Toughie 1041

Toughie No 1041 by Notabilis

Hints and tips by Fred and Ginger

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Greetings from the Liberace home for Aged Has-Beens. Our Friday tormentor is Notabilis who once again demonstrates the sheer elegance and quality of his clue writing in this splendid challenge. Probably not one of his more difficult ones, but enough in there to stretch your mental muscles. Had a few problems in parsing a couple of clues and I’m not entirely convinced I’ve missed something obvious in 9d.

Our stand-out favourite clue was 26, which made me smile. Fred was so tempted to have MILIBAND as the answer to 20 across but realised otherwise and found a better solution!

Can’t see a Nina, unless, as Enid Rancid used to say on That’s Life, you know better….

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. Definitions are underlined.

Acrosses From Fred:

1a    Perhaps daily writers display vanity about rejected manuscripts (8)
{PRESSMEN} We start with a container clue. The abbreviation for manuscripts is reversed inside a way to describe displaying vanity, think of how birds stroke their feathers. This gives you the name for people who write on a daily (newspaper).


5a    Domestic area unresolved, in the being neglected (2,4)
{AU PAIR} The name for a (foreign) domestic help is revealed by taking A(rea) and adding a phrase meaning unresolved (2,2,3,3) from which “in the” has been dropped (neglected)

10a    Stormy weather, sun’s in, so not good condition for sailing (15)
{UNSEAWORTHINESS} An anagram (stormy) of WEATHER SUN’S IN SO gives the condition where vessels are not suitable for going out on voyages.

11a    Old revolutionary enmity returning: it moves very fast (7)
{CHEETAH} The first name (and common name) for a South American revolutionary named Guevara is added to the reverse of a word for enmity or bitterness. This gives you a creature notable for its celerity.

12a    Note about bearing weapon in poem climaxing at Flodden (7)
{MARMION} Sir Walter Scott’s famous poem which is set at the famous Scottish battle is revealed by putting a word for a weapon inside the third note of the tonic sol-fa, plus ON (about)

13a    Saucy bird casing front of Alan Partridge’s given lodging? (4-4)
{PEAR-TREE} The home to the bird from the famous Christmas song is revealed by taking another word that means saucy or cheeky (think of the rather sexist expression “____ bum”) and add the word for a bird, otherwise known as the female of the ruff and put it all around (casing) the initial letter (front) of Alan

15a    Mother’s one (it must be said) carrying (5)
{WOMAN} This is one of those all in clues where the whole thing could define the answer. A Mother is an example of this, and a word that sounds like (it must be said) “one” around (carrying) a mother.

18a    Making group of Muslim states less able, a dispute (5)
{ARGUE} A very clever clue. The name for a federation of Middle Eastern states has the words ABLE and A removed from the middle of it to give you a word meaning a dispute.

20a    Opinion divided by lines, humourless epitome of smoothness (8)
{MILLPOND} A word meaning opinion has LL (lines) inside plus a word meaning humourless, as in dead pan. This gives something famous for being smooth and unruffled.

23a    Old timer united in exotic island (7)
{SUNDIAL} The name for an ancient way of telling the time is revealed by taking U and placing it inside an anagram (exotic) of ISLAND.

25a    Some barracking unit in mews? (7)
{CATCALL} A double definition clue, one of which is cryptic. A form of booing or barracking, is a cryptic way of describing the mews of a domestic animal.

26a    You might get the snip ‘down there’ (7-8)
{BARGAIN BASEMENT} Not a vasectomy clinic! This cryptic definition refers to somewhere in a big store where you can get the best offers, i.e. price cuts, a sort of forerunner to Poundland.

27a    8 of you once turned on English hack briefly (6)
{ECHOEY} This was a tricky one and for a while I wondered about ED for ‘hack’ at the end. Thanks to a prompt from Our Glorious Leader, I realised that it’s the old word for you reversed (turned) and preceded by E for English a word meaning hack or cut, minus its last letter.

28a    Wrinkled retainer of African origin (8)
{ERITREAN} An anagram (wrinkled) of RETAINER gives the name for someone from the east of Africa.

Downs by Ginger

(who didn’t find it quite as difficult as Fred did!)

1d    Pot in powerful blow is ace (6)
{PAUNCH} Insert A (ace) into a powerful blow – pot here referring to a body part sometimes called a ‘corporation’ especially in crossword clues!

2d    Secret feature in code, say, including bloomer, say (6,3)
{EASTER EGG} Insert a flower between two lots of the abbreviation meaning ‘for example’ These secret features were inside jokes hidden inside computer programs, movies, books or crosswords. As Fred says in the introduction, we can’t see what is bound to be extremely obvious when Notabilis points it out!

3d    Tea Party leader supporting small blast (7)
{SHATTER} Follow the abbreviation for Small with the name of the person who hosted the tea party in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.


4d    Church follows elevation of a certain patriarch (5)
{ENOCH} Follow a reversal (elevation) of a number meaning ‘a certain’ with the abbreviation for church. This Biblical patriarch appears in the book of Genesis and was apparently the great-grandfather of Noah.

