Toughie 1143

Toughie No 1143 by Firefly

Brush Up Your Franglais

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

We have a theme today but it’s a theme with a twist; all the items may be found, not in 27a but in an anagram of 27a (indicated by ‘broken-down’). Luckily the anagram is a very well-known one.

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.

Across Clues

1a  Depardieu’s hooter, perhapspart of a broken-down 27? (6,4)
{FRENCH HORN} – double definition, the first cryptic (bearing in mind the nationality of Gérard Depardieu). The second is part of the theme and one of the items we might find in an anagram (broken-down) of 27a.

6a  Brandy snaps … cream! No end of pleasure (4)
{MARC} – an anagram (snaps) of CR(e)AM without the final letter of pleasure. We had this ‘brandy’ a couple of weeks ago when pommers described it as stuff likely to dissolve the enamel of your teeth.

10a  Page with English court involved in speedy dismissal? (5)
{RECTO} – insert the abbreviations for English and court into the abbreviation for a type of dismissal at cricket (possibly speedy because it usually involves a batsman racing to reach the crease before the wicket is broken).

11a  Paris ride falling into rack and ruin (9)
{DISREPAIR} – an anagram (falling, presumably in the sense of deteriorating or decaying) of PARIS RIDE.

12a  Graduate composer receiving part backing (8)
{BACHELOR} – a German composer followed by the reversal (backing) of an acting part.

13a  Russian rugby move? (3-2)
{PUT-IN} – what happens at a set scrum would also be (if you removed the hyphen) the top man in Russia.

15a  Pantomime unfortunately without me as part of a broken-down 27 (7)
{TIMPANO} – an anagram (unfortunately) of PANTOMI(me) without me. This part of the theme is the singular form of the word – we’re more used to seeing the plural form.

17a  The setter’s doctor starts to recommend antacids … ‘Listen — it’s to do with the limbs!’ (7)
{MEMBRAL} – string together what the setter calls himself, a degree awarded to a medical doctor and the starting letters of three words in the clue.

19a  Cherry stone? That should make you careful! (3,4)
{RED FLAG} – the sight of this, on a bathing beach for example, should act as a warning. It’s a charade of a colour of which cherry is an example and a sort of stone that can be walked on.

21a  Consequent upon ceremony, off and on revisit ancient city (7)
{POMPEII} – a word for ceremony or ostentatious display is followed (consequent upon) the even letters (off and on) of revisit.

22a  Taste rum a midshipman’s imbibing (5)
{UMAMI} – this is one of the five basic tastes in food (along with sweet, sour, salt and bitter). It’s like the taste of monosodium glutamate and it’s hidden (imbibing) in the clue.

24a  Prompt car-check that’s to secure tax (8)
{MOTIVATE} – start with the annual car-check needed for vehicles over three years old and follow this with the abbreviation for ‘that is’ containing (to secure) a type of tax.

27a  Rex Hammerman seen in action; he’s good at draughts! (4-5)
{CART-HORSE} – this is the key to the theme and draughts is not the board game but the pulling of heavy loads. Insert R(ex) and the Scandinavian god of thunder (always pictured wielding a hammer) into a legal action.

28a  Grown-up having bother penetrating Old English (2,3)
{OF AGE} – insert an informal word for a tiresome or bothersome task into the abbreviation for Old English.

29a  Long  Wood? (4)
{PINE} – double definition.

30a  Principal trade has me befuddled (10)
{HEADMASTER} – an anagram (befuddled) of TRADE HAS ME.

Down Clues

1d  Fitness beneficial to millions (4)
{FORM} – a preposition meaning beneficial to followed by the abbreviation of millions.

2d  With Essex initially given liberal target around 90, Ed declared (9)
{EXCLAIMED} – string together the initial letter of Essex, L(iberal) and a target then insert the Roman numeral for 90. Finally add ED.

3d  Clergy indisposed to follow their leader (5)
{CLOTH} – an adjective meaning indisposed to or reluctant follows the first letter of C(lergy).

4d  Grandee thrilled to soar into marchioness’s heart (7)
{HIDALGO} – this grandee is a Spanish nobleman. Reverse (to soar) an adjective meaning thrilled into the central three letters (heart) of marchioness.

5d  Stage for 10 briefly to play guitar (7)
{ROSTRUM} – the abbreviation (briefly) for 10a followed by a verb to play guitar.

7d  Expect a comedian to include spot of ambiguity (5)
{AWAIT} – a comedian (1,3) containing the first letter of ambiguity.

8d  1ac, and our tongue similarly, belonging to a broken-down 27 (3,7)
{COR ANGLAIS} – the instrument that is the second word of 1a in the language identified by the first word, then what our tongue is called in the same language.

9d  If one behaves filially thus, one stays silent (5,3)
{KEEPS MUM} – this is loosely based on a WWII slogan – acts like a good son or daughter and doesn’t blab.

14d  Encourage ‘Punch’ to include du Maurier’s last piece: ‘One for the Ride’ (7,3)
{STIRRUP CUP} – a phrasal verb to encourage or provoke (4,2) followed by a mixed beverage made with wine (‘punch’) has the last letter of (du Maurie)R inserted. I’m not keen on this one – the wordplay for the second word has the same meaning as in the definition.

