NTSPP – 223 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 223

NTSPP – 223

S&B Derby 4 by Elgar

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Any anomalies that you might find in the grid are deliberate and relate to the instructions.

A review of this puzzle by Big Dave follows.


8a / 12a Transitive writer’s output, maybe kept by family, backed to be independent (5,3,7)
{THINK FOR ONESELF} – T(ransitive} followed by a phrase that could mean an example of (maybe) the output of a writing implement inside the reversal (backed) of a word meaning family

9a 17 16 man not about to deceive… (6)
{HEATON} – the surname of the person who was the inspiration behind 17 16 (although the enumeration of the group is (3,12) not (3,5,7)), and later Beautiful South, is derived by dropping (not) the C (Circa / about) from a phrasal verb meaning

10a …or one with many parts ironed out (2,4)
{DE NIRO} – the surname of this man, an actor who has played may parts, is an anagram (out) of IRONED

11a Glad to cavort in fairy’s charity occasion (7)
{FLAG DAY} – an anagram (to cavort) of GLAD inside a poetic word for a fairy

12a See 8

14a Italian runner, one replacing lead in Bond film (4)
{ARNO} – start with the first James Bond film (2,2) and replace its initial letter with A (one)

16a Birds right to enter early service (7)
{MARTINS} – R(ight) inside the daily morning service of the Church of England

18a Writer, a failure left carrying dunce’s cap in the same direction (6)
{LONDON} – a failure (2,2) and L(eft) around (carrying) the initial letter (cap) of Dunce all reversed (in the same direction as the left in the clue) – the final square is to be left blank until the evening of May 17th

20a Weapon that gives you energy and go (4)
{ÉPÉE} – E(nergy) followed by a verb meaning to go (to the loo)

21a Delay Honey during walk back (4,3)
{TIME LAG} – a word meaning honey inside the reversal (back) of a way of walking

24a For roofer a fixer gets to climb aboard, collecting fine (4-3)
{HOOK-PIN} – a phrasal verb meaning to climb aboard (3,2) around a word meaning fine or all right

26a Predominantly intellectual in class (6)
{GENIUS} – the whole of this &Lit clue gives the definition – the initial letter (predominantly) of Intellectual inside a class

27a Cryptic Sue is after a Victorian (6)
{AUSSIE} – an anagram (cryptic) of SUE IS following the A from the clue

28a It’s hard joining panel open to tax (8)
{TITHABLE} – this reads “it has hard” which resolves to IT H(ard) – which is then placed inside (joining) a panel


1d We follow humble Dickensian subdued by society (5)
{SHEEP} – the surname of the character in Dickens’ David Copperfield that famously kept repeating “We are so very umble” is preceded (subdued in a down clue) by S(ociety)

2d Ship having sailed, living as a student, so blue (6)
{INDIGO} – take a phrase meaning hoe a student usually lives (2,4) and SO and remove (having sailed) the SS (steamship)

3d Parts repaired in unique barrels lifted without balance? (3,4,3)
{OFF ONE’S NUT} – reverse the two parts (re-paired) of a phrase meaning unique (3,3) and follow them with the reversal (lifted) of some barrels

4d Medic following workhorse? (7)
{DRAFTER} – one of the abbreviations for a medic then a word meaning following

5d Moon overhead, but not full (4)
{RHEA} – the fifth moon of Saturn is hidden (but not full) inside the clue

6d Ancillary fashion chain needs help (8)
{HANDMAID} – to get this ancillary or servant spell out the name of a fashion chain and follow it with a three-letter word meaning help

7d Being encountered by traveller, hold July (when the name’s regularly chosen) (9)
{HOUYHNHNM} – one of the noble and rational race of horses encountered by Gulliver during his travels is derived from a two-letter word meaning hold followed by the alternate letters () of four words in the clue

13d Comedy Club extremely uplifting during air journeys… (10)
{FOOTLIGHTS} – a three-letter word meaning extremely is reversed (uplifting in a down clue) inside some air journeys

15d …when spirits are low (5,4)
{HAPPY HOUR} – a time when drinks are sold at reduced prices

17d Politicians, stature reduced rising (what did you say – like a chocolate fireguard?) (3,5)
{THE HOUSE} – the abbreviation for stature or tallness is reversed (rising) and followed by a two-letter interjection meaning “what did you say?” and a kind of phrase (1,3) that could describe what a chocolate fireguard is worth

19d How long does it take a dictator to get on a pick-up truck? (1,6)
{A MINUTE} – the surname of a Ugandan dictator followed by the short form of a small pick-up truck or utility truck

22d Under a thousand dollars to castrate bank-robber? (6)
{GUNMAN} – the single-letter abbreviation for a thousand dollars followed by a verb that could mean to castrate

23d Frame sleuth? You will fail, in the end (4)
{HULL} – the final letters (in the end) of four words in the clue – as with 18a, the final square is to be left blank until the evening of May 17th

25d Husbands at the front, ready for service, thank God! (4)
{PHEW} – start with the initial letter (at the front) of H[usbands] and then use a phrase (IN ___) meaning where you are when you are ready for a church service to describe where to put the H

So, what was all that about?