6d    Mostly not suntanned (apparently) around one’s solid hairline? (7)
{UNIBROW} Insert I (one) into almost all of a way of saying not having the colour associated with a suntan.

7d    Caucasian trailblazer isolated in the interior (5)
{AZERI} Hidden in trailblAZER Isolated is someone from an area from the Caucasus to the Iranian plateau.

8d    Seed waster accepted by others in sympathy (8)
{RESONANT} Insert into others in the sense of the people remaining, a Biblical ‘seed’ waster (who was mentioned on Only Connect the other night and proved a handy reminder for Ginger)

9d    It’s a function to generate specialised derivatives by differentiation (4,4)
{STEM CELL} This clue has been the subject of considerable lunchtime correspondence. This item is a basic building block of life – hence the ‘function to generate’. We think the second part of the clue refers to the dictionary definition which says that it can indeed differentiate into specialised derivatives.

14d    English actress Heather following inclination (8)
{RAMPLING} Follow a sloping path with another name for the heather plant.


16d    Hard metal god with elephantine head almost framed by long hair (9)
{MANGANESE} Insert into long hair (eg on a horse) almost all of the Indian God which has a head like an elephant.

17d    Old man’s fur is fair (8)
{PASSABLE} Follow an informal way of saying Father’s (old man referring to one’s male parent) with the fur of a marten from the North Asian forests.

19d    Move abroad’s not good where the ruler’s Islamic (7)
{EMIRATE} Remove G for good from a verb meaning to move abroad.

21d    Knot in short knickers not liable to get them in a twist? (7)
{PATIENT} Insert a verb meaning to knot into almost all of another word for knickers.

22d    Excess marks off fellows that some find hard to digest (6)
{GLUTEN} Follow a word for excess (Ginger has an excess of courgettes in her garden at the moment) with a synonym for fellows with its first letter, an M removed (marks off).

24d    Thorn fixed to a pole (5)
{NORTH} One of the ends of the earth is a nice easy anagram (fixed) of THORN.

25d    Chapter to publicise meeting president (5)
{CHAIR} The abbreviation for chapter followed by a verb meaning to publicise or broadcast.

Notabilis never disappoints and this Toughie was no exception. Ginger is just sorting out the shin-pads ready for us to kick ourselves when someone points out the obvious 2d.


  1. stanXYZ
    Posted August 30, 2013 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Our stand-out favourite clue was 26, which made me smile.

    It brought tears to my eyes! But I wasn’t laughing! Ouch!

  2. Prolixic
    Posted August 30, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    I took the clue to 9d as a cryptic definition with the opening “it’s a function” designed to make you think of a mathematical function. Read is as “It has a function …” and it becomes a general knowledge clue with the remaining wordplay defining the function of a stem cell.

    • Tilsit
      Posted August 30, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      At one point I did wonder if it was an inadvertently posted comment on an unpublished clue!

  3. Pegasus
    Posted August 30, 2013 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Usual high standard from todays setter, favourites were 13a 20a and 21d thanks to Notabilis and to Fand G.

  4. BigBoab
    Posted August 30, 2013 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable toughie from one of the best setters around. Many thanks to Notablis and to the twinkling twosome for a very amusing review.

  5. ChrisH
    Posted August 30, 2013 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    Haven’t had a crack at the toughie for ages, but thought I’d give it a go. Half of this was impenetrable.
    For instance, I can see the construction of 27a, but the answer seems to have no relevance to the clue. What’s the 8 go to do with it?

    • Posted August 30, 2013 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

      It’s a fairly common crossword convention – a number sometimes, but not always, represents the answer to the clue with that number.

  6. 2Kiwis
    Posted August 30, 2013 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    A puzzle that kept us out of mischief for quite a lot of yesterday afternoon. The last one for us to parse was 18a, where it took ages to twig the word-play. Needed a bit of Googling for the 14d actress and confirmation of 7d and 12a. Very satisfying to get total completion. An entertaining challenge.
    Thanks Notabilis and “the team”.

  7. Only fools
    Posted August 31, 2013 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    Threw the towel,in for 12a which was frustrating but lost patience with the solver .
    Thanks to the duo .Personal favourite 13 a .
    Gratitude too to Notabilis for the enjoyable challenge .

  8. halcyon
    Posted August 31, 2013 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    A mixed bag and one hell of a struggle [just finished]. Some lovely clues here – 13a, 18a, 26a, 3d and 8d. But 9d is clunky and 15a just doesn’t do it for me as an “and lit”.

    Good to see a reference to the late great Viv Stanshall’s “Sir Henry at Rawlinson End” in 28a.

    Many thanks to F&G and to Notabilis.

  9. Robin Hill
    Posted August 31, 2013 at 12:55 am | Permalink

    Although quite a few clues were straightforward some of these took me ages, e.g. the seed waster in 8a, and the poem at 12a, both of which I had to Google. 5a and 18a are extremely clever, as is 2d. I’ve now completed a run of 66 puzzles, and this was definitely one of the toughest, certainly harder than Elgar’s numerical puzzle last Friday. Notabilis certainly provides consistently challenging puzzles with satisfying answers.