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Toughie 1083

Toughie No 1083 by Myops

The Maid was in the Garden …

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

I normally struggle with Myops and today was no exception – I was held up for some time in the SE corner. As another blogger emailed this morning ‘If this is Wednesday, what on earth are we getting on Friday?’. There are some very clever clues and there is a theme (see 16d) but I can’t find a 25a so perhaps that’s a red herring. There are a lot of anagrams (11 clues according to my counter). I enjoyed it somewhat more when blogging it than when I was solving it – so thanks to Myops.

Across Clues

1a  In English home counties Common Agricultural Policy is issue (6)
{ESCAPE} – insert the relevant abbreviation into E(nglish) and the geographical part of the UK where the Home Counties are to be found.

5a  Rural lines girl almost goes whirling round about (8)
{GEORGICS} – This is a lengthy poem by Virgil on the subject of agriculture. Its name is an anagram (whirling) of GIR(L) and GOES containing (round) the single-character abbreviation for about or approximately.

9a  Excessively gamble about height for instance from the back to be dropped (3,3,4)
{GET THE BOOT} – string together a) an adverb meaning excessively, b) a verb to gamble containing the two-letter abbreviation for height and c) the abbreviation used to mean for instance. Now reverse the lot (from the back).

10a  Man one shaved is coming (4)
{ANON} – shave the outer letters from two words in the clue. I couldn’t see how the answer means coming but it’s there in black and white in the BRB: coming (in reply to a call).

11a  East of Burma perhaps it turns cloudy, rarely shady (8)
{UMBRATIC} – rarely (I think) is just a helpful indication that the answer is not a common word. Make an anagram (perhaps) of BURMA and after that (to the East, in an across clue) reverse IT and finish with the abbreviation for cloudy.

12a  Middle order Windies having lost opening batters (6)
{INSIDE} – batters (i.e. the team currently batting) is a subsidiary definition but you need to split the answer (2,4). It’s an anagram (order) of (W)INDIES without the opening letter.

13a  Border Hannibal crossed, border both sides disputed (4)
{EBRO} – this is a river in Spain which once formed the border between the Roman and Carthaginian spheres of influence. It was crossed by Hannibal (and his elephants) on his way to attack the Roman Empire. It’s an anagram (disputed) of the outer four letters (both sides) of BO(rd)ER. I don’t really like ‘both sides’ meaning two letters on each side.

15a  Escorts in consternation went from one extreme to the other (8)
{SEESAWED} – a charade of a verb meaning escorts or dates and an adjective meaning in consternation or full of dread.

18a  Reposition earth (not hard) to protect unit in trouble: that’s defilement (8)
{TAINTURE} – an anagram (reposition) of EART(h) containing (to protect) another anagram (in trouble) of UNIT.

19a  The French ‘tec originally in case (4)
{LEST} – a French definite article followed by the first (original) letter of T(ec).

21a  Has reduced two-master’s draft (6)
{SKETCH} – an abbreviated way of writing ‘has’ (as in “he’s two cars”) followed by a two-masted sailing boat.

23a  Equipment for dealing with locks or lock (8)
{SCISSORS} – double definition – the second a wrestling hold (I knew those Saturday afternoons in front of the TV long ago would not be wasted!).

25a  Name North America holds fashionable: Simone? (4)
{NINA} – this clue has both a straight definition and a definition by example. Insert an adjective meaning fashionable or trendy in the abbreviation for North America. This surely must be a hint that there’s a message to be found in the grid, but I can’t spot it.

26a  Added to control artificially produced (10)
{REINFORCED} – a verb to control followed by an adjective meaning artificially produced.

27a  Maybe anteater with hide could be unusually hairless as well as toothless (8)
{EDENTATE} – this actually describes an order of mammals lacking teeth. The anteater is an example so I think it’s a semi-all-in-one. It’s an anagram (maybe) of ANTEATER and HIDE from which the letters of HAIR have been removed. ‘Unusually’ indicates that the letters to be removed are not in the order specified.

28a  Edit Poe’s book first; it brings out crime (6)
{EXPOSÉ} – an anagram (edit) of POE’S preceded by the abbreviation for an Old Testament book.

Down Clues

2d  Pre-digital power (5)
{STEAM} – I don’t really understand this. The only thing I can think of is that pre-digital means old-fashioned as in ***** radio. However that seems weak and I’m eagerly anticipating your better explanations.

3d  Eon for a time briefly confused with name for another time (9)
{AFTERNOON} – an anagram (confused) of EON FOR A T(ime) followed by N(ame).

4d  Dustman’s wife anticipating National Trust’s promotions (6)
{EVENTS} – start with the wife of a man reportedly created from dust and follow up with the abbreviation for National Trust and the ‘S.

5d  Where Rosie crush got Lee excited — one love lost (15)
{GLOUCESTERSHIRE} – this refers to Cider With Rosie by Laurie Lee. The answer is where it all happened. It’s an anagram (excited) of ROSIE CRUSH G(o)T LEE with one of the letters resembling love taken out.

