Toughie 1110

The 2013 Toughie No 1110 by Micawber

That Was The Year That Was

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

This is a brilliant review of the year in what has become an annual treat from the ever-inventive Micawber. I loved it – let us know what you thought.

Please take the time to give your assessment of the puzzle by utilising the star system below.

Across Clues

1a  Parliamentary report tough on tapping by US agents (7)
{HANSARD} – an adjective meaning tough with one of the many US spy agencies inserted (tapping). [Edward Snowden revealed just how much snooping goes on. Britain’s security chiefs appeared before a Select Committee and condemned, not the snooping, but the fact that it had been revealed.]

5a  Inappropriately attributing gender to Bradley? (7)
{MANNING} – the surname of the US soldier who leaked the documents that found their way to Wikileaks. His surname is a bit inappropriate since after his trial he said that he wanted to be a woman – she’s now called Chelsea.

9a  That fellow from London, Russell, gets revolutionary veneer after image makeover (9)
{REBRANDED} – the Cockney form of a male pronoun and the surname of Russell (a sort of comedian) with a revolutionary colour around them. [He changed his image this year to talk about politics and even appeared on Newsnight.]

10a  Thatcher’s ultimate valediction – final parting broadcast (5)
{RADIO} – the ultimate letter of Thatcher and a Spanish valediction without its final letter. [Lady Thatcher died.]

11a  Brussels hangouts in which la creme may be found? (7)
{ECLAIRS} – the abbreviation for the European Commission (Brussels) followed by places where wild animals hang out. [UKIP and the Tory Party competed to criticise the Eurocrats (a word always preceded by ‘unelected’ in the right-wing press).]

12a  A politician trapped by ‘swivel-eyed type’ mockery (7)
{LAMPOON} – A and the usual politician go inside what local Tory activists were apparently described as by Lord Feldman (co-chair of the party and mate of David Cameron). [Several journalists reported that he called grassroot members swivel-eyed ****s, though he denied it.]

13a  Regret turning over power? I see an evolving attempt to integrate with neighbours (11)
{EUROPEANISE} – reverse (turning) a verb to regret, then add the abbreviations for O(ver) and P(ower) and an anagram (evolving) of I SEE AN. [David Cameron has declared his intention to renegotiate our relationship with the EU and repatriate a number of powers.]

16a  Scotland’s independence party leaders take a wee dram? (3)
{SIP} – leading letters of three words in the clue. [I take this to be a reference to the SNP’s policy of reducing alcohol intake in Scotland, by imposing minimum unit pricing for example.]

18a  US party  leaves collective enterprise short of money (3)
{TEA} – two definitions, the first a very right-wing US party. Remove M(oney) from the end of a collective enterprise, especially one on the sporting field. [The US Government ran out of money after politicians failed to agree on the budget.]

20a  Bury a bit of DNA, initially thought to be Richard III? (11)
{PLANTAGENET} – string together a verb to bury, A, a unit of heredity (bit of DNA) and the initial letter of T(hought). [Richard III’s remains were found in a Leicester car park, leading to an unseemly row about where they should be re-interred. A hearse, a hearse, my kingdom for a hearse.]

22a  Blockade Muslim Brotherhood leaders amid outpouring of rage over … (7)
{EMBARGO} – the leading letters of M(uslim) B(rotherhood) go inside an anagram (outpouring) of RAGE and we finish with O(ver). [The leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt were arrested and imprisoned after the army coup.]

23a  … toppling of Egypt’s leader Morsi, power seized by one partially qualified? (4-3)
{SEMI-PRO} – an anagram (toppling) of E(gypt) and MORSI with P(ower) inserted (seized). [The elected President Morsi was overthrown by the army led by General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi (never elected by anyone).]

25a  Islamic scholars among rulemakers (5)
{ULEMA} – hidden (among) in the clue.

26a Independent Mandela’s lead role, finally vanquishing odds and rejecting discrimination (9)
{IMPARTIAL} – string together the leading letters of I(ndependent) M(andela), a role on stage or film and the even (vanquishing odds) letters of finally. [Nelson Mandela died.]

27a  BBC boss accepts start of remuneration trend (7)
{PATTERN} – the chairman of the BBC Trust contains the starting letter of R(emuneration). [Following the scandal of very excessive pay-offs to leaving top executives he agreed that changes were needed.]

28a  New Pope took charge, filled with humanity (7)
{PEOPLED} – an anagram (new) of POPE followed by a verb meaning took charge. [A new pope, apparently very down-to-earth and humane, was elected, even though the previous one is still hanging around.]

