Toughie 862 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 862

Toughie No 862 by Firefly

A Load of Rubbish? No! Well…. Yes!

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Greetings from the Calder Valley. Firefly fills the Friday slot today with an amiable challenge, although it didn’t help me by putting the wrong answer in to 12ac as my first entry!

Nina fans will notice something along the top and bottom rows that link into the theme of 11 across, which also defines a number of answers, hence my title to today’s blog! There are a couple of clues that personally make me suck my teeth, but overall it’s a worthy Friday challenge.

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 and the definitions underlined to help.


7a    Deposit from the joke shop for detergent? (7)
{SHAMPOO} We start with a double definition clue, the first part of which is cryptic. As a kid you may have been to the joke shop (do they still have them?) and bought one of these to upset your auntie. The name of a fake deposit (yes, that sort of deposit!) is the name of a type of detergent you may use upon yourself. I shall refrain from a picture at this point!

8a    Signboard repainted to avoid British government charges (7)
{INROADS} A word meaning ways in to something is an anagram (repainted) of SIGNBOARD minus B (British) and G (government). Not sure this works as a clue, as it technically asks you to anagram before removing the letters.

10a    Stamps into frightfully posh dump and gets dirty (7,2)
{MUDDIES UP) A word for stamps (think moulds) goes inside an anagram (frightfully)of U (posh) DUMP to give a phrase meaning gets dirty.

11a    Tory leader’s ready to show guts (5)
{TRIPE} A word for meat offal is revealed by taking T, the first letter of Tory and adding something that means ready.

12a    Chilly interviewer? (5)
{PARKY} D’oh! I went for the wrong interviewer. Not Sir David, but the nickname of Barnsley’s second favourite son, which is a dialect word meaning cold. Have to admit I preferred his sporting journalism to his interviewing style, but still prefer that compared to Piers Moron who seems to be the heir apparent. He’s the one on the right in this picture.

13a    Never back sailor to catch river rodent (6,3)
{NORWAY RAT} A type of rodent is revealed by taking an American expression that means ‘Never!’ adding the reversal of a name for a sailor and inserting R (river).

15a    Touring fair we are stirred and stirred again (7)
{REAWOKE} Around (touring) an abbreviation that means everything is fair or fine goes an anagram (stirred) of WE ARE to give something that means stirred once more. Nicely concise clue.

17a    Eastern tree’s grey 11 (7)
{EYEWASH} Take E (Eastern), add the name of a tree found in churchyards and a shade of grey (that’s also a tree) to give something that also means 11.

18a    Name of medication intricately enciphered — to avoid counterfeiters initially (9)
{EPHEDRINE} The name of a medication that I remember my dad taking for his asthma is an anagram (intricately) of ENCIPHERED minus C (counterfeiters’ first letter).

20a    Former trespasses in guest bedroom recalled (5)
{DEBTS} What used to be called trespasses in olden days is hidden backwards in the phrase guest bedroom.

21a    11’s application lost in the hustle of Big Apple (5)
{BILGE} The trendy abbreviation for application is removed from Big Apple and the whole thing rearranged (hustle) to get another definition of 11

23a    Dash off with cousins to collect gumshoe (9)
{SUSPICION} An anagram (off) of COUSINS has the American abbreviation for a gumshoe inserted to give a word that means a dash or small amount of something. Some of you may struggle to find this as a definition, but it is in one or two reference works.

24a    To get through when recalled by prince is of major importance (7)
{EPOCHAL} A historical term meaning of major importance is found by reversing a word meaning to get through or survive something and adding the name of a prince [I think “Bluff King” might have been better here].

25a    Father’s boat providing transportation (7)
{FREIGHT} An abbreviation for Father is followed by a type of boat (and the name of a rowing crew) to give a type of cargo that is transported.

I am handing over to BD to do the downs. See you tomorrow!


1d           11 British trees died internally (10)
{BALDERDASH} – another thematic word – B(ritish) followed by two tries separated by (internally) D(ied)

2d           At Oxford, perhaps, sadness is difficult to hold in check (6)
{UPPITY} – a charade of a two-letter word meaning at university (Oxford, perhaps) and sadness

3d           Not one non-smoker seen, unusually, in 11 (8)
{NONSENSE} – a two-letter word meaning not one followed by the abbreviation of Non-Smoker and an anagram (unusually) of SEEN gives our penultimate thematic word

4d           Dosser‘s breakfast? (6)
{KIPPER} – a double definition – a dosser or sleeper and my favourite breakfast (I have mine with scrambled egg)

5d           Compound for smaller creature than elephant (8)
{URETHANE} – hidden inside the clue (smaller?)