6d  Adumbrates published verse (8)
{OUTLINES} – a charade of published or in print and some verse.

7d  Reefer’s content  to blow the gaff (5)
{GRASS} – double definition, the first (I’m told) what may be found in a reefer or exotic cigarette.

8d  Diminutive cirri could with higher latitude? Why don’t we? (9)
{CLOUDLETS} – start with the word ‘could’ but move the L(atitude) up a bit (higher, in a down clue) then add an invitation to do something (3’1).

14d  Teach one to supplant each garden pecker pecker (9)
{BLACKBIRD} – the repeated pecker in the clue is not a typo – the first pecker means nose and you need to think nursery rhymes. Start with the nickname of Edward Teach, the infamous pirate, then replace the EA(ch) with I (one). I do like ‘garden pecker pecker’ even though it makes the surface fairly meaningless.

16d  Here a stop led reflection about mid-3 (9)
{ADLESTROP} – this took me ages even with all the checking letters and I had to check with Google what the answer meant. It’s a poem by Edward Thomas and, once I’d read it, today’s theme became apparent because many of the answers here appear in it. It’s reproduced below so that you can see how many you can find. The name of the poem is an anagram (reflection) of A STOP LED containing the middle letter of 3d (or possibly the middle letter of thRee).

17d  Over-optimism, getting high in heroin, almost dizzy, with aching head (8)
{EUPHORIA} – an anagram (dizzy) of HEROI(n) contains an adverb meaning high. Finally we want the top (head) letter of A(ching).

20d  Music of Lonnie Donegan wants King to whistle (6)
{SIFFLE} – a basic knowledge of French helps here. Remove the chess abbreviation for king from a type of music played by Lonnie Donegan.

22d  Aim  to prepare  railway carriages to run regularly — including first-class (5)
{TRAIN} – triple definition. It’s the odd (regularly) letters of ‘to run’ with the 2-letter abbreviation that looks like first-class inside it.

24d  Stems for pens or pens for sheep (5)
{REEDS} – double definition, the second a Scottish word for enclosures used to confine animals.

Top clues for me today were 5d and 14d. Let us know what you liked.

Adlestrop – by Edward Thomas

Yes, I remember Adlestrop —
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.

The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop — only the name

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

40 comments on “Toughie 1083

  1. This took me a very long long time to sort out, complete with the use of Tippex and writing over of letters I had already put in that were wrong. I think even if I hadn’t had to do what I am paid for in between taking sneaky glances at the paper, it would still have taken me ages to finish. 5*/2* for me

    I am a great fan of the Toughie but after yesterday’s really easy easy puzzle, this was a bit too far the oppoosite end of the toughie spectrum; one of those crosswords that leaves you too mentally exhausted to decide whether you enjoyed yourself or not.

    Thanks to Myops – I did like 5d even if it did send me off on the wrong track theme-wise – and to Gazza for the explanations.

  2. The big anagram at 5d assisted me a lot along with a couple of railway clues as I’ve just finished the latest Terry Pratchett novel which is based on the old puffers. I also needed assistance from the hints for 18a and 16d. Many thanks to Gazza for the much needed hints and to Myops for again pushing me beyond my meagre limits.

  3. Having read the preamble, I’m not sure I should try this one.

    But, if the anagram count is 11, I would like to know which sock Gazza took off! Left or Right?

    1. Me too! I’ve had a look (quite a long one!) and now have eleven answers – have read gazza’s introduction but not hints, yet. Back later . . .

    2. Always left – left on first, left off first. I don’t remember ever having 16 anagrams in a puzzle so the right one is probably safe.

  4. This was very hard! I needed a little anagram help to finish this one. Many thanks to Myops, and well done to Gazza for the usual impeccable review.

  5. Worthy of a friday slot I think,too hard for me to finish unaided,thanks Gazza and ’nuff respec’ to Myops.

  6. What a ferocious beast this one was, finally gave up requiring two (11a and 16d) favourite for me 14d thanks to Myops for the challenge and to Gazza for the excellent dissection.

  7. Found this difficult and had to resort to some hints- thanks Gazza, not heard of 5a and 11a,but remembered the latin, knew the Edward teach pseudonym, but the nursery rhyme ‘pecker pecker’ bit continues to elude me-help please!

  8. Almost got there, but was defeated by 9a, so thanks, Gazza, for the hint. Fortunately 16d is one of my favourite poems.

    1. Hurrah! Me too, as I indicated in the across clues (first letters). The point of the puzzle is to remind you of the poem or introduce it and when you see it you chuck the puzzle and savour the lines. I’m grateful to Gazza for his diligent analysis; I agree with him that the clue for 2 down is weak although it was for me also wry (I’ve always thought the expression “steam radio” daft), but the clue was determined by arithmetic: I was a letter short in the down clues and included the P (for Philip). But chiefly I am grateful to Gazza for printing the poem. Surely someone else will love it as Physicist & I do.

  9. As somebody once said (probably): Only fight the battles you know you can win & this isn’t one of them. Thanks to Gazza for providing the tints & hips to what is, to me anyway, a step too far.