Down Clues

1d  British detective and US police swapping leads to find source of food adulteration? (9)
{HORSEMEAT} – endeavour to find a fictional TV detective and a slang US word for the police then swap their initial letters. [There was a big scandal when it was discovered that the labelling on a number of meat-based products was not exactly correct.]

2d  Note skilful footballer losing head repeatedly – he’s biting! (7)
{NIBBLER} – N(ote) followed by a skilful footballer without the first two letters (losing head repeatedly). [Luis Suarez received a lengthy ban for biting an opponent.]

3d  Advanced exam with international sliding scales for calculation? (5)
{ABACI} – A(dvanced), the abbreviation for a European qualification and I(nternational). [Egg-on-face time for hapless Michael Gove, Education Secretary, who announced a new examination of this type for English schools, only to have to change his mind a few weeks later.]

4d Two parties with schemes to start with – but they were never going to fly! (5)
{DODOS} – two festive parties with the start letter of S(chemes). [Presumably a reference to the policies of the two coalition partners.]

5d  Successful athlete turned dame on royal’s final roll of honour? (9)
{MEDALLIST} – reverse (turned) the pairs of letters in DAME so that the second pair precedes the first and add the final letter of (roya)L and a roll or register. [I thought at first that this referred to Tanni Grey-Thompson but she was made a dame a few years ago so I think it must be Dame Sarah Storey, the track cyclist who has won 22 medals in six Paralympic Games.]. Thanks to Gilbert for pointing out my original mistake in thinking that we needed to do a straight reversal on DAME.

6d  In Germany, place unity first – recall left and right, leaving out centre in national government (9)
{NUREMBERG} – the first letter of U(nity) and a verb to recall leaving out the central two letters all go inside N(ational) and G(overnment). [There was an election in Germany – Mrs Merkel won and had to form a coalition with the SDP since the centrist party, the FDP, failed to get the requisite 5% of the vote.]

7d  Covered, as was late Ray Manzarek (7)
{INDOORS} – split as (2,5) to describe his membership of a band. [Ray Manzarek died.]

8d  Greek contraction to have increased (5)
{GROWN} – the abbreviation (contraction) of Greek followed by a verb to have or possess. [The contraction of the Greek economy continued.]

14d  Press trial – writers may be held here (5-4)
{PAPER-CASE} – this is a cryptic definition of where writing implements and materials may be kept. With a space rather than hyphen it’s a reference to the ongoing trial where Rebekah Brooks and other ex-employees at the News of the World are charged with unlawfully intercepting communications.

15d  Turkish area gripped by national rioting (9)
{ANATOLIA} – an all-in-one clue. Insert A(rea) in an anagram (rioting) of NATIONAL. [There were riots throughout Turkey, including this region.]

17d  Monitored, office worker indulged in online bullying (9)
[PATROLLED} – the abbreviation for an office worker is followed by a slang verb meaning made provocative posts on the Internet. [Online bullying of teenagers became an issue this year.]

19d  America determined to embrace Iranian leader, creating relaxed atmosphere (7)
{AMBIENT} – a two-letter abbreviation for America is followed by an adjective meaning determined or intent with the leading letter of I(ranian) inserted. [There was a thawing of relations between the USA and Iran following the election of a new Iranian President.]

21d  Putin revolted by latest couple in homosexual marriage (7)
{NUPTIAL} – an anagram (revolted) of PUTIN is followed by the last two letters of homosexual. [Same sex marriage has now been approved in most parts of the UK, whilst Putin has adopted a more hard-line anti-gay stance in Russia.]

22d  Head of enterprise taking crack ‘fit for task’ (5)
{EQUIP} – the first letter of E(nterprise) is followed by a crack or gag. [In front of a Parliamentary Committee Rev. Paul Flowers claimed he was fit to be chairman of the Co-op Bank but he was caught buying crack cocaine.]

23d  Scotland’s unionist party leaders, going north, finish wee dram? (3,2)
{SUP UP} – the leading letters of the first three words, followed by an adverb meaning on the rise or going north. [This seems to be covering the same ground as 16a, unless you know differently …]

24d  Press baron without honour – Scotsman (5)
{MURDO} – start with the press baron known in Private Eye as the Dirty Digger and take away the abbreviation for the honour awarded for distinguished service in public life. [I think the first four words of the clue sum it up!]

My decision here is not which ones to include in my list of favourites but which ones to leave out, because I like nearly all of them. For starters I’ll pick 5a, 18a, 1d and 6d. How about you?

A Very Happy New Year to Everyone!

