the solution has to come from an abbreviation for succeeded.

2a           The speaker’s going to audible key (4)
{ISLE}   A key is a type of off-shore land mass – the more usual way of referring to such land sounds like (audible) the abbreviated way I might indicate that I would be doing something.

3d           Father’s turning into someone aged like wine (6)
{GRAPEY}   Like wine, being made of or like the fruit from which wine is made-   Insert a reversal of a familiar term for father into an adjective meaning  looking old or mature.   I object to ‘aged’  most strongly as my hair started going this way when I was 25 – it’s got a lot worse since I started solving this crossword!)

4d           Gamble to go bad with hearts doubled, a cause of red hands when dicing? (8)
{BEETROOT}  A salad vegetable that is guaranteed to turn your hands  red when you are chopping it.   It also stains clothes quite nicely too.   Take two three-letter words, one meaning gamble and the other meaning to decay or go bad and then double the middle letters of both words (hearts doubled) and merge them together.

5d           Reduced meal order by crashing part of filing system (5,5)
{EMERY BOARD}  Having a large heap of filing on the end of my desk mislead me nicely.   The filing system here refers to things used to file or manicure one’s nails.   An anagram (order by crashing) of almost all (reduced) of MEA[L]  and ORDER BY.

6d           Military officer sent up satellite carrying heads of nuclear capability (3-3)
{NON-COM}   A member of the armed forces such as a sergeant or corporal – reverse the name of the Earth’s satellite and then insert the first letters (heads of) Nuclear and Capability, splitting the result 3-3.

8d           More green power arises in advance of strife (3-3)
{PRE-WAR}   The period before an outbreak of hostilities – follow P (power) with a reversal of a word meaning less ripe or uncooked.

13d         Badly written Alice-in-Wonderland English absorbs expert (10)
{UNREADABLE}  Doctor’s notes can sometimes be so badly-written as to be this.  Insert an informal term for expert (3)  into a word meaning unlike reality ( Alice-in-Wonderland describes something that is incredible or illusory) and finish with E for English.

16d         Where water rises and where it goes down upset European (8)
{SPANIARD}  This European is a native of the country where Pommers resides.    Follow a mineral spring where water is drunk for health purposes (where water rises) with a reversal (upset) of a channel that takes away water (where it goes down).   

18d         Person of a certain birth as imprisoned by one born later (8)
{AQUARIAN}  Inserting a Latin word meaning as, in the capacity of, into the way one might describe someone born under the first sign of the Zodiac and you get someone born later in the year under the 11th astrological sign.

19d         Note over start of unison breaking dull, monotonous quality (6)
{TEDIUM}  To get a word meaning the quality of being monotonous or wearisome, follow a musical note with a word meaning dull or obscure into which has been inserted the first letter (start) of Unison. 

21d         Publisher has confidence to get right to the end (6)
{ISSUER}   Take a phrase meaning has confidence, move the R to the end of the  second word (right to the end) and merge the result to get a publisher or supplier.

22d         Go for extremes of art with bad taste (6)
{ATTACK} a verb meaning to go for or have a go at comes from the extreme letters of A(r)T followed by vulgar or gaudy material. 

24d         Rebelliousness regularly viewed as vulgar (4)
{BLUE}  Up until this morning, I always assumed that regularly meant every other letter of a word, but of course, it doesn’t , it just means to look for regularly spaced letters !    Every third letter of reBeLlioUsnEss  hides an informal term for vulgar or obscene.
The NINA – round the edge of the puzzle are four well-known ‘names’ – in clockwise order from the top   {BIG BEN} {ROB ROY} {RED KEN} {OLD VIC}


Thank you very much to Notabilis for  a Toughie worthy of the description of ‘the most devious cryptic puzzle ever’.   Tilsit hopes to escape from Matron tomorrow so fingers crossed he might be back on blogging duty again next week.  I am off to a darkened room to recover and rest the cryptic grey matter just in case I am called on again!

25 comments on “Toughie 802

  1. Do I recognise the gently humour of Gazza in the introduction? I didn’t get the normal crossword today. What’s happened to it?

    1. There are a number of posts about not getting the ‘normal’ crossword on the blog for said crossword.

        1. Please read the correct blog (where all is explained about Gazza) and then comment on the correct blog. Incidentally if you are still looking for the Giovanni on the DT puzzles site, it is working now.