    1. Your comment reminded me of the line spoken by Elvis Presley in Are You Lonesome Tonight? – “… someone said the world’s a stage, and each must play a part”

      This is a rather tounge-in-cheek example of the literary crime of quoting without naming your source as the “someone” is a Shakespearean character. From time to time during live performances Elvis would dissolve into laughter totally unbefitting the mood of the song.

        1. Yes, you have paraphrased Sun Tzu. We had a CEO who was forever quoting him, and, if I have remembered it correctly, the quote (when translated!) is, “if a battle cannot be won, do not fight it”.

          Excellent advice for Toughies!

  10. Thanks to Myops and to Gazza for the review and hints. I had a real good go at this, and did quite well, 13 answers mostly in the bottom half, then I could feel my brain power draining away. I resorted to the hints, but still had to look up 9, just too difficult. Was 6*/2* for me. Too wasted to know if I liked it or not. Got 5d, as we did Cider with Rosie at school. Favourite was 20d which I actually got, and was a new word for me.

  11. After a long struggle we eventually got all the correct answers in and then went back to confirm the parsing for a couple of them, which we never totally completed. Not having heard of the poem didn’t help with 16d and some of the subtleties of 14d eluded us.
    Thanks Myops and Gazza.

  12. Beyond my limited capability, but struggled to about the half-way point. After resorting to 2 or 3 hints, made it to the end, Bloodied but unbowed.

    Kicking myself bigtime for not getting 16D. By an amazing co-incidence, I heard the poem not 4 days earlier in this tear-jerking nostalgic film footage from yesteryear. It’s 32 minutes long, but is compulsive viewing if you yearn for the steam locomotive era (or even if you don’t)
    Hope it works.

    I finally admit defeat but not without a fight. I did well over half before running here for help which is further than I’ve ever got with an Elgar Toughie.
    Although I missed the significance of the ‘pecker pecker’ in 14d I was quite pleased to have thought of Blackbeard and looked him up – I didn’t know his name. I was also pleased with myself for getting 12a. Lots of things would have been slightly easier if I hadn’t had ‘hairgrip’ for 23a – can’t remember how but it vaguely made sense to me at the time.
    With thanks to Myops and gazza.
    This has taken me most of the afternoon, on and off.

    1. PS I didn’t get 16d because the ‘hairgrip’ got in the way. Although I have heard of the poem I’ve never read it before – lovely, so more thanks to Myops and gazza.

      1. If it is any comfort, I had an email from a fellow blogger this morning who felt cheated that 23a wasn’t ‘hairpins’

        1. Was that blogger on my side of the pond? I had hairpins, too, and justified it by the fact that they deal with unruly locks and that a hairpin has been used to pick a lock in many an American private detective story. Yes, I was that desperate!

          I also tried to make “Bet the rent” or Bet the farm” fit for 9A, until I got 6D. Bad Day at Black Rock all around.
          A little more than half completed. I often wonder what is is like for the partners of those who live with setters with such convoluted minds.

            1. Hey…not so much of the ‘twit’ if you please! That could cause another Boston Tea Party whereby I unceremonously dump all animated emoticons into the harbor along with the Typhoo Tips!!

  14. One of the least enjoyable puzzles I’ve ever done. I think the setter was trying to be much too clever. Very disappointing.

  15. So difficult to comment this late in the day when I will just repeating extracts of other comments. Surely an Editorial error for a Wednesday. Did enjoy what I could do unaided. Many thanks to Gazza for the dissection and Myops for managing to link a Gloucestershire related book and poem and an ingenious Nina into one Crossword.

  16. I admire Myops a lot – he writes clever clues and is often fun but this was like drawing teeth. Rarely has Chambers been deployed so frequently. Completed it after calling in Mrs H for 26a, 17d and [last in] 16d. Thanks to Gazza for explaining the significance of 16, as well as 14d’s definition.
    Several clues contain doubled words: 13a has border, border, 23a has lock, locks, 3d has time, time, 14d pecker, pecker and 24d has pen, pens. Unsure of the significance but it was all too clever clever for me.
    Thanks to Myops for helping pass several hours [and it’s a nice poem].

  17. Unusually I didn’t sleep well last night so to avoid disturbing Mrs RD i came downstairs and worked my way through this. Based on my normal difficulty rating this approached infinity, but with the help of perseverance, Google, Gazza, Wikipedia, and an anagram solver I got there in the end

    Many thanks to Myops for a very challenging but enjoyable way to pass the night away and to Gazza for his usual excellent review.

  18. I hesitated but hope I shall be forgiven for adding a postscript. I have said elsewhere that I do not see a crossword as a contest or a time trial. May I mention defilement, for which Chambers gives two definitions and anon? I’m glad Chambers (and SOED) tells us anon can mean coming. You hear it from Juliet & her nurse in Romeo and Juliet (Act 1, Scene 3 and Act 2, Scene 2), from a witch in Macbeth (Act 1, Scene1) and the porter (Act2, Scene 2) and passim in the Boar’s-Head Tavern, Eastcheap (Henry IV Part One, Act 2, Scene 4).

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