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22 Comments

  1. BigBoab
    Posted December 31, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Superb toughie from Micawber and a wonderful pictorial review from Gazza, many thanks to both. May I wish all the people in toughieland a very Happy New Year.

  2. crypticsue
    Posted December 31, 2013 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    The highlight of the Toughie solving year – another superb, joy-to-solve and giggle at, special end-of-year Toughie. Happy New Year and thanks to Micawber. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

    Thanks to Gazza too – I couldn’t find any clues that weren’t my favourites – but I will award you ‘groan of the day’ for the comment in italics at the end of 20a http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

  3. Expat Chris
    Posted December 31, 2013 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Very pleased to have finished without hints although I needed a couple of explanations. I checked 1D and 17D as clues I particularly liked. Many thanks to Micawber for a very enjoyable puzzle and to Gazza for the usual excellent review.

    Happy New Year to everyone!

  4. gnomethang
    Posted December 31, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    There was a young setter called Mick Who pens the odd E-Limerick
    And to give him his dues
    He covered the news
    With a clueing style ever so slick.

    Thanks to the man himself for an excellent puzzle (apologies for the 23a Limerick)
    Thanks also to gazza for the review and Happy New Year to all.

    • gazza
      Posted December 31, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      Superb!http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

    • eXternal
      Posted December 31, 2013 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

      Nice one gnomey, perhaps you can get a book out for next Christmas.

      Happy New Year to all at Big Dave

  5. Colmce
    Posted December 31, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    What a great puzzle, on the edge of my solving ability, but managed all but four without recourse to hints, the theme helped.

    Thanks to Gazza for the excellent review.

    Thanks to Micawber for an enjoyable diversion.

    Oh, and a happy new year to all.

  6. Gilbert
    Posted December 31, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    My New Year’s resolution might be to be less pedantic, but as a final fling for the old year, DAME in 5d is not reversed.

    The 2013 reviews have been much appreciated.

    • gazza
      Posted December 31, 2013 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for that – we like pedants here. What I should have written (and will shortly) is that DAME is turned so that the second part precedes the first.

  7. Only fools
    Posted December 31, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Smashing puzzle to finish the year .
    Reluctant to pick a favorite but still smiling about 2d .
    Thanks yet again Gazza and happy new year to you and all .

  8. Pegasus
    Posted December 31, 2013 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Terrific end of year chronicle from the maestro, favourites for me were 1d 7d 20a and 21d thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for the informative and excellent review.

  9. halcyon
    Posted December 31, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Lovely stuff. Favourites 26a [“vanquishing odds” works beautifully], 3d [lovely definition] and the oh so apt 24d.

    Thanks to Micawber for his ingenuity and to Gazza for a great review.

    A happy New Year to everyone.

  10. Outnumbered
    Posted December 31, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    1d was my favourite among many excellent clues. **/***** A great end to the year.

  11. Miffypops
    Posted December 31, 2013 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Woohooooo!!! That is about my fourth completed toughie of the year. I never normally make the time to do them properly. Great old years end puzzle. Thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

  12. marcus brown
    Posted December 31, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    Very, very clever. Thanks Micawber

    • gazza
      Posted December 31, 2013 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      marcus,
      You’ve changed your email address so your comment needed moderation. Both addresses should work now.

  13. 2Kiwis
    Posted December 31, 2013 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    We approached this one with some trepidation, expecting to find lots of allusions that were unfamiliar to us. We were very pleasantly surprised to find that we were able to sort them all out because of the excellent clueing. We did miss a few of the subtleties, but fewer than we feared . Really enjoyed it .
    Thanks Micawber and Gazza.

  14. pommers
    Posted December 31, 2013 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    WOW! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

    Fav has to be 1d, as was the horse clue in the back pager, as it raised a laugh out loud. :lol:

    Brilliant puzzle so thanks and happy new year to Micawber and also to Gazza for the review.

  15. neveracrossword
    Posted December 31, 2013 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    Got to the finishing line at last! Excellent fare.

  16. Whybird
    Posted December 31, 2013 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely fantastic. What a superb set of clues, with 7d being my favourite. I am so glad I was brave enough to look at the toughie today. Thanks to Micawber for a wonderful end of year treat.

  17. steve_the_beard
    Posted January 1, 2014 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    What an utter delight to finish the year on!

    I’d like to express my thanks to all setters and explicators, and to Big Dave for this excellent website.

    Happy New Year, one and all. :-)

  18. Micawber
    Posted January 1, 2014 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Thanks a lot for all your comments, including Gnomethang’s fine limerick. And special thanks to Gazza for such copious footnotes on the news stories behind the clues – more detailed than I think I’d have been able to provide! Happy 2014 everyone.