6d           Sickness crushes one here in Africa (4)
{MALI} – an originally French word for sickness (the one that is followed by “de mer” for seasickness) over (crushes) I (one)

7d           These kind of membranes I peel off when less new (13)
{SEMIPERMEABLE} – an anagram (off) of MEMBRA(N)ES I PEEL without the N (when less New) – presumably intended as &Lit, but needs a stretch of the imagination

9d           Arboreal product afforded clean parts of body (5,8)
{SWEET CHESTNUT} – a word meaning clean or fresh followed by two parts of the body

14d         Bar with base put in to shorten span on carriageway (4,6)
{ROAD BRIDGE] – start with a three-letter word for a bar or xxx, then put its final letter (base) inside a verb meaning to shorten, as in to produce a shorter version of a book

16d         Dole out about five hundred and fifty middles for cushions in Asian walled city (3,5)
{OLD DELHI} – an anagram (out) of DOLE around the Roman numeral for five hundred and followed by the Roman numeral fifty and the inner letters (middles} of cusHIons

17d         Seven levels out? (5,3)
{EVENS OFF} – a way of expressing an anagram which results in SEVEN

19d         Middle-earth’s Galadriel, perhaps — the one and only? (6)
{ITSELF} – split as (2’1,3) this is how Middle-earth might describe Galadriel

20d         Pilot left 11 (6)
{DRIVEL} – a verb meaning to pilot followed by L(eft) gives our final thematic word

22d         Inner Circle raises game (4)
{LOOP} – an inner circle, like the notorious inner ring road in Leeds, is derived by reversing (raises) a game similar to snooker

I’m off to London tomorrow and Tilsit will be chairing the Saturday Crossword club.  There will be no cake in the naught corner as crypticsue is bringing it all with her to Wapping, so you will have to provide your own.

32 comments on “Toughie 862

  1. I definitely wasn’t on the Firefly wavelength, I blame trying to solve this at the wrong end of the morning after a particularly hectic trip to Canterbury. As usual I didn’t notice the Nina, but then I rarely do.

    Thanks to Firefly for what I alone seemed to have found Toughie and to Tislit and BD for the explanations.

    So if we have had Fred and Ginger and Antony and Cleo,anyone got any (polite) suggestions as to the double act best represented by the two Daves?? :D

    1. it was just one of those days when the first answer I came up with seemed to be right…I just wish there were more days like it! thanks to the setter and the dynamic duo…

  2. A 3*/4* for me. Not helped by:
    a) putting 12ac as FROST rather than the correct answer (I wonder if this had been the intention?)
    b) mis-spelling D*lh* as D*hl* which FUBARed the SW corner
    Rather enjoyed 18ac as it’s a drug I occasionally use in my work as an anaesthetist (and was also my “in”)
    I also missed the NINA’s
    Thanks to setter and reviewer for an enjoyable Friday puzzle
    Roll on Tuesday

  3. Enjoyed this one, a few tricky ones but overall a good puzzle. Favourites were 1a 4d 15a and 23a thanks to Firefly and to Tilsit and Big Dave in anticipation.

  4. Possibly the first time i’ve actually spotted a NINA in a toughie without being told about it first!
    I went through this quite quickly for a Friday, without too many problems, although i spent a while trying to parse 14d.
    I nearly put FROST for 12a, but fortunately didn’t (as i thought it should have had a Y on the end).
    Thanks to Firefly, and Batman and Robin (or is it Del Boy and Rodney?)

  5. I enjoyed this a lot and like Crypticsue found it reasonably tough. Thanks to Firefly and to BD and Tilsit.

  6. We enjoyed this a lot. Plenty of laughs. Kicking ourselves that we missed the NINA which were another couple of chuckles. Also tried Frost, but only lightly until checking letters demolished him. Had always thought that the definition of 7a was “A pile of sawdust behind the rocking-horse”.
    Thanks Firefly, Tilsit and BD.

  7. I thought that someone had stolen the Toughie today. A Two-Stopper for both the back page and this one but they both gave enjoyment so thanks to Firefly and BD (I assume) for the review.

  8. Enjoyed this a lot so thanks to Firefly.

    Even noticed the Nina for about the first time ever :smile:

    Thanks to Batman and Robin for the review!

    1. Any particular reason? Fair comment on how you enjoyed a crossword or understood the clues and the wordplay is encouraged but reasons why you did not enjoy the crossword are helpful for other readers and the dedicated team of setters who entertain us day by day, who read the blog too(and have feelings!

      1. Prolixic’s right. If you hated it, fair enough, but please say why.

        I thought that this was a good crossword, and much gentler than many of Firefly’s puzzles.

    1. After your first post I’m not sure this one is worthy of a reply – could you do better?

      A Nina is a hidden message in a puzzle.

    1. What’s wrong with 16d? I’d be pleased to hear your reasoning for voting it “worst clue of the year”!

      1. It wasn’t a place I had heard of (although I did know New Delhi so I suppose there has to be an old one).

        Sometimes setters have to resort to unusual ways of cluing when a word is difficult to clue (take a look at 26 across in today’s Saturday DT puzzle as an example).

        I don’t think it’s the greatest clue in the world but there are worse in this puzzle and much worse in many other puzzles.

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