Toughie 935

Toughie No 935 by Micawber

Hairy Biker

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

I sometimes think that I must have been a paragon of virtue in a former existence because I’m rewarded with more than my fair share of Micawber’s puzzles to blog. This one provided the usual 5-star enjoyment  and it did take me longer than usual, although having finished it I couldn’t really see why (which, as someone remarked the other day, is the sign of a very good puzzle). I hadn’t come across the sheep in 26a before.
Do leave a comment and please take the time to rate the puzzle by clicking on one of the stars below.

Across Clues

1a  Totally unacceptable to be seized by heavy-handed European star chamber? (4,2,4)
{HALL OF FAME} – words meaning totally (3) and unacceptable (3) are contained inside an adjective meaning heavy-handed (especially on the stage) and E(uropean). There’s a nice bit of misdirection here because Star Chamber was, of course, a much-feared and oppressive court under the Tudors.

6a  Brussels taking credit for result of not using bleach? (4)
{ECRU} – the abbreviation of the body for which Brussels is used as shorthand goes round the abbreviation for credit.

9a  Reason for inability to download piece of music (5)
{NONET} – split the answer (2,3).

10a  Hair extensions give pretentious air to poet (9)
{SIDEBURNS} – a charade of a pretentious air and Scotland’s national poet.

12a  Eateries backing onto one another railed angrily at public pork pie purveyor (9,4)
{BAREFACED LIAR} – two eateries with the second reversed are followed by an anagram (angrily) of RAILED. Following on from the previous clue, the answer could describe Lance Armstrong but not Sir Bradley Wiggins.

14a  Fruit mash brewed with more than half whiskey (8)
{DEWBERRY} – an anagram (mash) of BREWED followed by two-thirds of a type of whiskey. The spelling of whiskey gives a hint as to which type.

15a  To preserve wood, get in someone who knows his business (6)
{EMBALM} – a type of wood with someone who’s taken a business course inside it.

17a  Gyratory, going round endlessly (6)
{ROTARY} – an all-in-one clue. Take away both end letters of gyratory and reverse (going round) what you’re left with.

19a  Crazy nightmare world you could sum up in one of these? (8)
{NUTSHELL} – a charade of an informal adjective meaning crazy and a world of heat and suffering.

21a  Poorly duo pulled out of tennis foursome with cough — that may or may not help (5,8)
{MIXED BLESSING} – remove the rearranged (poorly) letters of DUO from a game of tennis for four (5,7) then add a verb to cough (give information to the police).

24a  From every direction, support for establishment involved in organ trade? (4-5)
{NEWS-STAND} – all four cardinal points are followed by a supporting structure.

25a  Produce rejected doggy passport? (3,2)
{DIG UP} – when reversed (rejected) this could be the passport for a small breed of dog (3,2).

26a  3 sheep with tail tucked in to produce special milk (4)
{SOYA} – start with a breed of sheep that originated in an uninhabited island of the same name in 3d (in the St. Kilda archipelago and not to be confused with another identically-named island which is just off Skye) and move its last letter inside (tail tucked in) to make a type of milk. I suppose the milk is special in the sense of being artificial.

27a  Cover up music outfit’s rumoured chemical cocktails? (10)
{HYDROXIDES} – we need to string together three homophones (reportedly) – a) a verb to cover up or conceal, b) a type of music that had its origins in the 1950s and c) an outfit or team plus the ‘S.

Down Clues

1d  Get increasingly keen on being embraced by male (4)
{HONE} – a beautifully simple clue. Insert ON in a male pronoun.

2d  Weapon with pine forepart (7)
{LONGBOW} – a verb to pine or yearn followed by the forepart of a ship.

3d  The man and wife taking circuitous routes round islands (5,8)
{OUTER HEBRIDES} – the same male pronoun that we had in 1d and his newly-spliced wife  are placed inside an anagram (circuitous) of ROUTES. We had these islands quite recently on the back page (in DT 27102).

4d  Source of stock used in bouillabaisse, perhaps, as chef has regularly in company (4,4)
{FISH FARM} – insert the even (regularly) letters of ‘as chef has’ in a company.

5d  Red dwarf’s introduction to Tarzan? (5)
{MEDOC} – how one of the seven might introduce himself to Tarzan (2,3).

7d  French offshore body in charge in Vauxhall (7)
{CORSICA} – the body is a body of land. Insert the abbreviation for ‘in charge’ in a small Vauxhall car.

8d  United Nations Security Council starts exercise in country to restore order (10)
{UNSCRAMBLE} – the starting letters of the first four words followed by a gentle bit of exercise in the country.

11d  Crazy, sex-mad boys intoducing independent criterion for rating figures (4,4,5)
{BODY MASS INDEX} – this is the criterion used to determine that an increasing proportion of us have figures that are too ample. An anagram (crazy) of SEX-MAD BOYS has the abbreviation for Independent (as listed in election results) introduced.

