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Toughie 1049

Toughie No 1049 by Micawber

A Talented Young Setter Named Mick ….

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

Greetings from the Calder Valley! I spent some of this week getting myself ready for a trampling by the hobnailed boots of Elgar, and instead I get the pleasant surprise of a Friday visit from Micawber.

Some of you probably don’t know but Micawber is the mastermind behind a clever piece of fun on Twitter where you use the 140 characters to produce topical limericks, quite a challenge but lots of fun. However, his success at this has led to a book deal and Tuesday saw the launch of There Was an Old Geezer Called Caesar: A History of the World in 100 Limericks, by Mick Twister. The book is available on Amazon –

I’ll offer a copy for the winner of the October Prize Puzzle, and we may be able to get the genius to autograph it for the winner!

Book plug over, back to the puzzle. It’s well up to Micawber’s usual high standard and shows why the future of our hobby is safe in the hands of such setters as Arachne, Tramp, and Micawber. Some nice topical clues to make you smile and overall a good Friday workout.

Thanks to Micawber and best wishes with the book.

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 (there are a lot!) and definitions are underlined.


1a    How clergyman may be seen making careful purchases? (10}
{INVESTMENT} The way a vicar may be dressed (2,8) is also a description of certain purchases in the banking and finance world.

6a    Get one over D Cameron’s partner (better half?) (4}
{SCAM} This is one of those off the wall clues you see from time to time. If you notice how the PM’s name is written, then if you write his wife’s name similarly and take the first half, you get a word meaning to fleece or trick someone.

9a    Brassy types reported to have bagged mobiles? (10}
{SAXOPHONES} A homophone for several containers of mobile devices, is defined cryptically as “brassy types”, think about something usually made of brass and played by John Coltrane.

10a    Projects simply needing time brought forward (4}
{JUTS} Find a word meaning ‘simply’ and move the T(ime) earlier in the word to give something that means projects (out).

12a    Tough stuff from company tax inspectors (4}
{COIR} The name for a fibre made from coconut husk and used to make doormats, so it is fairly durable is found by taking the abbreviation for company, and adding the (old) initials for the UK taxman.

13a    Queen cat biting big cat (Manx) biting first cat’s tail (9}
{CLEOPATRA} This one has you scratching your head! I admit to getting the answer from checking letters and then going backwards. The name of a legendary queen is found by taking most of the word CAT and inserting most of the name of another big cat (indicated by Manx / tailless). You then have to take the last letter of the first cat, i.e. T, and insert that back into the solution you have to give the name. That clear? Just explain it to me again….

 15a    Do they mask a shy disposition? (8}
{YASHMAKS} An anagram (disposition) of MASK A SHY gives the name of the piece of middle eastern facial attire. A nice example of an &lit clue, where the whole clue provides the definition as well as the clue to the word.

16a    Open war breaks out between multinational force and Portugal (6}
{UNWRAP} Something that means to open is found by making an anagram (breaks out) of WAR and placing it between an abbreviation for an organisation dedicated to world peace and P (for Portugal).

18a    One who has issues to deal with rioted violently (6}
{EDITOR} A nice cryptic definition for someone who is responsible for issues (in a print sense) is an anagram (violently) of RIOTED

20a    Sellers perhaps accepting other side may get to cancel (2,4,2}
{GO BACK ON} One of the roles associated with the late Peter Sellers has a word meaning reverse or other side inserted and will lead you to an expression meaning to cancel or break a promise.

23a    Southern area of Christian restraint? (5,4}
{BIBLE BELT} What could be a Christian restraint leads to an area of the USA noted for its religious fervour.

24a    Drag queen’s ultimate alternative to gown (4}
{TOWN} A word meaning to drag or pull is added to N (the last letter, ultimate of QUEEN) to give a word which when added to gown gives a rhyming expression applied to university communities.

26a    Cut of buffalo intestine (4}
{LOIN} The name for a cut of meat is hidden in the phrase ‘buffalo intestine’.

27a    Wizard fun skipping church, and essence of priests’ quibbles (10}
{QUIDDITIES} A quirky word meaning oddities is found by taking the name of the game in the Harry Potter stories that features a Golden Snitch, dropping (skipping) the CH(urch) and adding the middle letters (essence) of PRIESTS. [This game is actually defined in Chambers – 12th edition. BD]

28a    Box that should be kept at arm’s length? (4}
{CUFF} Old joke no43: Where do you find Napoleon’s armies? At the end of his sleevies! The name for the part of your shirt found at the end of your arms is also a word that means to box, as in to hit someone.

29a    One of people scattered on any isle (or on specific ones) (10}
{POLYNESIAN} Another clever clue. The first letter of People is added to an anagram (scattered) of ON ANY ISLE, gives the name for an inhabitant of some islands near Australia.


1d    Teacher training — no English this month (4}
{INST}    The name for in-service teaching days (formerly called Baker Days) needs to lose E (for English) giving the legal abbreviation that means ‘this month’.

2d    Vice-President’s operations steer constrained expressions of opinion (3,4}
{VOX POPS} The abbreviation for Vice-President is added to one for operations and inside goes the name for a creature known in the US as a steer. This reveals the name for the sort of interviews that used to start every episode of Esther Rantzen’s show That’s Life.


3d    Set over? Fantastic, I’m ready for my close-up! (12}
{SUPERIMPOSED} A nice version of an all-in-one clue. A description meaning placed on top (in a photographic sense) is taken by finding an expression that means fantastic or brilliant, which is added to the sort of response you’d give if you were having your picture taken (1’1,5).

4d    Festive delicacy ‘name’ cook turned out (8}
{MOONCAKE} An anagram (turned out) of NAME COOK is a type of confectionery associated with a Chinese festival.

