Toughie 1115

Toughie No 1115 by Sparks

Inflation Detected in Bristol Area

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

This is my first chance to blog a Toughie by Sparks and I thought it was pretty enjoyable. There was one clue (13a) where I had to check out the answer because I didn’t know it. The central lines of the grid (both horizontally and vertically) each have two answers which are anagrams of each other – if there’s anything else that I’ve missed I’m sure someone will tell me.

Comments are welcome and please take the time to rate the puzzle for enjoyment by using the star system below.

Across Clues

8a  Emperor’s new guard cut by half in a long time (8)
{NAPOLEON} – N(ew), A and a long period of time with the first half of a verb to guard inserted.

9a  Antigua naturally provides habitat for a creature (6)
{IGUANA} – this creature is camouflaged (provides habitat for) in the clue.

10a  Corporation formed by good German (3)
{GUT} – the German adjective meaning good.

11a  Support complete drunk? No way (8)
{TEETOTAL} – a charade of a support for a golf ball and an adjective meaning complete or utter.

12a  Live on and off in quaint housing that’s left here? (6)
{TWELVE} – for the definition you have to look to the far left of the clue. Insert the odd letters (on and off) of live inside (in … housing) an adjective meaning quaint or cute.

13a  Rustle poem up, a certain rhyming couplet (8,7)
{POULTER’S MEASURE} – my last answer since I’d never heard of this. It’s defined in the BRB as: a rhymed couplet in which the first line has 12 syllables and the second 14 (from the varying number of eggs formerly sold by poulterers as a dozen). It’s an anagram (up?) of RUSTLE POEM followed by A and an adjective meaning certain.

15a  House doctors needing books lost lives (7)
{RESIDES} – junior doctors working at a hospital without (needing … lost) the abbreviation for the books of the Bible from Matthew onwards.

18a  Wants fathers to go on dole after vacation (7)
{DESIRES} – a verb meaning fathers follows the outer (after vacation) letters of dole.

21a  Fish, he protested, may evolve into an apparently marine creature (4,2,3,6)
{SHIP OF THE DESERT} – an anagram (may evolve) of FISH HE PROTESTED.

24a  Panic when copper goes after weapon designer (6)
{ARMANI} – remove the abbreviation for a junior police officer from the word panic and put what remains after a weapon.

25a  Sweet sound, note, on time (8)
{NOISETTE} – start with a sound then add T(ime) and the seventh note of tonic sol-fa.

26a  Ultimately, the big bang is explosive (3)
{EGG} – the ultimate letters of three words in the clue give us a slang term for a bomb or mine.

27a  She helped us to cook food in advance (6)
{BEETON} – food (in the form of a root vegetable) is followed by an adverb meaning in advance.

28a  Story with good title about subject (8)
{LIEGEMAN} – string together a story or fabrication, G(ood) and a title reversed (about).

Down Clues

1d  Gary’s award picked up for construction (6)
{GAZEBO} – pretty easy for me! The nickname often given to those called Gary is followed by the reversal (picked up) of an award or honour.

2d  Fatal result of further discussion being repeatedly curtailed (6)
{MORTAL} – further discussion is more talk. Just curtail both words.

3d  Martin perhaps drafted fine novel around about now? (9,6)
{FEATHERED FRIEND} – an anagram (novel) of DRAFTED FINE contains an adverb meaning now or at this point.

4d  Language that can be followed by setter, 20, in translation (7)
{ENGLISH} – an anagram (in translation) of the answer to 20d. The definition could just be defining the language understood by the compiler but I think it’s what precedes the word ‘setter’ to make a canine breed.

5d  Make the front cover of Punch with article on principal policies (3,3,9)
{HIT THE HEADLINES} – string together a) a verb to punch, b) a definite article, c) the principal (of a school, say) and d) a word for policies or stances.

6d  Journalist hacking Soviet sportsman (8)
{RUSEDSKI} – this is an old tennis player who tended to be referred to as British when he won but Canadian when he lost. The usual abbreviated senior journalist goes inside (hacking) the derogatory US term for a Soviet citizen (especially during the Cold War and often preceded by ‘pesky’). Interesting use of hacking in the very modern sense of intercepting someone’s phone messages.

7d  Space by one-line poem? (8)
{UNIVERSE} – I suppose that, cryptically, this could be a one-line poem but I don’t think it really works.

14d  Regularly surpass successes (3)
{UPS} – regular letters from the word surpass.

16d  Computer system that links two numbers, one reversed (8)
{ETHERNET} – the first number is ‘something that numbs’.

17d  When short, mean workers bust up thanks to these (8)
{IMPLANTS} – LOL. A verb to mean or suggest without its final letter (when short) is followed by the usual Crosswordland workers.

19d  Grass snake, usually bolder, finally retreats (3)
{RYE} – the same construct as used in 26a but with an additional twist, in that the final letters have to be read in reverse (retreats).

20d  One holding hot gravel (7)
{SHINGLE} – an adjective meaning one or solo containing H(ot).

22d  Lewdness discovered around country (6)
{SWEDEN} – take the covers (outer letters) off lewdness and make an anagram (around) of what’s left.

23d  Change sides with brown switch (6)
{RATTAN} – an informal verb to change sides or desert is followed by an adjective (or verb) meaning brown. Switch here is an instrument of punishment, in this case a type of cane.

I liked a number of clues including 24a and 6d but my clue of the day has to be the guffaw-inducing 17d.


  1. crypticsue
    Posted January 8, 2014 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Definitely 4* fun but on the cusp of 4* difficulty -probably due to the time I spent convincing myself that the only possible solution to the anagram part of 13a was what it was. Different favourites to gazza (for a change) but I will agree with him that 17d is a great laugh out loud start ot the day.

    Thanks to Sparks and Gazza too. I wonder if he knew you’d be blogging today and put in 1d specially

    • Miffypops
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 12:47 am | Permalink

      Possibly one of the best clues ever

  2. Pegasus
    Posted January 8, 2014 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Thoroughly enjoyed this one, favourites were 6d 17d and 24a thanks to Sparks and to Gazza for the review.

  3. BigBoab
    Posted January 8, 2014 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Fabulous toughie from Sparks and a great review from Gazza,, loved 10a and 17d., many thanks to both Gazza and Sparks.

  4. Jezza
    Posted January 8, 2014 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Excellent toughie. Many thanks to Sparks, and to Gazza. More of the same please!

  5. Kath
    Posted January 8, 2014 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed this but found it very difficult. Since no-one, yet, has said that it’s not a proper Toughie morale is pretty much intact even though the last three answers defeated me and I needed the hints to explain a few more.
    I would never have got 13a or 16d.
    I hadn’t noticed the horizontal anagrams but had registered the vertical ones if only because the clue for 4d says so.
    I liked 12a and 2, 5 and 17d.
    With thanks to Sparks and gazza.

  6. halcyon
    Posted January 8, 2014 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    I thought this was terrific- full of witty and inventive clues.
    Particularly liked [from a long list] 12a [cunning] 18a [after vacation] 2d, 16d [loved the 2 numbers]
    17d [lol] and 22d [perfect].

    Many thanks to Sparks and to Gazza.

  7. 2Kiwis
    Posted January 8, 2014 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    We were defeated in the NE corner. Had tentatively put “thrive” in for 12a which made 6d impossible for us, particularly as we had never heard of him. Enjoyed the rest.
    Thanks Sparks and Gazza.

  8. Only fools
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    Absolutely smashing puzzle have to agree with Jezza ,more of the same please .
    Personal favourite 13 a for coincidental reasons .
    Thanks yet again Gazza and Sparks .