Toughie 834 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 834

Toughie 834 by Elgar

Where did those years go???

Brought to you by Fred and Ginger

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

The fiendish Vlad obviously donned his fluffier footwear today in order to mark an event that happened fifteen years ago today.  Elgar’s puzzles often divide opinions and we imagine that this one will do so too.  However, if you want to be able to say that you managed to defeat the great man, this may well be the puzzle to try.  As Ginger is having an awayday today, we had to wait up until just after midnight to tackle this little gem.

Being old, Fred had forgotten about the date, but from the last across clue, things suddenly fell into place.  It has to be said that Fred has an acute aversion to this song, much preferring the original version which was haunting and memorable.

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.  Favourite clues are in blue.  To assist solvers who have an aversion to Elgar’s puzzles, we have shown the definitions to some clues by underlining them.  For an &Lit (all-in-one clue) the whole clue, being the definition, is underlined.


8a William or Harry’s loss — a few tears (8,2,5)
{PRINCESS OF WALES} Take the title of William or Harry, don’t forget the S from the ” ‘s” as you need to insert that, then add an anagram (tears) of LOSS A FEW to get the subject of today’s puzzle.

10a Terribly reliant, I am, on scratching marks, among other things (5,4)
{INTER ALIA} This Latin expression is an anagram (terribly) of RELIANT I A[M] (scratching marks tells you not to include the M in your anagram working out).

11a Looking back, some support needed for her (5)
{DIANA} A reversal of an indefinite article and word meaning support or help gives the Christian name of today’s themed subject.

12, 15, 16 & 19 Song message: ‘Why not be our ruler one day?’ — very good air must now be rewritten (7,8,4,3,3,4,4,2,3,6)
{GOODBYE ENGLAND’S ROSE, MAY YOU EVER GROW IN OUR HEARTS} An anagram (must now be rewritten)of SONG MESSAGE WHY NOT BE OUR RULER ONE DAY VERY GOOD AIR. Apart from having to take one’s shoes and socks off to add up the total number of letters in the solution, and then matching them to the words in the clue, once one had the solution to 26a, it was possible to work out that these were lines from a very good air, the lyrics of which were rewritten and sung at the funeral of 8a.

22a Comedian-author partly responsible for sequel to Network (5)
{ELTON} The surname of a comedian and author (and the first name of the person responsible for the theme of today’s puzzle) is hidden in ‘sequEL TO Network’.

24a Page size of the French verse recalled over microphone (9)
{DUODECIMO} A printing term meaning formed of sheets to make twelve leaves. The French word for of, a type of verse, and finished by a reversal of the single letter abbreviation for an Over in cricket and an abbreviation for microphone.

*26a Something flickering wild, in enchanted twinkling — Bernie waxing lyrical? (6,2,3,4)
{CANDLE IN THE WIND} Another anagram (flickering) of WILD IN ENCHANTED gives the title of a song connected to the theme, with lyrics written by Bernie Taupin, rewritten for 12,15, 16, 19.

1d He’ll get you out a spaniel (8)
{SPRINGER} A type of spaniel is also a slang term for someone who can help you escape from jail.

2d In error going up to stop one corrupting worthy (8)
{VIRTUOUS} Morally good and blameless. Insert into something that might corrupt your computer, the reversal of a word meaning in error or at fault.

3d One delivering unreturnable service tree (4)
{ACER} A cryptic definition of a tennis player who delivers an unreturnable service is also the name of the genus of the maple tree.

4d Turning head, see banks change old instrument (8)
{PSALTERY} Take a three letter word meaning see (or indulge in espionage) and reverse the order of the first two letters (turning head). Then insert a verb meaning to change and you should have an ancient medieval stringed instrument similar to a zither.

5d Accomplish chief ownership (6)
{DOMAIN} Simply follow a verb meaning accomplish or perform with a synonym for chief.

6d ‘Outstanding‘ ring — just like the happy couple! (4)
{OWED} An amount left unpaid would be this. O (ring) and a verb indicating what a happy couple would be.

7d Stretch limos’ annual event? (6)
{OSCARS} If the answer is split (2,4) it could describe some stretch limos but it actually gives the annual film awards event.

9d Get to know tragic monarch’s name (5)
{LEARN} Follow Shakespeare’s tragic king with three daughters with N for name.

13d Tearjerker contributing to club ambience (5)
{BAMBI} The film that made most people cry (even if they don’t admit it now) is hidden in (contributing to) cluB AMBIence.

14d Contemptible person left for north in vain (5)
{LOUSE} An informal term for a person worthy of contempt – take an expression meaning vain (2,3) change the first letter of the first word from an N to an L (Left for North) and then merge the result.

16d Adolescent carrying gun somewhere on the Isle of Wight (8)
{YARMOUTH} A port on the west of the Isle of Wight is obtained by inserting a synonym for a weapon such as a gun into another word for an adolescent.