13d  Decorations for navy crew surrounded by American bullets (10)
{ADORNMENTS} – the abbreviation for our navy and a word for the ordinary sailors in it are contained in A(merican) and the marks used to introduce bullet points in a list.

16d  Long shot to run rings round team, start to finish (8)
{OUTSIDER} – a verb to defeat decisively or run rings round is followed by another word for team then the first letter is moved to the end (start to finish).

18d  To get off the ground, you must leave this burden, I consider saying (7)
{TAXIWAY} – a verb to burden or make heavy demands on is followed by I (from the clue) and a homophone (saying) of a verb meaning to consider or deliberate.

20d  Ringed but not ringing (7)
{ENGAGED} – double definition, the second relating to the world of telecommunications.

22d  Open country on outskirts of Formby abounding in trees (5)
{LEAFY} – a word for open country or pasture is followed by the outer letters of F(ormb)Y.

23d  Health clubs where weaklings turn up (4)
{SPAS} – an informal word for weaklings or ineffectual people gets reversed (turn up, in a down clue).

There are far too many good clues to list them all. How about 21a, 1d and 5d for starters?

18 Comments

  1. crypticsue
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Having overslept this morning and not had time to look at the toughie before starting work, I spent a very enjoyable time with Micawber round in the photocopying room, where, in between destroying several forests, I worked my way through this splendidly perfect Toughie.

    Agree with everything Gazza says in his intro… it was me that said that bit about the sign of a very good puzzle the other day – my grid is too spotty with liked clues to pick out special favourites.

    Thank you to Micawber for the great company and entertainment and to gazza for the equally great explanations.

  2. pommers
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Splendid stuff, loved it !

    Agree with Gazza that it took longer than usual but once you have the answers you wonder why it took so long! Only the sheep needed a bit of confrmation as I’d never heard of them before.

    Many thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

  3. stanXYZ
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Great entertainment! I enjoyed every single minute hour of it!

    Thanks to Gazza for explaining Medoc & Embalm.

  4. Vigo
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Loved 5d and 11d brought back memories of school days where boys sat on a wall giving girls scores from 0 to 10 as they walked past. Really enjoyable puzzle but needed hints for 26a and 18d (sheep was new to me and had never heard answer to 18d before). Thanks to Micawber and Gazza

  5. Big Boab
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Superb crossword from Micawber, I needed the explanation for 26a but other than that I just thoroughly enjoyed the work of a Master. Many thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for the review and hints. Favourite clues were 3d, 5d and 10a.

  6. pommers
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    What I like about Micawber is that he/she can produce a true “Toughie” without resorting to words nobody ever heard before – apart from today’s sheep but I forgive that as the answer was pretty clear.

    • crypticsue
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      He is definitely a he!

      • gazza
        Posted February 27, 2013 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        There’s an interesting interview with him here.

        • pommers
          Posted February 27, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

          Now you’ve reminded me I remember reading that. Told you, I’m losing the plot!

        • spindrift
          Posted February 27, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

          That article mentions a brilliant clue for the answer “TESTOSTERONE” – I’m still smiling at that now. Gifted!

  7. Pegasus
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    An absolute joy to solve as is becoming the norm with this setter. many favourites including 5d 21a and 25a thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for a great review.

  8. Jezza
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    A late start on this one, and the comments above say it all.
    An excellent puzzle – thanks to Micawber, and to Gazza for the thorough review.
    4.5*/5* for me.

  9. marcus brown
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Lovely puzzle. Thanks, Micawber

  10. Only fools
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Unavoidably enjoyable .I echo all,of the above .I take the grandchildren to a rare breeds farm 2 miles away where they have the aforementioned sheep in the same enclosure as Cameroon sheep !
    Close to 5* difficulty for me .
    Thanks very much .

  11. Balliejames
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    Wow, started, got stuck, started again and got stuck again, resorted to a couple of well constructed hints and managed to finish this puzzle. On completion realised how well this puzzle was set. Many thanks to BD, Gazza and Setter for an educational experience.

  12. 2Kiwis
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    Think this is the first time that we have found the Toughie easier than the reviewer has. We completed it (and parsed everything correctly) in about *** time. We did of course have to check the sheep too. Really great fun from start to finish so definitely ***** for enjoyment.
    Thanks Micawber and Gazza.

  13. gnomethang
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    There were a couple that I failed to sort out before going to the blog. Call it work load or idiocy but I was not very good today. There were some cracking clues here – 11d being but one example. Thanks to gazza and to Micawber.

  14. halcyon
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    Fabulous stuff! Virtually every one a winner. Favourites 15ac, 26ac, 4d [last in] and especially 7d for the Vauxhall.

    Mucho respect to Micawber and many thanks to Gazza for the review.