Toughie 963

Toughie No 963 by Excalibur

Can I Do You Now, Sir?

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment **

Excalibur has a unique, quirky style which tends to polarise opinions. I can’t pretend that she’s one of my favourite setters but I do think that her puzzles have improved since the early Toughies and this is a fairly typical example with quite a lot of cryptic definitions. I didn’t find it particularly difficult – how about you?
Please take the time to click on one of the stars below to indicate how you rate the puzzle for enjoyment.

Across Clues

1a  Not up and about because humiliated (6)
{ABASED} – an old adverb meaning lying down (not up) contains (about) a synonym for because or since.

5a  Go down under and integrate (8)
{SUBMERGE} – a charade of a prefix meaning under and a verb to integrate.

9a  Hunting licence (6,7)
{SEARCH WARRANT} – a cryptic definition of what allows the police to hunt through your property.

10a  Something lethal for worm to catch, seen from above (5-3)
{BIRD’S-EYE} – the description of a view from above is cryptically, with a space replacing the hyphen, what a worm might try to avoid catching.

11a  One wears nothing under it, this reveals? (6)
{SHOWER} – the apparatus under which one stands for an all-over wash could also (at a stretch) be something that reveals or demonstrates.

12a  Deceptions many enthusiasts will swallow (6)
{BLUFFS} – enthusiasts containing many, fifty to be precise. These enthusiasts, according to the BRB, were originally keen attenders at fires and they got their name from the colour of the uniform of the volunteer firemen in New York.

14a  Small strip that’s worn by girl in summer (8)
{SUNDRESS} – S(mall) followed by a verb to strip off.

16a  Left pearls — two strings (8)
{STRANDED} – a verb meaning left or abandoned is formed from a set of pearls followed by two of the strings on a violin, say.

19a  Said, besides, student admitted being confused (6)
{ADDLED} – a verb meaning said something extra with the abbreviation for a learner being inserted.

21a  Male star’s badly-made suit (6)
{HEARTS} – a male pronoun followed by an anagram (badly-made) of STAR.

23a  Poster chucked in skip for prank (8)
{ESCAPADE} – an abbreviated poster gets inserted (chucked) in a verb to skip or flee.

25a  A good one will help you see cracks (5,2,6)
{SENSE OF HUMOUR} – cryptic definition of what’s needed to understand punchlines.

I was sitting watching TV last night when the doorbell went.
The kids round here will steal anything.

26a  Can, anyhow, set store by being higher up the tree than you (8)
{ANCESTOR} – an anagram (anyhow) of CAN followed by another anagram (set) of STORE. The tree is a family one.

27a  What we’re discussing could be my various personae (6)
{THEMES} – split as (3,3) this could be, cryptically, the various aspects of my character.

Down Clues

2d  Like animals I accommodated in stable: wild (7)
{BESTIAL} – I gets inserted in an anagram (wild) of STABLE.

3d  Supported verbally, as is proper (5)
{STAID} – this sounds (verbally) like a past participle meaning supported or corseted like a Victorian lady.

4d  Either lessened or removed wrinkles (9)
{DECREASED} – definition and cryptic definition – the second would be split (2-7).

5d  Discovered over years, a lost forest people? (7)
{SAWYERS} – a verb meaning discovered or realised followed by YE(a)RS with the A lost. These are people who cut up timber, so they may well work in a forest.

6d  Poet  is eager (5)
{BURNS} – double definition. Last Wednesday we had William McGonagall – this week we have a rather more illustrious Scottish poet.

7d  In love with a doctor, endure suffering to trap (9)
{ENAMOURED} – A and the abbreviation for a doctor, especially one in the armed forces, go inside (to trap) an anagram (suffering) of ENDURE.

8d  Understands male animal turned to protect the female (7)
{GATHERS} – reverse (turned) a male animal which contains (to protect) a feminine pronoun (the female).

