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Toughie 840

Toughie No 840 by Micawber

Situation Normal – Absolutely Fabulous, Unparalleled

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

As always it’s a real treat to have a Micawber to blog on a Wednesday. He doesn’t give us the hardest Toughies but he’s right at the top of the entertainment league table as far as I’m concerned.
Let us know how you fared and please take the time to click on one of the stars below to record how much you enjoyed it.

Across Clues

1a  Expect the worst from this potato salad (7,3)
{MURPHY’S LAW} – probably not a warning label that you’d see on the chilled cabinet at Tesco’s  –  this is a charade of an informal word for a potato and a salad dish.

6a  Stigma of Saint Mercedes? (4)
{SCAR} – one of the abbreviations for saint is followed by what Mercedes may be an example of.

9a  It’s essential for campanulae to rise up (5)
{REBEL} – not knowing much, if anything, about flowers I had to look up campanula. The best-known member of the family is apparently the harebell, and since the –ae ending in latin signifies a plural we have to add an S. After all that we just want the middle (essential) five letters.

10a  Worked out, lacking energy — gaining nothing, drove off (9)
{EXORCISED} – start with a verb meaning worked out, in the gym perhaps, then replace the second E with an O (lacking E(nergy), gaining nothing).

12a  Private treatment room‘s rising scale in what’s charged — fat sum’s about right (9,4)
{ISOLATION WARD} – insert three consecutive notes (rising scale) from tonic sol-fa into an electrically-charged particle then add a slang word for a large quantity of money (fat sum) containing R(ight).

14a  Fit and healthy, endlessly exercising with muscular movement (8)
{ATHLETIC} – drop both end letters of healthy and make an anagram (exercising) of what remains, then add a muscular spasm.

15a  Asian writer backing Brick Lane’s Monica (6)
{NEPALI} – reverse (backing) a writing implement and add the surname of Monica, the author of the novel Brick Lane.

17a  Hot haggis entree? (6)
{PIPING} – double definition, the second a description of the accompaniment to the entry of the great chieftain o’ the puddin-race at a Burns Night supper.

19a  God in demand for multitude (8)
{PLETHORA} – a Norse god goes inside a demand or appeal.

21a  Player striking mid-on? But it’s not cricket! (6-7)
{CENTRE-FORWARD} – this striker is a charade of synonyms for mid and on.

24a  Brings up what and where batsmen are (9)
{INCREASES} – when split (2,7) this is what batsmen are (assuming that their flannels have been ironed) and where they are when facing the bowling.

25a  Dumb rock ‘n’ roll casualty seen here? (5)
{INANE} – where a casualty may be seen (by a doctor) (2,1,3,1) has one of its constituents reduced to a single letter in the same way as rock ‘n’ roll.

26a  Larger beasts decapitating farmyard predator and prey (4)
{OXEN} – a farmyard predator (one that has a particular liking for chicken) and its prey both lose their initial letters (decapitating).

27a  Dons help my carousing — they contribute part of claret (5,5)
{LYMPH NODES} – an anagram (carousing) of DONS HELP MY gives us where white blood cells (part of claret) are formed.

Down Clues

1d  Spoils of war? (4)
{MARS} – a verb meaning spoils is also the Roman god of war. I’m not sure that the second bit works.

2d  Criticise churchman leaving work after massage (7)
{RUBBISH} – a senior churchman loses the abbreviation for an artistic work and what’s left gets appended to a verb meaning to massage.

3d  Keep calm and don’t give opponent a break before South defers to North (4,4,5)
{HOLD ONE’S NERVE} – start with a phrase, from tennis, meaning to deny your opponent a break, then replace the final S(outh) by N(orth).

4d  Resurgent oil state features in revised OSCE plan (8)
{SCENARIO} – I had to look up OSCE which is the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Either I’m woefully ignorant or this body keeps a very low profile, because it’s not a small outfit, having nearly 3,000 staff. Reverse (resurgent) a Middle-Eastern oil state inside (features in) an anagram (revised) of OSCE.

5d  Web company, one controlling international sauce (5)
{AIOLI} – the identity of a web company and ISP (which is not doing as well as it used to) is followed by I (one) and has I(nternational) inserted (controlling).

7d  Tapioca fool’s soaked in sparkling wine (7)
{CASSAVA} – a fool is inserted in a Spanish champagne-substitute.

8d  One with wings, decorated, six feet underSoviet military chief perhaps? (3,7)
{RED ADMIRAL} – double definition, the second cryptic. The first is a flying creature (one with wings) which is brightly decorated and has six legs. The second (possibly now deceased) was also highly decorated but only had two legs.

11d  Deep thought process making denser (13)
{CONCENTRATION} – double definition.

13d  Stimulant beverage (not tea, by the sound of it) served up with a bit of chocolate (10)
{CAPPUCCINO} – this is a lovely all-in-one clue. String together a) a stimulant or pick-me-up, b) an informal word for a serving of tea (actually a contraction of ‘cup of’) and c) a bit of C(hocolate). Then take out the letter that sounds like tea and reverse the lot.