          1. Ooh dear, sorry I had the temerity to ask a perfectly innocent question in order to gain clarity. I promise I won’t do it again

  2. I really enjoyed this one, and it was even more interesting not knowing who compiled it (until someone on answerbank informed me it was Notabilis). I did not find this one overly difficult, but a pleasure to complete.
    3*/5* from me.
    Thanks to setter, and to crypticsue for the comprehensive review.

  3. 9a: The O didn’t come from “of”?

    The Nina isn’t just well-known “names,” but all (3,3). Also curious in this puzzle, all of the entries are of even-numbered length.

    1. I have just changed the O in 9a.

      They are all indeed 3,3 which I did realise when I racked my brains for a suitable subtitle. It’s been a long morning, interspersing work with sorting out the wordplay too.

      1. Yes it must be difficult when the job gets in the way of completing the crossword. Do you have any vacancies where you work?

        1. It would be too far for you to travel :) I manage to combine the job with crossword solving but working out the wordplay, having Chambers on my desk, and typing a review does take a bit of concealing :D

          1. CS, I can see that. Please let me know if I can help. Where do you work?

              1. Now let’s see. Languedoc to Kent – 8 hours. I could be there for 11.00. Of course, if it’s Central London, as it would be for the Civil Service, I would have to fly

      2. It’s a shame that only three of the names are connected with London. I couldn’t think of a fourth.

        1. I had trouble finding another one to put in the subtitle – I consulted gazza but his best offering was ‘cow pat’ :D

  4. Spotting the Nina quite early (rare for me) meant that this wasn’t the most difficult Notabilis but it was hugely entertaining. Thanks to him and CS for the top-notch review. My favourites were 20a and 4d.

  5. 5d was my favourite. I was making heavy weather of this until CS mentioned the NINA. Luckily I had enough around the outside to complete the rest in a flash of inspiration which then allowed the other answers to fall. Many thanks to Notabilis and to CS for an ace review.

  6. Phew! what a snorter of a puzzle that was, trying to pick favourites is difficult but here goes 4d 16d 17a 20a and 24d thanks to Notabilis for the challenge and thanks to CS for standing in for Tilsit and producing an excellent review.

  7. Apologies for irrelevance, but I’m just posting here (as I can’t on the DT 26911 page) to say that today’s link for the 26911 page (the review by Big Dave) seems to be broken. I’m just seeing gobbledygook characters when I click on it or on ‘recent comments’ posted on it. All the other pages and their comments come up perfectly OK, so I wonder if a gremlin* has attacked that particular page? Frustrating, as I’m desperate to look up a few further clues, having got so far but no further in solving it…

    * such as ‘Merlin confused after earth’s pull creates technical problem’ :-)

    Anyone else having the same problem with the 26911 webpage?

    UPDATE: Ahh, it’s suddenly started to work (ten minutes later, at 18.12). But I noticed further up this page it had broken down and been repaired earlier this afternoon. Most strange. Ah well.

    1. Not today, but yesterday on a couple of occasions I have had the same characters appear. If I close the page and come back to it, it is ok.

  8. I was held up for a time by putting an a at the end of 3d instead of a y but other than that I found it reasonably straightforward, my thanks to Notablis and to Crypticsue for the review.( Sorry, I mean to say I had put grappa rather than the correct answer)

  9. Not too difficult today but still a nice work out to make up for the lousy weather. Some really nice clues including 4 5 11 20 and 21 but the nugget was 16 which was brilliant. I normally finish Friday toughies over the weekend so this was a nice change.

  10. I had decided that I wouldn’t even look at a Friday Toughie. It was raining, I had done almost everything that I HAD to do today so I risked a quick peep. I really should have known better – if I had a hat I would take it off to anyone who managed to do it, especially CS who not only managed to do it but also managed to produce a fantastic lot of hints and at short notice, not to mention combining all that with a job. I managed precisely six answers – enough said, I think!!
    With thanks to Notabilis, CS and specially to anyone who reminds me that Friday Toughies are completely beyond me!!

  11. Worthy of the Elgar impaling boots IMHO!

    Great fun but not easy by any means. 16d has to be favourite :grin:

    Thanks (?) to Notabilis for the brain ache and to CS for the review – rather you than me :lol:

  12. Thanks to Crypticsue for covering for me. I’m still a bit tender but hopefully will be going home tomorrow (Sunday).

    A lovely puzzle up to Notabilis’ high standard which contained plenty of humour and thought-provoking material.

    Hope to see you next Friday.

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