13d  Country kid entering to offer bouquet (9)
{FRAGRANCE} – a European country with a verb to kid or tease inside it.

15d  Good-for-nothing who doesn’t have money in the bank? (2-7)
{NO-ACCOUNT} – this is an informal adjective, used in North America to mean good-for-nothing or of little importance. Cryptically it might describe someone who doesn’t keep his or her money in a bank (probably quite wise, especially if living in Greece).

17d  He erased the ’cause for crime‘ (7)
{TREASON} – erase the HE from T(he) and follow this with a synonym of cause. I don’t like ‘he erased the’ to mean ‘he gets erased from the’.

18d  Knocks off and cleans up after (4,3)
{DOES FOR} – double definition, both informal usages. The first meaning is knocks off or kills and the second describes the service provided by a daily help like Mrs Mopp from ITMA.

20d  Sign bottom or else bottom half (7)
{ENDORSE} – a charade of a bottom or tail, OR (from the clue) and the bottom half of (el)SE.

22d  Was really tiredof saving? (5)
{SPENT} – an adjective meaning really tired or exhausted is also a verb meaning forked out.

24d  Likely car registration number for big-headed publicist? (5)
{PRONE} – an adjective meaning likely or disposed to could also, cryptically, be the cherished car registration number (2,3) of a publicist who has a high opinion of himself (I wonder who that could be?).

The clues I liked best today were 21a and 3d. Let me know which ones you liked.


11 Comments

  1. jezza
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    All completed except 11a, which I stared at blankly for some time. More than 2* difficulty for me, and I did need to wear one of those ‘slightly mad hats’ to understand what some of the clues were getting at.
    Thanks to Excalibur, and to Gazza.

  2. BigBoab
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Excalibur for a very enjoyable, if not so tough, toughie and to Gazza for the usual superb review.

  3. marcus brown
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    I always love Excalibur puzzles. No long wanderuing clues, no weird words, just entertainment, which is what a crossword should be A Rufusand an Excalibur every day would be my idea of crossword heaven

  4. Only fools
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Only hiccups were 6d and 11a (couldn’t get past Byron for a while .)
    Not normally my favourite setter either but did enjoy this with a few smiles along the way .
    Thanks very much .

  5. Expat Chris
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    I loved it. That, of course, could be because I finished without hints, always a red-letter day where toughies are concerned. Favorites were 6D and 11A, though 11A was one of the last in. Also thought 24D was very good. Thanks to Excalibur and to you, Gazza.

  6. Pegasus
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Very gentle yet entertaining fare on offer today, favourites were 5d 16a and 27a thanks to Excalibur and to Gazza for the comments.

  7. outnumbered
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Argh, one wrong for me. I had “STOLEN” for 11A (my last one in) which I’d convinced myself made sense. STOLE as something “one wears” with N for Nothing under it and something would definitely be revealed if it was STOLEN. OK, so it sounds a bit lame now I write it down !

    Apart from getting one wrong I did it quicker than the back-page today, so it must have been on the easy side. Enjoyable anyway.

  8. KiwiColin
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    I did this on my own and finished in a shorter time than the Jay. Enjoyed it so much that urged the other Kiwi to also do a solo when she came home. She did this, and found it fun too. 24d and 27a top of the pops.
    Thanks Excalibur and Gazza.

  9. Kath
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    I couldn’t possibly say that I finished this – it’s a Toughie so I didn’t expect to – but did most of it and enjoyed it.
    As soon as I got the security blanket out (came and looked at the hints) all became very clear and I could do the ones that I had previously given up on – all to do with mind set.
    I really liked 10, 14 and 25a and 4 and 6d.
    With thanks to Excalibur and gazza.

  10. andy
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks to Excalibur and Gazza, 25a is much needed this week. I’m 22d

  11. Tilsit
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    17d Not sure why it couldn’t have read “He was erased from the cause of crime”. Would have made the clue read just as before but render it sound.