16d  Loses cool trousers and top (6,2)
{FLARES UP} – a charade of trousers which were fashionable in the 1970s and an adjective meaning top.

18d  Doubly hurt, I lost swagger (7)
{PANACHE} – two words meaning hurt are joined and the I is lost from the first.

20d  Professional worker to support aged (3,4)
{OLD HAND} – a manual worker follows (to support, in a down clue) a synonym for aged.

22d  Dodgy as Ray? (5)
{FISHY} – double definition – ray is falsely capitalised.

23d  Naafi snafu? (4)
{MESS} – double definition. Snafu is an American military slang word for a chaotic state – it’s an acronym for ‘situation normal – all fouled up’ (that’s the polite version, anyway).

As always with Micawber there are too many favourite clues to list them all, so I’ll just mention 1a, 12a, 8d and 13d. How about you?


24 comments on “Toughie 840

  1. Super stuff once again from Micawber – too many favourites to list so I will just agree with gazza, as I do with his star ratings. Thanks to both for their part in the perfect Wednesday entertainment.

  2. Nothing to add to what has already been said by Gazza. 1a made me smile.
    All good fun; thanks to Micawber, and to Gazza.

  3. Top notch crossword from Micawber with a review to match it.

    Did anyone else try MARK for 6a as a triple definition?

    1. I didn’t. I wrote in the S and then waited. Anyway, wouldn’t one of the three have been a marque? (now how do I know you are going to send me the extract from the dictionary? :D )

  4. Splendid stuff!

    Like CS, I’ll just agree with Gazza’s favourites as there are far too many to list.

    Thanks to Micawber and Gazza

  5. Top notch puzzle from a top notch setter, A 19a of brilliant clues of which I’ve singled out 1a 3d 8d and 13d thanks to Micawber for the entertainment and to Gazza for the superb review.

  6. I had a go at this one. I didn’t finish it by quite a long way but really enjoyed what I could do – also enjoyed the hints for the ones that I couldn’t do.
    There were several that I did get but didn’t understand – 27a – white blood cells in claret? Yuk!! 13a – I think it’ll be a very long time before I manage to work out that kind of clue for myself, that’s if I ever do!
    I liked 1, 10 and 25a and 2, 7 and 23d.
    With thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

  7. Very hard to find something original to say as all our feelings about the puzzle are already in the comments above. An absolute joy to work with and it would be churlish to try and pick any favourites. Took us a while, but got there in the end.
    Thanks Micawber and Gazza

  8. Ditto all above, fabulous fun. I did chuckle loudest at 22d, a nod to Beam / RayT I’d like to think. 13d went in but took the longest to parse d’oh. Thanks as ever to Gazza and Micawber.

    1. Yes – I was held up with 22d – I just kept thinking Ray T/Beam! As for 13d – well, I just like to think that one day, perhaps, I will manage to do that kind of clue all on my own.

      1. You will, we are on a learning curve, just wish I didn’t laugh so much today, nearly split a stitch on my gum, bu**er at my age cutting teeth should have been a distant memory…. Cynth and Cuth back today, traumatised, had to put them in kennels, first time for them and the last I’ve promised them

        1. Oh dear – poor Cynth and Cuth – do hope that they recover quickly. Our “girl” has never been in kennels and I think that she is now too old to start – she’s 13 – if we were going to do it we should have started when she was a pup. However, since we also have my Mum who is 90, and an 18 year old cat, by the time we have sorted all of them out we have lost all enthusiasm for going anywhere!
          As for the Toughie – well, it all feels a bit unimportant when faced with bigger obstacles but I will, I hope, get better at them.
          Do hope that you’re feeling better.

          1. I had no choice Kath, even without the tooth issue I couldn’t have gone to Anax / Deans do as all my usual dogsitters were away, then the tooth got really painful and I just knew what was in store. Hopefully , will get to the Derby Sloggers and Betters event, check out the fifteen squared site. Great day where I first met BD , Pommers and Pomette and many more

            1. I didn’t think you were being critical Kath, Cynthia and Cuthbert send huggles, what had to be done had to be done….

  9. As always, I really enjoyed this Micawber puzzle, although, like Gazza, I wasn’t keen on 1d. It wouldn’t be the first time that I’d missed some subtlety in a puzzle, but I don’t really get it.

    That aside, there’s plenty to enjoy and admire here, and I can’t wait for Micawber’s next outing.

  10. Thanks to Micawber & Gazza for the review & hints. Enjoyed this a fair bit. Pleased to say that I managed 13 answers, got 4 from the hints & looked the rest up. Favourite was 23d, which I actually solved. Very difficult puzzle, but this is Toughieland!

  11. What has happened to the apostrophe indicators?

    1A was described as (7,3) and 3D as (4,4,5).

    Am I dreaming, or shouldn’t those length descriptors tell us of the presence of the apostrophes???

  12. Most enjoyable even though it took two sittings. Re:5d – I’d forgotten that the company had existed!

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