17d Way to suppress spirit in Rhode Island state (8)
{VIRGINIA} Another of the East Coast States of America is found by inserting into a preposition meaning by way of, the abbreviation for the state of Rhode Island, which has itself had a type of spirit inserted.

18d Info about Liverpool FC circumvents answers (8)
{RESPONDS} Answers or replies is your definition here. Insert into the nickname by which Liverpool FC is known, the cockney rhyming slang meaning the [full] information (an abbreviation found in horse racing), plus the preposition meaning about.

19d Musical sounds the origin of incomprehensible lingo? (6)
{GREECE} The famous musical starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John sounds like the country whose language is used in the English expression meaning that something is incomprehensible, either due to complexity or imprecision., as in “It’s all ____ to me!”

20d Generally decimal (5)
{OFTEN} An adverb meaning generally if split 2,3 would refer to the number used in decimals.

21d Road ripped up in decree (6)
{ORDAIN} To decree, arrange or establish. An anagram (ripped up) of ROAD followed by IN (from the clue)

23d It runs northbound along the Jubilee Line, seemingly for … (4)
{NILE} The African river considered to be the longest in the world, and which happens to run from South to North, is hidden and reversed (runs northbound) in JubileE LINe.

25d … this, the best possible 80%? (4)
{EVER} 80% or the first four letters of an expression meaning the best possible or to a great extent finish off the sentence started by the clue to 23d.

Ginger enjoyed all the clever wordplay in what must have been a tricky subject to include in a cryptic crossword. Her top favourite was 13d, and she smiled a lot at 19d and 23/25d too. She also has to acknowledge the assistance of No 1 Son’s girlfriend, who heard the muttering about the missing word in the long anagram and said ‘don’t you know that, the missing word is ….’!

It’s almost time for Strictly Come Dancing to return and we are hoping to hear that phone ring. We may be needed, you never know!

22 comments on “Toughie 834

  1. Not my favourite choice of subject matter, but a very well-crafted puzzle from Elgar.

    Very straightforward to solve, and definitely the less enigmatic face of Elgar, although I noticed several “1200 point” entries arriving at the DT website immediately after the blog went up…

    Many thanks to setter and blogger(s).

  2. Not particulary difficult or indeed enjoyable for me, I think I prefer the really mind boggling Elgar puzzles to this kind, even if I can’t finish most of them. Thanks to Tilsit for the review and to Elgar for the “toughie”

  3. I also thought this was a well crafted puzzle especially the 44 letter anagram, My favourites were 7d 17d and 18d thanks to Elgar and to Tilsit & CrypticSue for the review.

  4. still can’t quite get 25 down—what is the phrase that 80% of gives the answer?
    otherwise I agree that this is a gentler Elgar than usual,bet it won’t last

    1. Hi dodger,
      Your comment went into moderation because you’ve changed your alias – both should work from now on.
      I assumed that “the best possible” was ‘every’ as in ‘I wish you every happiness’.

      1. I finished it, but must admit I struggled with the concept of 25d as well. I only put it in as it was the ‘best fit’….still don’t really get it!

        1. From Chambers:



          1. Each of a number or collection, all taken separately
          2. The best possible (eg every chance of winning)

          1. Ah, I see! Thank you. A little obvious when it’s explained like that, but even though I just merrily stuck in the answer, I couldn’t get it at the time. (Must trade in my Ox for Cham)

          2. Is Chambers always right? ” Every” is singular of course but commonly “every X” means “all Xs”. If “every chance of winning” means all of them why restrict the possibilities to one?

            1. SOED also has “the utmost degree of” as a definition (although it cites The Guardian as an example, so…).

              I think that this sense has to precede a singular noun.

              “Every effort was made to accommodate them” can’t really mean that each possible type of effort was made, but must imply “the maximum degree” of effort.

              It’s certainly a less-commonly used sense, perhaps similarly to the crosswordland usage of “neat”, “ounce” and so on, but I think that it’s fair enough.

              That said, this clue took me a good bit longer than any other in the puzzle.

  5. 26a Something flickering wild, in enchanted twinkling — Bernie waxing lyrical? (6,2,3,4)

    I took it that ‘something flickering’ was the definition and ‘twinkling’ the anagram indicator. The bit about Bernie isn’t wholly necessary but does add to the clue.

  6. .Felt rather chuffed at being able cope with an Elgar. We did enjoy it. Like others, we had 25d correct but could not justfy the word play. Thanks for the above explanation Gazza, Tilsit for the review. and Elgar for his fluffy slippers puzzle

  7. I thought the lyrics extremely clever, rewriting the “air”. 25d was my last in but seeing how it is linked by ellipses (learned something yesterday, thanks Cryptic Sue) eventually justified it. Or have I – just read MYOPS comment. Head spinning on as ever a four letter word. Liked 7d for its simplicity. Thanks Elgar and the dancing duo

  8. This was fun to get sorted on the evening commute.
    Thanks to F&G and to Elgar for the puzzle. Loved teh discourse at #4 among our Highland cruciverbalists.

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