Toughie 1234 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1234

Toughie No 1234 by Excalibur

A Shirley Temple or something a little stronger??

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

A Tuesday level Toughie from Excalibur with several  opportunities to type ‘from the clue’ as I prepared the blog.  The difficulty rating is 2.5 because parsing some of the clues did take slightly longer than usual

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           It stops us being led astray when in right (3,5)
RED LIGHT   An anagram (astray) of LED inserted into the last word of the clue.

red light

5a           Scribble ‘Half of screws to be removed by metal instrument’ (6)
SCRAWL   The second half of SCRews is removed so that  the first half can be followed by a pointed metal instrument used for boring holes.

9a           Charge with breaking rules. Have little hesitation (4,4)
FEEL SURE Insert an anagram (breaking) of RULES into a small monetary charge.

10a         Put seeds round it for birds (6)
PIPITS   Members of a lark-like genus of birds – Insert IT from the clue into some seeds found in oranges, for example.


12a         Taking ill, concerned with flu, sent off (9)
RESENTFUL   The two letters meaning about, concerned with, followed by an anagram (off) of FLU SENT. I tried to find a way in which the clue would be telling me to insert SENT but it would appear that it is a not very anagrammy anagram.

13a         Duck weed, small, removed with garden tool (5)
DRAKE     Remove the word meaning small from WEED and follow with a garden tool.


14a         How it conveys surprise? (4)
WELL   A cryptic definition of how successful an interjection expressing surprise might be.

16a         She names South African province, to get one point (7)
NATALIE     A girl’s name is obtained by following a South African province with I (one) and a compass point.

19a         Ebbing river that floods over tours passed by (7)
ELAPSED     A reversal (ebbing) of a river (there’s one in Scotland and one in Wales) into which is inserted a verb meaning tours or goes round a circuit.

21a         Stab and stab again (4)
GORE   To stab with something pointed like a spear.   A verb meaning to have a stab at or attempt followed by the two letters we met earlier meaning ‘concerning’ but here meaning ‘again’.

24a         One hears a sadly-spoken remark in an undertone (5)
ASIDE     A from the clue followed by a homophone of a sadly-spoken audible remark.

25a         All by myself, eating therefore is salutary (9)
WHOLESOME   An adjective meaning all, the total amount, followed by a way of saying therefore, in that manner, and the personal objective pronoun (myself).

27a         In this way, fractions will be produced (6)
THIRDS   Insert the abbreviation for a thoroughfare (way) into THIS from the clue.

28a         You should get through it, if first you’re given a drink (8)
APERITIF        Start with A (first you’re given A) follow with a word meaning through, by means of, and then both IT and IF from the clue.

29a         Are assembled inside, thirsty and miserable (6)
DREARY     An anagram (assembled) of ARE inside how your mouth might feel if you were thirsty.

30a         Bound to be in that place with old rocker hanging around (8)
TETHERED   An old rocker from the 50s and 60s is put round an adverb meaning in that place.


1d           Offers direction — would rather have no parking (6)
REFERS   To direct for information – simply remove the P (no parking) from a verb meaning would rather have.

2d           Smart, as jeans for women are not? (6)
DRESSY   A cryptic definition of smart or formally elegant clothing.   I would disagree with our setter as I have some jeans that are very smart.

3d           Nibs and pen, first off, are required by writer (5)
IBSEN   Remove the first letters from NIBS and PEN.

4d           Cockney might give you load you can just carry — it’s injurious (7)
HARMFUL      Removing the first letter from the solution would give you the way a Cockney (who doesn’t use this letter at the start of some words) would refer to an amount being as much as you could carry unaided.

6d           An early lead? (5,4)
CHILD STAR A cryptic definition of a young leading  actor.

child star

7d           A freeing of lab mice is pleasant (8)
AMICABLE   A (from the clue) followed by an  anagram (freeing ) of LAB MICE.

8d           One hears ship is about set for casting off (8)
LISTENER Insert an anagram (casting off) of SET into a large passenger-carrying vessel.


11d         Strategy of squad, besides leaving? (4)
PLAN    Remove a word meaning besides, also, from a military squad.

15d         Londoner sea-sick on little boat (4-5)
EAST ENDER   An anagram (sick) of SEA followed by a small boat.

17d         Some, caught in act, took to their heels (8)
DEPARTED   A word meaning some inserted (caught in) an act.

18d         Sea horse has eaten that article the writer’s put together (8)
MARITIME   A female horse ‘eats’ the pronoun meaning ‘that article’  and I[‘}M (the writer is )

20d         Be out of bed, now, tottery and depressed (4)
DOWN   Take the BE ‘out of bed’ BED and follow with an anagram (tottery) of NOW.