5d    Born and died with no ego found necessary (6}
{NEEDED} The legal expression (from the French) meaning born is added to DIED, minus I (ego) to give a word meaning necessary.

7d    Knot where cavalry commander’s besieged Lakota leader (7}
{CLUSTER} The name of a famous US general from the Wild West has L, the first letter of Lakota, inserted to give something that means a knot.

8d    Cream cheese ace after mum’s fish (10}
{MASCARPONE} A type of Italian cream cheese is found by taking the abbreviation for mother’s and the name of a fish (think koi!) and adding the number associated with an ace.

11d    Underground seams not worked here, as pitmen once worked (4-4,4}
{OPEN-CAST MINE} The name for the sort of pit that usually isn’t underground is an anagram (worked) of AS PITMEN ONCE. Nice clue.

14d    Ramp up Libor dishonestly — caught exaggerating (10}
{HYPERBOLIC} An adjective associated with the grammatical term for exaggeration is revealed by solving this word sum. A word meaning to ramp up (as in publicity) is added to an anagram of LIBOR and then add C (caught.)

17d    Nightcap’s a knockout with rum in (3,5}
{HOT TODDY} A colloquial expression for a bed-time drink usually with alcohol added, is found by taking a slang word meaning an attractive or pretty girl and inserting an adjective meaning rum or strange.

19d    Where legal lunch will be shortly (2,5}
{IN BRIEF} An expression meaning shortly is a cryptic way of saying where a solicitor’s sandwich eventually ends up!

21d    ‘Wow, heavy!’ said Arabian (7}
{KUWAITI} The name for a Middle Eastern inhabitant is a homophone of a word that means wow (or the noise of a dove) and a word meaning heavy or ponderous.

22d    Sustained six and four, then unfortunately out (6}
{TENUTO} A musical expression that means sustained, is found by adding 6 and 4 and bolting on an anagram of the word OUT.

25d    What makes best basest, say (2,2}
{AS IN} A short expression meaning say, or for example, is found by literally saying what you see. How does the word BEST become the word BASEST?

Thanks to Micawber for a splendid way to start the weekend. So many fine clues and things to make you smile.

Have a great weekend and I think we need to get ready for a kicking next Friday. I hear the sound of someone stamping around……

22 comments on “Toughie 1049

  1. Superb as ever thank you Micawber. More dots by clues I liked that clues without so it would be (a) impossible to pick a favourite and (b) take too long to list them.

    Thanks to Tilsit for the review too.

  2. Very enjoyable toughie from Micawber if not his most difficult, loved 20,23 and 27a in particular. Many thanks to Micawber and to Tilsit for the very amusing review.

  3. Found the SE corner hard going and needed hints for two and the answer to 22D. I did get 27A, though! Lots to like today. Many thanks to Micawber and to Tilsit for the help.

    1. Hi WhirredPLAY,
      You’ve changed your alias so your comment needed moderation. Both aliases should work now.
      I may be barking up the wrong tree completely (or I may solve too many Private Eye Crosswords) but I took 19d to be referring to the slang meaning of lunchbox.

    2. … or, rather less rudely, it may be that barristers have lunch at an INN of Court which, briefly, i.e. without its last letter, is IN.

    3. I took it that a ‘legal’ lunch would shortly end up inside the barrister, i.e in brief, which also means shortly. I’m probably wrong but it solved it for me :smile:.

    4. Aah. I get it now. Where the lunch will actually end up rather than where it will be taken. Doh!

  4. Great puzzle with lots of fun, favourites were 16a 17d and 21d thanks to Micawber and to Tilsit for the comments.

  5. Thanks to Micawber and to Tilsit for the review and hints. A very enjoyable puzzle, but too tough for me, needed 13 hints to finish. Never heard of 27a, must try and remember it. F avourites were 3&7d. Was 4*/4* for me.

  6. Good fun, but on the gentle side for Micawber.

    15a is about as good as anagram clues get and v witty to boot. 17d, 19d and 21d also made me smile.

    Thanks to Setter and to Tilsit for a fine review.

  7. I loved this so thanks very much to all the people who pointed here! AND I finished it AND it’s a Friday Toughie even if it isn’t a particularly difficult one.
    I don’t do enough Toughies to feel qualified to rate it for difficulty or enjoyment but I thought it was brilliant.
    I needed the hint to explain 13a (and I think I can just about keep up with that one.) Also didn’t understand 9a – I still don’t really.
    I have little red blobs everywhere so there are far too many wonderful clues to put them all down. I think my favourite might have to be 21d.
    With thanks to Micawber and tilsit.

    1. Reportedly, as in heard. Sax (sacks, bags) o’ (of) phones (mobiles) = brass instruments is how I worked it out.

      1. Thanks – it was the ‘O’ in the middle that I couldn’t understand – dim or what? Clearly shouldn’t be let loose anywhere near a Toughie!
        Now I want a clue in one of the crosswords in the next few days to be a bit iffy so that I can say that it’s not a quiddity but . . .

  8. Absolutely brilliant. Loved it from start to finish. Thought that 27a was pretty special. We also picked that it was a PANGRA… That is, a pangram with the last letter missing which in this case, really is the last letter.
    Many thanks Micawber and Tilsit.

  9. Well, all who recommended Micawber are right! This is a super puzzle. I seldom dare to venture into toughie-land, and did not have high expectations of being able to do this. I came adrift on 10a and 20a :oops: but managed all the rest. :grin: Particularly enjoyed 9a, 13a, 24a, 27a; 3d, 7d, 14d, and 22d inter alia ! Many thanks to Micawber and to Tilsit for excellent explanations.
    Warmest congrats to Micawber on having his book of limericks published. Mega well done!

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