16d  Nothing left for fine (3,5)
{ALL RIGHT} – if nothing is on the left then it must be …

18d  Returnee‘s representation sadly lacking a sort of poise (2-7)
{RE-ENTRANT} – remove the jumbled (sort of) letters of poise from R(ep)RE(s)ENTAT(io)N and make an anagram (sadly) of what remains.

20d  Up here’s problematic for Marguerite, uncomfortable and lacking fresh air (3,4)
{GUM TREE} – an identical construct to the last clue. This time we have to make an anagram (uncomfortable) of M(ar)GUER(i)TE without the re-ordered (fresh) letters of air.

21d  Substance — heavy metal — left untouched in top of shaft (7)
{PITHEAD} – a charade of a word meaning substance or essence and a heavy metal without its L(eft).

23d  Protection for barperson? No, just the regulars (5)
{APRON} – just the even (regular) letters of ‘barperson no’.

25d  Cesario when in dragpart of a broken-down 27 (5)
{VIOLA} – I always knew that a whole term spent plodding through Twelfth Night for English O-level would one day pay off. This is the name of the female character who dresses as a male and takes the name Cesario in said play. It’s also a part of today’s theme.

26d  The Telegraph’s reported barrier? (4)
{WEIR} – this river barrier sounds like (reported) how the readers of the Telegraph (that’s us) might put “The Telegraph’s” into the first person.

The clues finding most favour with me today were 1a, 6a and 27a. Let us know what topped your list.


  1. Frank Pike
    Posted February 26, 2014 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    I am struggling with this 27 broken down thing. I have worked out what 27 ac is but none of the other clues have answers that are anagrams of 27ac where a broken down 27 ac is referenced. Post flu befuddled here as well, which probably does not help.

    • gazza
      Posted February 26, 2014 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      Read the introduction to the blog – broken-down is indicating an anagram.

      • Frank Pike
        Posted February 26, 2014 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for such promptness Gazza. I appreciate that but if I look at say 15ac the anagram is already indicated by ‘unfortunately’ . So how does the reference to an anagram of cart horse work there ? Given the only word I can make is timpano I cannot see how that relates to an anagram of cart horse. I’m so sorry and am probably driving you mad with this. Cheers.

        • gazza
          Posted February 26, 2014 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

          Cart-horse is an anagram of orchestra.

          • Frank Pike
            Posted February 26, 2014 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

            AAAAARRRGGHHH! Equation for you;

            Benylin + Toughie = Disaster!

            Kindest regards.

          • Heno
            Posted February 26, 2014 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

            Aha, now I understand, thanks Gazza.

  2. Pegasus
    Posted February 26, 2014 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Not overly difficult once you crack 27a, favourites were 1a 3d and 26d thanks to Firefly and to Gazza for the comments.

  3. the dodger
    Posted February 26, 2014 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Minor gripe with 27ac– Thor is a God not a man,so I found the clue Hammerman a bit off, apart from that an easy enough puzzle for a Wednesday.

  4. BigBoab
    Posted February 26, 2014 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    I dislike this sort of themed crossword but can appreciate the complexity of the compilers mind, thanks to Firefly and to Gazza.

  5. Jezza
    Posted February 26, 2014 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    4*/4* for me; not one of my quicker solves, but I enjoyed it. I must confess that the relevance to 27a (anagram of cart-horse) went completely over my head until I had finished the puzzle!
    Many thanks to Firefly, and to Gazza for the explanations.

  6. crypticsue
    Posted February 26, 2014 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    It iddn’t take long to solve but I did enjoy this – the ‘anagram’ in question is such an old chestnut that it was nice to see a new take on it.

    Thanks to Firefly and Gazza. – 6a was my favourite too.

  7. Only fools
    Posted February 26, 2014 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Not normally a fan of themed puzzles ,but I too enjoyed this and like Jezza the true significance of 27a evaded me until the latter stages .
    Favourite by a nose 1a .
    Thanks Firefly and Gazza .

  8. gazza
    Posted February 26, 2014 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Shamus tomorrow.

    • Jezza
      Posted February 26, 2014 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

      If you insist. What do you prefer, mild embarrassment, or extreme humiliation…? :)

      • gazza
        Posted February 26, 2014 at 6:32 pm | Permalink


  9. 2Kiwis
    Posted February 26, 2014 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    This took us longer than a usual Firefly. We got 27a reasonably quickly and had at least one of the themed answers before we twigged the connection. Certainly made life much easier from that point. A lot of fun we thought.
    Thanks Firefly and Gazza.

  10. Salty Dog
    Posted February 26, 2014 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    3*/3* by my reckoning. My favourite was 4d, but there were some other nice clues as well. Thanks to Firefly for a good workout, and to Gazza for the review and hints.

  11. Jill B
    Posted February 26, 2014 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    Needed a fair amount of help so many thanks to Gazza but enjoyed those clues that I managed by myself.