21d         Idol worshipper: converted rogue that good has been instilled into (7)
GROUPIE     A worshipper of pop idols, perhaps. An anagram (converted) of ROGUE with the two letters meaning good (the word that blog commenters always say ‘why does that mean good?’!)

22d         Drink little drink — about to fall over! (6)
PORTER   Dark beer – a drink of fortified wine followed by another appearance of the two letter word meaning about, this time reversed (to fall over)


23d         Complained as insect had a bite (6)
BEEFED   Split 3, 3 this might mean that a small buzzing insect had eaten something.

26d         What was that you said about painting our home? (5)
EARTH     An interjection expressing failure to hear with a word meaning painting or drawing inserted.

Thanks to Toro for letting me have a chance at an on-the-day blog to keep me occupied while waiting for our grandson and his entourage to arrive (there’s a limit to how much house cleaning I can do when I am on my holidays!!)

30 comments on “Toughie 1234

  1. Like Rufus yesterday, lovely surface readings Put me in a good mood. Favourites 14a, 6d and 20d

  2. A very enjoyable if somewhat gentle toughie, many thanks to Excalibur and to CS for a superb review.

  3. Typical fare for a Tuesday, Re 18d I read it as one pronoun for writer, thanks to Excalibur and to CS for the comments.

    1. Not really in the mood for this, so found it harder going than most contributors. 3*/3* for me, and no particular favourite clue. Not your fault Excalibur, so thanks anyway. Thanks to Crypticsue as well.

  4. Enjoyed this one so **/*** from me.

    I read 18d as MARE (horse) has eaten IT (that article) and I’M (writer’s/ writer is) put together ITIM.

    Thanks to Excalibur and CS.

  5. Many thanks to CS for a very early review – obviously still at work in the office!

    I always enjoy crosswords by Excalibur – so, thanks to her too!

    1. You obviously didn’t read the epilogue. I am on holiday until next Wednesday. First three (and most important) visitors arrived today and another 10 on Thursday. Thankfully most of that lot are staying at the premier inn up the road.

  6. I liked 2d and 9a for their surface reading. Lots of good clues. Thanks Excaliber and CS.

  7. I’m always grateful for a “gentle” toughie. Makes me feel more intelligent than I really am!

    My only quibble here is 14a. 4 letter answers are not my favourite. I think I would have preferred a reference to the nursery rhyme.

  8. As this is Toughie No 1234, I was expecting some sort of Nina – cant find it!

    So when did the Toughie start?

    (1234 / 4) = 308.5 …. oops gone wrong already.

  9. I enjoyed this and found it less difficult than the back page cryptic which, for some reason, I thought was quite tricky.
    Needed the hint for 13a – don’t know why now – just did.
    I liked 25 and 29a and 3 and 20d. My favourite was 23d.
    Thanks to Excalibur and CS/

    1. although I do find his Toughies quite tough. Before anyone gets cross with me I know that they’re meant to be but of the setters who do back page cryptics and Toughies I think there is more difference between his than most others.
      Not sure that I’ve put that very well

  10. We got one wrong. 22d. We had put in ‘TOTTER’. Justified it by definition being ‘fall over’, the first drink being ‘tot’ and we thought the other bit would be another drink with a letter missing. Thought, “we’ll come back to sort it out later” and never did!. Apart from that it all flowed very smoothly and enjoyably.
    Thanks Excalibur and CS.

  11. More straightforward than the cryptic, I thought. Must admit I was thinking more in terms of the Red Light District for 1A! I particularly liked 27A.

    Thanks to Excalibur and to CS for the review. I can’t imagine having a bakers dozen of visitors all at one time for days at a time. I would be in the garden shed with a secret stash of wine and valium!

  12. Having spent most of today wallpapering our bedroom, this Toughie gave me a pleasant gentle solve and along with a couple of tots of Old Raj gin and Ts allowed me to chill out a wee bit before heading off ‘up wooden hill’. Night, night and thank you Excalibur. :-)

  13. Thanks to Excalibur and to Crypticsue for the review and hints. Got 22d wrong and needed to use electronic help for 18d, thought it was to do with a seahorse. Managed the rest ok. Favourite was 27a, was 3*/3* for me. A very well constructed and entertaining puzzle.

  14. Thought I’d got one right – which is rare – but made the same error as 2KIWIS et al. Also got 18d horribly wrong (SATIRISED – I know, not great). Sadly unable to understand the real answer. Any helpers? Sh-Shoney.

    1. 18d MARITIME (sea) is MARE (horse) containing IT (that article) and I’M (the writer is).

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