“THE HOUSE/MARTINS (lead singer Paul HEATON) released the album LONDON 0 HULL 4, including the tracks “THINK FOR A MINUTE”, “FLAG DAY”, “SHEEP” and “HAPPY HOUR”. Elgar hopes that this is not today’s result!”


Well Elgar got his wish, but when the score was 0-2, the most unlikely of results in a recent FA Cup Final did seem possible.

27 comments on “NTSPP – 223

  1. 25d is all I can say. Perhaps not Elgar at his most fiendish but still a considerable workout, so many thanks to him for the entertainment. We’ll have to wait to see if his prediction is correct. My favourite clue is 15d.

    1. Impressive! I’m halfway there, which is a lot further than I thought I would get on the first read through. Any chance of a teensy early hint for 15D?

      1. I’m a long way from halfway there but I have done so much more than I have ever managed with an Elgar crossword – even if I get no further I’m quite pleased with myself and feeling a bit smug.
        I think that I have 8/12a but need to do a bit more untangling before I know (or even suspect) that I might be right.
        I don’t know what gazza mean by 25d being all he can say – will have to think about that.
        23d remains a complete mystery – patience is not my greatest virtue – some would say we have yet to discover what is.
        Etc etc . . .
        In the meantime I hope that everyone is having fun in Derby – could you spare a thought for all of us at home, with a swarm of bees in the garden.

  2. I was given a sneaky preview of this puzzle as I was going to be out for 12 hours in that London.

    I didn’t find it Elgar at his most fiendish but I did thorughly enjoy mysef I particularly liked 20a and 25d but there are others that I could add to the list to incur the wrath of Kath but I am far too tired for all that.

    Thanks to Elgar – hope Derby was as fun and hot as Hampton Court.

    1. If this isn’t Elgar at his most fiendish I’m not surprised that I’ve never been able to do any of his crosswords – I’ve done about half – I give in. It really is way beyond me.

  3. I have two, possibly three (if 25D is incorrect as I suspect it might be) left, one I have an answer for but can’t totally rationalize, and a couple more that I have not been able to fully parse. Loved 20A. Feeling a wee bit pleased with myself for getting thus far. All I can say for 7D is PHEW!

      1. Yes…I do have an answer for 25 down in that vein, but it makes the second word of 24A difficult!

        1. No – it makes 24a what I’ve been trying to make it all day but it still don’t understand why.
          You’ve obviously done a hell of a lot better than I have – I now give in, at least until tomorrow.

          1. 24a To climb aboard = hop in. Insert (collecting) two letters meaning fine or acceptable.

            1. So that take care of 24A but makes 25D clear as mud. And I still have 6D to resolve!

              1. 25d If you’re in church ready for a service where would you be sitting? (IN ***). So put the front letter of husbands IN the ***.
                6d It may help you to know there’s a multinational fashion chain called H&M.

              2. Shoot! I just got 25D and realized what CS meant in her earlier comment! I was so trying to make Amen work there!

                Being an expat, I was not familiar with the fashion chain but now resolved. Massive thanks to you Gazza, and to CS. All done and dusted. Now I can relax and go and watch the totally addictive Homeland on video.

    1. Thanks Expat Chris, CS and gazza – now have 25d and I agree with gazza http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif
      How can this stuff be so addictive? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_mail.gif

      1. How can this be so addictive? Start with a love of words, throw in a stubborn personality, season with a touch of humility, and there you have it.

  4. 25d indeed ! 7d last to fall after much contemplation .favourite also 15d but just pleased to finish as have revisited more times than I would dare to admit ..
    Cheers to all

  5. It has taken hours and hours, admittedly interrupted by other activities, but think that we have at last got there although there are a couple where the parsing is a bit doubtful so might be wrong. Needed Google for a couple, the band and the fashion shops for example. Sooo hard, sooo clever.
    Thanks Elgar.

    1. Now we see the review, find that we had 18a wrong. We had settled for “Golding” it had the ‘d’, ‘l’ and ‘going’ as part of it but could not parse fully. Must admit we had never heard of the band so all the subtleties about the album were lost on us. Very very clever.
      Thanks for the explanations BD.

  6. Like 2Kiwis this has taken hours. Started it at the Derby do yesterday, a bit more on the train back, finished today and I admit to needing quite a bit of electronic help. Thanks Elgar, I think ;)

  7. Thanks to BD for the write-up and Elgar for the workout – I feel I have lost a stone in brain weight (and I didn’t have that much to lose in the first place) – tough, but enjoyable stuff.

  8. 25d, again. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif
    Most of the answers that I didn’t get I know that I would never have managed if I’d looked at it until Christmas – which Christmas I don’t know but it wouldn’t have been 2014.
    I got further with this one than I have ever done with an Elgar crossword.
    Thanks to Elgar and BD.

  9. Foiled again! Like the 2Kiwis, I had Golding for 18A. I’d worked out the 17/16 answers , and a bit of investigoogling told me it was a group that I’d never heard of and that gave me 9A. But I didn’t read up any further so missed the connection to the other clues . I was aware that there was a big game going on in the UK but missed that 18A was a 7-letter answer with only a 6-letter indicator in the clue. I had got Hull but didn’t make the connection between London and the other team on the field: I thought that the last letter would be W or L. Very devious, that Elgar!

    Many thanks to Big Dave for the review, and homage to Elgar.

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